One way to know if a journalist is asking a softball question is when the President of the United States compliments the reporter after he or she asks it. That happened twice on Tuesday as Barack Obama talked to reporters about the government shutdown. The President called on Sam Stein of the liberal Huffington Post website. Stein dutifully wondered, "With Speaker Boehner so far unwilling to hold a vote on a clean CR, what assurances can you give to those affected by a shutdown who are concerned about an even longer impasse?"
He added, "And how worried are you personally that your preferred solution to this -- a clear CR at sequestration levels -- may do harm to the nation's economy and your second term agenda?" Finding the question appropriately fawning, Obama responded, "Sam, you're making an important point." The President looked favorably on a similar query from a New York Times journalist. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
ABC's mid-morning talk show The View has repeatedly featured anchors and guests who promote the debunked 9/11 truther movement. That tradition continued on Tuesday as conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura appeared as a co-host. Although Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy avoided Ventura's September 11th beliefs, the former Minnesota governor expounded on his other favorite conspiracy theory: the assassination of John Kennedy.
Asked by Shepherd who killed JFK, Ventura demurred: "That's a difficult thing to say because he made so many enemies and I don't even have the time to go into that but I can tell you this: I can't tell you who killed him, but I can tell you who didn't kill him, Lee Harvey Oswald." This thrilled Shepherd, who kissed Ventura and praised, "Because you know if you decided to run for president, Jesse, I would vote for you." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Hard-left MSNBC host Ed Schultz on Monday took his assault on the Republican Party to a new level, declaring that John Boehner is a "traitor" to America for not giving in to Barack Obama on the government shutdown. After railing about how congressional GOP members are trying to destroy the country, the Ed Show anchor delivered his verdict: "And they will shut down the government and they will not pay the bills to get their way. The word is treason, the treasonous John Boehner." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Schultz bizarrely added, "The United States is at risk right now and I hope that there will be some foreign folks that will step up and say, you really don't want to do this." The definition of "treason" is apparently tied to attacking Obama. On May 24, 2012, Schultz shrieked over a Republican Congressman calling the President "not an American." The anchor berated, "That he would attack the commander in chief verbally? This is treasonous for him to say that he is not an American in his heart."
Who does George Stephanopoulos work for? ABC News or the Democratic Party? In a This Week Interview on Sunday, the former operative to Bill Clinton foisted the blame for the government shutdown on John Boehner and House Republicans. During the 13 minute interview, Stephanopoulos repeatedly started questions this way: "The Democrats say...The Democrats, including Senate Democrat Harry Reid, have said...But Mr. Speaker, [Obama] says...The President has pointed out..." Six times, the anchor began his query with an observation over what the Democrats "say" on this issue.
Rejecting the concept of Democratic responsibility, Stephanopoulos touted Majority Leader Reid, noting that he "has said he's more than willing to have a conference, more than willing to have a negotiation, but not under the threat of a government shutdown, not under the threat of a default." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The anchor offered to mind read, lecturing of the shutdown: "But Mr. Speaker, this is clearly not what you want."
The three network morning shows on Friday worried about President Obama and the fact that he had "no choice" but to cancel an Asian summit as the government shutdown drags on. On ABC's Good Morning America, Jon Karl lamented, "These were two significant summits in Brunei and Indonesia. The White House says he could legally have gone, but he needs to be here to push for reopening the government and dealing with the pending possible default of the government." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reiterating, Karl again noted that these are "significant summits" and the "White House did not want to cancel this trip." Karl read a lengthy statement from the White House (with accompanying onscreen graphic) blaming the "House Republicans for forcing a shutdown." GMA co-anchor George Stephanopoulos agreed that the "President really had no choice." At no time did anyone on the program put the responsibility on Obama for not engaging the GOP. One good question might have been: Why stay home from a summit if you aren't going to negotiate over the financial stalemate?
MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Wednesday night mocked his Fox News competition, wondering when someone would write a book entitled Killing O'Reilly. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] The Hardball anchor appeared on the Colbert Report to promote his own tome, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked. Stephen Colbert put Matthews on the spot, wondering if Ronald Reagan was a better president than Barack Obama.
Matthews surprisingly answered, "In the end, yeah. In the end. Because he ended the Cold War. That's hard to beat. Hard to beat that, baby." Of course, Matthews does have a book to sell, one that he presumably wants more than just liberals to buy. Talking about the Cold War, the liberal anchor praised, "Reagan hated the idea of nuclear war. He hated mutual assured destruction...He understood the situation. He was a human being."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Thursday fired back at the liberal, Obama-friendly talking points from MSNBC host Thomas Roberts. At one point, a disgusted Priebus, appearing to discuss the shutdown, slammed MSNBC, attacking, "This is a joke. I think you ought to just apply for a job in the Obama administration or the communications department of the DNC." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
An annoyed Roberts rather lamely replied, "No, I'll come work for you guys and help you sort out what's going on, because your message is a little befuddled." The MSNBC anchor acted as grand inquisitor in the interview, repeating all of the White House's talking points against the congressional GOP. At one point, he wondered, "But does the Constitution really allow for the Republican Party to take the government hostage and shut it down?"
According to CNN contributor David Frum on Tuesday, the best way for Republicans to win is to mimic the actions of the British Conservative Party. Frum's Daily Beast article is bizarrely titled, "Where the Right Is Winning." Except, the right isn't winning in the United Kingdom. As the Wall Street Journal reported on September 30, "The Conservative Party has lagged behind the center-left Labour Party in opinion polls by as much as 10 percentage points or more over recent months."
The sub-headline for Frum's article announced, "In the U.K., the ideologically rigid left can’t keep up with David Cameron’s ruling Conservatives." Also wrong. A YouGov poll from September 27 found that Labour had jumped 13 points, from 29 percent to 42 percent, since 2010. At the same time the Conservatives are hemorrhaging voters, the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has seen its numbers rocket up, from three percent to 13 percent.
As Barack Obama wrapped up a speech from the White House on Tuesday, reporter Jon Karl of ABC actually shouted a tough question at the President, wondering, "...If you won't negotiate, how can you get a solution? How can you bring an end to this if you won't talk to the congressional leaders?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that "Obama ignor[ed] a question from our own Jon Karl." Karl's network, on World News and Good Morning America, ignored it as well. NBC and CBS blamed the Republicans.
Instead of repeating his question on World News, Karl parroted Democratic talking points: "Today the President accused Republicans of waging an ideological crusade against Obamacare while he rejected their latest offer to re-open just part of the government." Anchor Diane Sawyer assigned responsibility to the GOP House: "And everywhere tonight, Americans are saying they are fed up with the congressmen who dig in and force the U.S. government to screech to a halt." "A lot of people outraged," she added. Did Obama play a part in the drama? Sawyer didn't say.
ABC reporter Jeff Zeleny on Tuesday afternoon excitedly told viewers that "cracks" are "emerging" in the Republican opposition to the government shutdown. His example of this? A GOP congressman already on record opposing a shutdown. Following live coverage of Barack Obama's speech, the journalist related, "But a couple cracks emerging, including a congressman from Virginia, a military district, Scott Rigell. He says, 'enough is enough. It's time to move on with this.'"
However, on the September 20 World News, Zeleny reported, "We caught up with Congressman Scott Rigell of Virginia, the only Republican to go against his party." On that day, the reporter featured a clip of Rigell exclaiming, "And I've not heard from any members who thinks that shutting this government down is a good idea." [Video of both clips below. MP3 audio here.]
All three networks on Tuesday morning hyped the partial government shutdown with reports from closed museums in Washington D.C. and live shots of the Statue of Liberty. The journalists of ABC's Good Morning America informed Americans that Republicans would probably "blink first" in the stand-off with the White House and congressional Democrats.
NBC's Peter Alexander checked in live from Washington, touting the "4200 workers at the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo." He narrated, "We're now here in front of the National Air and Space Museum. They tell me last week they had 88,000 visitors come here. Today it'll be zero, the door's are locked." Alexander added, "And there's a very simple message posted to that front door, it reads, 'We apologize for the inconvenience.'" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
George Stephanopoulos scored an interview on Sunday with his old boss, Bill Clinton. In return for this exclusive, the former Democratic operative turned journalist avoided any mention of a scandal at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), of Benghazi and how the bungled response to the terrorist attack might impact Hillary Clinton's 2016 run for president.
Instead, Stephanopoulos used the ten and a half minute interview to gently query his former supervisor: "I know you can't answer anything about 2016. But when you look back to the last campaign, if you could boil it down to one, what is the one big lesson you learned from it?" As was common in the two part segment, the This Week anchor allowed Clinton to speak for long stretches. He only broke up the ex-President's answer on the 2008 primaries to murmur, "A pretty titanic battle." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Chris Matthews doesn't like cheap shots. The Hardball host, who two days ago linked Ted Cruz to Hitler, on Thursday raged at a Republican Congressman for making a joke at his expense. Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry appeared on Matthews's show and aggressively fought back against the charge that uncaring Republicans want to shut down the government. This led Matthews to change the subject and attack Perry as a pawn of big oil: "By the way, why is a congressman from Gettysburg so interested in offshore oil development in the Gulf?"
After Perry explained how the Keystone pipeline could benefit the economy, he addressed Matthew's critique of the House bill: "I'm surprised that you read any of it, first of all." The wounded anchor replied, "You know what you can do with that? You can be excused, because you just accused me of not doing my job. And that's a big mistake here." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Matthews added, "I wish you hadn't made that last remark. I think it was a cheap shot." The man who doesn't like "cheap shots" once assailed conservatves as "birth control Nazis."
The journalists at ABC News have not made an effort to hide their disgust with the conservative effort to oppose funding ObamaCare. On Wednesday, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos derided Ted Cruz's fight against it as "bizarre." On Thursday night, World News's Jon Karl sneered that it was "absurd." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Karl described the possible government shutdown as a situation where "we've got a furious President calling his opponents crazy...and a Republican Party willing to go to the brink." The journalist brought up past confrontations between Obama and the GOP, petulantly wondering, "Lessons learned? Nah." The supposedly neutral Karl skewered, "The absurdities were on display when Tea Party hero Ted Cruz gave his 20 hour-plus speech demanding an end to ObamaCare in exchange for funding the government."
ABC on Wednesday morning dismissed Ted Cruz as "bizarre." But that night on the network's World News, reporter Jeff Zeleny featured a man who will lose his health coverage because of ObamaCare. In a noticeable break from Good Morning America's coverage, Zeleny also allowed, "The bottom line for millions: many young and healthy will likely pay more while older and sick Americans get a break and costs vary widely."
On GMA, Zeleny skipped the substance of Cruz's complaints against the health care law. On World News, the journalist conceded, "[Cruz] told story after story how families are bracing for ObamaCare." Zeleny highlighted, "In Pittsburgh, Dan Howard received a letter saying his policy will be cancelled because of the new law. Married with six children, he's struggling to find coverage."
The Obama-pleasing journalists at Good Morning America on Thursday managed to actually criticize the President. However, the critique was not over the health care law or excess spending. It was a complaint issued by a fellow liberal on the issue of grammar. Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos began by praising Obama, gushing, "He first skyrocketed to the national stage on the strength of his eloquent speeches." According to Stephanopoulos, the President has now been accused of "talking down to his audience." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Ron Claiborne explained, "It turns out Samuel L. Jackson, the maestro of the on-screen F-bomb has" noticed Obama's use of slang in speeches. Claiborne added, "[Jackson is] filing a grammatical grievance against the President." The journalist highlighted other presidents who have done such thing, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. However, he skipped one particular 2016 contender, Hillary Clinton.
The networks reacted negatively to Ted Cruz's "long-winded protest." On Wednesday, George Stephanopoulos derided it as "bizarre." This is not exactly the reception Democratic state senator Wendy Davis received when she fought against pro-life legislation in Texas. [See video below for a montage of media slobbering. MP3 audio here.]
On June 27, CBS This Morning correspondent Manuel Bojorquez thrilled, "The marathon filibuster that went viral has turned a little-known Texas lawmaker into a national political star." He added, "Some political analysts are comparing it to the 1988 Democratic convention speech that catapulted Ann Richards to the national stage." On July 1, CNN's Miguel Marquez enthused, "A Democrat in the governor’s mansion here? Unthinkable a week ago; a ‘maybe’ today."
The networks on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning derided the conservative uprising against ObamaCare, mocking Senator Ted Cruz's "bizarre," "long-winded protest" against funding for the law. This stands in stark contrast to how ABC, CBS and NBC hyped "folk hero" Wendy Davis.
On Wednesday, Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos opened the program by needling the "Tea Party senator's all-night marathon fight against the President in a bizarre, blockbuster speech on Capitol Hill." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Reporter Jeff Zeleny, rather than focus on the substance of the arguments from Senator Cruz, gossiped, "He talked about Dr. Seuss. And in the wee night hours, he even invoked the reality show, Duck Dynasty."
MSNBC isn't even trying anymore. A new ad for Hardball actually touted Chris Matthews's past as a Democratic operative for Tip O'Neill. As black and white pictures of Matthews appeared onscreen, the host bragged, "I'm not new to politics, nor to the issues that divide us. Nor am I free of the passions they engage." (Considering that Matthews famously extolled the "thrill" Barack Obama sent up his leg, he's clearly not free of "passion.") [See video of the ad below. MP3 audio here.]
Hyping the profundity of his TV show, Matthews trumpeted, "Here on Hardball, you can expect me to discuss history as it relates to what's happening now. You can expect me to analyze what politicians are doing today with what I've seen other politicians do before." Perhaps it's a knowledge of history that caused the anchor last year to connect modern conservatives to genocidal murderer Adolf Hitler.
Several media outlets have eagerly picked up the political gossip coming out of a New York magazine story on Hillary Clinton and her possible 2016 run. The article itself is a fawning profile of the former of Secretary of State and her husband. According to writer Joe Hagan, Bill and Hillary are "the most celebrated political marriage in American history." (Apparently, couples like John and Abigail Adams don't qualify.)
Although it wasn't until paragraph 40 of the nearly 6000 word article that Hagan seriously discussed the terrorist attack in Benghazi, he heaped cotton candy-style praise on the 42nd president: "Bill Clinton is also a legendary politician, a brilliant tactician who won two presidential elections and reigned over the most prosperous years in America in recent memory." The journalist seriously suggested that "some" think " he single-handedly won Obama reelection with his extraordinary takedown of Mitt Romney at the Democratic National Convention last year."
The journalists at Good Morning America on Monday hyped a puff piece on whether Hillary Clinton will run for President in 2016, but ignored a critical look at the Clinton Global Initiative and its brewing scandal. Instead, reporter Dan Harris promoted a New Yorkmagazine story on the former Secretary of State. He quoted the possible presidential contender on her relationship with Bill: "We laugh at our dogs. We watch stupid movies. We take long walks. We go for a swim. You know, just ordinary, everyday pleasures." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Harris made sure to point out that "if she does run, the polls show she's in a strong position to win her party's nomination and even the general election, although it is ridiculously early in the game, of course." The segment was so content free that after it concluded, co-host Robin Roberts wondered, "So, exactly, what did we learn?" In contrast, CBS This Morning's Jan Crawford managed to cover the New York story as well as an expose in the New Republic entitled, "Scandal at Clinton Inc."
Lefty Keith Olbermann, after losing his jobs on MSNBC and Current TV, has turned up on ESPN, still indignant and angry. The host on Tuesday night railed against the Washington Nationals for what he took to be a botched effort at honoring the victims of the Navy Yard shooting. Olbermann's remarks prompted the team's manager to fire back at the liberal host.
The Nats on Tuesday wore Navy hats during batting practice, but took them off for the games. Olbermann fumed, "And then just as they had been symbolically telling the victims and the Navy and the nation that they were with them all the way, now the Nationals and Major League Baseball were symbolically declaring that the grief was over, the mourning was over, the regular caps were back on and available online and at souvenir stands." According to MLB rules, teams may only wear their official hats during games (although exceptions have been made). Olbermann bashed the Washington team and MLB as greedy and selfish, railing, "Shame on the Nationals. More shame on MLB." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
The network morning shows on Friday derided the move by House Republicans to defund ObamaCare as simply "bowing to demands" from the Tea Party. But it was CBS's Bob Schieffer who made no attempt to restrain his contempt, declaring the ObamaCare fight "over" and linking GOP members to elderly Japanese veterans of World War II who refused to accept that the fight was futile.
After noting that the Wall Street Journal derided the plan as a kamikaze move, the Face the Nation anchor built on the analogy, sneering, "But even more apt...way on into the 1950s when they go into the jungles of the Philippines and they find these Japanese soldiers that thought World War II was still going on?" This prompted This Morning hosts Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell to break up in laughter at the mockery of Republicans. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Chris Matthews on Wednesday continued his assault on conservatives who oppose the funding of ObamaCare in the coming fiscal showdown, sneering that the "looney tunes" Republicans want to "kill the recovery." The Hardball anchor, who recently lost his 5pm slot and now can only be seen at 7pm, also bizarrely linked this to the President of Starbucks asking gun owners not to open carry in stores.
Refusing to even consider the legitimacy of conservative ideas, Matthews lectured, "I don't even think it's right to call it politics in the sane sense. There are dozens on the right who are deliberately plotting to jeopardize the U.S. economy by defaulting on the federal debt." Mocking conservatives as crazy, he continued, "It's that U.S. government the loony tunes are now pushing down, knocking the recovery off its feet with them." The host weirdly connected, "And while they're at it, they want to carry pistols, rifles, semiautomatics, whatever they want to carry, whatever firepower man has created in there when they go in to buy their frappuccinos." [See Video below. MP3 audio here.]
The three networks on Thursday morning allowed a scant 65 seconds to Senator John McCain's "blistering" op-ed published in the communist newspaper Pravda, featuringa call for freedom and tolerance in Russia. Although ABC, CBS and NBC quickly summarized the Senator's international rebuttal to Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed, the morning shows offered the briefest of quotes and mostly portrayed the piece as a grudge match with Putin.
CBS This Morning devoted just 19 seconds to the "blistering opinion piece." Rose narrated, "[McCain] accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of corruption and repression." Good Morning America's Josh Elliott allowed 23 seconds and insisted that the Senator "blast[ed] Russian President Vladimir Putin." According to Today's Savannah Guthrie, McCain offered a "scathing" attack on Russian corruption. Mostly absent from the three networks were full quotes highlighting the Senator's main topic, a defense of democracy and freedom.
Are film references a prerequisite for a 5pm show on MSNBC? Ed Schultz, who took over for movie-mad Chris Matthews, on Wednesday compared Barack Obama to George C. Scott's portrayal of General Patton. Schultz attacked House Republicans for disparaging ObamaCare and not allowing supporters of the President's health care reform to testify. The anchor salivated, "Can we say that President Obama has 'em exactly where he wants 'em?"
He added, "You know, it kind of reminds me of that 1971 movie Patton...General Patton was in the field, and he was watching Rommel bring his tanks into a trap. And General Patton put the glasses on...and said 'Rommel, you bastard! I read your book!'" Quite pleased with his comparison, Schultz concluded, "Our guy [Obama] reads a lot too. He's got these folks right where they deserve to be." [MP3 audio here. See video below.]
CBS and ABC on Wednesday trotted out the same tired warning of a "pay gap" between men and women, deeming it "ridiculous" that anyone could possibly disagree with the talking points put forth by feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda. CBS This Morning featured the two liberal women, as well as another feminist for a one-sided harangue about females in the workplace. Norah O'Donnell hyped, "Last year women earned 76.5 cents to every dollar a man makes. Why does that still exist?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
None of the hosts questioned the legitimacy of the pay gap. Instead, they allowed Steinem to play the victim card, complaining that the reason is "because we are the cheap labor source on which the country is running." Fellow guest Robin Morgan (an arch-leftist author) railed against the "pale males" who run the media.
The HBO series Newsroom on Sunday continued its clumsy examination of liberal media bias. In the Aaron Sorkin-created series, "Will McAvoy" (played by Jeff Daniels) is a "Republican" anchor at the fictional ACN network. Yet, he constantly bashes members of the GOP in the harshest terms. In the September 15 episode, McAvoy, who in a previous episode referred to the Tea Party as the "American Taliban," huffed, "I call myself a Republican because I am one."
In the episode, which was set on election night 2012, McAvoy then proceeded to denounce the party he claims to be a member of: "...Now I have to be homophobic. I have to count the number of times people go to church. I have to deny facts and think scientific research is a long con." Talking on-air with a fictional Republican operative, Daniels's character lectured, "And I have to have such a stunning inferiority complex that I fear education and intellect in the 21st century. But most of all, the biggest new requirement, really the only requirement, is that I have to hate Democrats." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
A mass shooting couldn't halt Good Morning America's continuing disintegration from a news program to a tabloid-obsessed entertainment show. On Tuesday, the show devoted more time to Britney Spears's new Las Vegas show and Dancing With the Stars than to the slaughter of 12 people in Washington D.C. The journalists at GMA allowed nine minutes and 24 seconds to the massacre at the Navy Yard. However, an interview with Spears and a full report on dissecting Dancing With the Stars (another ABC program) amounted to 11 minutes and 54 seconds.
At 7am, before even launching into a recounting of the attack near the nation's Capitol building, anchor George Stephanopoulos teased, "We do have a packed show this morning. There is Sam [Champion], right in the middle of the Nevada desert. Right there. We're going to get to him in a little bit for the Britney Spears live event." He then awkwardly shifted topics: "But right now, that major story in Washington, the massacre at the Navy Yard..." [See a video montage below. MP3 audio here.]
Second Amendment foe Alex Wagner on Monday predictably attempted to use the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. to push for gun control. Reporter Pete Williams, appearing on MSNBC to simply offer facts on the unfolding situation, completely dismissed the left-wing question from Wagner.
The Now host noted that Barack Obama referred to the attack as another "mass shooting." Wagner hopefully suggested that comment "presages the White House taking up the issue again, perhaps, the issue of gun violence and gun safety reform." She continued, "We don't know that many details about the shooting but we are hearing that the gunman was armed with a long gun and an AR-15. Those have been weapons of choice in other mass shootings in America." The anchor lectured, "...It's worth noting the U.S. has had on average one mass shootings every month since the year 2009." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]