On Friday's Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan reported on Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann attempting to form a congressional tea party caucus and proceeded to rant: "...the tea partiers were nowhere when it came to ending the mass extraction in Wall Street, so I think they're actually full of crap." [Audio available here]
Ratigan then wondered: "...for a movement, however, that prides itself on having no formal ties to the federal government, forget the aspect of being full of crap when it comes to the banking system, why are the Republican Party members and tea party members so receptive to getting together?" He posed that question to his guests, left-wing talk show host Cenk Uygur and former Bill Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman.
Uygur couldn't agree more with Ratigan's assessment: "You took the words right out of my mouth. She [Bachmann] is so full of crap. I mean, she might be the queen of crap." He then proclaimed: "All she's ever done is protected the bankers....I guess the tea party movement, in essence, is actually about protecting the richest people in America. Wow, what a populist movement you have there."
Waldman took the conversation even lower, as he argued: "The Republicans would like to benefit from the...neurotic energy of the tea party. But they don't really want them in the front parlor. They don't want everybody to identify their extremism with the Republican Party, just the way the Democrats didn't want the Weathermen determining the face...At the front of the house." The Weathermen, or Weather Underground, was a anti-war domestic terrorist organization during the Vietnam war era. Barack Obama associate Bill Ayers was a member.
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric touted the just-passed financial reform bill as a "big win" for President Obama, "as was the passage of health care reform." She then lamented how despite that: "...there are rumblings he's in big political trouble as the midterm elections approach."
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Chip Reid proclaimed: "...the President was reveling in another victory on a major piece of legislation.... he'll add it to a long list, headlined by health care reform and the stimulus." A graphic then appeared on-screen actually listing half a dozen of the Obama administration's supposed accomplishments for viewers.
Turning to Obama's falling poll numbers, Reid seemed puzzled: "With so many accomplishments in just 18 months, you'd think the President would be flying high. Instead, his approval rating continues to sink and now stands at just 44 percent."
Reid then observed: "So, what's the problem? In a word: jobs." He highlighted the President's recent trip to stimulus-funded projects in Michigan and sympathized with how Obama "seems powerless to do anything about an unemployment rate stuck at an excruciating 9.5 percent."
While discussing President Obama's sinking approval ratings with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer on Friday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill did her best to make lemonade out of lemons for the Democratic Party: "But in the end, could losing the House ultimately be good for the President? Because it certainly helped Bill Clinton."
Schieffer was the rare voice of wisdom, replying: "You know, Erica, I don't think it is ever good to lose. I think you're always better off when you win." Though he did try to downplay the potential Democratic losses by suggesting both parties were in danger: "I think this is just a symptom of the greater problem, and that is until this economy gets better, everybody in elected office better look out because they could be in trouble." Hill agreed: "Be very careful, no one is safe at this point."
The majority of the segment touted Obama's supposed policy achievements and wondered why he wasn't more popular with the American people. At the top of the broadcast, co-host Harry Smith declared: "Congress approves sweeping changes in financial regulations as President Obama takes on Wall Street and wins. So, why are his poll numbers so bad?" Hill later proclaimed: "It's another legislative victory for the President. His poll numbers, however, are worse than ever."
CBS’s Early Show was eager to host Levi Johnston when he was trashing the Palin family last year – 5 segments totaling more than 24 minutes of airtime. But since admitting that some of his attacks were untrue, the morning show has barely noticed, making only two brief mentions of Johnston's reversal and apology in a July 6 People Magazine interview.
On Friday, fill-in co-host Erica Hill offered a scant 42 second discussion of Johnston's apology in the show's weekly 'Early Wrap' segment. She actually admitted that it had been "highly under-reported." On Wednesday, amidst 2 minutes and 32 seconds of coverage of Johnston's re-engagement to Bristol Palin, a total of 25 seconds was given to his apology.
During the Wednesday coverage, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "How many times was that young man on this show talking really horrible things about the Palins?" Later, Hill declared that Johnston "said some rather unflattering things," causing Smith to once again describe how "Levi was on this show a bunch, several times in that era, and did interviews with [fellow Early Show co-host] Maggie [Rodriguez]."
Of the five 2009 segments about Johnston, three were exclusive interviews between him and Rodriguez. The first interview aired on April 8, while the second was aired in two parts on October 28 and 29. In addition, the show did September 3 segment on Johnston's anti-Palin Vanity Fair interview and a November 17 story previewing an interview with him on the CBS entertainment news program 'The Insider.'
On Saturday's CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor reported on an immigration protest in Boston: "...hundreds opposed to Arizona's controversial immigration law protested the presence of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer at a meeting there." One protestor held a sign that read: "Jan Brewer is a Bigot." Glor then turned to a report on a similar immigration law proposed in Pennsylvania.
Correspondent Elaine Quijano explained how a CBS News poll showed 52% of Americans support the Arizona's immigration law and that "other states are preparing to follow Arizona's lead": "In Pennsylvania, bipartisan measures to compel construction companies to check worker's status are moving swiftly through the legislature." She then warned: "Republican state representative Daryl Metcalfe wants to go further, introducing a tough measure modeled after Arizona's law." She went on to declare: "Metcalfe's proposal is already facing fierce opposition."
Quijano described one source of that "fierce opposition," the Democratic mayor of Philadelphia: "Michael Nutter says the solution lies with the federal government, not the states." Nutter repeated Obama administration talking points on the issue: "We should not have a patchwork of immigration policies for every state in the United States of America. That's insane." Quijano added: "Nutter believes the law could create problems for law enforcement, making illegal immigrants afraid to report crimes to police."
On Saturday's CBS Evening News, anchor Jeff Glor decided what should be at the top of Congress's agenda as it returned from the July 4th recess: "Congress returns to Washington next week to face a big backlog of unfinished business, and topping the list is the future of unemployment benefits."
In a report that followed, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante chided elected officials for going on vacation without resolving the issue: "It's been ten days since senators went home for their July 4th vacation without extending unemployment benefits....They've now run out for more than 1.3 million people and the Labor Department says that number could rise to 3 million by the end of this month."
Plante then touted Democrats blaming the GOP for the inaction: "As he campaigns for Democrats, the President paints the lack of new benefits as Republican heartlessness....There were protests this week from labor unions against some Senate Republicans. This one in Lexington, Kentucky directed at the GOP leader Mitch Mcconnell, calling for action when the Senate returns next week." Plante noted the Republican response to such claims: "But Mcconnell blames Democrats for refusing to cut spending to pay the $34 billion cost of the extension."
While devoting all of Sunday's Face the Nation to an interview with Attorney General Eric Holder, CBS host Bob Schieffer failed to ask a single question about the Obama Justice Department dropping a voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers or allegations that the department has adopted a policy of ignoring such cases.
Schieffer discussed a range of topics with Holder, from the federal lawsuit against Arizona's immigration law, to a potential criminal investigation into BP, to the trial of terrorist Khalid Shaik Muhammed and closing Guantanamo Bay. At the end of the interview, Schieffer even asked about Holder's infamous comment that the United States was a "nation of cowards" when it came to discussing race.
However, the Face the Nation host failed to use that comment as a transition to the Black Panthers case, despite the fact that former DOJ attorney Christian Adams recently testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, accusing the department of adopting a policy of refusing to pursue voter intimidation cases that involved black defendants and white victims.
Appearing on Monday's CBS Early Show, actor Sean Penn described ongoing relief efforts in Haiti following January's earthquake and condemned the media for its lack of coverage of the disaster beyond the initial weeks: "I think that the media has played an enormous part in the failures that are still going on today and the recovery here and the relief operations."
Those comments from Penn were prompted by co-host Harry Smith wondering: "People would be curious why you went in the first place. And then, why you stayed. What's the best answer for that?" Penn replied: "...if they're wondering that, then that would be an indictment of the American and the international press that came here in the immediate aftermath of this devastating earthquake." Penn explained: "The United States sent its military, that did an extraordinary job in immediate relief....And then when they went on with other deployments, when the amputations en masse stopped, the media left."
Smith gave absolutely no reaction to Penn's scathing criticism, but simply went on to tout praise for the left-wing actor's work on the island nation: "I was reading the comments of a lieutenant general from the U.S. Southern Command who you came in contact with. And he said, 'you know, maybe I don't agree with Sean Penn's politics but I can tell you this, he's a doer, not a talker....I applaud the leadership he has shown. He doesn't have to do this.'"
Update: CBS earlier declined comment on Johnston apology.
On Friday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill confessed Levi Johnston's apology for making false statements about the Palin family was "highly under-reported." During the 'Early Wrap' segment, Hill told a panel of media pundits: "My favorite story of the week, which was highly under-reported...is that Levi Johnston came out and said....Some things he said about the Palin family were not true."
It's interesting that Hill used the phrase "under-reported," when CBS did not cover Johnston's admission at all since he made the statement in a Tuesday interview with People Magazine. Meanwhile, the network, and the Early Show in particular, heavily promoted Johnston's claims about the Palins last year.
Update: In a Wednesday article entitled "Will Levi's apology lead to media corrections?," Michael Calderone of Yahoo News observed: "Johnston used to have a lot to say. And the media — whether they were news, politics or celebrity outlets — listened. He appeared on the 'CBS Early Show,' 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'The Tyra Banks Show.'" Calderone attempted to get a response from CBS on Johnston's apology but they "declined comment."
In response to Hill, panelist Joe Levy, editor-in-chief of Maxim Magazine, dismissed the revelation: "Wow. So, a teenager who breaks up with his girlfriend says untrue things about her and her family? That is a shocker. I don't think that's ever happened before." Fellow panelist, Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn, chimed in: "I think he needs to apologize for his Playgirl spread first and then go to the Palins....Because America is hurt, first and foremost, and then some people in Alaska."
In an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric noted President Obama's unpopularity in Israel and pressed Netanyahu to remedy that fact: "To change public opinion in your country, should you be more strongly advocating on his behalf?"
Couric preceded that question by citing a recent poll of Israelis, which she seemed perplexed by: "Can you explain this to me, then? In a poll conducted a month ago – just a month ago – 71 percent of the Jews in Israel surveyed said they dislike President Obama; 47 percent expressed a strong dislike."
Earlier in the interview, Couric tried to gauge Netanyahu's feelings toward Obama: "Do you trust Barack Obama?...surely there have been disappointments with the Obama administration. Can you just be candid with me and tell me how the administration has disappointed you?" While Couric asked about Israeli "disappointments" with Obama, she never cited any specific Obama administration policies or actions as the cause of those disappointments.
Cenk Uygur, host of the left-wing internet talk show 'The Young Turks,' filled in for MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan during the 4PM ET hour on Wednesday and decried the nation's "shift to the Right." He lamented: "...when I started out I was a liberal Republican. No such thing exists anymore." [Audio available here]
He wondered why the media hadn't reported on the supposed radical shift in American politics and quickly came up with this explanation: "Why the media didn't challenge it is because they [conservatives] kept calling them the liberal media, and why did they call them that? Because during civil rights, they [the media] said 'yeah, black people and white people are the same' and the conservatives at the time said 'damn liberal media,' and, you know, that intimidated the media into not recognizing this trend."
Uygur's liberal guests, author Linda Monk and Wesleyen University professor Claire Potter did not disagree. In fact, Monk made sure to criticize President Eisenhower for his views on civil rights: "...let's not be too celebratory of Eisenhower. He did stand up for the desegregation decisions. He did his job as president. But privately he was known for saying that racial desegregation was social disintegration, so he perhaps wasn't as progressive on the race issue as some would interpret his actions to be."
In an interview with People Magazine on Tuesday, Levi Johnston admitted: "I publicly said things about the Palins that were not completely true." On Wednesday, the CBS Early Show failed to make any mention of the admission, despite having provided a media platform for Johnston last year by conducting exclusive interviews with him.
On the April 8, 2009 broadcast, co-host Maggie Rodriguez conducted her first interview with Johnston, and introduced the segment by proclaiming: "He [Johnston], along with his mother and sister, sat down with me last night for an interview to clear up the 'lies' they say the Palins have been telling about them." Rodriguez sympathized with the former boyfriend of Bristol Palin by wondering: "Did you get your heart broken?"
During a September 3 segment on Johnston's latest attack against the Palins, Rodriguez declared: "And shocking allegations that could shatter former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's conservative family image. If she chooses to believe what Levi Johnston is saying." Rodriguez's second interview with Johnston came weeks later on October 29: "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." In reaction to that interview, Sarah Palin called out the network for promoting Johnston: "CBS should be ashamed for continually providing a forum to propagate lies."
In part two of her interview with TVNewser editor Kevin Allocca on MediaBistro.com's Media Beat, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer discussed a incident last year in which she mistakenly introduced Reverend Jess Jackson as Al Sharpton: "...those things make me crazy.... I really hate that something like that can paint your whole career."
Brewer specifically called out blogs for reporting the gaffe: "...when I was younger in my career, if I had made a mistake like that, there were no blogs to keep it perpetuity." Allocca replied: "Are you looking at me? I do have a blog that keeps things in perpetuity." Brewer responded: "Whether you do or not, there will be someone else to pick up that slack, so I won't hold it against you in particular." The TVNewser blog did indeed report the incident on October 21, 2009, as did NewsBusters.
Brewer explained: "...the best thing I can do at the point is just to apologize and the Reverend has been very gracious and accepted my apology." She then added how the gaffe "turned into a great opportunity to develop a relationship with someone that I admire," referring to a subsequent meeting with Jackson.
In an interview on MediaBistro.com's 'Media Beat,' MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer told TVNewser editor Kevin Allocca about the cable network's high standards in its audition process: "...it's got to be like the Marine Corps obstacle course in order to land this job." She later complained about "difficult" guests: "When someone comes on with an agenda and their agenda is to take you down."
Allocca asked Brewer about some her toughest interviews. She responded by describing certain guests who "come on and they are prepared to be challenging and to be difficult." Two examples came to her mind, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Republican Senator Judd Gregg.
In recalling a January interview with Gregg, Brewer whined about how "it was a difficult interview to conduct." In reality, Gregg simply pointed out Brewer's liberal bias on the issue of government spending, after she equated Republican calls for less spending with cutting off funding for schools. Gregg pointed out that she was "being fundamentally dishonest" in her reporting.
During the Media Beat interview, she said of guests like Gregg: "...when you have guests on who are difficult or if they're – if they're sticking they're heels in the ground and they're really – you just end it, you move on."
During the 'Early Wrap' segment on Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan with a panel of media pundits: "The almost unknown, practically under the radar, the Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, before committees this week being funny. She was downright funny."
GQ Magazine's Washington correspondent Ana Marie Cox agreed with Smith and added: "...a Saturday Night Live skit made live, in part because she looks exactly like Rachel Dratch. And it's perfect because Al Franken is on the committee. And I kept on watching like waiting for someone to burst into song or Unfrozen Caveman Senator." Radio host Jane Pratt chimed in: "Her joke was good, the Chinese food joke was good." Smith remarked: "Very funny. Sunday night, and Christmas."
On Wednesday's Good Morning America on ABC, news reader Juju Chang noted Kagan's "lively sense of humor" and later asked co-hosts George Stephanopoulos and Elizabeth Vargas "who is going to play her in the SNL skit?" Vargas replied: "I don't think they could be as funny as Elena Kagan was!"
On Thursday's The Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan went after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and complained about the lack opposition to the conflicts: "Why isn't there an alarm that we've been perpetrating this war?...there aren't enough people in this country that honestly give a damn. No one really cares." His solution to the supposed apathy? A draft. [Audio available here]
Ratigan began his rant by describing the financial and human toll of the wars. He particularly highlighted "the innocent civilians that our bombs are killing. As many as 105,000 dead in Iraq, the number in Afghanistan approaching 13,000, that we have killed." He argued: "We might even be creating more terrorists....being there may be doing more harm than good." On his May 13 program, Ratigan condemned the U.S. military for "dropping predator bombs on civilians willy-nilly."
Describing the limited number of Americans who have loved ones on the front lines, Ratigan proclaimed: "...it's a way for the politicians to isolate on the poorest and the most isolated group of soldiers they can get and protect themselves from our society, were they to understand how violent and oppressive the actions we are taking against our own people are in perpetrating these wars." Ratigan then proposed: "...we have to raise the stakes on this to decide whether we get out or keep going. And the only way I can see to do that is to return the draft." He further declared: "Maybe if the sons and daughters of more Americans families, like those of our politicians, were either being killed in combat or facing the stresses of endless repeat deployment, our policymakers would start questioning why we're still there..."
While MSNBC host Chris Matthews has routinely cited the American Revolution-era Gadsden flag as evidence of the extremism of the tea party movement, at the end of Monday's Harball, he expressed his love for the banner while remembering West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. [Audio available here]
In his 'Let Me Finish' segment, Matthews shared his thoughts on Byrd and how he particularly admired how the Democrat shared his "deep American objection to the Iraq War." Matthews placed Byrd in an historic context and spoke of the nation's founding, including one particular symbol of defiance during the Revolution: "I love the symbol of the Gadsden flag that, coiled rattlesnake against a field of yellow. 'Don't Tread on Me' – it warned our enemies, and that included especially the British government and London." Matthews then noted: "This morning, a man died who treasured this country and that flag. For those reasons, Senator Robert Byrd opposed both wars – both wars with Iraq."
While ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today spent little time on the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Tuesday, the CBS Early Show featured a report from legal correspondent Jan Crawford, who cheered Kagan finally being able respond to Republican "attacks" in a "very agile" way.
Good Morning America devoted only a single news brief early in the 7AM ET hour to the hearings as news reader JuJu Chang noted how Kagan "will be questioned by Republicans who say she is too liberal and too political." Chang added: "Kagan promised to take a modest approach to judging."
On Today, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell offered only a brief 7:09AM report on the hearings: "Weeks after her nomination, seated in silence for hours, finally Elena Kagan gets to make her case....[she] describes herself as a daughter of the American dream." O'Donnell described the arguments from both sides of the aisle: "No surprise, Democrats praised her intellect and the chance to broaden the Supreme Court....Saying they would be respectful, Republicans did not hesitate to get tough. From abortion rights to immigration, they found various ways to call her liberal." In an 8:04AM news brief, news reader Natalie Morales declared: "Republicans portrayed Kagan as a liberal activist with no judicial experience. Kagan promised an even-handed approach to the law."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Whit Johnson reported breaking news of the death of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd and proclaimed: "By all accounts, he was one of the hardest working senators in modern history." Johnson touted Byrd's "four volume history of the Senate" and described him as the "unequaled master of the Senate rules."
Part of the "hard work" Johnson cited was the massive number of pork barrel projects Byrd secured funding for over his long career: "Byrd said he owed his success to the long suffering people of West Virginia and he returned the favor by steering billions of dollars in federal government projects to the state, dozens of them, named for him." Johnson noted how "Byrd reveled in his success at bringing home the bacon....His critics called him the king of pork. He called that hog wash."
Another aspect of Byrd's career that Johnson highlighted was the West Virginia Democrat's opposition to the Iraq war: "A harsh critic of the war in Iraq, Byrd said opposing the war in 2003 was his most important vote ever."
The Monday morning shows on CBS, ABC, and NBC all worked to portray President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan as a moderate and open-minded legal scholar, downplaying her liberal views. All three network programs also minimized her controversial decision to ban military recruiters on campus while Dean of Harvard Law School.
On CBS's Early Show, legal correspondent Jan Crawford touted Kagan as "an intellectual heavyweight and consensus builder." Crawford noted how Republicans had "several lines of attack" against Kagan and would "try to paint her as a liberal activist." Crawford herself recently described Kagan as having "stood shoulder to shoulder with the liberal left."
On ABC's Good Morning America, correspondent Claire Shipman did a fawning segment on Kagan in the 8AM ET hour, describing the former Dean as "intellectual" and "full of personal charm" during her tenure at Harvard. Shipman claimed that Kagan had "a determination to be open-minded," despite banning military recruiters from the university's campus over the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. On that issue, Shipman explained that despite Kagan's decision being unpopular "among student military vets....Iraq War veteran Kurt White says they were won over by Kagan's persistent outreach, another example of her political skills." Shipman failed to mention that White would be testifying on Kagan's behalf during the confirmation hearings.
When President Bush nominated John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court in 2005, the media did not hesitate to describe both men as "very conservative," but when President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan this year many in the press couldn't seem to identify any liberal ideology. The Media Research Center has produced a video compilation of examples to further demonstrate the obvious double standard. [Audio available here]
During ABC's live special coverage of Roberts's nomination on July 19, 2005, then This Week host and former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos declared: "This is a very conservative man with a strong paper trail that proves it." NPR's Nina Totenberg could hardly contain her urge to label, using the word "conservative" several times during a July 23 appearance on Inside Washington: "John Roberts is a really conservative guy...he's a conservative Catholic....[President Bush] has given conservatives a hardline conservative."
The same labeling followed Alito's nomination months later. CBS's Bob Schieffer opened the October 31 Evening News by proclaiming: “Conservatives wanted a conservative on the Supreme Court, and said the President ought to risk a fight in the Senate to get one. Their wishes have been fulfilled.” Later that evening, on a special 7PM ET hour edition of CNN's The Situation Room, anchor Wolf Blitzer described: "...there is a new nomination and new controversy. A battle shapes up as the president picks a staunch conservative who could help reshape the U.S. Supreme Court."
On NBC's Today on Friday, White House correspondent Chuck Todd preemptively dismissed any criticism of President Obama referring to "Twitters" during a joint press conference with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev on Thursday: "It turns out he didn't misstate it. It was written incorrectly in his prepared remarks."
During Todd's report, a clip was played of Obama noting how in a visit to California's Silicon Valley, Medvedev went to "visit the headquarter of Twitters." Obama simply placed an 's' after the wrong word. Rather than let the minor gaffe stand, at the conclusion of the report, Todd made to sure to explain the typographical error to viewers: "You did not mishear. The President did say the word 'Twitters,' plural." Despite Obama's inability to correct the remarks off the cuff, Todd solely blamed a White House staffer for the mistake: "A speechwriter falling on his sword on that one."
Todd quickly changed the subject to a similar gaffe made by President Bush: "...it did bring back memories of President Bush one time referring to those 'internets.'" The media was certainly never quick to come to Bush's defense after a verbal misstep.
President Obama's decision to relieve General Stanley McChrystal of command in Afghanistan and replace him with General David Petraeus was met with a chorus of praise in the media, as anchors and pundits on CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC all sang in unison that it was a "brilliant" move. [Audio available here]
During live special coverage leading up to the announcement in the 1PM ET hour on CBS, White House correspondent Chip Reid proclaimed: "it sounds like a pretty brilliant decision really." At the same time on NBC, correspondent Jim Miklaszewski described it as a "stunning development" and added "at a quick glance, almost brilliant." Minutes later, White House correspondent Chuck Todd declared: "politically, in this town, it's going to be seen as a brilliant choice by the President."
Over on CNN, moments after Obama finished speaking, anchor Wolf Blitzer remarked that it was a "major moment for this president" and later observed: "a very brilliant move to tap General Petraeus." Finally, in the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, Meet the Press host David Gregory concluded: "I think he took swift and decisive action. I think that's how it's going to be read."
On Friday's Good Morning America on ABC, White House correspondent Jake Tapper described White House reaction to Republican Congressman Joe Barton calling BP's $20 billion escrow fund the result of a government "shakedown": "...the argument they're making, that the Republican Party is too close to corporate America.....And they've been given this great foil by Joe Barton."
When co-host George Stephanopoulos wondered if the Obama administration was at all concerned about being seen as anti-business, Tapper recited the White House spin: "...they say, at the end of the day, there were inequities throughout the Bush years and they need to correct those inequities. It was the wild west. And they'd rather be on their side, taking on corporate America, than on the Republican side, in their view, defending it."
Later, Tapper concluded: "...they think it was a good week. The President's trip down to the Gulf, the speech, the $20 billion escrow fund and then this gift from Joe Barton....they feel like they had a good week. Perhaps their first good week since this crisis began."
On Thursday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host George Stephanopoulos laid blame on BP and Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen for mishandling the Gulf oil spill response but depicted the Obama administration as having done everything it could. In contrast, on the CBS Early Show, guests from both sides of the aisle gave the President a 'C' grade for his response.
At the top of Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos described how BP CEO Tony Hayward would be facing a "public execution" in Thursday's congressional hearings and how Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak promised to "slice and dice" Hayward. In a report that followed, correspondent Jonathan Karl furthered the theme of courageous Democrats standing up to the big oil villain: "Tony Hayward may be the most hated man in America. And he's heading right into a buzz saw of congressional outrage. In his prepared testimony, Hayward declares, 'I am deeply sorry.' But the chairman of the committee says that's not enough." A clip of Democratic committee chairman Henry Waxman was played.
Minutes later, Stephanopoulos interviewed Louisiana Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and wondered: "...with everything the President and BP announced this week, do you think this is on the right track now?" After Nungesser expressed doubt about local fisherman being reimbursed for financial losses and a lack of organization in the response, Stephanopoulos deflected any criticism away from President Obama and suggested another target: "The White House has approved the building of berms, they've sent the boom down there, Admiral Allen is on the scene every day. Are you saying he is not giving you the help you need? And do you think he should keep his job?"
Appearing on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on Tuesday, Politico columnist Roger Simon described a recent interview with President Obama: "...he showed a genuine irritation....when people like Bobby Jindal, you know, standing up, screaming about more federal action...a small-government, no federal aid kind of guy. And the President is calling out those people for hypocrisy."
Simon was discussing a quote from Obama in that interview, in which the President whined: "Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying do something are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much." Apparently, asking the federal government to do its job in a national emergency but not take over people's health care is the liberal definition of hypocrisy.
Earlier, Mitchell asked Simon to preview the President's prime time address on the oil spill. Simon gushed: "...he's cool and collected about things but he also realizes that he has to break through that, and tonight is his chance. You know, speeches have never failed Barack Obama. They started his presidential career. They've always rescued him at tough times.... I think he wants to re-establish that personal bond he once had with voters." He could hardly wait for Obama's performance: "I think tonight we saw a preview of it in Pensacola. He likes to preview the speeches like opening a play out of town before you go to Broadway."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs made the rounds on the network morning shows on Tuesday, ahead of President Obama's prime time Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill. While he had confrontational interviews on CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today, on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos made sure Gibbs's appearance was low-stress.
Stephanopoulos kept the questions bland, giving Gibbs plenty of room to maneuver, and made little effort to press the White House spokesman on the administration's response: "...the President struck a pretty hopeful note yesterday, but experts say this spill will change the ecosystem for a generation....Are they right?...So does the President believe that basically all the oil will stop spilling into the Gulf by the end of June?...Is it fair to conclude from that, that this is the most significant crisis the President has faced?"
By contrast, on CBS's Early Show, co-host Harry Smith began by quoting Florida Senator Bill Nelson saying there was "no command and control" during the crisis and asking Gibbs: "How has this President's most recent trip to the Gulf, how is that going to change any of this?" Smith later wondered why local authorities weren't being allowed to take charge of cleanup efforts, to which Gibbs replied: "I think that's what's happening in almost every instance." Smith quickly interrupted: "...it may sound like it from where you are, but from where we have heard on the other end, it sure doesn't feel like it."
In the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall did a news brief on Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge assaulting two students attempting to ask him a question last week, proclaiming: "...there are some Democrats that are blasting the people allegedly behind this video....some would catagorize that as an ambush interview..." [Audio available here]
Hall played a clip of the video showing the assault and afterwards quoted an written apology from Etheridge. She described how the video "first appeared on Andrew Breitbart's conservative blog BigGovernment.org," remarking that he "was partly responsible for that notorious ACORN video featuring conservative James O'Keefe." Hall made sure to also mention that "O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering Senator Mary Landrieu's office under false pretenses." Hall then suspiciously noted about the Etheridge video: "One of these so-called camera men at one point reportedly identified himself as a student, so there's discrepancy over who these individuals really are."
In the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing spoke with NBC correspondent Luke Russert about the altercation and explained to viewers: "...in spite of the fact of what we see on camera and his apology, there are Democrats, right Luke, who frankly say they think that we need to look beyond what might seem obvious." Russert replied: "...nobody knows who these, quote, 'students' are" and cited Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse claiming they were actually Republican Party operatives. He concluded: "So a lot of Democrats are saying wait, hold on, this was a set up. This guy was intentionally put out to do this by the Republican Party."
On Monday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host George Stephanopoulos discussed President Obama's response to the Gulf oil spill with Democratic strategist James Carville: "Probably no one has been tougher than you on this White House on this response. The President now going back for his forth trip. He's ratcheted up the rhetoric over the weekend. Is this what you've been waiting for?"
Stephanopoulos was referring to Carville's criticism of Obama on the May 26 broadcast: "And it just looks like he's not involved in this!...We're about to die down here!" During his Monday appearance, the on-screen headline read: "Carville Demands Justice; Gulf 'Abused and Neglected'"
However, on Monday, Carville struck a more complimentary tone toward the President, remarking that Tuesday's prime time Oval Office address on the spill could allow Obama "to hit the reset button." Near the end of the segment, Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic strategist himself, asked Carville: "...put on your strategist hat here, has the President contained the political damage?" Carville reiterated: "I think he can hit this reset button tomorrow night. I think he can not contain the political damage, I think he can eliminate the damage. I actually think done properly, there's political value in this, I think that he can help himself a great deal."
Speaking to New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann on MSNBC Friday, anchor Andrea Mitchell wondered if the Gulf oil spill could be a political opportunity for President Obama: "Is there an opportunity now to do something real on energy?"Heilemann proclaimed the disaster was "a triggering action for us to try and get toward a greener future...break our addiction to oil..."
The discussion occurred during the 1PM ET hour on Andrea Mitchell Reports with Mitchell noting how the President was "trying to contain the political damage" from the spill. After she spun the crisis as an "opportunity," Heilemann argued: "I think this is one of these real moments for any president...what better moment is there than this?" Both Mitchell and Heilemann seem to share the philosophy of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
Heilemann actually worried that the White House would not exploit the situation enough: "I think that for the White House to do that and not end up with a piecemeal, some kind of small bill – small ball bill – he's got to go really big and turn this into a crusade." He described the "fear" on the Left that the administration was "going to end up settling for a small solution rather than the big one that really changes, fundamentally, our relationship to energy and the – and our climate."