Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani faced liberal lines of questioning from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger during the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room before the network’s Thursday night coverage of the Republican convention. In particular, Borger pressed Giuliani on his differences with Sarah Palin on social issues: "Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.... [L]et's just say she's a heroine to the right wing of this party, and you're not their hero, okay?... [M]y question is, has the big tent of the Republican Party, which you always talk about -- has that gotten a little narrower?"
Just as Sarah Palin concluded her speech, CNN ran a graphic 8 minutes into the 11 pm Eastern hour of its coverage of the Republican convention about John McCain’s history of cancer as the Alaska governor was waving to the cheering crowd [see the graphic at right].
Just over 40 minutes later, Carl Bernstein, as he brought up the issue of Palin’s qualifications to be vice president, speculated about Palin stepping up to be the presidential nominee if something happened to McCain (cancer, for example): "[S]he showed she's going to be a great cultural warrior, which is something very different than a qualified vice president. She might be a great Republican Secretary of the Interior -- 'drill, drill, drill' -- but ask the question -- and I think the Democrats will ask this -- suppose something happens to -- were to happen to John McCain between now and the election. Would this be the Republicans' candidate for President of the United States? At some point, we're going to go back to the qualification question."
During the two minutes between Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin’s two attacks on Sarah Palin after her speech at the Republican convention on Wednesday night, veteran journalist Carl Bernstein also criticized Republicans, since in his view, the Alaska governor’s speech demonstrated "that the Republican Right is running this election." CNN correspondent John King then reacted to Bernstein’s assessment, and offered some constructive criticism of the difference in coverage between the two conventions: "...[L]anguage matters in what we do, and I don't necessarily disagree with the point of what Carl was saying -- but we do speak a different language when we talk about this party [the Republican Party], and I think that's why we're often criticized." He then scolded the media in terms of labeling:
KING: To say the Right is running the Republican campaign -- if that means these people are the Right, then Carl's exactly right. But we didn't say, during the Democratic convention... all those delegates down on the floor -- you know, many of them were members of the Left.
Minutes after Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin finished her speech on Wednesday night, CNN’s Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin went on the offensive against the Alaska governor. Co-host Anderson Cooper first asked Martin for his reaction. He first stated that "she gave a solid speech" and then focused on Palin’s dig at Barack Obama being a community organizer in Chicago: "...[S]he mocked community organizers, and this audience laughed at them. Don't be surprised if Obama and Biden says, you know what, it's community organizers who are keeping people from losing their homes in [the] subprime crisis.... It's community organizers who are the ones trying to save your job. They're going to say the GOP does not give a flip about community organizers -- it means they don't care about you...."
Two minutes later, co-host Wolf Blitzer went to Toobin for his reaction. The senior legal analyst for CNN first complimented Palin: "Well, let's just start with an obvious point that I don't think anyone has made yet. This speech was a heck of a lot better than Joe Biden's speech. I mean, it just was much more dramatic, much more interesting, much more entertaining." He then continued with a more blunt analysis of the speech: "But it was also, I thought, very smug, very sarcastic, very cutting. And you know what? The Republicans had been trying to portray her as a victim for the last couple days. Well, she's not going to be a victim anymore. She's going to be a target..." As if she hasn’t been a target since John McCain announced her as his running mate?
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien disavowed any knowledge of a bias on her network against Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, particularly concerning the issue of her five children, during a segment on Wednesday’s Newsroom program. She moderated a segment with two bloggers, a conservative and a liberal, both of them mothers. When the conservative, Rachel Campos-Duffy of "The Real World: San Francisco" fame, stated how "journalists even on this network say things like, you know, can she really -- is she up to be vice president because she has five kids," O’Brien replied, "I have not heard one journalist who works for CNN, if that's what you're talking about, say that at all. We've interviewed people who said that and ask some similar questions about, isn't that sexist? So I'm not sure exactly who you're referring to."
Less than two hours after Peggy Noonan and former McCain advisor Mike Murphy appeared on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon, a YouTube video appeared of their candid exchange in which they dismissed Sarah Palin’s viability as a VP pick. The speed at which the video appeared indicated that it almost certainly originated from someone inside MSNBC, another favor for the Democrats this election year.
Joshua Micah Marshall’s blog Talking Points Memo and the blog of Michael Calderone of the Politico broke news of Noonan and Murphy’s comments. The exchange started as MSNBC Chuck Todd previewed what was coming up next on the program before a commercial break 20 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour, as Noonan and Murphy began a discussion off-camera, picked up by a hot mike. Todd then joined the discussion once the commercial break began. None of their discussion actually made it on the air for this reason.
CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin echoed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on the subject of "diversity" in the Republican Party during CNN’s Tuesday evening coverage of the Republican convention: "I'd just like to make an observation about sort of the night as a whole. Fred Thompson, George Bush, Joe Lieberman -- the Republican Party, are they the party of old, white guys? I mean, this is who the Republican Party put forward first, and the only other people there were wives.... It is not a diverse party. It is not a party where women have had great success" [audio available here].
CNN frequent contributor and Huffington Post's political director Hilary Rosen slammed John McCain's vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin as being unqualified on Friday's Newsroom program and accused the Republicans pandering to women, especially Hillary Clinton supporters: "Senator McCain obviously thinks this is going to go a long way to help those women who are attracted to Hillary Clinton. I think if you were attracted to Hillary Clinton, in many ways, it was because she's a qualified woman" (Rosen put emphasis on "qualified" by practically yelling the word). She later accused the GOP of trying to "change skirts and put it on another woman, and have it be an acceptable thing" (audio available here).
CNN’s John Roberts, after briefly alluding to the issue of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s experience he called into question earlier on Friday’s "Newsroom" program, asked correspondent Dana Bash about how the Alaska governor’s newborn son with Down’s syndrome might be affected if she were elected: "There's also this issue that on April 18th, she gave birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome.... Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?"
Bash deftly answered this question, which has the implication that Palin could neglect her infant son, and made a possible counter-argument the McCain camp would use, that a question like Roberts’ would be sexist: "That's a very good question, and I guess -- my guess is that, perhaps, the line inside the McCain campaign would be, if it were a man being picked who also had a baby, but -- you know, four months ago with Down's Syndrome, would you ask the same question?"
The CNN correspondent continued by briefly describing the Palin’s family situation and the thinking that may have gone into the situation for both McCain and Palin herself. She concluded by reporting on the Alaska governor’s appeal to social conservatives because she is "very staunchly anti-abortion," in Bash’s words.
The full transcript of the exchange between John Roberts and Dana Bash, which began 7 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour of CNN’s "Newsroom" [audio available here]:
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen gushed over Al Gore’s speech at Invesco Field on Thursday evening during the network’s coverage of the Democratic convention as he urged viewers to go back and read the text:
I think the Gore speech, he -- while it was way too rushed in delivery, had an awful lot to offer, and was one of the first times anybody in this campaign has spoken seriously to the nation about the potential catastrophe coming from global warming.... I think it's really was worth for a lot of people going back and actually reading the text of Al Gore's speech.
He then mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s "brief time in politics before he became President" in an indirect reference to Barack Obama’s short political career.
During his normal "Hardball" program on MSNBC on Thursday evening, Chris Matthews asked Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison if the "Republican party platform is inclusive enough on the issue of reproductive or abortion rights." Hutchison, whose name has been floated as a possible vice-presidential nominee for John McCain, didn’t give a straight yes or no answer, and mentioned that in her view, "...both the Republican and the Democratic platform generally have areas that are not mainstreamed, and I don't think that you can agree with either platform in its entirety, and I think you just have to understand that a candidate’s views are going to prevail and I think people choose the candidate."
During CNN’s Wednesday night coverage of the Democratic convention, the network’s senior political analyst Gloria Borger poked fun of John McCain’s non-answer on the number of houses he owns. When host Wolf Blitzer pointed out that Borger owns homes in Washington, DC and in Montana, she confirmed, "Yeah, that's it, and I write the checks, so I know." (video at right)
One can surmise that Borger, through her snide one-liner, wanted to make the point that McCain is out of touch with the average American, a point frequently repeated by liberal pundits.
Borger’s remark came after an interview of Brian Schweitzer, the Democratic governor of Montana, during the 8 pm Eastern hour of CNN’s convention programming. Blitzer prefaced Borger’s question to Schweitzer by mentioning how she has a home in the governor’s state. Since Blitzer and Borger weren’t sure if Schweitzer could hear them due to the noise from the convention floor, correspondent John King relayed the question to the governor.
Once the interview was complete, Blitzer asked Borger his set-up question: "Let's just ask Gloria this important question -- how many homes do you own, Gloria?" Borger laughed and shook her head in response to the question, and after a few seconds of crosstalk, she gave her snarky reply.
CNN placed a total news blackout on Nancy Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Catholic teaching and history on abortion on Sunday’s Meet the Press and the subsequent reaction from several prominent Catholic bishops and from pro-life politicians. The news network did not mention the story at all between Sunday morning, when Pelosi made her remarks, and early Wednesday evening. This contrasts with major media outlets such as AP, Reuters, The Washington Post, and Fox News picking up on the controversy, not to mention the conservative blogosphere and talk radio.
No, it’s not what you might think. We know that CNN’s Roland Martin "dances" to a liberal tune, but the cameras caught him grooving to the music at the Democratic convention, along with CNN frequent contributors (and Democratic strategists) Paul Begala and Donna Brazille, as featured in a report by correspondent Jeanne Moos on Tuesday’s The Situation Room (video at right).
The CNN camera crews caught these lighter moments involving the trio. Martin sang along to the house band’s rendition of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s hit "September," while Begala and Brazile coupled-up and danced together to a slower tune. Not to be upstaged apparently, Martin stopped a passer-by and danced with her. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they like to let loose when they’re not attacking conservatives and Republicans.
On Monday night shortly after Michelle Obama finished speaking, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, as he expressed his disappointment that the Democrats didn’t go negative on the first night of their convention, inserted a barb against the Republicans: "...There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap...." He further explained that "Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight."
Sports Illustrated’s Selena Roberts, when asked during an interview on the SI website about the future of softball as an Olympic competition on Thursday, added some liberal commentary into her prediction about the sport’s redemption: "One other wildcard for 2016 is the exit of the Bush administration. The undercurrent of anti-Americanism within the IOC, which some say has hurt the U.S. because of its softball dominance, may abate somewhat with a potential administration led by Barack Obama, a rock star in Europe."
This comment came at the end of an interview about the U.S. team losing in the gold medal match to Japan. This is the last Olympics for both softball and baseball since the International Olympic Committee decided to eliminate it for the 2012 Games in London.
On his CNN program Tuesday night, Larry King had Bill Maher on for the entire hour, and the HBO comedian had some liberal-to-liberal advice for Barack Obama concerning his vice-presidential pick: "At this point, I think they need Hillary Clinton.... I've been thinking this way a long time.... Not just because it's bold and they need to show bold, but you know what? I think they need the Clinton ruthlessness onboard. I really do. I'm beginning to think Bill Clinton is still the only guy in that party who really knows how to do this, as far as talking to the American people, making the counter-argument to the Republican arguments that, again, Obama just seems to be cozying up to their way of thinking." Earlier, Maher leveled a stronger accusation along those lines, that Obama was "moving to the center, moving to be a kind of a lighter version of the Republican candidate."
[Update, 3:30 pm ET Wednesday: Video added, at right.]
Wednesday’s American Morning program on CNN ran a segment by correspondent Ed Lavandera on the practice of corporal punishment for students, which featured a Texas student speaking out against paddling who wore a red T-shirt -- which featured the communist hammer and sickle symbol, an insignia popular with regimes which presided over the torture and murder of hundreds of millions. Lavandera also ran three sound bites of individuals speaking out against the practice versus one principal who is in favor of it.
Lavandera interviewed student Joe Cancellare, who received "two swats" from a paddle at his Alpine, Texas school after being sent to the principal’s office for flinging rubber bands. Cancellare and his mother Andrea Cancellare, who was also interviewed, both object to this form of punishment. Lavandera stated that Ms. Cancellare "had earlier written a letter to the school expressing her vehement opposition to corporal punishment, and demanding that her son be exempted from the practice."
Kevin McDonough (photo at right from UFS) can’t seem to avoid inserting liberal commentary into his TV reviews. The syndicated critic on Tuesday wrote about an upcoming PBS documentary on a Chilean judge’s investigation into the government of Augusto Pinochet, and editorialized that "The Judge and the General" "offers a cautionary tale for Americans," since Chile "had a long history of democratic government" before Pinochet’s coup. He continued that the film "begins and ends with scenes of rallies by fanatical supporters of Pinochet, who died in 2006 before facing trial. None of the attitudes expressed by these angry thugs would seem out of place on American talk radio."
McDonough doesn’t explain what exactly these attitudes are, but the implication of his argument is that conservative talk show hosts and their listeners are "angry thugs," that they’re a threat to "democratic government," and that they would install a Pinochet-like regime if they were given a chance.
CNN correspondent Mary Snow’s report on Monday’s The Situation Room about Barack Obama’s charge that pro-life "folks are lying" about his abortion record actually just presented both sides of the controversy without getting to the reality of the matter. The report, which was promoted as "checking the facts" by host Wolf Blitzer, also omitted how Obama’s campaign conceded on Sunday that the pro-lifers were actually accurately representing his record.
Before Snow’s report aired just before the top of the 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer read two promos for it. In the first, he announced how "Barack Obama [is] in the middle of an abortion battle. Now, he's pushing back after an extraordinary claim against him. We're going to examine the record." In the second promo, Blitzer played Obama’s "lying" sound bite, and stated, "Senator Obama blasts opponents for distorting his record on abortion-related legislation. We're checking the facts."
On Sunday night’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, pressed megachurch leader Rick Warren about Obama campaign charges that John McCain was cheating by not being in a "cone of silence" during Obama’s interview.
"Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?"
After Warren give his initial answer about McCain being in a "Secret Service motorcade," Sanchez pushed two follow-up questions on the matter. In the first, he asked, "Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?"
[Update, 2:25 pm EDT, 8/15: A MRC CyberAlert item from March 18, 1997 reported that Waldman had worked in the Clinton administration promoting AmeriCorps before joining U.S. News and World Report.]
Correspondent David Mattingly’s report on Friday’s Newsroom program on CNN promoted the accusation by Barack Obama supporters that a popular McCain Internet advertisement, known as "The One" ad, drops hints that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee might be the Antichrist. Mattingly used two sound bites from proponents of this idea, and none from people who are opposed to it.
Mattingly introduced his report with two clips from the ad and stated, "When you listen to this John McCain ad, it might sound like Barack Obama has a messiah complex." He then explained that while "[t]he McCain campaign says it's all in good fun... not everyone's laughing. Some Democrats say the ad, which appears only on the Internet, is infused with hidden messages to evangelical Christians -- messages that Barack Obama isn't the messiah at all." [audio clip available here]
The report’s first sound bite featured Steven Waldman, the CEO of Beliefnet.com, who made the following accusation about the ad: "It reenforces things that they've been hearing around the Internet, that maybe Barack Obama is, in fact, the Antichrist." Before Waldman co-founded Beliefnet, he was the National Editor for U.S. News and World Report and was a national correspondent for Newsweek magazine. He is also an occasional blogger on The Huffington Post.
CNN correspondent Tom Foreman omitted identifying a "foreign policy expert" as a former member of Bill Clinton’s National Security Council during a report on John McCain’s strong position towards Russia on Wednesday’s Election Center program. This expert, Charles Kupchan of the Council of Foreign Relations, accused McCain of becoming a belligerent position towards the country: "Well, over the last few years, McCain's views on Russia seem to be getting more and more confrontational, and I think he's really aligned himself with the far right, not with the centrists within the Republican Party. And, in some ways, it almost appears either if he thinks the Cold War is still on or that he wants it to return."
Kupchan, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, served as Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council during Clinton’s first term. He also has complimented Barack Obama for his willingness to "engage adversaries," which to him is "a sign not of naiveté or inexperience, but of hard-headed realism." Foreman used two sound bites from the professor during his report. At the beginning of the segment, the CNN correspondent played Ronald Reagan’s famous "tear down this wall" line from 1987 as he introduced McCain’s position on Russia: "In the final years of the Soviet Union, as Ronald Reagan was thundering at the Russians, John McCain was a first-term senator cheering him on, and, 21 years later, he still distrusts Russia."
John Roberts, during an interview of Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of Dwight Eisenhower and a Barack Obama supporter, on Wednesday’s American Morning, asked about the Democratic presidential candidate’s apparent similarities to the World War II hero, as well as how he might be like Ronald Reagan. Later in the interview, the CNN co-anchor also stated that "the McCain campaign has been trying to tear him [Obama] down at every opportunity and they keep on zeroing-in on this idea of celebrity. Let's take a quick look at the latest ad from the McCain campaign that hammers Obama on that point."
Barack Obama’s campaign had announced the formation of "Republicans for Obama" on Tuesday, and Roberts interviewed Eisenhower about why she was among those "crossing party lines" to support the Illinois senator. He asked in his first question to Eisenhower, "We all remember that the ‘I like Ike’ campaign back in 1952. But reading what you've said about Senator Obama, it seems like there are some similarities, that he may be just like Ike. What can you tell me about that?" After she replied, he followed-up with another presidential comparison: "You also see some similarities, you said, between Senator Obama and President Reagan. How so?"
CNN co-anchor Don Lemon, during a brief report on Tuesday’s Newsroom program about a pro-life measure on the ballot in South Dakota that would greatly restrict abortion, gave only the pro-choice side of the debate over the proposed law. He also oversimplified Barack Obama’s stance on the abortion issue.
Lemon stated how the Great Plains state "is becoming a new focal point in the abortion debate" due to the measure, which is called Initiated Measure 11. He then introduced the sole sound bite from a Planned Parenthood official: "Opponents say it would be one of the most rigid and inflexible bans in the country. They worry about the impact it could have on Roe vs. Wade."
During the sound bite, Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota argued, "Nowhere in America is abortion harder to access than in the state of South Dakota, and while South Dakota accounts for only 0.1 percent of abortions nationwide, it has a potentially disproportionate, powerful effect on public policy in our country, because of the attempts in South Dakota to create a vehicle to overturn Roe vs. Wade."
Liberal talk radio host Stephanie Miller laughed-off Michael Medved’s accusation that the John Edwards sex scandal "reinforces the conviction that a lot of Americans have that the news media aren't on the level, that they're biased" on Tuesday’s American Morning: "You know, this is the myth again... of this, you know, liberal media. It's ridiculous. You can't report something that you don't have evidence on, you know. Until Edwards admitted this, there was no hard evidence. It's not something that you would report."
Earlier, Miller had jokingly, perhaps rudely, that the earlier rumors of the scandal were akin to someone making a wild accusation against Medved: "I know and love Michael and I'm tempted to say something completely unsubstantiated about his personal life right now and see if he can disprove it." Medved initially replied with a mere smile and a mild chuckle.
The two talk radio hosts appeared in a discussion segment which began 24 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. Co-host Kiran Chetry, reacting to Miller, echoed her sentiment: "Yeah. I mean -- and just in fairness, CNN was investigating this as well and, you know, there just weren't simply enough facts to go with it." I guess Miller and the folks at CNN didn’t take the report and photos of Edwards being at a California hotel with his mistress and alleged love child seriously.
CNN correspondent Alina Cho gushed over Elizabeth Edwards, the cancer-stricken wife of the former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, during a top-of-the-hour breaking news segment about possible new details in the John Edwards affair story on Tuesday’s American Morning: "Now, [John] Edwards, as many people know, has admitted he made a ‘serious error in judgment’ when he had the affair with Hunter, that he told his wife about it long before it became public. Elizabeth Edwards, of course, one of the most beloved women in America, is battling cancer right now."
That superlative might be news to many Americans, since there are plenty of women who could earn that description, ranging from Oprah Winfrey to Laura Bush. When the news initially broke that Mrs. Edwards had cancer, and later that it had reemerged, she might have been the one woman who was receiving the most sympathy in America.
ABC correspondent Gigi Stone’s report on Friday’s World News lined up two liberal women against a pro-life pharmacist in a segment on the controversy over whether pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraception. She later reported in a condescending tone about how the family of the pharmacist has nine children [see video at right; audio available here].
Stone introduced the first woman, Megan Kelly, as a "married mother." Several years ago, as Stone described, Kelly "tried to fill her monthly birth control pills [when] a pharmacist refused."
In her sound bite, Kelly explained her reaction to this refusal: "It's very, very shocking and very unsettling and one of those moments where, you know, as like a female, you're not sure if you want to cry, if you want to get really mad."
The Big Three networks continued to ignore the party affiliation of the now-incarcerated Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on Friday morning, just as they had done in their evening news programs the previous night. The Early Show on CBS chose to ignore the story of Kilpatrick’s arrest on a bail violation entirely, while ABC’s Good Morning America devoted one 16-second news brief to the story near the beginning of its 7 am Eastern hour.
Ironically, NBC’s Today show, which is devoting most of its programming to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, spent the most time on the subject. It first aired a 12-second news brief just after the top of 7 am Eastern hour, and devoted an entire segment to the story at the beginning of the 8 am Eastern hour. The report by correspondent Ron Allen was just shy of 2 minutes long, but still ignored Kilpatrick’s Democratic affiliation.
Now that Congress has recessed, and since the conventions aren’t for a couple of weeks, Thursday’s The Situation Room turned back to the "hot" issue of what many liberals are calling on congressional Democrats to do: arrest and lock-up Karl Rove for his failure to testify on the issue of the firing of U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, as part of a report on this possible move by the Democrats, conducted a search for the supposed jail inside the U.S. Capitol. He also addressed the little-used power of the legislature to arrest and try government officials for contempt of Congress.
Acosta began by describing the liberals’ fantasy: "Just think, some on the Left say: Karl Rove and the Capitol slammer." During the segment, he interviewed George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley (who links to Daily Kos and ProgressiveDem.com on his personal website and is lead counsel for convicted terror financier Sami al-Arian) and Associate Senate Historian Don Ritchie for the segment. When asked about contempt of Congress charges, Turley quipped, "The defendant is brought forth by the Sergeant-of-Arms, and in the case of Mr. Rove, it shouldn't be difficult. He's a consultant of Fox News a block away from the House floor."