In the 8:30AM half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez led live coverage of Barack Obama voting in Chicago and asked Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: "Bob, how must he be feeling right now?" A choked up Schieffer replied: "Well, I mean, this is a -- this is a remarkable moment in American history. Stop and think about this, 150 years ago there were 31 million people who lived in this country, 4 million of those people were slaves, 4 million people. And, today, here you have an African-American who may be elected president of this country. This is not -- people keep talking about the American people may be ready to turn a page, but it's not just a political page, this is a page of American history." Rodriguez agreed: "Absolutely."
Co-host Harry Smith joined the coverage and actually wondered if Obama was voting for himself: "I'm wondering, I would love to ask him afterwards whether or not he voted for himself...Because having voted in school elections and stuff like that, we were taught as kids sometimes you vote for the other guy because that's how -- that's how -- it's an honorable thing to say that 'I honor your presence here. This was a battle well fought.' And I would be very interested to know whether or not he voted for himself." A realistic Schieffer replied: "I'm betting he did." Smith responded: "Yeah, I'm betting he did. I'm just bringing up a question."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen introduced a new campaign segment: "...throughout this morning, we're bringing you the voices of Americans and what they're thinking as they prepare to vote." In the brief video clip that followed, Colorado Springs City Council member Jan Martin Described herself as a "lifelong Republican" explained: "I think we are at a place and a point in time where hope and unity are two things that this country needs more than anything."
The only problem is that Jan Martin was similarly touted by the New York Times in early October, at which point, NewsBusters’ P.J. Gladnick discovered that she was a member of the Colorado Springs chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Colorado’s Gay and Lesbian Fund. In the Early Show segment Martin worried: " There's an uncertainty of what it will mean to my future political career, but I really believe that this election was too important not to -- not to take a stand."
In the 8AM half hour, co-host Maggie Rodriguez introduced a video clip of a McCain supporter: "We heard from a voter who supports Barack Obama. Now how a McCain supporter feels about this election." However, voter Amy Myers did not exactly give McCain unequivocal support: "We checked into both candidates’ tax plans and had realized that we would be saving three times as much in Obama's versus the McCain tax plan. The difference in the tax plans is not enough to change my vote. I feel that McCain, for me, is the proper candidate."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked exclusively to two Canadian comedians, Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel, who prank called Sarah Palin: "Pranksters pulled a fast one, over the weekend, on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Comedians from Canada posed as French President Nicolas Sarkozy." Smith later asked them: "Did you get the sense when you were on the phone with her, did she have any idea what was going on?" Trudel replied: "No...She was as gullible as Britney Spears. She -- there are only two people that we pranked that never caught on that it was a joke and that we had to explain it to them at the end. Sarah Palin and Britney Spears. And Britney Spears could not ever be President of the United States but Sarah Palin could." Audette added: "But they're both good looking...at least." Smith agreed: "That accounts -- that does account for something."
In addition to portraying Sarah Palin as stupid, the comedians and Smith also described how bad her staff was. Smith asked: "...how long did it take you and how did you start?" Trudel replied: "We started Tuesday, last Tuesday, it took four days. It's our fastest one except Britney Spears, so you can put that in the same category, her staff." Audette added: "It was pretty quick, actually. Because when we pranked Paul McCartney it took us about two months...Bill Gates, a month, Britney Spears, two days, and Sarah Palin about four or five days." Trudel later observed: "Yeah, and it's pretty disturbing to see that idiot's like us can go through to a vice presidential candidate that could be eventually the most influential and the most powerful person in the world...Too stupid comedians...with a bad French accent...and go through her staff." Smith concluded: "I think you said it all."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Barack Obama maintains a double digit lead over John McCain, he's now ahead by 11 points, 52% to 41%." However, the current Real Clear Politics average of polls, which includes the CBS/New York Times poll, only gives Obama a 6-point advantage. That is because all other polls range from Obama being up three to being up eight, the CBS/NYT poll is clearly the outlier.
In a report that followed, correspondent Jeff Glor looked at poll numbers on the economy: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll asked if the candidates would raise taxes on people like you. 50% said Obama would, 46% said McCain would. But when asked which candidate will make the economy better, 54% said Obama, 32%, McCain." In contrast to that 22-point gap, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 48% of voters trust McCain more on the economy, while 47% trust Obama more. In addition, Rasmussen gives Obama only a 4-point lead nationally. Given such great disparity in the results and the fact that most other polls show the race tightening, one wonders about the credibility of the CBS/New York Times poll.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about Obama’s Wednesday night campaign infomercial and Schieffer offered rave reviews: "...this was something we haven't seen the like of in American Politics...It reminded me so much of the commercials that Ronald Reagan ran in 1984, the ‘Morning in America’...What Barack Obama’s message was last night, ‘things are not so good, but take heart, because we can make it okay.’ I thought it was very, very effective...it was a very effective piece of campaign advertising."
Following Rodriguez’s discussion with Schieffer, co-host Harry Smith talked with Washington Post media critic and CNN contributor, Howard Kurtz, about the commercial. Kurtz’s review was a bit more mixed: "This wasn't a 60-second ad. It wasn't a "Morning America" ad by Reagan, it was a show, and as a show it had to draw people in. I think it did a pretty good job of that, but as I said, at times it was a bit over the top." Earlier, Smith asked Kurtz: "What did you not like?" and Kurtz replied: "Well, for example, Maggie mentioned the faux Oval Office at the beginning, a lot of people, I think are going to find that a tad presumptuous-" Smith interrupted: "The Oval Office is not brown. It doesn't -- I don't think the Oval Office is brown, but go ahead." Kurtz pointed out: "Look at that tree in the window, it looks just like the South Lawn, he's got the flag." As Kurtz mentioned, in her discussion with Schieffer, Rodriguez observed: "...it opens with him standing in an office that some people thought looked like the Oval Office."
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the presidential campaign and continued to portray Barack Obama as the victim of John McCain’s attacks: "Meanwhile, the campaigns were making their closing arguments, with special emphasis on the arguing part...John McCain backers have launched an array of new attacks on Barack Obama, including more robocalls." Glor then skipped over any of Obama’s robocalls and instead delcared: "The Obama campaign's relentless responses come quickly." Glor then played a clip of the "response": "John McCain wants to tear Barack Obama down, with scare tactics and smears."
Following Glor’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the candidates’ chances in Pennsylvania with former Republican Governor Tom Ridge and current Democratic Governor Ed Rendell. Rodriguez began by asking Ridge: "Last week you said that you thought that McCain would be faring much better in your state had he chosen you as a running mate. Sarah Palin certainly is trying really hard, she's been there 11 times, four more times today. Do you think she's been a drag on the ticket in your state?" Ridge responded by correcting Rodriguez’s mis-characterization of his comments: "Well, first of all, I said that Senator McCain chose a vice presidential candidate not to win one state, but someone who had appeal across the board in all fifty states. It would be like saying would Senator Obama be doing even better in Pennsylvania if he had Ed Rendell as a running mate, I suspect he would."
Monday’s CBS ‘Early Show’ made Sarah Palin’s clothes shopping habits headline news as co-host Harry Smith declared: "Sarah Palin defends her shopping spree...We'll take you to the consignment store where she says she really shops." Only minutes later, Smith seemed to lament the distraction of the issue: "So much time and attention has been spent talking about John McCain's running mate in this -- in this case and, now it's -- they're defending themselves about clothes and all of these other things. Ones wonders if there's a presidential campaign going on here." Apparently Smith forgot that he shares responsibility for making it an issue in the first place.
At the top of the show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported that McCain: "...defended the woman he's running with. Following reports of rising tensions inside Sarah Palin's inner circle and the flap over those high-end designer clothes she wore at the convention." Glor added: "Palin, campaigning with the View's Elizabeth Hasselbeck, also addressed the $150,000 shopping spree." He played a clip of Hasselbeck: "Let me tell you, this is deliberately sexist." However, Glor never explained that Hasselbeck was talking about media coverage of Palin, instead he concluded: "The Alaskan governor said her wedding ring only cost $35 and that she usually buys her clothes from a consignment shop in Alaska."
In the 7:30AM half hour, co-host Julie Chen investigated that Alaska consignment shop: "On the campaign trail yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin again addressed the criticism she has received over the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee spent to dress her and her family. She said she likes to shop in a consignment store called Out of the Closet. The owner is Ellen Arv -- Arvold and she joins us now."
Continuing the theme that John McCain has lost the election, Monday’s CBS ‘Early Show’ already began the post mortem as co-host Harry Smith declared: "This is the final full week of the 2008 campaign. Barack Obama is pressing in on states that were once GOP strongholds and John McCain is on the defensive about himself and his running mate." Later in the show, Smith interviewed McCain supporter Mitt Romney and asked: "So much time and attention has been spent talking about John McCain's running mate in this -- in this case and, now it's -- they're defending themselves about clothes and all of these other things. One wonders if there's a presidential campaign going on here. Is Sarah Palin, has she turned out to be a drag on this ticket?" In the 7:30AM half hour, co-host Julie Chen did an entire segment on Palin’s fashion purchasing habits.
Following Smith’s interview with Romney, fellow co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed the Democratic Governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, and asked about Palin: "One of the concerns that people have in your state, about Senator McCain, is his choice of running mate. Do you think that if he had chosen someone like, let's say, Mitt Romney, this would be a much tougher battle for Barack Obama?" That gave Kaine the opportunity to bash the Alaska Governor: "When you pick somebody who's in the midst of an ethics investigation in their own state legislature, called by the Republican legislature, you know, there's just going to be surprises, and I think the stories, as they come out about it have raised questions about Senator McCain and kind of his decision-making process." Rodriguez never asked about Obama picking Joe Biden, despite the Delaware Senator's numerous gaffes.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed a pro-Obama video created by actor/director Ron Howard with fellow co-host Maggie Rodriguez: " You ever look at the -- Will Ferrell's website?...Well, there's some pretty interesting stuff on there from time to time...Look at -- take a look at this." In the video, posted on Will Ferrell’s website Funny or Die, Howard plays some of his past well-known television roles, Opie from the Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham from Happy Days:
RON HOWARD: When I'm a grown-up, I sure would like to vote for somebody as good as Mr. Obama.
ANDY GRIFFITH: Well, if you stay healthy and strong, avoid any felonies and stay away from the butterfly ballot, I bet you'll get a chance.
HENRY WINKLER: And after we vote, you want to double date?
WINKLER: My friend Janet Powcowski she's got this girl friend from Alaska.
HOWARD: You mean the girl who shoots moose?
WINKLER: Wait a minute. Shoots moose? I thought she said she was loose.
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Brand new numbers. A CBS News poll gives Barack Obama a 13-point lead. Can John McCain turn things around?" Co-host Harry Smith later introduced a report on the new poll: "A week and a half until election day and the latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows a commanding lead for Barack Obama over John McCain." Correspondent Jeff Glor then explained: "With Barack Obama now in Hawaii to visit his ill grandmother and John McCain in Colorado to campaign, the men are separated by 3,300 miles on the map and a 13-point gap in this poll."
Glor went on to detail the poll results: "It's unlikely both [McCain and Obama] like the results. Obama's 13-point overall lead is bolstered by a 15-point advantage as the candidate with which voters feel more personally comfortable and a 25-point margin on who has the right temperament to be president. While more do think John McCain is better prepared to be president, that divide has shrunk sharply since September." Glor then worked to discredit McCain’s efforts to gain support: "McCain is trying to leave that link behind and establish another, with his new Joe the Plumber tour...But even some Republicans feel it's tough to energize the every man when $150,000 is being spent to outfit running mate Sarah Palin." Glor then played a clip of former Reagan chief of staff, Kenneth Duberstein: "She's been campaigning as the candidate of Madison, Wisconsin, not Madison Avenue. And what this does is say to everybody out there, all the lower middle class and the middle class, ‘I thought she was one of us?’"
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the congressional races with the editor of the liberal New Republic magazine, Michael Crowley, and asked: "Now, if the Democrats get to 60 seats, as they hope to, what would be significant about that?" Crowley replied: "...in the Senate the other -- the opposition can filibuster. And if you have 60 votes you can basically tell them to 'shut up and we're going to pass our bill, sit down.' So 60 votes is the magic number because the opposition, if they have 41, can draw things out and prevent you from passing a bill so 60 is a magic number and it's one Democrats are really hoping they can get..." Rodriguez never identified Crowley’s liberal leanings and Thursday’s segment marks his forth appearance on the Early Show since July, always depicted as a neutral political analyst.
Throughout the segment, Rodriguez highlighted possible seats that Democrats could gain: "In North Carolina, a seat that's been held by -- for 36 years by a Republican, could be in danger of going to a Democrat, right?" Crowley replied: "It's a sign of the kind of year we're in...North Carolina is becoming a more Democratic state. Democratic registration has just really exploded, outpacing Republicans...there's a lot of Democratic energy in that state right now." Rodriguez moved on to Kentucky: "Kentucky, red state through and through. John McCain will probably get it, but not necessarily Mitch McConnell, who's been there for two decades." Crowley responded: "McConnell, I think maybe seen as tied to the Bush Administration, helping them shepard some of their things through. Supported the bailout bill, which his colleague from Kentucky opposed. He's being tied to special interests. So really dramatic race there."
In an interview with Barack Obama aired on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith lobbed softballs at the Democratic candidate, spending half the interview on Obama visiting his ailing grandmother: "Lincoln said, 'all I ever hope to be, I owe to her,' in speaking about his mother. Your grandmother was very much like a mother to you. How important is this trip?" Smith later observed: "Some people say there's risk involved in this, with so little time left." Obama replied: "Yeah, well, the -- I think most people understand that if you're not caring for your family, then you're probably not the kind of person who's going to be caring for other people."
Realizing that he is supposed to be a serious journalist, Smith moved on: " I want to talk about some campaign issues..." One of the "issues" Smith asked about near the end of the interview was: "Whoever gets elected president, somehow, has to put their arm around the whole country and say, 'we're in this together.' Can do you that?" That gave Obama the opportunity to call for unity and attack conservatives at the same time: "I can. And I think that's the tone that we've set from the beginning of this campaign. I mean, look. Is Sean Hannity suddenly going to get on the air waves and say 'You know, I was wrong about this Obama guy, he's my man.' No, that's not going to happen. I mean's there's going to be a certain wing of the Republican Party that is, you know, dug in and resistant to the notion that we need to change direction."
In a segment that seemed obnoxiously coy, on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Plante wondered: "...the president has not been out on the campaign trail for Senator McCain, something he offered to do when McCain locked up the nomination in March. So what's up?" Plante later explained: "His press secretary says Mr. Bush has had a lot on his plate the last few months." He then played a clip of himself pestering White House Press Secretary Dana Perino: "So he's been too busy to campaign?" Perino slapped down the question: "I didn't say that. You heard exactly what I said. I know what you're getting at, but I'm not going to play."
Plante finally discovered the reason for Bush’s absence on the campaign trail: "In fact, Senator McCain has gone out of his way to distance himself from the president because Mr. Bush's approval rating hovers around 24%." Plante compared that to Bill Clinton’s popularity at the end of his presidency and even seemed to brag: "Eight years ago, President Clinton, despite his impeachment, had a 61% approval rating. He campaigned for Al Gore and thought Gore should have asked him to do even more."
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show continued pressing the theme that the election is over as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Countdown to election day. The swing state showdown continues as Obama appears to open up an advantage in early voting." Co-host Harry Smith cited polls with wide margins to further shovel dirt on the McCain campaign: "New polls out with just 13 days to go until election day. A poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal gives Barack Obama a ten-point lead over John McCain, that's 52% to 42%. A poll by Reuters, C-Span, and Zogby shows the same ten-point spread." Correspondent Jeff Glor followed with a report: "Those poll numbers you mentioned and the math in these states makes the situation look increasingly difficult for John McCain."
Glor went on to describe how: "John McCain will campaign today in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Florida, following a big push for Pennsylvania." However, Glor immediately threw out the wet blanket: "Though registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans in the state by more than a million voters..." Glor also touted how Smith’s Tuesday interview with McCain was referenced by Joe Biden during a recent stump speech: "Joe Biden is sharply challenging John McCain over those controversial robocalls...Following Harry Smith's interview." Highlighting an Obama stump speech, Glor declared: "Obama pointing out that Florida, where he spent Tuesday, and where we've seen those long early voting lines, lost more jobs than any other state in the past year." Glor concluded the segment by observing: "In Florida, and other battleground states, officials say Democrats are early voting in greater numbers than their Republican counterparts, a good sign for Obama."
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "The McCain campaign under fire for spending $150,000 on clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin and her family." Correspondent Jeff Glor later introduced the story: "Meanwhile, there's another story this morning that's getting a lot of attention and it's about Sarah Palin, who's gotten a lot of attention herself. It turns out that attention has come at a price." Correspondent Meg Oliver reported: "This is what she's wearing these days on the campaign trail, expensive designer clothes, apparently paid for by the Republican National Committee. Spending records filed with the Federal Election Commission showed the RNC paid for campaign accessories from upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, where nearly $50,000 was spent, Neiman Marcus, $75,000, and $4700 for hair and makeup."
However, in a June 18 puff piece, the Early Show attempted to describe Barack Obama as a common man when it came to fashion: "...if you're wondering about that GQ look, don't expect stories about fancy custom tailoring." That was followed by Chicago Sun Times reporter Lynn Sweet explaining: "I interviewed him. I said where do you get your suits? And he says he bought them off the rack at Nordstrom's and Bloomingdale's." What exactly is the difference between Sarah Palin getting her clothes at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and Obama getting his clothes at Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdale’s?
Tuesday’s CBS Early Show promoted a narrative of Barack Obama courageously suspending his campaign to visit his sick grandmother in Hawaii, while a losing John McCain runs negative attack ads. Co-host Harry Smith led the show by declaring: "Breaking news. Barack Obama set to leave the campaign trail to be with his ill grandmother. We'll assess the impact on the race, just two weeks from election night." Meanwhile, in a later report, correspondent Jeff Glor explained: "And the latest CBS News/New York Times poll is giving him a 13-point national lead, despite what the Obama campaign considers unfair attacks...The poll showed Obama's favorability rating went up ten points, while John McCain's held steady."
In a 7:30AM news brief co-host Russ Mitchell proclaimed: "...just two weeks before the election and Barack Obama is putting family before politics for two days beginning on Thursday. Obama will fly to Hawaii to visit his ailing 85-year-old grandmother." In a segment later in the 7:30AM half hour, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic strategist Dee Dee Myers: "Barack Obama taking two days off the campaign trail, with our latest poll showing that he's 13 points ahead of John McCain. Will that make a difference?" Myers replied: "His grandmother is ailing, he wants to make sure he gets home to Hawaii to spend time with her. And, you know, consequences be damned-" Rodriguez added: "Exactly."
In the same segment, Rodriguez turned to Republican strategist Kevin Madden and asked: "...the same CBS News/New York Times post poll, shows that John McCain's strategies are not necessarily working. I'd like to show you that his favorability, since the debate, has gone down and people cite these as the reasons: His attacks on Obama and his choice of Sarah Palin, the top two reasons. Let me ask you, Kevin, is it working to be out there on the trail saying he's a socialist, to put out these robocalls?"
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith teased his interview with John McCain: "Exclusive, McCain one-on-one on Sarah Palin...everything from robocalls to his health." During the later segment, Smith declared: "A lot of Republican pundits in the last couple of weeks have said that yourchoice of a vice presidential candidate of Sarah Palin has been a disaster." He then asked McCain: "If, in fact, you found out that her candidacy cost you the election, would you still say it was the right choice?" McCain replied: "Harry. Look. Come to one of the rallies with me. You'll see the ignition out there and the passion and the incredible intensity out there for Sarah Palin."
Smith followed up by wondering if McCain’s health would prevent him from being president: "Can you reassure the American people right now that your health is what it needs to be in order to take office and not be concerned that it will become a factor, should you become President of the United States?" To that, McCain offered a challenge: "Have you seen me the last two years? 24/7 out there day after day in the grind. Look. I hiked the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim a couple of summers ago with my son. Listen. I'll -- listen, I'll invite any of the people who are reporting on that to come out and stick with me and hang with me on the trail."
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer talked to Washington Post reporter Dan Balz about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama and Balz argued: "Well I think it's obviously significant. I don't think endorsements ultimately mean that much, but there are two, I think, important things that happened with his endorsement of Senator Obama...the criticism of McCain for picking Governor Palin as his running mate, he said explicitly he did not think she was ready. This is something that is beginning to become almost a chorus in some parts of the Republican Party."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Schieffer offered almost identical analysis of Powell’s endorsement: "Well, I've never thought endorsements are game-changers but this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately...what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: "To hear Colin Powell say that he's not sure John McCain can handle the economy, he's not sure if Sarah Palin is qualified, he doesn't like the nasty tone of this campaign, how significant was that, Bob?" Schieffer replied: "...this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately. Things seem to be breaking his way. This just adds to the momentum."
Rodriguez then followed up by wondering: "What do you think privately the McCain campaign is making of this endorsement?" At that point, Schieffer proclaimed: "Well, I'm sure they don't like it but, you know, this is -- what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive. I think Colin Powell said aloud yesterday what some Republicans, at least, are saying privately." [audio excerpt here]
After smearing Joe the Plumber on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to a group of his own hand selected ‘average Joes’ to defend Barack Obama’s tax plan: "I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all." Financial analyst Jennifer Openshaw then proceeded to examine the personal financial situations of each "Joe" and concluded that four of them would save more money under Obama’s tax plan as promoted by his campaign.
Smith did acknowledge these projections were hypothetical: "...according to the Obama tax plan, and this, of course, is subject to passed by Congress...Talk about a pie in the sky." However, he then continued to assume it would be implemented and focused on the first guest, asking Openshaw: "He would do much better with Obama plan?" Openshaw replied: "You bet, he would do a lot better. But under McCain, what's interesting is, you know, he's got that $2,500 health care tax credit...for coverage, you know, you might not be able to cover both you and your son if you have to go find coverage someplace. So that's something to watch out for."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the role of Joe the Plumber, a.k.a. Joe Wurzelbacher, in the presidential campaign: "The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan." Glor then added: "Obama mocked the McCain strategy."
At the end of Glor’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked: "Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the Plumber?" Smith mistakenly referred to Wurzelbacher’s first name being Steven, when in fact it is Samuel, and he corrected himself: "Samuel." Glor responded: "A couple of more things about Joe the Plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name." At that moment, an on screen Graphic appeared with the headline: "The Real Joe the Plumber" and listed the details Glor mentioned. On Thursday, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Wurzelbacher: "...feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." but offered no direct quote of any such comment.
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber who criticized Obama’s tax policy, was upset that McCain mentioned him in Wednesday’s debate: "This is the small businessman first mentioned by John McCain, but then referenced repeatedly by both candidates. I had a chance to speak with Joe after the debate and he told me he did not like being mentioned, he feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." Despite that assertion, Rodriguez never offered any audio, video, or even a direct quote of Wurzelbacher saying any such thing.
However, in the same sentence, Rodriguez did admit: "...at the same time, he said since he has been thrust into this, he wants America to know that he absolutely disagrees with Senator Obama's tax plan. He says it punishes him for making more money and he even called it Marxist." In the report by correspondent Jeff Glor that followed, such criticism of Obama was backed up as audio of Wurzelbacher talking to Evening News anchor Katie Couric was played: "You know, I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question for once, instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. He [Barack Obama] was almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show began to declare the presidential race over as co-host Julie Chen touted new CBS News/New York Times poll numbers and proclaimed: "Obama surge. As the candidates head to the final showdown, Barack Obama opens up a 14-point lead. Can John McCain turn his campaign around in the final debate?" Co-host Harry Smith followed up with: "A lot of people say this is John McCain's last chance to really make a difference with just what -- two weeks and several days before the election." Correspondent Jeff Glor reported: "For 90 minutes, John McCain and Barack Obama will be sitting only four feet away from each other, which is about the only thing that's close about this race right now."
Glor later pinpointed the reason for McCain’s fall in the polls: "...independents, where there's been a shocking shift in the span of just one week, Obama turned a ten-point deficit into an 18-point lead. 21% of voters say they've changed their opinion of John McCain for the worse, citing the campaign's reliance on negative attacks and the selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate." At the top of the 8AM half hour, co-host Russ Mitchell reiterated that point in a news brief: "Meanwhile, it appears McCain may have hurt himself. 21% of voters say their opinion of McCain soured over the past few weeks because of negative attacks on Obama and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate."
As part of the promotion of his new Bush-bashing drama ‘W,’ director Oliver Stone appeared on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show and co-host Harry Smith gushed: "And there are so many interesting portrayals in this, we don't have time to go into them all...Stunning, stunning, stunning ...Phenomenal, phenomenal stuff." Smith even suggested that some people saw the movie as sympathetic to Bush, though not Smith himself: "People -- I was in a screening of this movie just yesterday. This person was walking out, 'my gosh it seemed so sympathetic.' I didn't feel that way, but your hearing that yourself I'm sure."
In response, Stone replied:
I hear it but I think there's a confusion between sympathy and empathy. Empathy means understanding, and as a dramatist it's my job to understand, to walk in the shoes of George W. Bush as best as I can...Sympathize, no. I do think he's hurt this country. I'm a Vietnam veteran. We should not have gone into the Iraq war. We were in three wars, not only Afghanistan and Iraq, but really the war on terror is a major war. You know, we've had an economic meltdown because of it, partly because of the overreach. And this country is in a very dire place and I'm not happy about it...But, you know, people voted for him.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and asked about negative attacks in the campaign: "Alright, one of the things that's happened in the McCain campaign over the last couple of days is the personal attacks seem to have at least subsided or quieted down a little bit. Do you think, in the long run, this might actually have been a fatal wound to the McCain-Palin campaign?" Giuliani responded: "I think there's a tendency on the media to blame it more on John McCain and Sarah Palin than on Barack Obama and his campaign but, to me, it's -- you know it's been coming from both sides." To that, Smith sarcastically replied: "Yeah, it's got to be the media's fault." Giuliani laughed and added: "Don't be defensive, Harry."
This is the not the first time Smith has denied Giuliani’s charges of media bias. On September 12, Giuliani criticized the media for attacking Sarah Palin’s experience but not applying similar scrutiny to Barack Obama: "The whole issue of whether she knows world affairs or not, these are questions that were never asked of Barack Obama, never asked of him to this day." Smith angrily denied any such bias: "That's not true. That's not true...That's not true. That is absolutely not true...That is absolutely not true. Those -- all those questions have been asked over the last 19 months." However, Smith himself conducted eight interviews with Obama and only asked two foreign policy questions of the inexperienced Senator.
During the 7AM half hour of Monday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on a couple moments at recent McCain campaign events as evidence of harsh Republican attacks against Barack Obama: "...a few recent fiery McCain campaign moments...Including one where McCain had to take the mic away from a woman who incorrectly called Obama an Arab." Glor went on to explain: "All of it led Democrat and civil rights leader John Lewis to issue a controversial statement,charging the Republicans with cultivating an atmosphere reminiscent of the days of segregation."
While referencing Lewis’s comments, Glor did not describe what made them particularly controversial: "George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights...Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama." It would seem that a Democratic member of Congress comparing John McCain to George Wallace would be a little more serious than one random woman at a campaign rally making an incorrect statement about Obama’s ethnicity.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed the presidential campaign with former Bush speech writer David Frum and declared: "There is growing concern among some Republicans about McCain's campaign. They're calling on him to stabilize it." Later in the segment, Smith asked Frum point blank: "Was Sarah Palin a mistake?"Frum replied: "I think Sarah Palin was a huge mistake...Americans can be pretty jokey about their government when times are good, but when times are bad, they want to know do -- can you do the job? And when you have a candidate who so obviously has never thought about any of the issues that are going to be important to the next administration and whose knowledge is so shallow, it makes people -- it doesn't just make people offended, it makes them afraid."
Just prior to asking Frum about Palin, Smith asked: "We're talking about the Gallup numbers, the Post has Obama up by ten points. Three weeks to go. Is it too late for John McCain to make substantial changes and literally save his campaign?" Part of Frum’s response to that question included: "The McCain campaign right now is running a campaign aimed at getting excited the last -- the core 30% of the country that supports the Republican Party, our base, but you don't win elections on your base. You win elections, but with a broad strategy. And above all, when you run an election like this aimed at your base you risk demoralizing and offending a lot of people who are needed by a Norm Coleman or an Elizabeth Dole."
Update: Frum's appearance on the Early Show prompted a discussion between Kathryn Jean Lopez and Mark Levin on National Review Online.
In preparation for a report on the investigation into whether Sarah Palin fired Alaska’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, for personal reasons, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Palin on the hot seat. Alaska lawmakers set to release a report today on the Troopergate investigation. We'll go live to Alaska for the latest details on the potentially explosive report." Co-host Julie Chen later introduced the segment by explaining: "The McCain-Palin ticket is bracing for what could be an embarrassing report. Lawmakers in Alaska are expected to release the results of an investigation into possible abuse of power by Governor Sarah Palin in the so-called Troopergate inquiry."
Correspondent John Blackstone reported: "Well, when the Troopergate report is released later today, it will show that since Sarah Palin became governor, her husband Todd repeatedly and frequently had conversations with government officials, all aimed at having their former brother-in-law, state trooper [Mike Wooten], thrown off the force." Blackstone never made mention of charges made against Wooten that he threatened to shoot Palin’s father, tasered his ten-year-old stepson, or was caught drinking on duty. The closest Blackstone came was to quote the man Palin fired: "Although the trooper has a disciplinary record, [former public safety commissioner Walt] Monegan said in a phone interview last night, he's not a bad cop."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "The McCain campaign sharpens its attacks on Barack Obama using one of its biggest guns." The "big gun" Smith was referring to was Cindy McCain, who criticized Obama on Wednesday for voting against Iraq troop funding. Smith followed by claiming: "But Obama strikes back with his own secret weapon," referencing Michelle Obama on CNN’s Larry King Live on Wednesday commenting that: "The folks out there right now are scared...They don't care about the sort of back and forth between the candidates."
Smith introduced the later segment by proclaiming: "With less than a month to go before election day, the campaign, especially McCain campaign, has turning -- has been turning up its attack on Barack Obama's character." In the report that followed, correspondent Jeff Glor described how: "John McCain's wife Cindy is usually camera shy but with polls showing the McCain campaign in rough waters it's all hands on deck. For the first time on the stump, Cindy McCain targeted Barack Obama...It's another escalation in the attacks of recent days as the McCain campaign questions Obama's commitment to country and his contacts." On Tuesday, Glor downplayed one of Obama’s "contacts," referring to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers as merely a: "once radical anti-war advocate."
On Wednesday, all three network morning shows interviewed Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden and offered no Republican counterpoint, punishing the McCain campaign for Sarah Palin declining to make similar appearances. On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer concluded her interview with Biden by declaring: "And we want you to know that we have asked Governor Palin to come on Good Morning America. And, of course, debate Senator Biden again here. And repeatedly, she has declined. Although, Senator Biden has said that he's willing to debate her again, if she wants."
On NBC’s Today, co-host Ann Curry made a similar declaration: "And we should also note that we invited Governor Sarah Palin to join us this morning, but she declined. The Governor has an open invitation to appear on Today, but so far she has not accepted our offers." On CBS’s Early Show co-host Harry Smith explained: "We also invited Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate, but the McCain campaign declined." Apparently, the mainstream media deems itself as John McCain’s communications director.