On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen came to the defense of would-be New York Senator Caroline Kennedy, who has faced criticism for her lack of experience: "This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone." That comment followed a report by correspondent Meg Oliver, in which Kennedy avoided tough questions from the press: "She quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office...questions mostly went unanswered."
Chen was not so quick to defend Sarah Palin from critics during the campaign. When Tina Fey began impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live in September, Chen remarked: "Tina Fey has just so much material to work with, this is like, probably a dream come true for her." Earlier in September, Chen wondered about Palin’s foreign policy experience: "The education of Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor has her first meetings with world leaders as they gather at the U.N. How will she do?"
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: “Caroline Kennedy gets a boost in her quest to become a Senator from the woman she hopes to replace.” Later, co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment about Kennedy’s qualifications: “There are reports this morning that Senator Hillary Clinton has told her supporters to stop questioning if Caroline Kennedy is qualified to replace her. Kennedy is the latest in a long line of high-profile candidates who have sought a Senate seat. So, what actually qualifies someone to be a Senator?”
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Bill Plante acknowledged criticism of Kennedy’s qualifications, even quoting New York Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman, who compared Kennedy to Jennifer Lopez. However, Plante then brushed such concerns aside, instead praising Kennedy’s celebrity status: “Caroline Kennedy is just the latest celebrity to seek a Senate seat. In 1974, astronaut John Glenn won a Senate seat in Ohio. Bill Bradley won election to the Senate from New Jersey in 1979...Governor Patterson of New York, who will appoint the person to fill that Senate seat, has to run in two years. Who wouldn't want to run with a Kennedy on the ticket, who can raise lots of cash?”
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith offered this witty line teasing a story on the Iraq journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush: "Sock and awe. How the Iraqi shoe-thrower is now being hailed as a hero and drawing thousands of supporters." Later, Smith introduced a report about the shoe-thrower: "It's being referred to as the 'toss heard around the world.' In fact, many Iraqis are showering accolades on the journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush." The report, by correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, declared: "As demonstrators across the Arab world called for Muntathar al-Zaidi's release, his stature as a folk hero was growing...al-Zaidi using his shoes to disrespect America's president has thrilled the Arab world."
Palmer, who offered a similar report during Monday’s CBS Evening News, went on to describe al-Zaidi’s global popularity: "The internet is brimming with shoe jokes and a Saudi businessman has offered a million dollars for Zaidi's shoe...al-Zaidi's TV station announced today that not only are they going to give his family a house, but that his support extends beyond the Arab world. Another fierce critic of America, Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, has offered Al Zaidi permission to settle there, whenever, that is, he gets out of jail." Palmer also featured testimony from Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert from the liberal Brookings Institution: "It's a reminder, and a reminder that we shouldn't forget that the vast majority of people, in the Middle East and around the world, still think Iraq is a huge failure and that the Iraq war was a big mistake."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the potential impeachment of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich with Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and asked: "You've been calling for impeachment proceedings since the day after this scandal broke. Why? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" Schakowsky explained: "No, this isn't about the legal process. This is about the governor being unable to govern right now. This is really a political question. Right now, our state is without the leadership that we need and so, of course, he'll be innocent until proven guilty in the courts."
This is not the first time Rodriguez gave the benefit of the doubt to a Democratic official embroiled in scandal. In March, Rodriguez defended the disgraced Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, who was accused and later convicted of perjury, regarding sexually explicit text messages. At the time, Rodriguez asked the prosecutor in the case: "But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
According to CBS correspondent Richard Roth, in a report on Monday’s CBS Early about an Iraqi journalist throwing a shoe at President Bush during a Baghdad press conference, the incident was reminiscent of the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein five years earlier: "Mr. Bush's message of progress was eclipsed in Baghdad by a sign of his unpopularity...The symbolism wouldn't have been lost on Iraqis, for whom shoes can be used to show extreme contempt, as with the footwear beaten against the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by Marines five years ago."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith teased the story: "So the tabloids in New York are having a field day with the shoe attack on President Bush in Iraq. The Daily News calls it a ‘Shoe-icide Attack.’ And then the Post calls it ‘Lame Duck’." After Roth’s report, Smith looked at the video of Bush’s reaction and observed: "I mean, look at the president's face, look at the look on his face...He's amused almost by this." Co-host Julie Chen then chimed in: "He looked more embarrassed. I mean, he turned a little bit beet red afterwards."
Chen later remarked: "And he did kind of shoo off the Secret Service agent who came up-" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez interjected: "No pun intended." Chen didn’t understand the pun at first, but then added: "I didn't mean that! Hey, I'm wittier than I think this morning." In May, Chen thought Hawaii was in the Atlantic Ocean.
ABC was the only network to break into its daytime programming on Thursday with live coverage of Barack Obama’s press conference regarding the Wednesday arrest of Illinois’s Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. Neither CBS nor NBC interrupted regular programming to cover the press conference, during which Obama also named former Senator Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary.
This lack of coverage is particularly odd because both CBS and NBC featured live coverage of past significant Obama press conferences. Since being elected to the presidency, Obama has held seven press conferences, including Thursday’s. CBS provided live coverage of three of them, Obama’s first on November 7, the announcement of Obama’s economic team on November 24, and the announcement of Obama’s national security team on December 1. Meanwhile, NBC covered five of the seven press conferences, the same as CBS, with the addition of a brief Obama press appearance on November 26 and the announcement of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as commerce secretary on December 3. Apparently neither CBS nor NBC felt that Obama addressing a major corruption scandal in his home state was worthy enough to interrupt "The Price is Right" or local news.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed actor James Franco, who stars opposite Sean Penn in a new movie about gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk: "Actor James Franco is here to talk about his role in the much-talked-about new movie, 'Milk.' He is amazing in it." At the end of the show, Smith thanked Franco for being a guest and offer this review of the movie: "James Franco in 'Milk,' amazing performance. Sean Penn, off the charts. It's a must-see for everybody."
On November 30, CBS’s Sunday Morning offered a similar glowing description of the film, describing Milk as a "rebel with a cause." In the Wednesday interview, Smith described Franco’s role in the movie as a career-maker: "...there’s this completely other performance here. I mean, there's a part of you that's go to be, ‘this means I have a career,’ and 'I'm not just -- I'm not the pretty face on the Gucci ads, I get a career now.’"
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show worked hard to put as much distance as possible between Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as correspondent Chip Reid reported: "Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have both been leaders in Illinois Democratic politics for years, but long-time observers say that's about as far as the connection goes." Reid later dismissed Republican efforts to question Obama’s connection to the indicted Governor: "...that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together...Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
In a segment that followed Reid’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet: "Does any of this rub off on Barack Obama?" Sweet replied: "A little bit does. Because these are his -- this brings up the whole -- we're talking about the Senate seat for sale, but the criminal complaint does bring up Tony Rezko, it does bring up questions about the associations-" Smith interjected: "Which the Republicans tried so hard during the campaign to say Barack Obama is a Chicago politician." Sweet dispelled that characterization: "Right. And here's the thing, Obama does not come out of this culture."
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming story about a protest by laid off workers at a Chicago factory: "Fighting back, workers stage a protest after being laid off, refusing to leave their Chicago factory until their demands are met...We'll take you there live and hear what they're fighting for." Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Leah Fried of the United Electrical Workers and liberal Congressman Luis Gutierrez, no spokesman for the management of the company, Republic Windows and Doors, was featured.
Rodriguez found the real culprit:
RODRIGUEZ: The company says that it had to close because Bank of America canceled their line of credit. I take it you're not buying that?
FRIED: Oh, no. Bank of America definitely is -- is in charge here.
RODRIGUEZ: But I'm saying that you're not satisfied with that explanation?
FRIED: No, no -- well this is the same bank that got $25 billion in bailout funds, so I think we definitely need to hold them accountable for what they do to our economy and whether or not they're investing in jobs, whether or not they're keeping people employed. So we're -- we're fighting hard to make sure that Bank of America is held accountable for what they're doing and the workers feel very strongly that -- that they need to do the right thing here.
During a discussion with co-host Maggie Rodriguez on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington, remarked that: "The problem with Sarah Palin was not anything to do with her being a woman. It had to do with her antediluvian views on creationism, her lack of curiosity, her lack of interest in the world around her."
The segment was about an open mic gaffe by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who said of Arizona Governor and Obama’s Homeland Security secretary nominee Janet Napolitano: "Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect." Rodriguez turned to Huffington and asked: "So what did you think about Governor Rendell's comment. Did you think it was sexist?" Huffington vigorously defended Napolitano: "I think that is really...an illusion about a woman's life. Like Janet Napolitano has a very rich life. I mean, she plays tennis twice a week and nobody in her staff can interfere with that sacred time. She actually climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She goes river rafting. She loves movies and the opera."
However, Rodriguez observed: "You talked a lot about perceptions of women, especially women in politics, during the campaign, when Sarah Palin was in the news. And on your blog you openly criticized her." Huffington offered no defense of Palin: "Well, I thought that Sarah Palin, in a way, summed up what happens when you're not curious. When you're not interested in what is going on in the world. Because my problem with her was really her response to Katie Couric, when she was asked 'what do you read?' and she couldn't give an answer."
On Thursday’s "CBS Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked discussed the Obama transition with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, who observed: "...a lot of people said this is going to be a very extremist president and all that, that he's a very liberal Democrat, but as we have seen in appointment after appointment, he's hewing to the center. He's picking a bunch of flaming moderates here, when you come right down t it.
"Now some liberal Democrats may not like that, but he's getting praised generally across the board here." Smith agreed: "Yeah, Bob, I would guess that the only people who really feel like they have their feathers ruffled are, maybe, the liberal Democrats."
In reality, Obama’s pick for secretary of state, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting score of 9. Obama’s pick for commerce secretary, New Mexico Governor and former Congressman Bill Richardson, had an ACU score of 18 while in Congress. Obama’s chief of staff, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, has a score of 16.
On Sunday’s CBS Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer discussed the challenges President-elect Barack Obama will face with liberal authors: "Today we ask the authors of four of the year's most important books to assess the problems the new administration will face." Schieffer asked the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, author of ‘The War Within: A Secret White House History,’ about Obama picking Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Woodward replied: "It's an amazing national security team that Obama appears to have selected. It's kind of like 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears.' You've got too cool, which might be -- or at least appropriately cool, General Jones as the national security adviser; Gates is kind of just right, in the middle; and Hillary Clinton, hot."
Schieffer later turned to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, author of ‘The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,’ and asked: "...your fascinating book, 'The Dark Side,' tells how the current vice president, Richard Cheney, amassed power unknown to any vice president in our history. I'd like to ask you first, how did he do that? And do you see Joe Biden having the kind of power?" Mayer replied: "it takes a president like Bush to have a vice president like Cheney. Obama, so far, seems to be so much more involved in the details and in kind of wanting to command the policies all the way up and down, really -- so I don't see it repeating." Mayer then went on to compare the Bush and Obama administrations:
Another difference that's very important is that both the president coming in and the vice president are lawyers, and one of the things that happened in the last administration was neither of them were. They were not constitutional scholars and they enacted policies that -- including legalizing torture for all purposes -- that really were not constitutional. And I don't think we're going to see that again. This is a -- this is a group of people who -- and the secretary of state is also a lawyer now. These people respect the law, I think.
Following coverage of a Monday morning news conference in which President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric observed: "...two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates." She then asked political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "...in a way, this inoculates President-Elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?" Greenfield replied: "Yeah, I think so."
Greenfield went on to explain: "If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy." Couric followed up: "What about the confirmation process? Do you think there will be tough questions for Senator Clinton?...any road blocks during that process?" Greenfield responded: "One interesting thing is there are no -- I'll use this term -- fire-breathing conservative Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nobody who's looking to make points going after Bill Clinton."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, host Charles Osgood teased a story on politician Harvey Milk, who was the first gay man elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977: "The story of a rebel with a cause is being retold in the form of a just-released motion picture. And as it happens, the timing could hardly be more appropriate." The movie, starring left-wing actor Sean Penn, is set to come out just after the 30th anniversary of Milk’s murder, as correspondent John Blackstone explained: "He became the first openly gay man elected to office in the United States. A breakthrough that ended with assassination. Harvey Milk served less than a year here on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors but it was a year that changed history."
Blackstone, who has done numerous stories on Californians efforts to legalize gay marriage, made a comparison between Milk’s election and the current battle over Proposition 8: "In California, the renewed battle over same sex marriage has echoes in a new movie about triumph and tragedy in San Francisco 30 years ago...It is an accident of timing. Just as gay right activists have taken to the streets, angry over the ban on same sex marriage in California, the struggle for gay rights has also moved to the big screen."
In an effort to explain Barack Obama’s call for a $500 billion stimulus package on Monday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith patronized viewers as he turned to Fast Draw artists Josh Landis and Mitch Butler, who created an animated cartoon on the subject, promoting Obama’s public works program. Butler explained: "When the economy slows down, people look for a pick-me-up." Landis added: "And a stimulus check from government is like money falling from the sky." Butler then asked: "But what's better? Giving money away-" Landis interjected: "-or using it to build bridges, highways, schools, things like that."
Butler and Landis used economist Peter Morici to further explain: "The construction workers get salaries. The steel workers and concrete makers get salaries. They spend that money on goods and services and the money -- and that creates additional jobs, and the money keeps cycling through the economy." Butler added: "And when they're finished working, there's a new bridge that businesses can use to ship more products." Later, Landis observed: "And even though the government has to carry more debt to get the project done-" Morici explained: "It employs more people immediately, boosts GNP by a larger amount and leaves the legacy of investments in our economy, which will improve productivity into the future." Landis concluded: "...spending the money on bridges, schools and other projects gives us a better shot of prosperity down the road."
On Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Dean Reynolds reported on Barack Obama's announcement of an economic team, but instead of getting reaction from Republicans or financial experts, Reynolds decided to stick with the president-elect himself: "Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, as Treasury secretary. Obama said Geithner has an 'unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis.'And Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary himself, to chair the National Economic Council. Obama called him 'one of the great economic minds of our time.'
The only mention of Republicans in the story was about how cooperative they will be if Obama backs off tax increases: "As a candidate, he favored raising taxes on the rich, but as president-elect he now says he's inclined to wait on that, a concession that could bring congressional Republicans to his side."
Following the report by Reynolds, Smith played a clip of an interview with former Clinton Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, Arthur Levitt. At one point, Smith asked Levitt: "Barack Obama puts his economic team in place today. It's two months until he takes office. Is this audacious or is this good management on his part?" Levitt replied: "This is smart. I mean, we have an administration that is virtually powerless. Certainly a president who nobody listens to. What we've seen now with the new administration is we have a shadow administration in power, in place, acting in a constructive and in a cooperative way...We cannot afford a lost two-month period where public confidence would disappear. We cannot afford that."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus package: "What about the $500 billion economic stimulus plan that President-elect Obama is planning? Do you think it's realistic to get that done in two years?" Not only was Krugman in favor of the plan, but he argued: "I'm actually worried that this plan may be too small... I'm still worrying that they're going to be a little bit short, because you just have to put all your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now."
Rodriguez’s discussion with Krugman was preceded by a fawning report by correspondent Dean Reynolds on Obama’s economic plan: "Well, the incoming administration is making it abundantly clear that it plans an active multi-billion dollar approach to kick-starting the economy. As one top economic adviser to Barack Obama put it, the era of dithering is over." Reynolds continued by declaring: "...with the actions taken so far to stem the tide proving to be totally ineffective, the incoming administration is setting the table for a long struggle to make things right."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric referred to a recent court ruling to release five Guantanamo Bay detainees as: "A big legal setback for the president's war on terror." Couric later introduced a report on the ruling and reiterated the idea of the ruling being a defeat solely for President Bush: "...a federal judge ruled today that five suspects held at Guantanamo Bay must be released...it's a major defeat for the Bush administration in its final days."
In the report, correspondent Wyatt Andrews described how: "Defense lawyers call it a victory for American justice and the beginning of the end for Guantanamo." Andrews cited one attorney, Stephen Olesky: " I think many forces are now working toward the closure of Guantanamo and toward ensuring that many of these men who have been held for so long under such desperate circumstances get home." Andrews concluded the report: "...the ruling starts a nightmare for the Pentagon. The military now faces an oncoming rush of 200 Guantanamo appeals, not to mention an incoming president who wants to close the camp altogether." One wonders if CBS will be using the phrase "president’s war on terror" with President Obama.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Jeff Glor discussed Barack Obama’s latest cabinet picks with New York Times editor Marcus Mabry: "We'll start with Tom Daschle, potentially, secretary of Health and Human Services." Mabry approved of the choice: "...he's going to be the czar for over -- for overhauling the American health care system. That is a huge job and incredibly important. He knows how to get it done. He knows the Senate. He's going to help President Obama actually get it through." Mabry made no mention of a Wednesday New York Times article that highlighted Daschle’s numerous potential conflicts-of-interest in the position. In addition, no liberal label was applied to Daschle or any of Obama’s picks.
Glor then briefly mentioned Obama’s attorney general pick, but did not ask Mabry to comment: "Eric Holder, we know about. We've been talking about him for a couple days. He seems to be Barack Obama's pick for Attorney General." Holder, who was deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, helped approve the pardon for convicted tax evader Marc Rich. Glor then discussed the possibility of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano being named Homeland Security secretary. Mabry provided little evidence of Napolitano’s qualifications: "Well, she's a real tough one when it comes to border security. Governor Napolitano, will be a woman in an incredibly important job."
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "...it may be the hottest ticket in the country right now, a ticket to Barack Obama's inauguration in January. Millions are expected to try and watch the swearing in. But we're going to show you why tickets are almost impossible to get." The 2008 April Fool’s edition of the Media Research Center’s Media Reality Check featured a fictional quote from Early Show co-host Harry Smith: "CBS's Harry Smith sounded like a teenage groupie on the April 1 Early Show: ‘Obama's rock star status is reaching historic levels. His rallies attract more fans than a Hannah Montana concert and seats are impossible to get. Believe me I've tried.’"
Chen later introduced a report on the Obama inauguration by proclaiming: "Inauguration fever is sweeping Washington. The city's mayor believes 3-5 million people may turn out to witness President-elect Obama's swearing-in." However, in the report, correspondent Thalia Assuras talked to Howard Gantman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Inauguration, who predicted a much smaller turnout: "We've printed 240,000 tickets. So that's a minimum, we expect at least that many people. For this event, we could see half a million, some projections have come in for a million or more."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith touted the latest issue of ‘GQ’ magazine, in which Barack Obama was named one of the publication’s ‘Men of the Year’: "As If being elected president isn't a high enough honor, Barack Obama is now the quintessential 'GQ' guy." Later, Smith talked to ‘GQ’ deputy editor Michael Hainey and asked: " Is there -- is -- do you have this little bit of a sense, can there be -- can a guy who's cool be President of the United States?" Hainey replied: "No. I think, I mean JFK was cool. I mean, you know...And I think, yeah, Reagan was cool. I mean it's that sense of how you define 'cool,' I think. And it's -- it's a real chemistry, that's what people are reacting to."
Smith began the segment by asking Hainey about the choice: "Why -- [Laughs] I suppose why not? Now when did you make the choice though?... And for Barack Obama, why would -- why was he a good choice?" Hainey explained: "Well, you know, it's interesting, we had Ted Kennedy write the piece for us in the magazine about the Senator. And as he said it, you know, the torch has been passed to a new generation... It really is, I mean, he's young, he's vibrant, he's vital, like all those qualities of a 'GQ' guy."
According to a Friday New York Times article by David Kirkpatrick, Barack Obama has reassigned Fairness Doctrine proponent, former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera, from heading his FCC transition team: “At least one official initially involved in the transition appears to have been reassigned because of concern about his lobbying or legal work. Henry Rivera, a former Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communication Commission who was involved in planning for the agency’s transition, has dropped out of that role because he had represented clients on communications policy in the last year, the newsletter Communications Daily reported Friday.”
Kirkpatrick went on to report on Rivera’s new position in the Obama transition team: “Instead, on the list that was made public on Friday, Mr. Rivera was listed on the team handling science, technology, space and the arts.” Despite the reassignment, it is unclear if Rivera’s influence over a future FCC appointment has diminished. As the Media Research Center’s Seton Motley explained on FNC’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, Obama will have the opportunity to appoint a member to the FCC in 2009, possibly opening the door to a reimplementation of the Fairness Doctrine.
In a report on Thursday’s CBS Evening News on the Republican Governors Association conference, correspondent Kelly Cobiella focused on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, observing: "A lot of Americans would like to see her stay on the national stage -- 45 percent, according a new Gallup Poll. But even more, 52, percent, would not." Cobiella then added: "The party itself is split on whether to embrace Palin-style conservatism or broaden its appeal." A clip of Politico’s Jonathan Martin was featured: "You talk to a lot of these governors and they're very candid about it. This cannot be a white rural male party. And if it is, it's going to die."
Cobiella began the report by describing Palin’s attendance at the conference this way: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin blew into Miami like a hurricane." In reference to Palin’s address to the organization, Cobiella remarked: "But when it came time to lay out her vision of the party's future, her role in it, her speech was heavy on the past." Cobiella also critiqued Palin’s press conference: "She also gave her first formal press conference since joining the Republican ticket. It was four questions long." After suggesting Palin’s press conference was too short, Cobiella described the Governor’s recent media blitz as simply: "firing back at critics, including unnamed aides to Senator John McCain, who said she spent too much money on clothes and wasn't prepared for the job."
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "Breaking news. A new CBS poll out this morning shows the change in mood in America after Barack Obama's election." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez later touted the poll results: "A changing of the guard in Washington is changing American attitudes. A CBS News poll out this morning shows that most Americans have good feelings about Barack Obama. 71% say they're optimistic about the next four years with him as president."
Compare those poll results with those reported on the CBS Evening News on December 17, 2000 by then-anchor John Roberts, shortly after George W. Bush was elected: "A new CBS News poll out tonight shows that the majority of Americans are satisfied with the outcome of the election, though there were only five points separating them from those who weren't. When asked if Bush legitimately won the election, 53 percent said yes, compared to 40 percent who said no." Roberts also looked at one of President Bush’s first policy proposals: "A narrow majority of Americans also believe that Bush has enough public support to pass is $ 1.3 trillion tax cut...But on Capitol Hill, opinions run from lukewarm to dead set against it."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed Barack Obama’s foreign policy goals with foreign correspondent Lara Logan and asked about Logan’s July interview with the president-elect: "...he said many times during the campaign, that Afghanistan, and not Iraq, needs to be our central focus in this war on terrorism. And this morning in the Washington Post we're seeing that's he's already tackling strategies in Afghanistan. What do you think? How important will this be for him?" Logan replied: "Well, there's no question that Afghanistan is a very pressing and immediate problem because the gains the U.S. made during the invasion seven years ago have been slipping away more...You really cannot separate Afghanistan and Pakistan. And Obama understands that, that's one of key things that he said to me."
Later, Rodriguez asked about Obama’s policy towards Iran: "...what I thought was interesting in this article in the Washington Post, is that President-elect Obama is reportedly considering talks with Iran as part of this new Afghanistan strategy. Do you think the two will go hand in hand?" Logan followed Obama talking points: "Well, he said from the beginning he has no problem sitting down with Iran if it is in the United States’ best interest, because he believes that dialogue is important...it's absolutely critical that the United States reaches some kind of understanding. They've been losing ground to Iran inside Iraq since the invasion of Iraq and that is really a very, very serious problem that has not been dealt with to date."
On Sunday’s CBS ‘60 Minutes,’ anchor Steve Kroft abandoned hard-hitting journalism and instead offered a glowing profile of the Obama campaign team: "Like Obama, they were talented, laid back, and idealistic, with limited exposure on the national stage. But with the candidate's help, the team orchestrated one of the most improbable and effective campaigns in American political history." Kroft interviewed Obama advisors David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs, and Anita Dunn about the campaign and later observed: "The only person missing from the brain trust was the candidate himself."
Kroft went on to describe their incredible accomplishment: "They took a little known senator with a foreign sounding name and almost no national experience and got him elected the 44th President of the United States. They did it by recruiting and investing millions of volunteers in the outcome, by raising more money than any campaign in history, and by largely ignoring the fact that their candidate happened to be a black man."
On the issue of race, Kroft later asked: "There were just so many people -- reporters, pundits, everybody -- who said that you're not going to be able to elect a black man President of the United States. It's just not going to happen right now. Obviously that had to be part of your equation in planning this campaign." When Plouffe replied: "No. Honestly, you had to take a leap of faith in the beginning that the people would get by race, and I think the number of meetings we had about race was zero." An incredulous Kroft responded: "What?"
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen asked former Bush speech writer David Frum about recent attacks on Sarah Palin by McCain campaign staffers: "What do you make of Sarah Palin's response to those anonymous attacks?" Frum strongly defened her: "I think she's entirely within her rights on this one. You know, I was a critic of her nomination, but everybody is entitled to some basic fairness and the stories that have been released about her most recently are not only incredible on their face..." Frum was indeed a critic of Palin, calling her nomination a "huge mistake" during an October 13 Early Show appearance.
This time, Frum dismissed Palin’s opponents: "And you often get people seeking advantage by denigrating those above them. And then there's just the sheer human joy in mischief... there's sometimes just a human joy in cruelty." He also criticized the media coverage of the rumors: "And they are also, I think, a real problem in our rules in media. I mean, it should be a rule that if somebody is anonymous they shouldn't be allowed to criticize somebody else by name, because then we can't evaluate them, who they are, their motives, whether they're telling the truth."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell reported on location from Athens, Greece as part of the show’s ‘Destination Unknown’ series and managed to squeeze in this observation: "...coming here, also, meeting people on the street, Europeans, they're absolutely giddy about the election of Barack Obama. They're actually coming up to us and congratulating us, which is interesting. So Europe is reacting in that way."
Later in the 8:30AM half hour, Mitchell returned to that observation: "As I said earlier in the broadcast, you get the sense being over here in Europe that the attitudes of some Europeans towards Americans may be changing with this week's election of President-Elect Barack Obama." Mitchell then turned to correspondent Richard Roth, who reported: "America's got a new President-Elect and a lot of the buzz on this side of the ocean is that's cool."
Roth, reporting from London, visited a local pub to get British reaction to Obama’s election: "Here in the country that was briefly called 'Cool Britannia' not so long ago, we're hearing some new compliments for the former colony." One patron remarked: "It makes America a better place." Roth asked one woman: "You like our movies?...You like our music?...So now you like our politics?" She replied: "I think they're a lot healthier now. Everybody's talking about it. So America is the thing of the moment at the moment and definitely -- definitely cool."
Continuing the narrative of Barack Obama as John F. Kennedy, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith described how: "As the nation prepares for President-Elect Barack Obama to move into the White House, many Americans can't help but draw similarities between him and the late President John F. Kennedy." Co-host Julie Chen earlier teased the segment: "The new first family has been compared to JFK and Jackie and their young children. Can the Obamas bring that 'one brief shining moment,' that was known as Camelot, back to the White House?"
Smith narrated the segment, which juxtaposed images JFK with Obama: "It was a presidency filled with idealism, glamour, and excitement...A young Senator had been elected to lead his country. Now 47 years later, America has chosen another young Senator." Smith went on:
And the similarities are striking. JFK was 43 when he was inaugurated. Obama is just three years older, bringing a certain youthful vigor to the White House, including, young children. Both Obama and Kennedy were criticized for lacking experience and both knew the power of well-chosen words...Kennedy had more than his share of charisma and Obama knows how to light up a room. But it's their wives who might be the real superstars. Both men overcame significant obstacles to become elected. Anti-Catholic sentiment was still widespread in the country but JFK was elected the first Roman Catholic President of the United States.
Following a Thursday one-sided report by correspondent John Blackstone, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez continued to lament the passage of California’s Proposition 8, defining marriage as only between a man and a woman: "On Tuesday, voters in California approved Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage. It was a stunning defeat for gays and lesbians who are now fighting back." Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reported: "Supporters of gay marriage targeted L.A.'s Mormon temple, protesting the $15 million the church poured into passing Proposition 8." She played a clip of those protesters chanting: "Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you!"
Following Kauffman’s report, Rodriguez interviewed ‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei and his partner Brad Altman, who were married in September and have made numerous Early Show appearances since the California Supreme Court allowed gay marriage. Rodriguez, who had interviewed the pair shortly after their marriage, asked: "I remember your jubilation when you talked about your wedding here on the program. You shared your wedding video and you shared your hope that other gay couples in California would continue to get the opportunity that you had. This ban says that they won't. George, the last time we spoke, you felt hopeful. Today, you feel?" Takei replied: "Well, we feel that our marriage is valid, that there's no language in Proposition 8 that says it's retroactive... This is a fundamental right, all-inclusive, as Supreme Court of California has ruled, and this is taking away that fundamental right. It's like saying, you know, you don't have a certain -- a certain group will be -- will have their freedom of speech taken away from them, just because they're red heads."