On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: "A man at a pro-health care reform rally...wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip....there are questions about whether this has racial overtones....white people showing up with guns."Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black.
Following Brewer’s report, which occurred on the Morning Meeting program, host Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. Toure argued: "...there is tremendous anger in this country about government, the way government seems to be taking over the country, anger about a black person being president....we see these hate groups rising up and this is definitely part of that." Ratigan agreed: "...then they get the variable of a black president on top of all these other things and that’s the move – the cherry on top, if you will, to the accumulated frustration for folks."
Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black. The man appeared at a health care rally outside of President Obama’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner touted President Obama’s latest PR blitz to promote health care reform: "For the third time in five days, Barack Obama used the presidential bully pulpit on behalf of what he’s now calling health insurance reform. No more letting the angry opposition control the agenda."
Teichner dismissed that "angry opposition" by declaring: "Here’s a question. Do they even know what’s in the bills currently being considered by Congress? Do you?" Teichner and two liberal supporters of the Obama health care plan proceeded to educate viewers as to what was being proposed.
She spoke with former head of the left-wing group People for the American Way, Ralph Neas, now CEO of the supposedly "non-partisan" National Coalition on Health Care that is pushing for reform. In addition, Teichner spoke with University of North Carolina Professor Jonathan Oberlander, who in a July 22 article for the liberal British newspaper The Guardian wrote: "The Obama administration is pushing Congress to enact health reform legislation this year. And against all odds, Obama may pull it off....Obama’s election, after all, is a reminder that history is not always repeated. Sometimes it is made."
On MSNBC Friday, anchor John Harwood spoke with New York Times Week in Review editor Sam Tanenhaus about the health care debate, wondering: "...you know an awful lot about the patron saint of modern conservatism William F. Buckley. What do you suppose Bill Buckley would think of the nature of the arguments that are being made against the Obama health care plan right now, death panels and all the rest?"
Harwood, hosting the 2:00PM ET weekly New York Times Edition broadcast, was asking about Tanenhaus’s upcoming book, ‘The Death of Conservatism.’ Tanenhaus argued: "Well, you know, one of the great contributions Bill Buckley made to conservatism was to move it toward the center. And one way he did that was to repudiate in a very forceful way what was then called the lunatic fringe."
At that time, Harwood interjected: "The John Birch Society." Tanenhaus continued: "And they weren’t necessarily a dangerous group, but what they did was discredit serious conservative arguments." He then made the comparison to the current health care debate: "...and we may see in the days ahead where serious responsible Republicans and conservative thinkers say if they’re going to make a forceful argument the country can accept, they’ll have to cut themselves off from this more extreme view."
Harwood concluded: "Well, it’s an interesting point. It’s – I don’t see right now anybody cutting off that extreme view all that much."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric used a free clinic in Inglewood, California to push for health care reform: "Tonight in the battle over health care, they are on the front lines....we’re going to show you why many believe reform is desperately needed. These are just some of the tens of thousands of Americans who need health care but have no insurance or not enough of it."
In the report that followed, correspondent Bill Whitaker described the organization that set up the free health clinic: "This program is run by Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit group established 24 years ago to take modern medicine to the third world. Today, they do some 40 multi-day free clinics a year, 65% of them now in the U.S." Whitaker spoke to one volunteer physician, who compared the need for health care in the U.S. to that of third world nations: "Here at home, we have as much a need as I do when I travel to the most remote areas of India, and that’s very heartbreaking."
On March 2 of last year, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a story on Remote Area Medical in which anchor Scott Pelley made similar third world comparisons when discussing the American health care system: "Recently, we heard about an American relief organization that air drops doctors and medicine into the jungles of the Amazon....But these days, that’s not the Amazon – this charity founded to help people who can’t reach medical care now finds itself throwing America a lifeline."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on dispelling myths about health care reform: "There’s so much anger, this vitriol that we see day after day in these town meetings across the country....We’re going to try and determine this morning whether or not some of these bold statements are, in fact, true or not."
Smith turned to Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of the left-wing magazine, The New Republic, to find the "truth" about the President’s health care plan. Smith made no mention of Cohn’s political affiliation or the magazine’s liberal leanings but did find time to promote his guest’s latest book: "Jonathan Cohn is senior editor of The New Republic and author ‘Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis And The People Who Pay The Price.’"
On Wednesday, Cohn wrote an article for The New Republic entitled: "The Swiftboating of Health Reform," in which he attacked conservative critics of the health care plan: "It’d be one thing if the lunatics on the right had a coherent argument for why these initiatives might be ineffective or counterproductive. But they don’t even bother to acknowledge them, preferring instead to throw out scare quotes like this one from [Sarah] Palin: ‘Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course.’"
At the top of the 8:00AM ET hour of Wednesday’s Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell cited protests at health care reform town hall meetings as evidence that the debate was "turning into a nasty national shouting match."
After playing a clip of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce ad opposing the health care plan, Mitchell observed: "Democratic lawmakers pushing reform are being jeered at testy town hall meetings. President Obama is urging Americans to ignore those who he says are trying to scare and mislead."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "As President Obama takes his health care reform plan to the people, anger spills out all over the country." Smith later introduced a segment on President Obama’s Tuesday town hall: "First though, tempers boiled over again Tuesday in the heated debate over health care, nearly everywhere that is, except inside President Obama’s town hall meeting in New Hampshire."
On Wednesday, the CBS Early Show once again feared a rise in right-wing extremism as co-host Russ Mitchell cited a report from the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center: "A report out this morning says anti-government and white racist militias are regrouping around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center says it is in part a reaction to the election of America’s first black president." [Audio/video (1:21): Mp3 | WMV]
The CBS morning show touted a similar report from the liberal group on April 15, with co-host Harry Smith declaring: "The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That’s up more than 50% from just 2000...And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama." Smith went on to describe how that report coincided with a controversial Homeland Security report that was released at the same time.
The Wednesday story was reported by correspondent Bob Orr, who cited anecdotal evidence:
Reporting on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court on Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Wyatt Andrews declared: "...she’s not always the reserved, work-aholic judge she portrayed in the Senate hearings....The judge is also known for her can't-miss Christmas parties, which included salsa dancing inside the federal court of appeals in Manhattan." [Audio/video (1:25): Mp3 | WMV]
Andrews offered a detailed report on Sotomayor’s down-to-earth personality as he spoke with her friends and colleagues: "...according to friends, like former law clerk Allison Barkoff, the Judge has a big, engaging, New York personality." Barkoff exclaimed: "She is fun. She – she works hard and she plays hard." No mention was made in the segment of Sotomayor’s infamous "wise Latina" comments.
As an example of how the newest member of the Supreme Court "plays hard" Andrews described: "Melissa Murray clerked for two federal judges, including Sotomayor, and when both judges came to Melissa’s wedding, Sotomayor challenged the other judge to a dance-off." After describing Sotomayor’s "can’t-miss" Christmas party, Andrews added: "Sotomayor knew and invited everyone in the courthouse." Barkoff explained: "The people who work in the cafeteria, the security guards, the custodians, are equally as important as her colleagues."
At the top of the 4:00PM ET hour on MSNBC Friday, fill-in co-anchor Monica Novotny issued a dire warning about protests at health care town hall meetings: "The town hall confrontations are turning violent....Where is all of this heading? New fears for the safety of America’s first African-American president." [Audio/video (0:33): Mp3 | WMV]
In a later segment, co-anchor David Shuster interviewed Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran and asked: "We know that threats to President Obama are up by like something 400% compared to the Bush administration. Is this putting our president in some sort of danger because of some wacko that will see this stuff and say, ‘oh, yes, it’s fascism and the way we dealt with Adolf Hitler was to try to kill him, so therefore, let’s do this with our president.’"
Congressman Moran responded to that outrageous scenario by remarking: "Well, you know, it only took – takes one person. It took one person to shoot Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy, and so on. But I think the Secret Service can be trusted to protect the President. But it does discredit those people who are using such extreme measures to achieve an objective which is really corporate profit."
After touting the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program as a "runaway success" and "great for the environment," Friday’s CBS Early Show finally reported on problems with the plan as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "And find out why the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program could actually end up costing you long term."
While previous Early Show segments on the plan gave only passing attention to its critics, Rodriguez began Friday’s story by explaining: "Congress has passed a $2 billion extension for the popular ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, but some critics are being vocal this morning, saying it may not be such a good idea after all." Correspondent Terrell Brown reported: "‘Cash for Clunkers’ is said to be environmentally friendly, but some are trashing the new government program....Recyclers say some salvaged car engines are still valuable. Instead, they’re being needlessly destroyed." One wonders why CBS did not highlight this criticism before the government spent another $2 billion on the program.
Brown went on to describe the car-destroying process: "Dealers are told to destroy the engine by replacing oil with sodium silicate and then running it....With the engine destroyed, many cars bypass the part recyclers and go straight to the salvage yards." The report featured the vice president of the Automotive Recylers Association, Michael Wilson: "We think a much more efficient program would have been to encourage recycled parts usage....All those parts that could have been reused will go right to a scrap processor."
During the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer wondered: "Is a poster of the President as the Joker racist? The posters in Los Angeles and elsewhere show the President as ‘The Dark Knight’ version of the Joker above the word ‘socialism.’" She then cited an article from Thursday’s Washington Post making the accusation.
Brewer spoke with the author of the article, Phillip Kennicott, and asked: "nobody seems to know who came up with this.... have you been able to get any further in finding out who’s behind it?" While not knowing who put up the posters, Kennicott went on to recite some of the main points of his piece: "Well, I go back to the original context of the Joker in the Batman films. And these films have always been about urban fears, and quite simply, those fears code in many ways, black. They play into anti-African-American stereotypes."
A skeptical Brewer pointed out: "But we – and we just put it up there – we saw George W. Bush on Vanity Fair as the Joker. I mean, then why would this be racially motivated?" Kennicott then bizarrely argued: "Well, I mean, for the obvious reason that George Bush wasn’t black. I mean in this case, I think what they’re doing is finding an image that actually has undercurrents when applied to Obama that it simply didn’t have when it applied to Bush."
On Thursday, all three network morning news programs reported the conviction of former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson on bribery charges, but only NBC’s Today identified him as a Democrat. CBS’s Early Show and ABC’s Good Morning America simply referred to him as a "former congressman."
In contrast, Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News did not provide a Democratic label for Jefferson, while ABC’s World News did identify his party affiliation. The CBS Evening News made no mention of the conviction. While both Good Morning America and Today featured news briefs early in the 7AM ET hour on Thursday, The Early Show did not mention the story until early in the 8AM hour.
While CBS finally managed that single news brief Thursday morning, reporter Russ Mitchell framed the story in the context of Jefferson’s attorney appealing the decision: "A lawyer for former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson says he will appeal Jefferson’s conviction on 11 counts of bribery, racketeering, and money laundering." Neither Today nor Good Morning America mentioned the appeal.
After depicting the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ car buying program as a "runaway success" on Friday, on Tuesday’s Early Show, correspondent Nancy Cordes argued: "The Department of Transportation says the program has been great for the environment. 80% of the clunkers have been pickups or SUVs, traded in for new cars with an average mileage nearly 10 miles per gallon higher."
Following that declaration Cordes cited car salesman Mario Sosnowski, who praised the program: "Starting from 8:00, 9:00 in the morning, we’re here till – till midnight every day because of the program, because of the excitement."
At the top of the show, co-host Julie Chen depicted Republican opposition to increased funding for ‘Cash for Clunkers’ as a desire to "put the popular program on the scrap heap." Following Cordes’ report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint about his objections: "We now see this morning that this program is, in fact, getting more fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. It’s getting people to spend money. So do you still believe, as you have said in recent days, that this is quote ‘a great example of the stupidity coming out of Washington’?"
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith touted a White House-produced video: "And your letters to the President...A behind-the-scenes look at how President Obama keeps in touch with everyday Americans." After airing the administration spin, co-host Maggie Rodriguez argued it was "all part of Obama’s promise of transparency in the people’s White House."
Smith introduced the latest White House public relations push by declaring: "Beginning today, the Obama administration is giving Americans a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of the White House. This morning we have an exclusive look at how the letters of every day Americans make their way to the President’s desk."
The video that followed featured a montage of President Obama in the Oval Office dubbed with his narration: "These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what’s happening around the country than just about anything else....It gives you a sense of what’s best about America and inspires you and makes you want to work that much harder to make sure that spirit is reflected in our government."
Reporting on the Obama administration’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ car buying program running out of money, CBS correspondent Nancy Cordes offered a mixed message: "‘Cash for Clunkers’ has been such a runaway success....The program is so popular...word spread it would be suspended...because of fears that sales would soon swallow up the $1 billion for rebates the government had set aside."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "It’s a week old and incredibly popular. But is the government’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program coming to a screeching halt? We’ll see why it may run out of gas and why so many are angry." She later introduced Cordes’ report by explaining: "It appears that ‘Cash for Clunkers’ could be kaput. There’s been a lot of criticism that the week-old federal program is just too confusing. But the White House says it’s so popular that it’s already running out of money, so they’re reevaluating."
After NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams fawned Tuesday over President Obama planning to have a beer with Sergeant Crowley and Professor Gates, on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith similarly declared: "...it’s being called the ‘beer summit.’ Tomorrow’s meeting between the President, the professor, and the policeman. We’re going to tell you what’s on tap."
Smith, along with co-hosts Russ Mitchell and Maggie Rodriguez, later devoted nearly two minutes of air time to discussing who would drink what brand of beer at the White House meeting, with Blue Moon, Budweiser, and Beck’s sitting on the table in front of them.
On NBC, Williams reported: "Professor Gates reported to be a Red Stripe man, Crowley is said to be partial to Blue Moon and the White House isn't talking about the President's brand of choice. That might constitute, you see, a White House endorsement."
Taking a break from President Obama’s failing health care plan or the Henry Gates controversy, at the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez focused on a more important story: "And move over, Martha. The First Family chooses a popular celebrity retreat for their vacation. We'll tell you where the President will tee off."
Rodriguez later introduced the segment by declaring: "President Obama and his family have chosen a well-known and classic locale for their summer vacation next month, Martha's Vineyard. An exclusive island off the coast of Massachusetts." Correspondent Bianca Solorzano then reported: "It’s an island retreat, beloved by the Kennedys, the Clintons, the late Walter Cronkite, and soon, the Obamas." A clip was played of Julia Wells, editor of the island’s Vineyard Gazette newspaper, who gushed: "There’s an electric excitement about it all."
Solorzano described the luxurious accommodations the Obama family would be treated to: "...the First Family will stay at Blue Heron Farm. The 28-acre, $20 million enclave is located in Chilmark. The farm suits Obama to a ‘tee’ with golf facilities, a pool, basketball court, private beach, and a rental price tag of up to $50,000 a week." The report failed to feature any criticism of such a costly presidential vacation in tough economic times.
Appearing on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, Reverend Jesse Jackson continued to promote the idea that Harvard Professor Henry Gates was a victim of racial profiling, despite new evidence to the contrary: "This issue of Dr. Gates being a victim of excessive force and bad judgment is a much bigger subject...This one case could open up the issue of the pervasiveness of race profiling."
Co-host Harry Smith had asked Jackson about a scheduled meeting between Gates, Cambridge police officer Sergeant James Crowley, and President Obama: "Do you think there's any chance these three men can embark after this meeting is over having found common ground?" Jackson argued: "Well, they have the supreme arbiter in the President of the United States of America. It's a big subject for a small meeting." He went on to compare the Gates case to that of Rosa Parks: " If Rosa Parks and James Blake, the bus driver, had met at the White House and did not deal with the issue of denial of public accommodations, it would have been personal and not policy."
Immediately preceding the discussion with Jackson, correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on the newly released 911 call by Gates’ neighbor Lucia Whelan, and pointed out that Whelan: "...describes the scene, but what she doesn't mention is the men's skin color." Solorzano went on to cite Whelan’s attorney, Wendy Murphy: "Now she's glad to have an opportunity to clear the air and make it very clear she is not a racist."
Appearing on Monday’s CBS Early Show, former Bush speech writer David Frum remarked on Sarah Palin’s political future following her resignation as governor of Alaska: "She's a divisive force within the Republican Party...And many fear, as I do...that she represents a future that leads the party both to political defeat and then to ineffectiveness in government."
Co-host Harry Smith moderated a debate over Palin’s role in the party between Frum and author Ann Coulter. Even Smith acknowledged the now former Governor’s star power: "This woman is a rock star, there’s no denying it...I don't think it matters that she quit." Coulter agreed: "And she's just an amazing speaker. I mean, I think she may do something like the Ronald Reagan GE tours, where she goes around and speaks because she is heavily desired by various Republican, conservative groups, politicians. She has amazing star power and it will be interesting to see."
Coulter went on to criticize a media double standard when it comes to politicians leaving public life: "I mean, the reason the mainstream media, by and large, didn't cover the [former Senator John] Edwards affair was the argument, ‘well, he's a private citizen now. He’s an ex-presidential candidate, but just a private citizen.’ If the media will leave her [Sarah Palin] alone. And I don't think so."
After portraying Professor Henry Gates as a victim of racial profiling on Thursday, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith reported: "We are learning more about the arresting officer...this is the guy hand-picked to help teach recruits how not to racially profile. This is a guy who helped try to save the life of [late Boston Celtics basketball player] Reggie Lewis."
A report by correspondent Bianca Solorzano further informed viewers: "It turns out the arresting white officer was actually hand-picked by a black police commissioner to have him teach recruits how to avoid racial profiling...Sergeant James Crowley, an 11-year veteran of the force, is an expert on racial profiling, having taught a course at the police academy."
In addition, Solorzano’s report featured clips of an interview with Sergeant Crowley: "I acted appropriately. Mr. Gates was given plenty of opportunity to stop what he was doing. He didn't...There was a lot of yelling. There was references to my mother, something you wouldn't expect from anybody that would be – should be grateful that you're there investigating the report of a crime in progress, let alone a Harvard University professor."
While interviewing the daughter of arrested Harvard Professor Henry Gates on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith wondered: "Is there something in this that says, ‘I'm not going to take this’?...In speaking with your father, was he hurt by this?...Was his heart broken by it?" [audio available here]
Elizabeth Gates, a writer for the DailyBeast.com, declared that: "I think for anybody, you know, who is violated in their own home in that way, I think they would, you know, also call on their own defenses...My father was so sad about this, and again because he's always – you know, my father might be one of the last black men on earth who actually believed in the justice system." It would seem that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas still believes in the American justice system.
Gates, whose father was arrested for disorderly conduct after breaking into his own home, went on to explain: "You know, my father is a proponent of, you know, intellectualism can help you outrun the – the war on race. And I think the incident last week is a clear indication that that's not yet true...You know, he believes in following the rules, and when they're broken, it kind of disturbs his sense of security. And yeah, he was deeply heartbroken. I was not surprised, but he was very surprised."
While reporting on President Obama’s efforts to pass health care reform legislation on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez cited one person who would benefit from the plan: "Debby Smith from Virginia...lost her job back in 2006, and lost her health care benefits, and says that she can't afford the $700 a month that it would cost take to pay for her own insurance."
What Rodriguez failed to mention was that Smith was an Obama volunteer. During a July 1 health care town hall meeting, the President singled out Smith, giving her a hug as she tearfully told her story of lacking health insurance for cancer treatments. That night, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric reported: "Debby Smith is a volunteer for Mr. Obama's political operation Organizing for America. The White House invited her to attend. The President called her exhibit A in a system that's too expensive and too complicated."
On Wednesday, Rodriguez took no note of Smith’s activism on behalf of Obama but did describe her as "the prototypical person that this [health care] proposal would help."
During an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on Tuesday, President Obama defended the administration’s handling of the economy: "nobody...anticipated that in the first three months, we would lose 700,000 jobs per month...the severity and the depth of the recession was something that, you know, really exceeded everybody's expectations."
However, on the February 6 Evening News, prior to the passage of the Obama stimulus package, correspondent Anthony Mason told Couric: "The size of the job losses last month surprised even most economists. And even if we begin to get a recovery later this year, many say the unemployment rate will continue to rise into next year, topping out somewhere north of 9 percent."
Obama made his claim after Couric asked about the current 9.5% unemployment rate: "Your administration projected that with the stimulus package, as you know, unemployment could be kept under 8%. Well, that was then, this is now." After Obama argued that the job loss "exceeded everybody’s expectations" Couric failed to point out the fact that she had reported on such expectations earlier in the year.
In her Tuesday interview with President Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric wondered: "You're so confident, Mr. President, and so focused. Is your confidence ever shaken? Do you ever wake up and say, ‘Damn, this is hard. Damn, I'm not going to get the things done I want to get done and it’s just too politicized to really get accomplished the big things I want to accomplish’?" [audio available here]
In her last interview with Obama, during the debate over the stimulus package in February, Couric also portrayed Obama as a victim of Washington: "You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here. Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?"
Most of Couric’s latest presidential interview was aired on Tuesday’s Evening News, however, the question about Obama’s confidence was saved for Wednesday’s Early Show. At the top of the CBS morning show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez informed viewers about the President’s press conference scheduled for Wednesday night: "President Obama goes prime time tonight, taking the battle for health care reform directly to the American people."
While President Obama’s health care plan seemed to be floundering, Tuesday’s CBS Early Show spun it as an opportunity for him to fight back, as co-host Julie Chen declared: "President Obama pushes back hard against critics of his health care plan as hopes fade it could be passed by August."
Co-host Harry Smith kept up the theme of Obama fighting back in the later segment: "First, though, the fight over health care is becoming a very bitter pill. President Obama goes on the offensive today, not only against Republicans, but also some members of his own party."
Following Smith’s introduction, correspondent Bill Plante reported: "It's game on in the effort to find health care reform. The President has been six months on the job and he now faces his first major battle with Congress. And as you said, not just with Republicans, he's calling in some Democrats today on the House committee to do a little arm twisting, or persuading I think they'd call it."
In reaction to a propaganda video of the Taliban holding an American soldier hostage in Afghanistan, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, terrorism analyst Jere Van Dyk argued: “What they [the Taliban] are saying is that ‘we can treat American soldiers, we can treat prisoners, better than Americans are treating them.’”
Speaking to co-host Maggie Rodriguez about the capture of Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl, Van Dyk continued to explain his observation: “There’s a story in the New York Times this morning, also in the Wall Street Journal earlier, about prisoner abuse, Americans abusing prisoners in Afghanistan. What they [the Taliban] are saying to the -- to the Afghan public is that ‘we can do a better job, do not be afraid of us in the future.’” Rodriguez accepted that premise and added: “Because he’s clean, the place looks like -- he’s being fed. They’re taking care of him.”
Van Dyk went on: “…that’s a signal there. He’s wearing nice clothes, he’s being fed, he has a cup of tea there… what they are saying is that ‘we will protect to the death… a guest in our home.’ He is in someone’s home right now.” He went on to predict: “My belief is, my hope of course is, and my cautious feeling is that he will be protected. He will not be harmed.”
On Friday, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall exclaimed: "Harsh political discourse against [President Obama] really amped up and people started to push the boundaries of what might be considered decency. From talk radio to those tea parties that we saw with some pretty offensive signs folks were holding, even in the presence of children. The anger has certainly intensified."
As evidence of the supposed lack of "decency" co-anchor David Shuster declared: "And so listen to Glenn Beck make his case against health care reform just yesterday on his radio show, watch." The audio clip that followed featured Beck yelling at a hostile caller during his Wednesday show.
Based on that one example, Shuster wondered: "So are the political attacks, is the language, is the discourse, going too far? And does it have real consequences?" He then teased another segment on the topic in the next hour, but it was preempted by live coverage of President Obama speaking on health care reform.
Marking the 100th anniversary of the NAACP on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Bill Whitaker wondered: "A black president who addresses black issues unflinchingly...Attorney General Eric Holder dedicated to equal justice...some say begs the question, is the NAACP needed anymore? Is it even relevant? Is it time for the venerable organization to say ‘mission accomplished’?"
Later in the segment, Whitaker answered that question: "[Current NAACP President Benjamin Todd] Jealous and [former NAACP President Julian] Bond say with one of fifteen black males behind bars, with black students in inferior schools, with almost half of black homeowners in subprime mortgages...there’s plenty of work to do."
On NBC’s Nightly News on Wednesday, correspondent Ron Allen similarly questioned the NAACP’s relevance: "With an African-American in the White House and many discrimination battles won, the question is whether the NAACP is still necessary." Allen, like Whitaker, cited the organization’s leadership: "Jealous says the battle now is to close the social and economic achievement gap between people of color and mainstream America...A fight for justice and equality he insists must be carried on."
Neither Whitaker nor Allen applied a liberal political to the NAACP or featured any critics of the organization’s left-wing causes.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Randall Pinkston described President Obama’s Thursday address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: "The crowd responded to his soaring, almost sermon-like rhetoric."
Obama’s speech was part of the NAACP’s annual convention and marked the 100th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Fill-in co-host Jeff Glor introduced Pinkston’s report by declaring: "The NAACP has spent a century trying to break down racial barriers...last night's anniversary party in New York featured the man who broke the ultimate barrier."
In contrast to the two news briefs the Early Show dedicated to the President’s speech, both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today offered only single-sentence reports. [audio available here]
On Thursday, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer reported on Meghan McCain calling Joe the Plumber a "dumb ass" for his views on homosexuality and remarked: "Is that name calling? Or, you know, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck. Just asking, folks. I'm just asking." [audio available here]
In the brief report, during the 2:00PM ET hour, Brewer explained:
Let's go to the war of words between Meghan McCain and the man known as Joe the Plumber. In a recent interview, the daughter of the former GOP presidential contender railed against her dad's big supporter here. And she was talking about her support for gay marriage, she criticized Samuel Wurzelbacher, that’s his real name, his comments about homosexuals. She said – this is – okay, these are her words, I’m going to quote them, ‘Joe the Plumber, you can quote me, is a dumb ass, he should stick to plumbing.’ Is that name calling? Or, you know, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck. Just asking, folks. I'm just asking.