On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show correspondent Chip Reid reported on President Obama’s first day in Britain: "Arriving at 10 Downing Street this morning, the President and First Lady were warmly greeted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah. They posed for a hoard of photographers who shouted for the President, who is hugely popular here, to give them another wave...Then a short walk across the street for a press conference where Mr. Obama was showered with praise."
A clip was played of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offering that "praise": "Your first 70 days in office have changed America, and you've changed America's relationship with the world." Reid then added: "After cementing relations between the two close allies, the President said he's confident this summit will help ease the global economic crisis."
Reid began his report with breaking news, touting a possible nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia: "At this very moment, President Obama is meeting with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and White House officials say they will soon announce a diplomatic breakthrough. Opening negotiations on a new treaty to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Some very good news for President Obama as he begins this high stakes summit."
In the 8:00AM EST hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show correspondent Elizabeth Palmer gave a gushing report on Barack and Michelle Obama’s upcoming trip to Europe, particularly focusing on the popularity of the new First Lady: "In 1961 when Jacqueline Kennedy came to Europe, she enchanted even the crustiest of world leaders. And she's remained a tough act to follow for every First Lady since. But Michelle Obama looks more than equal to the task of impressing and delighting even the grandest of them...To be honest, most Europeans were going to like whoever replaced President Bush. But there's no doubt Michelle and her husband have an extra je ne sais quoi."
Palmer cited French journalist Agnes Poirier, who declared: "Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are a very alluring and very sophisticated couple, and that plays well with the French. They like seeing, you know, sophistication at the helm of power." Palmer concluded her report by adding: "And this sophisticated lady hand in hand with power looks poised to do wonders for America's image abroad."
On Sunday’s CBS 60 Minutes, commentator Andy Rooney read from some viewer letters: "It's always fun to read the letters people send, I get a lot of them, although, to be honest, if I took all the letters seriously I wouldn't ever say anything again. I get quite a few bad letters and, of course, I pay least attention to those. I don't want you to see me cry."
Some of those "bad letters" came from viewers who criticized Rooney’s and the media’s pro-Obama bias: "Thomas Overley writes from Oceanside, California. He's mad because he thinks I like President Obama. 'Very sorry to see someone I respected contribute to this mass media love affair,' Tom says. Well, to tell you the truth Mr. Overley, I do like Obama but I didn't think you'd notice. Todd, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, says 'the reason I don't hear about the people who hate Barack Obama is because the press has put a muzzle on them.' I don't know about that Todd. I show the producer my piece before it goes on the air every week and he'll tell me it isn't any good but he never puts a muzzle on me."
At the end of the January 25 broadcast, Rooney declared: "Maybe I'm reading the wrong newspapers and listening to the wrong people, but I'm not hearing anyone who hates Barack Obama." Well, apparently Rooney has found some Obama critics, in his own audience.
Monday’s CBS Early Show promoted embryonic stem cell research as co-host Julie Chen declared: "And blood shortages at hospitals could become a thing of the past. We're going to tell you how stem cells could hold the key to creating artificial blood." She later teased the story: "Up next, a doctor's dream, an unlimited supply of blood. We're going to tell you how one researcher thinks it can happen soon."
In a later report on the research, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer explained: "Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. In surgery, on cancer wards, and on America's battlefields, blood transfusions save lives...And elsewhere, especially in the developing world, there's a real chance the blood could be contaminated with diseases like AIDS or Hepatitis C. Enter Dr. Marc Turner, a cell biologist from Scotland who's received a multimillion-dollar research grant to make blood in his lab from human stem cells."
While reporting on President Obama forcing General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner to resign, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith happily declared: "It's the end of the road for GM's CEO, Rick Wagoner, ousted by President Obama as the White House demands more from the U.S. auto industry...we saw Bob Schieffer's interview with Barack Obama Sunday Morning and he said we need more from the auto industry. And the more was that Rick Wagoner, whose head went rolling off the guillotine, he is no longer the CEO of General Motors." Little criticism of Obama’s decision was offered during the coverage.
Later, Smith talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about that interview: "Can you remember in your lifetime when a President could reach into a private company and say, ‘you don't have a job anymore’?" Schieffer replied: "Well, we haven't had it in the past where the government owned as much of a company as the government now owns of these auto dealers...This was to let people know that he [Obama] takes seriously their concerns. I mean, he was very clear in the interview, as you heard in the sound bite there, that Bill Plante used, things are going to have to change." Smith observed: "And I've got to imagine if you're sitting in a boardroom in a bank in the United States right now, you're wondering about if you might be next with all of the money that's come your way already."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith interviewed Afghanistan war veteran and Obama campaign volunteer Craig Mullaney, author of "The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education," and praised the book: "What a wonderful story, the arc, blue-collar kid decides to go to West Point, even ends up in Oxford before he ends up in Afghanistan. Ranger school...And look at you, receiving your diploma from Al Gore, no less....Such a pleasure to meet you. It is such a wonderful, wonderful read. So thoughtful and so articulate. And such good writing. Really appreciate it."
Smith did make vague mention of Mullaney’s political connection to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign: "Fast forward, you come out of the service, decide to become involved politically. You're involved with President Obama now. He's going to announce this in -- another increase in troops in Afghanistan. The thing that people whisper about, the concern they have for this president, will Afghanistan be this president's Vietnam? Does that worry you?" Mullaney replied: "I worry about a lack of patience in the American public. It's been a long time since we've focused on Afghanistan. And we've lost a lot of ground over the last seven years. And it's going to take a big effort to garner the resources necessary to really turn the situation around."
Reacting to a 12:30PM EST Thursday press conference in which House Republicans unveiled an alternative budget plan to President Obama’s, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer seemed to be annoyed that the GOP interrupted coverage of the President’s virtual town hall meeting: "And moments ago, Republican leaders got together for a news conference. They said they would unveil what they called their alternative to the President's $3.6 trillion budget...I am very frustrated...Because I -- we've been waiting for this, we cut away from the President to hear the big buildup. Republicans have plan. They have ideas. They're not the party of no. And all I heard in that news conference was what they don't like about the President's plan."
Congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira responded to Brewer’s criticism: "It does not have, in the sense of a traditional budget, numbers with estimates, an estimate for how much they would reduce the deficit, things of that nature. That, they say, will come next week when they take this up on the floor. For example, what would they do? They would undo what they call the 'recent, reckless, and wasteful Democratic spending binge,' including the so-called stimulus and omnibus bills they would undo."
Brewer replied: "But Mike...Mike, we've heard that before...We've heard them and today you get us all hyped up. You have our undivided attention. And what happens but you get up and repeat the same criticism we've already heard. I didn't hear ideas. I heard the promise of ideas and 'we're going to have more on x, y and z,' but I didn't hear the ideas."
While reporting on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Mexico to address the escalating drug war, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Lara Logan gave a glowing review of Clinton’s job performance so far: "Well, she seems very much at ease. That's one of the things that struck myself and other journalists dealing with her in her new role. She has almost come into her own. She's very open, very direct, taking a lot of time. One particularly important thing to note is that she takes a lot of time to meet with local women and young people, disadvantaged groups...she wants to hear from ordinary people. She finds it very useful to hear from the man on the street."
Logan went on to explain how much effort Clinton puts in to meeting with the "ordinary people": "...that's not a small achievement when you consider the time pressures on trips like these. They're very fast-paced and there's a lot of pressure. And so the fact that Hillary makes this special effort to talk to people is actually noted and appreciated wherever she goes."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed President Obama’s Tuesday night press conference with Republican Senator Richard Shelby and asked: "The President will head to Capitol Hill today to sell his budget and last night he wondered why Republicans who have been critical of it haven't come up with an alternative budget. What's the answer?"
After Shelby explained that Republicans have serious concerns about the President’s budget, Rodriguez quickly ran to Obama’s defense: "Senator, the President said that even if he takes out all this spending from the budget, he'll still have a deficit, as evidenced by the $1.3 trillion deficit that he inherited from the Republicans." Shelby responded by declaring: "...we had a deficit, but nothing like this...This is scary. I believe we've reached the tipping point now, the tipping point, and if we tip over, it's a point of no return. We're looking at inflation and financial and economic destruction. We cannot go down this road."
Perhaps not fully listening to what Shelby was saying, Rodriguez exclaimed: "But it looks like we are, and what good does it do the American people to -- to point that out? Why not work with the President to try to reach a compromise?" Shelby replied: "Well, I don't think we should compromise destruction of our economic system. And this is where we're going here."
In his newly released book ‘Liberty and Tyranny’ author Mark Levin criticizes the mainstream media for its systematic support of left-wing causes. In chapter 8, entitled "On Enviro-Statism," Levin focuses on the media’s slanted coverage of global warming and points out its confusion on the subject:
In 1975, scientists again raised the specter of global cooling. A famous article appearing in Newsweek magazine, titled "The Cooling World," concluded, "The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth’s climate seems to be cooling down."...In 2008, the same Newsweek that gave weight to the false science of global cooling published an article titled "Global Warming Is a Cause of This Year’s Extreme Weather."
Levin goes on to expose CBS’s Scott Pelley as a diehard global warming advocate:
Consider CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley. When asked why his reporting on global warming did not acknowledge the views of skeptics, he replied, "If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier? This isn’t about politics or pseudo-science or conspiracy theory blogs. This is about sound science."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith talked to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about Monday’s stock market rally and wondered: "What was the reaction at the White House yesterday when the stock market closed?...There's been a lot of heat, though, aimed at the White House, aimed at the Treasury Secretary. Was there some degree of vindication?"
Gibbs claimed that the administration does not pay attention to daily stock numbers, but Smith replied: "You have to admit, it's a pretty good day, though, when the stock market goes up 500 points and the AIG executives, at least more than a dozen of them, say ‘we're going to give our money back.’" After Smith’s pressing, Gibbs admitted: "Well, look, Harry. I'll take 500 points and that kind of news any day of the week."
An earlier report by Bloomberg TV anchor Deirdre Bolton credited the White House banking plan for the stock surge: "...yesterday the Dow soared to 6.5%, that was the biggest gain since October. The Obama administration finally giving some -- Wall Street some details on how the bad banks' assets can be treated. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner put together a plan that some say is the best of both worlds to deal with toxic assets."
At the top of the Saturday Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge took a critical look at President Obama's recent media tour: "The Obama blitz, the President’s appearing everywhere but is his media tour taking attention away from his message?" In a later report, correspondent Kimberly Dozier highlighted Obama’s Tonight Show Special Olympics gaffe as evidence: "It can and did go a little bit wrong with what was supposed to be a self-deprecating joke about the President's inability to bowl...The White House has been apologizing ever since...Mr. Obama's critics were not so kind and this gave them another reason to attack in what was arguably one of his toughest weeks in his presidency so far."
Following Dozier’s report, Wragge spoke with Republican strategist Kevin Madden and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis about the President’s media strategy: "The President likes UNC to win it all, out west on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno, at home, People magazine. Is there a risk of some overexposure here?...when you keep an omnipresent schedule like this, you are bound to make a gaffe here or there. How significant a gaffe was this Special Olympics comment? Because it really got him off message...You know, we've always heard that he's 'the kind of guy I want to have a beer with,' I guess, notion out there. But is that the type of president the nation needs right now, with all of the things that people have, I guess, going against them right now? Is this a wise strategy?"
Neither the NBC’s Saturday Today nor ABC’s Saturday Good Morning America discussed the issue. However, Friday’s GMA did provide extensive coverage of the gaffe, along with Friday’s Early Show. Friday’s Today mentioned it, but only at the very end of a segment on Obama’s late night appearance.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell shared President Obama’s bracket picks for the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four: "And it appears March Madness has reached the White House. The fan-in-chief President Obama tells ESPN his NCAA Final Four bracket includes Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina. And he predicts a Tar Heels victory over Louisville in the final. There is the music. You can catch all the action of the NCAA men's tournament right here on CBS, beginning tomorrow afternoon. We all picked North Carolina." On Wednesday’s Evening News, while filling in for anchor Katie Couric, Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez also touted the presidential picks.
However, both Mitchell and Rodriguez failed to mention that thehead coach of Duke University’s men’s basketball team, Mike Krzyzewski, recently criticized the President for being distracted by March Madness: "Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Democratic Congressman Barney Frank about upcoming hearings on bonuses AIG gave to top executives after receiving government bailout money: "And who in the government didn't vet this company well enough before it gave the money to address the issue of bonuses...So who's responsible here in government? You said the Federal Reserve did this." Frank replied: "In September, Mr. Bernanke, as the head of the Federal Reserve, came to us and said 'we think we have a terrible problem here, we are going to provide $85 billion to AIG. That's -- that was the decision it wasn't anything that Congress had any say over."
Rodriguez did not challenge Frank’s assertion that the Democratic Congress was not involved, failing to ask the Massachusetts Congressman about the role his Senate colleague, Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, played in allowing AIG executives to keep their bonus money. On Tuesday, Fox Business reported: "While the Senate was constructing the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. The provision, now called ‘the Dodd Amendment’ by the Obama Administration provides an 'exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009' -- which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are now seeking to tax."
Near the end of the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Monday, anchor Norah O’Donnell attacked former Vice President Dick Cheney for arguing that the Bush administration should not be blamed for the economic crisis, exclaiming: "Can't blame the Bush administration? Well, let me show you this. The unemployment rate during the Bush administration rose from 4.2% to 7.6%. Poverty jumped from 32.9 million individuals to 37.3 million. The number of uninsured jumped from 41.2 million to 45.7 million, and the budget -- the inherited budget surplus of $120 billion and now it's a $1.3 trillion deficit." O’Donnell failed to note that the unemployment rate only jumped in the final few months of the administration, after the economic crisis hit.
After O’Donnell’s rant, which sounded like a list of Democratic talking points, she turned to Republican strategist Phil Musser and asked: "Phil, does the Vice President have any credibility left when he says don't blame the Bush administration, with numbers like that?" Musser responded: "Look, I think that the Vice President is giving his view point on the last eight years and clearly, the figures that you point out are the figures that you point out, not all of those should be laid at the Bush administration's feet." Musser went on to link O'Donnell's comments with the strategy of the Obama White House: "...clearly your seeing out of the White House now, the strategy of linkage of yesterday...If that's where they're going with this, I think it's totally counter-productive and not useful."
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "Optimism offensive. An upbeat Ben Bernanke tells '60 Minutes' the economy could turn around within nine months." Chen later introduced the segment on the Obama administration’s new economic optimism: "...from bleak to bright. The Obama administration has switched its tone and is now saying the economy is on the road to recovery."
Correspondent Bill Plante reported: "... the administration's attempt to restore public confidence in the financial system, which is seen as weak both at home and abroad...The response, led by President Obama, is an offense of optimism." Plante focused entirely on the administration’s new tone, providing little substance or criticism. Also lacking, was any mention of John McCain’s efforts to instill economic confidence during the presidential campaign, for which he was derided.
Instead, Plante simply cited the new upbeat message being put out by Obama staffers: "Even though stimulus funds are just beginning to be spent, and the bank rescue details have yet to be announced, the message from administration officials is confidence." A clip was played of economic advisor Lawrence Summers exclaiming: "Don’t panic." That was followed by White House advisor Christina Romer declaring: "The stimulus package, the financial rescue plan, the housing plan, we think it's the right medicine, and we think it will work."
In what was an otherwise critical story about President Obama signing an earmark-laden spending bill despite promising an end to such pork barrel projects, on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid decided to mention a modest earmark by former Idaho Senator Larry Craig: "And it's not just Democrats, about 40% of the earmarks were inserted by Republicans. Even retired lawmakers. Remember Republican Senator Larry Craig, arrested in a bathroom sting? He retired, but his legacy lives on through a million dollars in earmarks for Idaho." If Reid wanted to cite much more egregious Republican offenders he could have picked Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who had $114 million in pet projects, or Missouri Senator Kit Bond, who had $86 million. Of course, neither of them were recently involved in sex scandals.
Other than the Craig mention, the piece was unusually tough on Obama, as anchor Katie Couric began the broadcast by declaring: "Also tonight, he campaigned against earmarks, but today President Obama signed a bill loaded with them behind closed doors." Reid reported: "The last thing the President wanted was a high-profile ceremony as he signed a bill stuffed with pork barrel spending...behind closed doors, it was, critics say, business as usual, as the President quietly signed a $410 billion domestic spending bill. 1,100 pages loaded with about 8,500 pet projects known as earmarks, inserted by members of Congress without legislative review...Some are the handiwork of former lawmakers who now work for the President. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has $6.5 million in projects for Illinois."
During the 8:30AM EST half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a fawning news brief on Michelle Obama’s first 50 days as First Lady: "In the seven weeks since the new President was inaugurated, the new glamorous First Lady has found her place in a glamorous world. Thalia Assuras has a look at Michelle Obama's successful new life." Assuras began her report: "Everyone wants an invitation to her parties. She's graced several magazine covers. Even Oprah is giving up a slice for the first time. She's the focus of fashionistas, those buff arms igniting commentary, and websites produce constant chatter."
Assuras went on to describe how Michellle Obama had surpassed other First Ladies: "Michelle Obama has created a stir like no other First Lady...Style watchers caution that all new First Ladies cause excitement, but Mrs. Obama is a celebrity who embodies a new generation...That thing, that polls show, produces more positives than recent First Ladies at the outset of past administrations."
Assuras spoke with Washington Post gossip columnist Amy Argetsinger, who exclaimed: "People are sort of reacting to her the way they would to a movie star...She's the youngest First Lady we've had in a while, but she's also got a charisma about her. She's got the height of a fashion model, she looks great in clothes. And, you know, there's kind of that Jackie O thing going on." Following Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal giving the Republican response to Barack Obama’s address to Congress last week, Argetsinger remarked about Jindal: "I found his [pyschotic killer Charles] Manson eyes disturbing."
At the top of the 8 a.m. EST hour of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming interview with John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain: "And young Mac attack. Senator McCain's daughter, Meghan, takes aim at conservative Ann Coulter and tells us about her post-election dating issues." Later, co-host Harry Smith opened the segment by declaring: "Senator John McCain's daughter, Meghan, has left the campaign trail and found herself working in the blogosphere as a writer for The Daily Beast. And on it she has written some tough things about Ann Coulter as well as her ongoing search for Mr. Right, or Mr. Far Right."
After Smith asked her about her "search for Mr. Far Right," he turned his attention to her recent criticism of conservative author Ann Coulter: "Well here's one of the things you wrote about Ann Coulter, who's been a guest on this program in the past, we had interesting conversations, ‘I straight up don't understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time. If figureheads like Ann Coulter are turning me off, then they are definitely turning off other members of my generation as well.’" McCain replied: "And I think it's hard for me to explain to my friends that are in their 20s, when these icons of the party say radical things. I have a friend that's Jewish. She made anti-Semitic comments. It's hard to defend-" Smith interjected: "The Jews need to be perfected and stuff like that." McCain replied: "Yeah, which obviously, I completely disagree with and think is crazy."
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen incorrectly declared: "Reversing course. President Obama lifts the ban on embryonic stem cell research today...But is the President going far enough?" During the later segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez had to offer a correction: "And we should say, this under President Bush was not banned or illegal, except now we're getting federal funding."
The segment began with a report by correspondent Bill Plante: "...for those who believe that stem cells bring healing, there's no debate...Henry Strongin-Goldberg was sick with a rare blood disease that took his life when he was just 7...Henry's parents, Laurie Strongin and Allen Goldberg, believe their son's chance of survival ended when President George W. Bush signed an executive order in August, 2001 banning the federal government from funding embryonic stem cell research." Plante’s over 300-word report only gave only 21 of those words to critics, allowing David Prentice of the Family Research Council to mention: "In terms of scientific advances, I don't think we're going to see anything from this. This is more an ideological move."
Following Plante’s report, Rodriguez spoke with CBS News contributor Dr. Holly Phillips about the President’s decision: "In what kinds of diseases or ailments, specifically, do you think we may see advancements?" Phillips replied: "People are most excited about the neurologic illnesses, things like Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's...hopefully cure spinal cell injuries...hope in treating diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. So really millions of people could be -- could be affected by this research." Phillips left out a recent case of embryonic stem cells causing cancer in an Israeli teenage boy.
At the end of Thursday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid reported important breaking news about President Obama's graying hair: "...the rate at which President Obama is adding salt to his pepper is what’s surprising, even if his inner circle says ‘no big deal.’" Axelrod observed: "The gray seemed to be on him from the moment he took the oath. There was talk during the campaign that maybe he was dying his hair gray to look more seasoned, but his barber says bunk." He later concluded the report by declaring: "If there's any consolation for Mr. Obama, it's that gray equals gravitas, and a president can never have too much of that."
Perhaps a good example of the President’s "gravitas" would be the gift he gave to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a diplomatic visit this week: a 25-DVD box set, including such films as E.T., The Wizard of Oz, and Star Wars. So far, neither CBS nor any of the networks or cable channels have covered this Obama gaffe.
During the 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC on Thursday, anchor Norah O’Donnell teased an upcoming segment on Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party: "Coming up, is the party of Lincoln in danger of becoming the party of jell-o? Why conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh could be a liability for the Grand Old Party." O’Donnell was referring to an Newsweek article by columnist Jonathan Alter and later spoke to him about it: "I want to read from your piece. You write, 'everyone knows he has jumped the shark culturally, becoming a black-shirted joke even as he dominates the headlines. But it's worse than that for Republicans, Limbaugh has taken the great GOP calling card -- toughness -- and shredded it. The party of Lincoln is in danger of becoming the party jell-o.' Explain further."
Alter elaborated on his argument: "Okay. Norah, the great strength of the Republican Party for the last 75 years has been strength. The fact that they are a tough party and their rhetoric has been tough. They were tough against the New Deal. They were tough in a Cold War. They were tough on Monica Lewinsky. If you can't even stand-up to Rush Limbaugh, if the dittoheads come after you and you wilt and then apologize for perfectly legitimate criticism of a radio talk show broadcaster, how tough is that. You look wimpy, you look weak, you look whiney." According to Alter, by not denouncing Rush Limbaugh for being tough on Obama, the Republican Party is not being tough.
At the top of Wednesday’s 3:00PM EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared: "Well, the back and forth between Rush Limbaugh and RNC Chairman Michael Steele continues. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the GOP's approval is sinking fast, only 26% of those polled give the party a positive rating." O’Donnell spoke to Jennifer Skalka, editor of the blog Hotline On Call, and asked her about Rush: "Rush Limbaugh, today, really upped the ante, for the first time, saying he wants to challenge Barack Obama to a debate on his show...What's he doing? Is he walking into the trap that the Democrats, including President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, set? Which is to try and anoint and make Rush Limbaugh the face of the Republican Party."
Skalka replied: "Well, you kind of get the feeling that Rush Limbaugh is enjoying being the face of the Republican Party, whether or not that hurts the chairman of the RNC and congressional Republican leaders, Rush Limbaugh is another big personality." O’Donnell followed Skalka by wondering: "But politically speaking, when we showed the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, that the party's approval ratings are 26%. And they've done polling that shows Rush Limbaugh is very unpopular with the independents. How does it hurt the Republican Party to have Rush Limbaugh as the face in many ways?"
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan reported on the Obama administration’s effort to improve relations between the United States and Russia by abandoning a missile defense system proposed under the Bush administration: "It's become one of the most contentious issues dividing the U.S. and Russia. American plans to deploy a missile defense system on Russia's doorstep...The Obama administration's willingness to even open discussions on the issue is a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy under President Bush, who dismissed Russian objections. That dispute helped bring U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the break-up of the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago. Today the President made it clear he's already started to change that."
Rather than offer any criticism, Logan cited Steven Pifer of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, who declared: "It seems to me that when we're looking for issues on which we can signal to the Russians that we're prepared to be more flexible and listen to some of their concerns, missile defense is one." At the top of the broadcast, anchor Katie Couric teased the segment by describing Obama’s proposal as an "intriguing suggestion."
At the top of the 12PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage on Tuesday, anchor David Shuster spoke with Washington Post reporter Keith Richburg about the recent divide between Rush Limbaugh and RNC Chair Michael Steele: "Following the latest Republican Party civil war. A complete about-face by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, after calling Rush Limbaugh's show 'ugly' and 'incendiary.' Steele's now apologized in the face of a withering attack from the radio host." Richburg later observed: "You know, it's fascinating. It's like the circular firing squad. I mean, maybe this is what Rush had in mind when he was talking about ‘Operation Chaos.’"
Shuster later asked Richburg: "I mean, when Rush Limbaugh says that all Republicans want President Obama to fail. What's so difficult with somebody saying, 'no, no, we think that his policies may fail, but we don't want them to fail.' What's so difficult about that?" Richburg replied: "...it almost seems like the Republican Party needs a 'Sister Soljah' moment...It seems like the Republicans need somebody who's willing to stand up and say Rush doesn't represent all of the views of the Republican Party and then not rush and apologize to him...I'll bet you whoever does that could end up as the, you know, the nominee of the party or at least the major party."
During a 6-minute segment on the Saturday Early Show on CBS, co-host Erica Hill spoke with liberal journalists Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News and World Report, and Steven Kornacki of the New York Observer, about the future of the Republican Party. Republican strategist and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez was also part of the panel discussion, but was only allowed 44 seconds to speak during the segment, frequently being cut off by Hill, Zuckerman, and Kornacki.
Zuckerman described the future of the GOP this way: "Obama's popularity is surging and the support for the Republican Party is declining, in part because if there is any symbol of the Republican Party, it was Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, speaking after President Obama, and articulating a philosophy that was so completely discredited under the Bush administration that it's hard to imagine that they think they're going to do anything other than consolidate their support in a very small number of arch-conservative districts in the United States."
Kornacki shared a similar view, suggesting Republicans give up on conservative principles and simply follow Democratic Party ideals: "Republicans in Congress, the Republicans on talk radio, on Fox News, Republicans who are dominating the party and driving the philosophy of their party right now and they are denying reality...2008 was a revolt against the excesses of the Reagan philosophy, and the Republicans right now seem to be saying...'we got to click our shoes together three times, repeat our favorite Reagan catch phrase and poof, we're going to be good again.' It's not going to work. The public is looking for people who want government to take a leading, active, and aggressive role. Republicans aren't even speaking to that."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, who a year ago was named in a New York Times article implying she had an affair with then presidential candidate John McCain, an accusation Iseman flatly denied: "No, I did not. And four New York Times reporters, two editors, their entire institution, 200 people that they went out and sought to try and figure out if this was true or not, came back and said there's no there, there...They were calling friends and family and colleagues and former staffers, it was just -- people I'd hired and fired at my firm, it was nuts. It was just unbelievable...They became so invested in this that they couldn't walk away...this was just out of control, they just could not, for some reason, walk away."
While Iseman detailed how absurd the Times’ accusations were, Rodriguez still worked to give the paper the benefit of the doubt: "So everybody believed that you had an affair with him, even though the article, according to the Times, didn't mean to imply that and certainly didn't prove that, all of a sudden you were that girl?...You sued the New York Times, they printed a note to the readers that said ‘we never intended to imply she was having an affair with him.’ Where do you think they went so wrong? Because they have sources and they did try to contact you. Where do you think the New York Times failed here?
Teasing a fawning segment on First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric declared: "And the lady of the house feeling right at home." Couric later introduced the segment: "And finally tonight, ever since Abigail Adams moved into the White House in 1800, every First Lady has brought her own personal touch to the executive mansion, and the city of Washington. As Bill Plante tells us, the new First Lady is busy making her mark."
White House Correspondent Bill Plante gave a glowing review of the First Lady’s first month: "For Michelle Obama, welcoming famous Americans to the White House seems effortless...But the new First Lady goes from traditionally elegant and formal to relaxed and casual with ease. Just days before this tribute to Stevie Wonder, she charmed culinary students in the White House kitchen, talking about how tough it is to get her kids to eat vegetables...Michelle Obama's been to all the usual places around Washington -- the Kennedy Center, Fords Theater, and nationally, she's been on the covers of Vogue and People magazine...After a month, it's already clear that Michelle Obama won't be content to stay behind these well-guarded gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Plante concluded his report by observing: "She's also been touring government agencies, but it's her message to local children that seems most important to her. As she tells them over and over, you, too, can be President or First Lady...And it's her ability to connect that could make her mark as First Lady."
At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric introduced a segment on Tysheoma Bethea, a 14-year-old girl who attended Obama’s address to Congress: "President Obama has said one of the biggest adjustments of his new job is living in a bubble. Now, to combat that problem, he started to read a handful of letters everyday from average Americans. One letter, written by an eighth grader from Dillon, South Carolina, caught his eye, and her story caught ours."
Correspondent Mark Strassmann then reported: "Thanks to Tysheoma Bethea, everyone at J.V. Martin Junior High now shares the audacity of hope...Last night, the 14-year-old watched President Obama read America her letter to Congress, a plea to build a new school for her small town." Strassmann described the situation at Bethea’s impoverished school and how Obama had instantly inspired them: "Too often at J.V. Martin Junior High dreams die early. 85% of students live below the poverty line. This school, built in 1896, is falling apart. For generations here, hope has been in shambles. The dropout rate is 60% and the daily fight is against a poverty of the spirit. But last night, this junior high reconnected to hope."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "Tax the rich. New details on how President Obama plans to pay for his $3 trillion budget." Later, correspondent Bill Plante reported on Obama’s proposed budget in a matter-of-fact way with little skepticism: "It spends almost $4 trillion. That's trillion with a 'T.' And the deficit is $1.75 trillion because of spending on the recession. And it raises taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for some new proposals on health care. The president wants to set aside $634 billion over the next ten years as a down payment on health care reform. He'd get the money by lowering the limit on tax deductions for high earners and by trimming some Medicare spending."
In Plante’s report, Politico’s Mike Allen was quoted: "This budget is going to have some highly symbolic cuts to show people that tough choices are going to be made." Plante elaborated: "Those include what officials call 'massive cost overruns' at the Defense Department. A phase-out of direct payments to farmers making more than $500,000 a year. Elimination of the federal mentoring program, a Bush administration initiative which is labeled ineffective. And closing the loophole which allows Wall Street investment managers to pay income tax at the rate of only 15%."