For the second time in a month the CBS Early Show featured Mike Crowley, the editor of the liberal magazine New Republic, as a political analyst to speculate on vice presidential nominees for John McCain and Barack Obama. On Monday’s CBS Early Show, the focus was on Obama as co-host Harry Smith declared: "There's speculation that Barack Obama might choose his running mate sometime this week, before the Democratic Convention begins." On July 24, Smith and Crowley looked at McCain’s potential choices. One wonders when pundits from the Weekly Standard or National Review will be on to analyze the race.
Smith began Monday’s segment by wondering if Obama would pick Senator Joe Biden: "Joe Biden ascending." Crowley argued: "Joe Biden making a very interesting trip abroad to the country of Georgia, in the middle of this conflict with Russia right now. Really showing off his strong suit with his credentials, foreign policy, diplomacy. Knows a lot of foreign leaders." Smith also mentioned Senator Evan Bayh, to which Crowley added: "Straight out of central casting, Evan Bayh looks like, you know, if you could made a Hollywood movie about the guy who was going to be the vice president...he's a good politician." Both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today also highlighted Biden and Bayh as leading VP contenders.
To his credit, Smith pointed out flaws in each as well. On Biden, he worried: "Too volatile? Too much of a wild card? He can stick his foot in his mouth." On Bayh, Smith asked: "Does anybody outside of Indiana know who he is?"
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to People magazine correspondent Sandra Westfall, who recently interviewed friends and family of Elizabeth Edwards who: "...wanted to put out there that she wasn't this wind-up doll that went on stage and let the campaign continue out of some sort of craven ambition, but that she really was going through a lot of anguish." That despite the fact that Elizabeth Edwards went along with the cover up of her husband’s affair throughout his presidential campaign.
Rodriguez described Westfall as someone "who has a close relationship with the Edwards’" and asked: "What was the most important thing they wanted to convey on her behalf?" Westfall explained: "I think that she had hoped that her statement on Friday night would be the end of it for her and was surprised and a little taken aback by how many questions already came up." Later, Westfall elaborated: "...she thought her forgiving him should be enough for everybody else and she was unprepared for the amount of disgust and how swiftly everything else he had done in his career would be wiped away. And that she's really reeling from that and afraid for what it will do to their legacy as a couple and what their children will inherit."
In response to Rodriguez asking: "when did she [Elizabeth Edwards] really find out?," Westfall explained: "The campaign had already gone through its official launch. They were in the middle of this tour. And she felt sort of trapped...He was a candidate. And then he drops this bombshell on her. And only in pieces. He told the truth slowly. So she, you know, didn't have all the information to make the decision right away and she was in shock."
Near the end of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to film maker Rory Kennedy about her latest documentary on the career of left-wing White House reporter Helen Thomas: "We're going to talk to Rory Kennedy, director of a new documentary about the legendary journalist." Smith began the segment by declaring: "Veteran print journalist Helen Thomas has been covering the White House since 1961, when John F. Kennedy was president. And now there's a new documentary honoring her decades of extraordinary work, called, ‘Thank You, Mr. President.’"
Smith asked Kennedy, the daughter of Robert Kennedy, about her decision to do the documentary: "Why pick Helen Thomas?" Kennedy replied: "She's been covering nine administrations, she's been at the front row of the White House. And she has extraordinary insight into these presidents. And she's also an extraordinary journalist." Smith later commented: "Where she sits and what she does day after day after day, I'm not sure we value enough."
Some of Thomas’s "value" and "extraordinary work" can be seen by her comments in 2002 while speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: "I censored myself for 50 years....Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?’...I have never covered a President who actually wanted to go to war. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war is immoral – such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It’s as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam....Where is the outrage?" In 2003, Thomas remarked at a Society for Professional Journalism banquet that: "This is the worst President ever. He [George W. Bush] is the worst President in all of American history."
Following a segment on John Edwards possibly paying hush money to mistress Rielle Hunter, a later segment on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show previewed an interview with Hunter’s sister by Entertainment Tonight’s Thea Andrews: "I sat down with Rielle Hunter's sister, Roxanne Druck Marshall. Roxanne is older by 18 months and she says the two sisters were very close, practically raised as twins. But now Roxanne is hurt and embarrassed by her sister's behavior." Andrews went on to ask Marshall: "Having an affair with someone whose wife has cancer-" Marshall interjected: "-and knowing it, and know -- I mean. And not just knowing it, the whole world knows it. There's no way. I don't know what they were thinking."
Andrews followed up by asking: "Do you think your sister thought about his wife Elizabeth?" Marshall replied: "Apparently not. She obviously didn't think or care enough to stop the relationship." Marshall later commented on the speculation of Edwards making payments to Hunter: "He's, you know, saying, 'oh, I'll take a paternity test.' And then the next day Rielle issues a statement, 'I'm never going to take a paternity test.' Well, isn't that a coincidence? That's very ironic, great coincidence. I just want John Edwards to come clean, tell the truth, and let's get it over with."
While ABC’s Good Morning America suspended its coverage of the John Edwards scandal following reporting on Monday, the CBS Early Show continued to cover the affair for a third consecutive day on Wednesday. Even NBC’s Today, covering the Olympics in Beijing, managed stories on Edwards on both Monday and Wednesday. Considering it was during an interview on ABC’s Nigthline on Friday that Edwards confessed to cheating on his wife, it is interesting that GMA was outdone in covering the story.
On Wednesday, the Early Show looked at the money trail leading from Edwards to his mistress, Rielle Hunter, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "We will also talk about new bombshell revelations in the John Edwards affair, including claims that he did know his mistress was being paid and that he rekindled the affair after confessing to his wife." The segment began with a report by correspondent Bianca Solorzano: "According to the National Enquirer, the publication that first broke the story of John Edwards' extramarital affair, Edwards was aware of payments being made to his former mistress Rielle Hunter, something he denied on Friday...The allegations could not only have legal ramifications, it would shed considerable doubt on Edwards' other denial, that he fathered Miss Hunter's child."
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer talked about John McCain’s latest campaign ads with Republican strategist Karl Rove and quoted previous guest Tim Kaine, the Democratic Governor of Virginia: "But what about John McCain? At this point, as Governor Kaine said, Obama's running positive ads and John McCain is running ads about...Paris Hilton and that sort of thing...What he called the same old Karl Rove ads...Can you get elected president that way?"
In response, Rove argued that Obama started the negative trend: "I would make the argument that part of the reason why Senator Obama is in the shape he is in today is because he's failed to run a positive campaign. He's run a negative campaign." Schieffer immediately brushed that charge aside: "What do you think John McCain ought to do -- I want to get back to my question, can you get elected when the thrust of your campaign seems to be comparing the other guy to sort of an empty suit, Paris Hilton-type celebrity? Doesn't it have to go beyond that?"
If any further evidence was needed to prove that the country is in a recession, the CBS Early Show found it, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Coming up this morning, during hard times in some U.S. cities, they're as good as gold. Manhole covers being stolen and sold for scrap." Co-host Harry Smith later introduced the segment on this desperate trend: "Across the country thieves are stealing metal objects like manhole covers because the price of scrap metal has sky rocketed."
Correspondent Priya David reported on the problem: "That's right, thieves are literally stealing the street right out from under you. One area of the nation hardest hit by these thefts is Philadelphia. Typically they'd lose about a hundred manhole covers or grates a year to theft. But in the past year, 2,000 have gone missing." She went to describe how: "When you look at this street, you probably see a manhole cover. But to a thief, this looks like free money." As David later mentioned, that "free money" isn’t much: "Each cover nets a thief a grand total of about $10."
David detailed how the crime wave was starting to take it’s toll: "In Philadelphia, this girl is one of two children who suffered minor injuries from falling into open holes." She then turned to Democratic Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter: "That can be a very dangerous situation. But, you know, you can never be too surprised at the creativity and the lengths that people will go, you know, when facing, you know, a financial challenge, trying to take care of themselves."
Surprisingly, the CBS Early Show continued to report on the John Edwards scandal on Tuesday, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to a friend of Edwards’s mistress: "Edwards claims it was a brief liaison, but that's not how a friend of [Rielle] Hunter's remembers it." At one point in the interview, Rodriguez asked that friend, Pigeon O’Brien, about media characterizations of Hunter: "She's been portrayed as this Fatal Attraction-like woman who was semi-stalking him, madly in love, delusional, talking bad about his wife. The woman that you claim to know for 20 years, does that ring true?" Of course "semi-stalking" seemed to be how co-host Harry Smith described Hunter on Monday’s show: "This woman in question has a very interesting history...knowing her as this kind of bar fly who had this kind of crazy past... From reading everything I read it seemed to me that she targeted Edwards."
In response to Rodriguez’s question, O’Brien criticized those portraying Hunter in such a manner:
Not at all. It couldn't be further from the truth. It -- and that's one reason why I'm speaking to people like you. It really bothers me, what they're saying about her. It could not be further from the truth...It does not ring true that she would ever stalk somebody. They were very mutually engaged in this affair. I can't stress that enough. It was a mutual committed relationship and he persuaded her to believe so.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Tracy Smith reported on the news that John Edwards had cheated on his wife, but wondered: "I guess my question is, okay, sure, so it's going to be reported...But does America care at this point?" After political analyst Jeff Greenfield replied to her question with "sometimes," Smith cited poll numbers on the issue: "Yes, only sometimes. In a 2007 poll, 56 percent said it wouldn't matter to them if a presidential candidate had an extramarital affair."
Earlier in the discussion with Greenfield, Smith explained how "In a statement Friday, Edwards said that running for office made him feel special, egocentric; in effect, that the campaign made him do it." Greenfield then described: "If you're running for president, you get -- you get on a pedestal. You know, they -- motorcades happen for you and you get the adulation of crowds." However, he also asserted: "The one thing you probably can't do is to cheat."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen introduced a segment on China hosting the Olympics: "Well, the Olympic games are more than a chance for the world's athletes to excel, they also give the host nation an opportunity to shine. For China and it's 1.3 billion people, the Beijing games are feeding a groundswell of pride." Chen then went to correspondent Barry Petersen who declared: "From designer clothes to new cars, China is getting rich. Democracies once bragged that theirs was the only way to economic success. China is doing it the communist way."
Petersen began his report by observing: "Well, China wants to throw a successful Olympics party and so far they're doing just fine. With plenty of enthusiasm spreading from Beijing pretty much around the world." Of course that ignored the heavy pollution in Beijing, constant protests, President Bush’s criticism of China’s human rights record, and the fatal stabbing of the father-in-law of a U.S. coach. Petersen went on to describe how: "Beijing has the welcome banners out to a half million visitors. More foreigners at one time than the country has seen since the Mongol invasion a thousand years ago." So Olympic visitors are like barbarian hordes?
Monday’s CBS Early Show, came up with a list of excuses for John Edwards cheating on his wife, including co-host Harry Smith suggesting that the woman Edwards had the affair with, Rielle Hunter, targeted the former Senator: "This woman in question has a very interesting history...knowing her as this kind of bar fly who had this kind of crazy past... From reading everything I read it seemed to me that she targeted Edwards."
The bashing of Hunter began during a segment in the 7am half hour of the show when co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to David Perel, the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, which broke the story, and asked: "...your impressions of this woman, Rielle Hunter, who's being trashed in New York papers today. On the cover of this one, it says 'Rielle Cruel,' saying that she trashed Elizabeth Edwards. Said she was a woman who had bad karma. What can you tell us about her?"
In the later segment, during the 7:30am half hour, Smith talked to psychologists Robi Ludwig, from Cookie magazine, and Frank Farley, from Temple University. Smith began by posing the question: "Why do politicians like John Edwards risk their careers by having extramarital affairs?" Ludwig decided to blame Elizabeth Edwards’s cancer: "What was the trigger? So I wonder if there was something about his wife's illness that somehow got him to cheat or contributed at least." When a skeptical Smith asked: "You're cutting him a break then it sounds like?" Ludwig replied: "Well, you know, I think that we get so caught up in good or bad, you know. Is somebody a good person or a bad person. Cheating is wrong...But I think that there are multiple factors. Was he doing it because he had a fear of losing his wife? I mean, there are lots of different reasons." Smith then conceded: "No, I hear that...there may be legitimacy to that."
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Republican strategist Ed Rollins about the recent exchange of ads between the McCain and Obama campaigns and started the discussion by declaring: "Let's begin with the one that started this negative tide, John McCain's ad last week comparing Barack Obama to celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears." Rodriguez went on to admit the media’s distaste for the ad as she asked Rollins: "So even though he was being criticized, do you think this was an effective ad because it got people talking about McCain again?" On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News" correspondent Dean Reynolds said of the McCain ad: "Some Republicans wonder about the new approach. McCain's own mother said using Paris Hilton in this controversial ad to insult Obama was, quote, ‘kind of stupid.’"
Later in the Early Show segment, Rodriguez introduced a clip of the Obama campaign’s response ad in a positive fashion: "Barack Obama says that he -- John McCain is taking the low road. He's supposed to be a straight talker who doesn't resort to this sort of thing, but he has. And he said as much in this ad, let's take a look at it." When Rodriguez asked Rollins what he thought of the ad, he observed: "Well he's responding to McCain. The truth of the matter is you want to run your own campaign, you don't want to respond in the opposition. That's the basic rule." Rodriguez seemed surprised by the critique: "You don't think that Barack Obama pointing out John McCain's weaknesses, in his view, is a good strategy?"
On Monday’s "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith highlighted Barack Obama’s birthday, but wondered: "So is he feeling older faster as a result of the campaign trail?" Correspondent Bianca Solorzano later reported on Obama turing 47 and having endured a long campaign: "Barack Obama has been campaigning for president for 18 months...It was just four years ago that the relatively unknown Illinois Senator burst onto the political stage at the 2004 Democratic national convention. Now the 47-year-old has been campaigning around the clock and around the world."
Clips of Obama noting his age were played throughout the segment: "I'm getting gray hair. Running for president will age you quick." On that note, Solorzano even talked to Obama’s barber who commented: "Yeah, his hair is a little bit, but you know that's normal for his age group. You know, not too much gray, just a little bit." The meaning behind all this emphasis on Obama getting older soon became evident as political analyst Jeff Greenfield observed: "I think probably a little more gray, a little more wrinkles, probably isn't such a bad thing for somebody who's running for president."
While Greenfield suggested Obama turning another year older was somehow a political advantage, Solorzano still wanted to remind viewers of the Illinois Senator’s youthfulness compared to John McCain: "In fact, Obama's almost a quarter century younger than his rival, John McCain."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith actually reported on the latest Gallup poll numbers showing a virtual tie between Barack Obama and John McCain: "Neck and neck. Polls show John McCain and Barack Obama statistically tied. Is McCain winning the ad war?" Smith later declared: "McCain has erased much of Obama's earlier lead on the Gallup poll" and asked "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer: "How do you read this? How should we interpret this?"
Schieffer admitted that the recent round of McCain ads, which he and much of the media declared as "nasty" and "the low road," were effective: "I think one conclusion you can draw is as crude as it was, the ad that the McCain people ran comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton may have cut through with some voters to the place where Obama would be the most vulnerable and that is, that is he is a person of some inexperience." On the July 31 "Early Show" Schieffer made a prediction about the McCain ad: "I think there's a high possibility that all this could blow up in their face and backfire."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" correspondent Dean Reynolds described how the Obama campaign was defending itself against the latest McCain ad: "Spurred by what it considers below-the-belt attacks on his character, fitness, and even his fame...Barack Obama is firing back." Reynolds went on to highlight a new Obama website designed to counter McCain’s "low blows": "And Obama's campaign has just created a new website, the 'Low Road Express.' Playing off McCain's campaign bus dubbed the 'Straight Talk Express.' The new site will chronicle what the Obama folks consider low blows from McCain, who, it alleges, ‘doesn't seem to stand for anything but negative attacks and false charges against Barack Obama. This isn't the John McCain we used to know.’"
Reynolds offered a similar campaign report on Thursday’s CBS "Evening News," in which he declared: "What is striking about McCain's sharper edge, criticized by several newspapers recently, is how it appears to conflict with some of his more high-minded talk of the need for civility on the stump." Introducing the segment, anchor Katie Couric referred to the McCain ad as "infamous."
On Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Priya David reported on homeowners in Philadelphia trying to avoid foreclosure: "Yajaira Cruz-Rivera thought she was choosing a responsible mortgage plan. But dreams of remodeling crumbled just days after her family moved in...Yajaira fought with her loan company, saying her new mortgage was unfair and unaffordable." However, David then introduced the hero of the story: "That's when she saw an ad on TV for ACORN, a community organization committed to helping homeowners fight foreclosures. Together they rallied the city for change."
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, in reality, is a left-wing activist organization that seeks to implement radical socialist policies. According to an August 6, 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Malanga:
While ACORN now operates in more than 100 cities with a national budget of $37 million, it never truly left behind the welfare-rights mentality. One is hard-pressed to find in the organization's many antipoverty initiatives any programs that address social dysfunctions like illegitimacy and single parenthood. Instead, as ACORN's executive director, Steven Kest, said several years ago, "We are more focused on irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector. I don't think [illegitimacy] comes anywhere close to the irresponsible behavior of people running the largest businesses in this country."
In addition, Stanley Kurtz outlined Barack Obama’s involvement in ACORN in a May 29 article on National Review Online.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on John McCain’s latest ad criticizing Barack Obama declaring: "War of words...The race for the White House gets ugly as John McCain and Barack Obama spar over negative ads." When Rodriguez later introduced the segment, she specified who was "getting ugly": "The race for the White House has officially turned negative with the McCain campaign drawing first blood and Barack Obama responding quickly." On Monday, co-host Russ Mitchell declared that another McCain ad showed that the "gloves are off" and was a sign of how "nasty" the campaign was getting.
Thursday’s segment began with a report by correspondent Chip Reid, who decried the negative turn: "You know, it's more than three months before election day and the McCain campaign has already decided to go negative. Recently they've released a series of attack ads and the latest one compares Barack Obama to pop stars Britney Spears and Paris Hilton." Reid then described the Obama response: "The Obama campaign rushed out a response ad," a clip of the ad was played: "John McCain. His attacks on Barack Obama not true, false, baloney, the low road." Reid then proclaimed that: "Campaigning in Missouri, Obama took the high road."
Reid then described how the ad would probably backfire on McCain: "Political analyst David Mark says the ad is sure to get a lot of attention as it's replayed again and again on the internet and cable news. But he says it could well turn out to be a mistake." Mark, from politico.com, then commented: " McCain's campaign is predicated on the notions of honor, being upright. This seems a little bit beneath him." Reid concluded his report by wondering: "And one big question for Obama now is how long can he continue to take the high road with McCain increasingly on the attack?"
In a bizarre rant against President Bush at the end of Sunday’s "Face the Nation," CBS host Bob Schieffer made an odd analogy between the president and the fairy tale villain in reaction to the Bush Administration’s opposition to providing the Food and Drug Administration with more regulatory power over the tobacco industry: "The administration, incredibly, in my opinion, opposes it for a reason that would make the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland proud."
Schieffer began his commentary by declaring: "I'm delighted the House will vote this week on legislation that for the first time will give the Food and Drug Administration real power to regulate tobacco products. I hope it passes." He then decried the Bush Administration’s reason for opposing the measure:
Their reason: That the FDA already has such a huge job monitoring food safety, that it just doesn't have the resources to take on the additional job of regulating tobacco. If it did, the administration argues, regulating food and drugs might suffer. I couldn't be more serious. That really is their main reason. By that logic, we shouldn't have asked the military or our intelligence agencies to get involved in fighting terrorism after 9/11. For sure, they already had plenty to do before Osama Bin Laden came along.
Considering how long it has taken for the FDA to find the source of a recent nationwide salmonella outbreak, it seems the administration’s concerns are well-grounded.
Following a segment on Monday’s CBS "Evening News," on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Chip Reid again touted Obama economic advisor Warren Buffett calling for more taxes on the rich: "Barack Obama met with his team of economic advisers Monday...But there's one who couldn't make it and had to put in his two cents by phone...Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world. Despite his billions, he says the rich are under-taxed."
Reid went on to outline Obama’s plan to remedy that under-taxing: "Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year and use the money for a tax cut for the middle class." Reid also mentioned John McCain’s economic team: " John McCain is also tapping the minds of business leaders, including Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Meg Whitman, former head of ebay. They briefed reporters Monday on the importance of tax cuts for business."
At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell teased a segment about a new McCain campaign ad criticizing Barack Obama for not visiting wounded American soldiers in Germany: "...it is 99 days until election day and John McCain this weekend took off the gloves off with an ad criticizing Barack Obama for among other things, going to the gym while on his trip overseas last week." The segment later began with a report by correspondent Bill Plante, who described: "... it's now just 99 days to the election. But those 99 days promise a pretty rough ride. This new TV ad from the McCain campaign targets Obama's decision to cancel a visit with U.S. troops in Germany."
Plante then played a brief clip of the McCain ad and followed up with the Obama campaign’s defense: "The Obama campaign's return shot, quote, 'John McCain is an honorable man who is running an increasingly dishonorable campaign.' Back from a tour abroad focused on foreign policy and rock star TV coverage, Obama is talking this week about pocket book issues." After Plante’s report, Mitchell talked to Republican strategist Kevin Madden and former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers about the ad. Mitchell asked Madden: "...how nasty is this likely to get over the next few months?"
A report by correspondent Mark Phillips on Friday’s CBS "Early Show" gave a glowing review of Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin on Thursday: "...there is a bit of a morning after feeling here in Berlin after what they're calling the 'Obama show.' But if the intent of this trip was to raise Barack Obama's foreign profile, it could hardly have been raised any higher...The stage could not have been bigger. The 200,000-plus crowd confirmed his rock star status, and his more cooperative sounding rhetoric was what the crowd wanted to hear."
On Thursday’s "Early Show" Phillips previewed the upcoming speech with the same fawning: "...preparations have been underway for a crowd that may number in the tens of thousands. Such is the anticipation of this Obama visit...Barack Obama of course isn't running for office here, but he may wish he were. Opinion polls across Europe, unofficial ones in newspapers, show that he would have a lead somewhere in the range of 80%. He has extremely high popularity in Europe and extremely high expectations." During that same report, Phillips quoted one German citizen who explained: "I have the feeling that with Obama there's something new. And we need it. Especially in Europe." Phillips then added: "Something new meaning he's not George W. Bush, whose war in Iraq drove a wedge between U.S. and European public opinion."
On Friday’s show, Phillips observed: "This was a speech about tone, not specifics. But mostly it was about showing up and being seen." He then went on to describe John McCain’s "bitterness" toward Obama’s media coverage: "Being seen too much, according to John McCain, who has complained bitterly about the coverage his opponent has received. McCain's response to Obama's Berlin mega-event was to go to a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio."
In a interview with Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith asked: "...you have been an advocate for Senator McCain. He's committed a number of verbal gaffes over the last couple of weeks and the last couple of months. What does that tell you? Are they just mis-speaking -- is he just mis-speaking, or is it -- read something more?"
Smith asked no such question about Barack Obama being wrong about the success of the troop surge, but Jindal pointed out that fact in his reply:
Well look, there's no doubt that Senator Obama's an extremely gifted speaker. But when you look on taking the right positions. For example, I thought it was an excellent interview with Katie and Senator Obama, I think he had a great chance to say, that Senator Obama had a great chance to say he was just wrong on the surge. Senator McCain was right, even before the administration had agreed to this. Senator McCain rightfully saw that the surge would help to produce the kinds of security gains that Katie so rightfully described that are allowing us now to begin to withdraw troops, maybe even more aggressively than was thought possible a few months ago. That will allow us to redeploy troops to Afghanistan. So, to me, certainly, I want to say that Senator Obama is a great speaker, but I think on getting these core positions right, I think Senator McCain was right about the surge.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Sheila MacVicar described Barack Obama’s visit to Israel’s Holocaust memorial during his continuing Middle East tour as: "...yet another chance to see how the Senator looks in statesman clothes." MacVicar imbued Obama with the mantel of "statesman" just last Friday when she described the upcoming trip: "...Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East."
Earlier in Wednesday’s report, MacVicar described Obama’s meeting with top Israeli officials and made sure label the conservative: "The day began with a double helping of breakfast and conversations with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former prime minister and leading right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu." MacVicar concluded her report with a preview of Obama’s next stop:
This afternoon he'll travel by helicopter with not one, but two ministerial tour guides, the foreign minister and the defense minister, to the Israeli town of Sderot, which is frequently a target of Palestinian rockets. For Obama it's a chance to show that he understands and feels the plight of Israelis. For the Israelis, it's a chance to make their point about their strategic weakness.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric about Barack Obama’s trip to Iraq and asked: "He's had a very full plate here the last three or four days. Is it -- is there a way to sort of gauge what the Senator has been able to accomplish thus far?" Couric, who along with the other network anchors is following Obama on the trip, responded: "Well, I think in his time in Iraq, and as you know, Harry, he's still there, has been very, very productive."
Couric then went on to describe the Obama’s good fortune: "And let's say simply serendipitous that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, after some clarification over the weekend and going back and forth, virtually endorsed Senator Obama's plan to have a timetable for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, U.S. combat troops by the year 2010." She also pointed out that Maliki’s "endorsement": "...was somewhat surprising, disconcerting, and embarrassing to the Bush Administration." Couric concluded: "So in terms of a withdrawal strategy, he [Obama] and Prime Minister Maliki are definitely on the same page."
At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show" a full six minutes of coverage was devoted to Barack Obama’s world tour, while only three minutes was given to a John McCain interview. During the interview with McCain, co-host Harry Smith wondered: "You know, when you have the network anchors chasing your opponent across the Middle East it's a little hard to make news. What is your strategy to get folks to pay attention to your message over the next couple of days?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked a similar question to Republican pollster Frank Luntz on Friday: "Can John McCain even compete next week?"
The coverage of Obama consisted of co-host Julie Chen talking to New York Times Baghdad correspondent Richard Oppel, followed by a clip of CBS correspondent Lara Logan’s interview with Obama in Afghanistan. Oppel highlighted recent news of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki supporting Obama’s troop withdrawal plan: "...he was quoted accurately. He did express a clear affinity for Obama's 16 month proposal."
Later, when interviewing McCain, Harry Smith also brought up Maliki’s comments: "But one of the other things that -- one of the other things that he [Obama] has said is that maybe the troops should be out within the next 18 months, an idea that Prime Minister Al Maliki basically agrees with. Maybe the surge, in fact, did work. Is it time for American troops to start coming home?" That statement was in response to McCain pointing out to Smith that: "We are winning the war. And Senator Obama was wrong. He railed against it. He voted against the surge. And he said it would fail. He was wrong there."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Sheila MacVicar reported on Barack Obama’s upcoming international tour and declared: "...Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East."
MacVicar then explained how well-received Obama’s troop withdrawal plan would be to the Iraqi people:
...people know he has proposed to withdraw all U.S. combat troops within 16 months. American presidents have not been popular here for nearly 20 years. But Iraqis say they do want U.S. troops to go home. 'I'm for withdraw now,' says this shopper. 'The Americans have caused all our problems.' 'If Obama's plan is true,' he says, 'we bless it. We need withdraw today.'
MacVicar then looked at the rest of Obama’s planned trip: "On to Europe where many are enthusiastic." She quoted one British citizen who claimed: "If there were a vote here in the UK he'd probably win something like 5-1." MacVicar concluded her report by observing: "There's no question...that even this far away Mister -- Senator Obama, more than any other recent presidential candidate, excites great interest."
While Thursday’s New York Times reported that the anchors from all three network newscasts will be joining Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq, they showed no such interest in following John McCain during his visit to Iraq in March. During the week of March 16, McCain’s trip received only four full-length stories during the combined ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news program coverage. Three of those stories were on NBC’s "Nightly News," one of which focused on McCain’s mistaken comment about Iran funding Al Qaeda in Iraq. ABC’s "World News" did only one full-length story on McCain’s Iraq trip, which mentioned the gaffe. The CBS "Evening News" was by far the worst, devoting only 31 words, a grand total of 10 seconds, to the Republican nominee’s Iraq visit during the entire week of evening news coverage. Read Media Research Center press release here.
Even the Times article acknowledged that McCain’s Iraq trip received little coverage: "Senator John McCain’s trip to Iraq last March was a low-key affair: With a small retinue of reporters chasing him abroad...But the coverage also feeds into concerns in Mr. McCain’s campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the news media are imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates." See the previous NewsBusters post by John Stephenson for more on the Times article.
While reporting that a top U.S. diplomat will attend an international meeting with an Iranian negotiator on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Bill Plante suggested such a meeting represented the Bush Administration moving toward Barack Obama’s goal of direct negotiations with Iran: "Absolutely a first and it's a sharp break from what has been the policy of the Bush Administration...Now official disclaimers aside, the fact that the administration is sending someone to this meeting is a very big deal. And since Obama has put it into the political debate it is sure to stay as part of the political discussion."
Following that report, co-host Harry Smith talked to political analyst Jeff Greenfield about the impact on the presidential campaign:
So interesting, this has been part and parcel of the political discussion of the two campaigns for several months now. Barack Obama says we should talk to some of these folks. McCain has long maintained, very much along the administration lines, we don't talk unless they stop enriching uranium. How does this reflect, do you think, upon the campaigns?
Greenfield responded by describing how the diplomatic meeting would help Obama: "But if your whole argument, and it was Senator Clinton's as well, against Obama is he's naive, he doesn't understand the world, and now to have the administration say, 'okay, the precondition we can set aside,' it tends to undercut the argument, which is going to be a key to Obama's critics, that he doesn't understand the world."
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," left-wing comedian and CBS commentator Nancy Giles, upset over the Barack Obama New Yorker cover, remarked to co-host Harry Smith: "So is the New Yorker at some point going to do a similar wild interpretation of the rumors about John McCain or have him holding his wife as a trophy, stepping on his ex-wife?"
Like MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who on Monday worried that the magazine cover was "too sophisticated" for the American public to understand, Giles similarly fretted: "But the thing about this particular cartoon is that I think for the people who really already believe that Barack Obama is Muslim...because of the fear that this country has, this will maybe reinforce that fear. They -- I don't think they'll see that as satire." When Smith described how the cartoon was meant to mock Obama’s critics, Giles added: "I get that...but I think that there may be people who just look at the cover and see it for what it is."
For his part, Smith actually defended the New Yorker and suggested the Obama campaign was overeacting: "Why's everybody going crazy about this?...Front page story in the New York Times this morning is people are trying to figure out what's funny about this campaign and so far nothing has been funny about Obama. Is Obama off-limits?...what we're returning to the age of absolute political correctness?"
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez aired her interview with John McCain that followed his Monday speech to the National Council of La Raza and teased the segment by asking: "Up next, Senator John McCain, a maverick or a flip-flopper to Latinos?" During the interview, Rodriguez, who hosted the liberal La Raza conference, pressed McCain from the left on his immigration stance: "You championed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. But now as the nominee you admit you wouldn't vote for it if it came up today. Why not?" [audio excerpt available here]
After McCain explained that the legislation had failed twice due to lack of popular support, Rodriguez wondered: "The fact that it failed, does that tell you that the American people didn't want it or that your party didn't want it?" Rodriguez then followed up by quoting Obama campaign talking points: "Some political analysts say, and in fact, Senator Obama made the comments here yesterday, that when you became the nominee, when you could no longer risk alienating your conservative base, you started emphasizing border security over a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. What about that?"
When McCain later suggested that: "Americans want the confidence that we'll have secure borders. And then I believe the overwhelming majority of them will support a humane and compassionate approach to temporary worker program and to a comprehensive immigration reform." Rodriguez responded: "But securing the border could take years. What if it never happens? When will you get to comprehensive immigration reform?"