In a rare instance of critical coverage of the Obama administration on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman about Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay: "I'm not sure if you've seen the New York Times this morning. On the front page there is an article that reveals that a terror suspect released from Guantanamo a few months ago...is now heading up Al Qaeda in Yemen. I'm wondering if this makes you less inclined Representative Harman, to support closing down the prison?"
Harman actually doubted the credibility of the usually left-wing newspaper: "Not at all. Obviously,if that allegation is true and if this fellow has now become a key Al Qaeda operative, that's shocking and disappointing." Harman went on to argue: "But there is really no justification, and there was no justification, for disappearing people in a place that was located offshore America so it was outside the reach of U.S. law. As President Obama said two days ago, there's a false choice between our safety and our values." Rodriguez then turned to Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra: "It all sounds great, but Representative Hoekstra you said yesterday that's placing 'hope ahead of reality,' right?"
Thursday’s CBS Early Show focused on an important aspect of the Obama Administration as co-host Julie Chen declared: "...in a meeting yesterday with senior White House staffers, President Obama showed a lot of love. That's right. The president is a man hugger. We counted nine man-to-man hugs." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez added: "Nothing wrong with that."
Chen then asked co-host Harry Smith: "Man of the show, Harry, how do you feel about the man hug?" Smith replied: "I think it's real." Rodriguez asked Smith: "Did he [Obama] ever man hug you?" Smith then recounted: "You know, I got one about a year ago in Wilmington, North Carolina. We were waiting for an interview, we had, you know, really great access. And he came in -- I have never told this story on the air before -- he came in, and he gives me one of these [Smith grasped Rodriguez’s hand and place his other hand on top]...and he says, ‘Harry Smith, how you doing, my brother?’" Rodriguez was touched: "Awww...He had you."
After being nominated for an academy award on Thursday for his role in the movie ‘Milk,’ actor Josh Brolin appeared on the CBS Early Show, where co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked: "...you played 'W.' You were here on the show talking about it. How did it feel to see him at the inauguration? Did you feel bad for him at all?" Brolin responded: "I don't know, personally? No, I think personally, I do. You know, watching him take off in the helicopter. But then I was also part of the, you know, the group that waved good-bye happily politically." Rodriguez and fellow co-host Harry Smith both laughed at the remark.
Earlier, Smith asked about Brolin about his role in ‘Milk,’ about the first gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk, and his murder: "Playing this San Francisco supervisor. This is the guy who ends up killing Harvey Milk. You were so -- you make such a commitment in this role. You made this guy real." Brolin explained his desire to be in the movie: "When I read it, I thought it was a really important film...And then the timeliness of it because of Prop 8, I think it's an incredible movie, I'm glad that there's so much notice for it." On December 10, Smith declared the movie, which also stars left-wing actor Sean Penn, was "...a must-see for everybody."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith aired an interview he did with photojournalist Scout Tufankjian, who has followed Barack Obama since 2006: "Two years and some one million photographs later, Tufankjian's first book, 'Yes We Can.' She was the only independent photojournalist to cover the Obama campaign from start to finish."
Smith asked Tufankjian: "And had you ever met anybody like him before?" Tufankjian responded: "No.You can be so sick of him, and, you know, having heard the same speech and you're tired, you haven't slept, and I haven't seen my boyfriend in six weeks, and I haven't had a decent meal in ages, and I'm crabby and I'm angry and he smiles at you and it just kind of knocks you over."
Tufankjian also explained her motivation for the book: "For people, years from now, I want them to see this is -- this is what this moment in history was like this is how it felt. This is how I saw it...[Obama supporters] thought this guy's going to be president, he's going to change my life, he's going to change my kids' life, he is going to change the country."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Shelia Macvicar declared: "Playing on television sets around the world, the inauguration of this U.S. president became an extraordinary global event. From his father's ancestral homeland in Kenya, where celebration mixed with expectation...Newborn babies now bear the names of the first couple, Barack and Michelle."
From there, Macvicar went to France: "In the splendor of a grand hall in Paris, emotion overwhelmed." One French woman exclaimed: "Martin Luther King say that we shall overcome. We did today." Finally, to the Middle East: "In Gaza, they've seen presidents come and go and not much change, but, still, maybe this really is something new." A Palestinian man explained: "This is good. This is what we are looking for." Macvicar concluded: "As this president begins work, he has been greeted with an abundance of good will, and the burden of even greater expectations."
Following Macvicar’s report, co-host Julie Chen described a trip to Paris just prior to the election: "That was on October 31st. Everyone I ran into on the trip, they were calling it then the Obama election. Not the election, the Obama election." Co-host Harry Smith added: "Well, we were very fortunate yesterday, because both of us were on the Mall during the -- during the speech and during the swearing in and thereafter. And it really -- I have to say it was one of -- a remarkable experience." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez also chimed in: "Yeah. People were jumping up and down, weeping, strangers embracing. It was a beautiful thing."
At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith reflected on Barack Obama’s inauguration: "Politics, and patriotism, and the presidency. It is the place where the secular and the religious merge. And one of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration...So it was that as many as 2 million pilgrims made their way to Washington and the Mall to witness this most sacred event."
Smith continued to use religious language throughout the report: "As the oath was recited, as the speech was delivered...emotions were laid bear. Tears were shed...An inauguration is a renewal of faith...A confirmation that the republic, and our belief in it, endures."
Smith later concluded the segment by hoping: "And the agenda and the problems, you just hope that some of the momentum, some of the inspiration of yesterday, can continue to filter through the culture." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez agreed: "I thought the same thing. I was standing there with everyone, thinking back to the last time that I was on the Mall watching an inauguration. It was 1989 and I was a college student here in Washington. And there I was yesterday, older, not quite as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and yet, more optimistic, because you couldn't help but get caught up in that euphoria and that optimism and that hope. And waking up this morning, you just hope, you know, you have your fingers crossed that it continues."
During live coverage of President Bush leaving on the presidential helicopter immediately following the swearing in of Barack Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric got reaction from liberal historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "Keep in mind, a lot of Americans are thinking it's pretty cool that he's leaving, too. A lot of Americans didn't take him as the real president after the Gore election in 2000. He's been very controversial. And a lot of people voted to get rid of Bush policies. So, and for some people are cheering the helicopter leaving, because they felt stuck for eight years." Couric agreed: "Right. Some people cheer in support, and some people, as Doug said, cheer because he's getting out of town."
Later, Couric asked Brinkley about Bush’s farewell press conference, particularly about the president’s defense of his response to Hurricane Katrina: "Doug Brinkley, you wrote a book all about Katrina and I was just curious to get your reaction to how the president assessed his performance vis-a-vis that disaster in that last news conference." Brinkley went on a left-wing rant:
He created a fairy tale for himself. Everybody knows the Bush Administration did not do a good job during Katrina. In fact, August, 2005, is the turning point. Even the national media -- which had been intimidated by the Rove White House for a while -- they changed. I was in New Orleans for the storm and the media was so angry at the seemingly lackadaisical response of the federal government and then the fact that the President of the United States did a flyover, didn't put his boot heels on the ground in Louisiana or Mississippi, didn't touch the flood waters. Many people I talked to remembered Hurricane Betsy in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson went there in the dead of night with a flashlight in his face saying 'this is your president.' Our president was AWOL during Katrina and it's, I think, probably going to be one of the hardest parts of his legacy to somehow fix by writing it -- changing it in a memoir or something.
During live coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration at 9:30AM on Tuesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "And it reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt in March of 1933 in this regard, I mean the economy was in tatters, Herbert Hoover was an unpopular president, President Bush is not very popular, and he was able to galvanize people with his speech, FDR, move the nation, you know to have nothing -- you know, to fight for all of the civil rights and to start pushing forward the hundred days of the New Deal. And so you see the echoes of that." On the January 11 Sunday Morning program, Brinkley declared Bush in the "...the very bottom-rung of American Presidents."
Brinkley’s comment was prompted by Couric remarking: "...a confluence of events that will make him perhaps one of the most powerful presidents in history. It's hard to predict an administration and how successful it will be, but he really is starting off things in an enviable position, isn't he?" Later, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on that point: "But the interesting thing, Katie, is when we stop and think about it, our greatest presidents have always come to us during the worst of times. If history's any guide, the pieces are in place here for the making of a great president." On Monday’s Early Show, Schieffer compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
In a 7:43AM commercial break during Monday’s CBS Early Show, the network aired a promo for a new episode of the show ‘Two And A Half Men,’ that used an Obama campaign slogan: "Can CBS show you the funny side of families?...Yes we can." The words appeared on screen in red, white, and blue, soon followed by a flash of the CBS logo in the same colors, looking very similar to Obama’s campaign logo.
At the end of the promo, the screen displayed the cast of the show in red and blue, similar to a famous Obama portrait, with the show title and time. The bottom of the screen declared: "Yes We Can Monday."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Sunday Morning liberal commentator Nancy Giles about the incoming Obama Administration and Giles could not resist bashing Bush: "Well, Barack Obama's going to have his hands full with a lot of the carnage that was left by the previous administration." Republican strategist Bay Buchanan was seated next to Giles and Giles defended her statement: "I had to put it that way, Bay. It is carnage." Buchanan joked: "I was told it would cease-fire here for two days." Giles replied: "I know, I'm sorry, carnage just slipped out, but I mean, he's going to have his hands full."
Co-host Harry Smith then chimed in, saying to Giles: "I spent the entire afternoon yesterday talking to people, and there were actually very few people who were echoing the sentiments you were echoing...There were some people who were angry and still carrying grudges. But moreover, it was a sense of for the moment, no more Republicans, no more Democrats, we're all on the same page, at least for a moment."
In contrast to her view of Bush’s "carnage," Giles praised Obama: " Barack Obama said something last year that I heard him say about his definition of homeland security and national security. It had to do with making education a real important thing. He felt that educating our young people would make the nation that much more secure. And I love that way of thinking."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on Barack Obama’s inauguration and made this comparison: "Well, people just want to be a part of it. It's like who wouldn't want to be a part of it if you could have been there when Lincoln gave one of his addresses or something...People really do feel this is a moment in history. And they want to be part of it."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith observed: "And there is an amazing feeling here, especially contrast with the feeling of eight years ago." Schieffer agreed: "Yeah, it really was, because don't forget, you had that really difficult thing down in Florida. People were not convinced. Some people were not convinced that George Bush really was legitimately-" Smith interjected: "Still not convinced." Schieffer continued: "-the president. There was a lot of rancor. People had fun, they came up, and -- but nothing like the spirit that you see here...There is a real spirit here. I've never seen anything quite like it."
Smith later declared: "They're here from Canada, California, Colorado, Ohio. They're from all over the country. Every color of the rainbow. And there really is a sense of togetherness, of unity." He then concluded the segment by exclaiming: "It really is that sort of a sense of E. Pluribus Unum, right?...Out of many, one." Schieffer agreed: "It really is."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show co-host Smith recounted being a passenger on Barack Obama’s inaugural train on Saturday: "On a freezing cold Saturday, people stood for hours just to get a glimpse. They wanted to be able to say in the years to come, ‘I was there that day when the train went through.’ In his fawning report, Smith used poetic language to describe the train ride from Philadelphia to Washington: "Barack Obama spoke of perfecting the Union, he spoke of common hopes and common dreams, he spoke of recognizing ourselves in one another...This was no mere victory tour, this was something more."
Smith found two particular passengers, Patricia and Ted Stiles, who showed bipartisan support for Obama: "Patricia and her husband, Ted, are lifelong Republicans who supported Obama. What did you see when you looked out the windows today?" Patricia declared: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for this nation. I'm excited, Harry, let me tell you." Ted exclaimed: "I saw large groups of people, I saw small groups of people. They were standing on their cars. It's like watching a regeneration of our country." A Sunday article in The Denver Post quoted Patricia Stiles, a Colorado native, about hugging Obama at the beginning of the trip in Philadelphia: "President-elect Barack Obama, the greatest, most articulate speaker I've known in my lifetime, standing there to my left. I just melted away."
In a report on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Richard Roth declared: "With Gaza City bombed and burning, Palestinians heeded Israel's warning to get out of the way, but found they had nowhere to go...Not the U.N. compound, where 700 people took shelter. Israeli artillery hit it, then hit it again...Israel claimed it was returning fire from militants. Burning with rage, the U.N. denies that."
Roth quoted one Israeli General: "We need to use force like Americans in Iraq. Hamas needs to be snuffed out." He went on to describe other victims of Israeli attacks: "But the attack also hit the Reuters News Agency office, threatening the small press corps in Gaza, which Israel is keeping small by keeping most foreign reporters out. Two journalists from Abu Dhabi were wounded. And at Gaza's biggest hospital, there were more small children in the stream of casualties than men of fighting age. Palestinians say the war's death toll is above 1,000 now, with at least half the casualties civilians."
Near the end of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith unveiled the latest painting by artist Peter Max, a mural of 44 portraits of Barack Obama. Max has created numerous paintings for the Early Show set and Smith praised the artist’s latest work: "Okay, wow. That is really, really, really cool...Wow. Well, that is pretty impressive. I hope somebody in the President-elect's transition office is taking a look at this. That is really amazing. Wow."
Smith asked Max: "What is your feeling as an artist as we come up on to this inauguration time and time of change?" Max replied: "Unbelievable, unbelievable. You know that night when he was announced being president and the whole country cried, I was in that same place...I couldn't believe it." Max later remarked on how: "You know, galleries from all over the country have called. I mean, I don't -- wouldn't even know where to start...I just love doing him. Doesn't he -- he just looks great...Young, energetic, fantastic guy." Smith ended the segment by declaring: "Wow...Yeah. Has a good smile, too, right? There you go. Peter, thank you so much...Really, really like it."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Thalia Assuras reported on a down-trodden family who had their spirits lifted by an invitation to the Obama Inauguration: "...struggling Americans like Telisha and Kenny Brown...Unable to pay their rent, they turned to an interfaith shelter for families, with their boys, Donovan, 12, and Dylan, 9. They had planned to celebrate the inauguration in their tiny apartment...But now the Browns will have a front-row view to history. Here in Washington, D.C."
Assuras went on to explain that: "They'll be part of a glittering fantasy world,thanks to a dream realized by Virginia millionaire, Earl Stafford...Months before the election, Earl had a spiritual inspiration to bring those less fortunate to the inauguration, no matter what the cost." In the report, Stafford exclaimed: "It was providential, I was inspired by the Lord to do this." Assuras described how: "Stafford bought a million dollar hotel package of rooms, food, and an inaugural ball, to accommodate homeless people, wounded veterans, the terminally ill, and others selected by social service organizations, at least 300 rubbing shoulders with dignitaries."
Near the end of the segment, Assuras asked 12-year-old Donovan Brown: "Is it special because it's Barack Obama?" The boy replied: "Yes." Assuras concluded her report by declaring: "For this family, January 20th offers something new...Hope for a brighter future." The camera then focused in on a 2009 Obama calender in the Brown’s apartment.
Reacting to President Bush’s Monday press conference, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "Not going to get a 'job well done'...on the report card, on the final report card." That observation was prompted by Republican strategist Ed Rollins declaring: "I think to a certain extent, we have a lot to be thankful to this president for his service, but he's not going to get a ‘great job’ from the American public."
Prior to that exchange, Rollins criticized Bush for being too confident: "...you saw a lot of confidence yesterday, he always was a man that was overly confident." Smith asked: "Did you say overly confident?" Rollins elaborated: "I think he’s overly confident. I think he’s overly confident about a lot of things. I – there was no humility there yesterday when you basically talk in terms of the ‘Mission Impossible’ [Referring to ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner] sign, at the same time he can't find weapons of mass destruction...You know, you also -- forget ‘Mission Accomplished,’ he flew in a jet, he had a pilot's outfit on, it was sort of the conquering hero."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Thalia Assuras examined President Bush’s historical legacy: "On January 20th, 2001, George Walker Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States. His presidency and the future, a blank slate...Before the Iraq war. Before Katrina swept ashore. Before the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Assuras cited two historians in her report, both of whom labeled Bush one of the nation’s worst presidents. She first turned to historian Douglas Brinkley, who declared: "I think it's safe to say that President Bush is going to be seen as the very bottom-rung of American presidents...As a judicial historian looking at what's occurred on his watch, it is almost void of genuine accomplishment." The other historian Assuras included in her report was Joseph Ellis, who said of Bush: "I think that George Bush might very well be the worst president in American history...He's unusual. Most two-term presidents have a mixed record...Bush has nothing on the positive side, virtually nothing."
Following these Bush-bashing historical assessments, Assuras exclaimed: "And that's not a minority opinion. In a 2006 Siena College survey of 744 history professors, 82 percent rated President Bush below average or a failure. Last April, in an informal poll by George Mason University of 109 historians, Mr. Bush fared even worse; 98 percent considered him a failed president. Sixty-one percent judged him, as Ellis does, one of the worst in American history."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen reacted to a recent interview Sarah Palin gave to film maker John Ziegler for his new documentary about media bias in the 2008 election: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is lashing out at the media. She says she was treated unfairly on the campaign trail, and as part of a documentary called ‘Media Malpractice.’"
After airing a brief report on the documentary, in which correspondent Thalia Assuras focused on Palin’s criticism of CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, Chen spoke to political analysts Bay Buchanan and Joe Lockhart. Near the end of the segment, Chen asked Buchanan: "After she did part one of her interview with Katie Couric, she said in this documentary she knew it did not go well. I mean, whose fault is that?"
Buchanan replied: "Oh, there -- and I think it was her fault. But number one, she should never have been on with Katie Couric...A good campaign manager, a good media person, starts them in easy, puts them in with friendly people, gets them to get a little used to that." Chen vigorously defended Couric and attacked Palin: "If she can't -- wait, but if she can't hold her own against a TV journalist, how should the American people expect her to hold her own against world leaders, or terrorists, or anyone else who might have an impact on the lives of Americans?"
In the final half hour of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Bianca Solorzano reported on an increase in the teen pregnancy rate, using Bristol Palin as an example: "Teen pregnancy was on the RNC platform this year, literally, as Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, was about to give birth. Jamie Lynne Spears made headlines at 16, not for her acting, but the grown-up, real-life role of becoming a teen mom. These famous faces front a growing problem." A graphic appeared on screen declaring: "Teen Pregnancy: The Growing Crisis."
Later, Solorzano explained: "After more than a decade of progress, experts fear we've been lulled into a false sense of security. And have stopped pouring resources into prevention." A clip of the movie ‘Juno’ was then played, after which Solorzano exclaimed: "And unlike the comedy 'Juno,' there's nothing funny about the nation's growing number of teenage mothers."
In a news report that sounded like an Obama campaign commercial, CBS Early Show correspondent Kelly Wallace declared: "Facing the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression, the Obama Administration is asking for the biggest stimulus plan in history. An estimated $775 billion to prop up a very sick economy." In the report, Wallace cited Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for Global Insight, who exclaimed: "We really need something big, bold, and swift to kick start the U.S. economy. And I think the Obama plan looks like it meets almost all those criteria."
Wallace ran through some of the key talking points of the plan: "Roughly $300 billion of that relief money will go directly to tax cuts for 95% of American workers...For businesses, a proposed $100 billion in tax incentives and refunds to jump start job creation...Of the 3.2 million jobs that the Obama Administration says will be saved or created, a million will come from a $25 billion investment in infrastructure...while making a long-term investment in renewable energy and other green initiatives." Wallace concluded her report: "Obama is confident he can get his stimulus plan passed within two weeks of taking office. Some economists believe the sooner, the better."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Michael Crowley, editor of the liberal magazine The New Republic, about some of Obama’s recent appointments, including former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Panetta, for CIA director: "Dianne Feinstein, had her, you know, was -- her feathers were ruffled to say the least. Is this just the way of the Senate saying you've got to go through us first? Or is there real opposition to Leon Panetta?"
Crowley explained that their was some "real opposition" to Panetta: "Now, a little bit controversial here...some people are concerned that Panetta does not have an intelligence background. Has never worked at the agency, never had a national security-specific job." However, Crowley quickly added: "Other people say he is a competent, tough, good organizer, and someone Obama trusts. So, looks like he's going to have a smooth confirmation after a little bit of initial complaints." Smith agreed and remarked: "Somebody who can connect the dots, maybe. That's the most important thing."
Appearing on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, author Ann Coulter promoted her new book, ‘Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America’ by demonstrating how co-host Harry Smith contributed to liberal victimhood when he asked Ted Kennedy about the possibility of an Obama assassination in a January 29, 2008 interview: "...everyone talking about as if Obama is at some unique risk for assassination...you kept saying things like I am thinking of a word and it begins with the letter 'A.' And Teddy Kennedy was refusing to understand what you were saying..."
NewBusters’ Mark Finkelstein first reported Smith’s exchange with Kennedy. Smith asked the Massachusetts Senator: "...sometimes agents of change end up being targets, as you well know, and that was why I was asking if you were at all fearful of that." In her book, Coulter remarked on Smith’s interview: "Kennedy may be a drunken slob, but unlike CBS News anchors, he is not certifiably insane."
During the Tuesday exchange with Coulter, Smith defended asking the question: "A friend of mine who's a liberal -- who was a liberal talk show host in Denver was gunned down in his front yard. He was assassinated. I stood in front of the Murrah Federal Building. I have looked hate in the eye. I know that there are people in this country who would be interested in the death of not only Barack Obama but any president. That was a legitimate question to ask Ted Kennedy." Smith then asked Coulter: "You don't think as an African-American, that he was at some greater risk?"
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer seemed to be acting out a scene from Frost/Nixon as he questioned Vice Presdient Dick Cheney about the terrorist surveillance program: "Do you feel you went too far, Mr. Vice President, in your surveillance?...Do you -- do you believe that the president, in time of war, that anything he does is legal?"
Cheney shot back with some historical context: "I can't say that anything he does is legal. I think we do, and we have, a historic precedent of taking action that you wouldn't take in peacetime...If you hark back in our history you can look at Abraham Lincoln, who suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus in the middle of the Civil War...or FDR in World War II...when he provided for internment camps for Japanese-American citizens. Most people now look back and say that was wrong. But what we did was modest by those comparisons."
Later in the interview, Schieffer again questioned the legality of Bush Administration policies: "Let me talk to you a little bit about torture. You have said that you do not believe that waterboarding, for example, was torture...Would you do it again if you had to make those same decisions again? Because a lot of people now say that some of the things that happened here may be the reason that some of our casualties happened...because people saw the publicity of these things, the kinds of things that happened at Abu Ghraib." In fact, it was CBS News that broke the Abu Ghraib story, so by Schieffer’s logic, CBS caused American casualties by showing the pictures.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez described Sarah Palin’s recent attempts to set the record straight about her daughter Bristol’s pregnancy this way: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has launched an offensive against the news media, again." In contrast, on Tuesday’s broadcast, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge was concerned about Barack Obama being in the media spotlight: "Coming up, life in the media bubble. How is Barack Obama adjusting to the press following his every move?"
During Friday’s show, correspondent Michelle Gielan reported: "Governor Palin has always had a love/hate relationship with the media, but what has her fired up now are reports that she calls inaccurate and she's personally contacted People magazine, the Associated Press, and the Anchorage Daily News to tell them they're wrong...From the moment she burst on to the national stage as John McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin has battled the media."
On Tuesday, correspondent Ben Tracy did not see a similar adversarial relationship between Obama and the press: "And the media's trying to strike a balance between covering the person who's about to be the most powerful man in the world and also giving him his space to just be himself."
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, fill-in host Chip Reid discussed the economic crisis with left-wing economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, wondering: "I know you've been arguing for a more progressive government for a long time and obviously at difficult times like this, I don't want to suggest that a recession is a good thing. But if looking back at this five years, or some number of years, from now, can you envision a country that is better off because of how it responded to this recession?"
In response, Krugman explained: "Well, if you believe, as I do, that we need a stronger social safety net, that we need universal healthcare, then the revelation of just how vulnerable we are when things go wrong is going to help." Krugman went on to praise the New Deal: "We came out of the New Deal, we came out of the 1930s, as a better country, a middle class country, where we had been in the Gilded Age. We came out as a country that took better care of its citizens."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge seemed to feel sorry for Barack Obama having to withstand the media spotlight while vacationing in Hawaii: "Coming up, life in the media bubble. How is Barack Obama adjusting to the press following his every move?" However, as correspondent Ben Tracy later reported, that spotlight is not exactly harsh: "Tours of Obama's childhood stop at the apartment building where he grew up, a favorite lunch hangout, and the ice cream store where he had his first job. Tourist shops are also riding the Obama wave. The soon-to-be president is already a global celebrity."
Tracy began the reported by lamenting: "...the other day, the president-elect just wanted to eat his tuna sandwich. This vacation has been a bit of a reality check as to how little privacy Obama now has...He at times bristles at the constant media coverage...Yet at others, offers to buy reporters dessert." Tracy concluded the report by declaring: "And the media's trying to strike a balance between covering the person who's about to be the most powerful man in the world and also giving him his space to just be himself."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez introduced a segment on 2008 politics and declared: "The end of 2008 brings to a close one of the most exciting and historic years in national politics." At the top of the story, Mike Allen of the Politico explained what made the year so exciting: "2008 was the year that Barack Obama re-wrote the book on American politics."
The segment was comprised of various clips of campaign coverage, with the majority centered around Obama. In one clip, following an Obama primary victory, Early Show co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "The polls may have predicted it. It was still no less a breath-taking win for Barack Obama."
The most time in the segment given to the McCain campaign focused on mocking Sarah Palin, including a clip of Katie Couric asking Palin what newspapers she read and Rodriguez declaring: "The McCain campaign under fire for spending $150,000 on clothes and accessories." A clip of Tina Fey impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live was played, after which Allen remarked: "Never again will a presidential nominee pick a vice president who is identical to one of the greatest comedians in the country." Meanwhile, no clips of Joe Biden’s numerous gaffes were shown.
The Tuesday morning shows of NBC, ABC, and CBS all promoted Barack Obama’s celebrity status as hosts and reporters ogled the latest paparazzi photo of Obama in swim trunks while on vacation in Hawaii, as NBC’s Matt Lauer declared on Today: "And fit to serve, Barack Obama photographed shirtless in Hawaii and a lot of women are giving him the presidential seal of approval."
On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer outlined Obama’s workout routine: "...these photos of the first abs, which we've all been analyzing this morning. I just want to reminder you, to get those abs, he does standing triceps push-downs, shoulder presses, sit-ups with a high platform, one set of triceps, and calf raises." Fellow co-host Chris Cuomo added: "The most important thing that he does to be fit, is his diet. He's very careful about his diet. He's in good shape, certainly for a man his age. But I think it's how he eats."
On the CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Obama in Oahu. Why he’s getting a lot of attention." Smith later referenced a newspaper cover with the shirtless picture of Obama: "This picture is in a lot of papers around the country...‘Fit For Office.’" Meanwhile, fill-in co-host Debbye Turner Bell held up the paper declaring: "Take a look at this. I'll be happy to pick this up!"
At the end of Monday’s ABC Good Morning America, co-host Chris Cuomo talked to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham about the magazine’s ‘Elite 50' list of influential people, as Cuomo put it: "People who will literally be able to shape our lives in many different ways." Meacham explained: "Our goal with this was, you know, elite got a bad rap this year. It wasn't a good thing to be an elitist. But there's a difference between elitism and excellence...we wanted people who really had fought their way up through a lot of obstacles in life, chiefly, the President-elect of the United States, and were able to exert that kind of command and control." Apparently, Obama staying at a $30 million Hawaiian resort for Christmas is a sign of his excellence.
Cuomo followed up by observing: "It's interesting because the aspects, the dynamics you're trying to capture here in the list, you have politics, economics, and then kind of other, other significant situations. Number one on the list, President-elect, soon to be President Barack Obama, incorporates all three of those." To that, Meacham replied: "With Obama there's been a kind of resurgence of American credibility. At least the world after several years of kicking us around a good bit, they're giving us a chance, I think, to reassert our leadership." [audio excerpt here]
At the top of Monday’s ABC Good Morning America, co-host Chris Cuomo teased a story on Barack Obama’s Christmas vacation plans: "And Aloha, President-elect Barack Obama says Mele Kalikimaka on a bright Hawaiian holiday. We'll take to you to the $30 million retreat where the future first family is spending Christmas." Later, fill-in co-host Elizabeth Vargas introduced the segment: "Barack Obama and his family arrived in Hawaii over the weekend to a multi-million dollar ocean-front home, where they will spend Christmas." At no point in the story did anyone contrast Obama’s lavish getaway with the tough economic times. In fact, Cuomo seemed to dismiss any such criticism at the end of the segment: "I can already hear the rumblings, ‘who paid for the house? Who paid for the house?’"
The report on the Obama vacation, by correspondent Yunji de Nies, seemed more like an episode of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ than a news story: "The Obamas are waking up to this, Kailua Beach, with 2 ½ miles of pure white sand. At the end sits the family's vacation paradise...The Obama's, along with close friends, rented three houses, worth more than $30 million. Each, a spaces 5,000 feet, with waterfalls and a lagoon pool that flows throughout." de Nies talked to the owner of the resort, David Zimel, who remarked: "It's a home fit for a king. It's a place where royalty actually gathered. So it's -- I think it's pretty fitting that we'd have our next president spend some time here and try to relax."