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By Ken Shepherd | January 26, 2011 | 3:02 PM EST

"[F]or all the surface civility [of the State of the Union], Obama wants to pick a fight, or at least draw a stark contrast, between his jobs-centric philosophy and the GOP’s determination to cut government first and ask questions later."

That's how Politico's Glenn Thrush and Carrie Budoff Brown described the main difference between the president and his Republican congressional opposition in a story filed early Wednesday morning.

Of course, Obama's State of the Union address carried a fresh call for soaking the nation's richest taxpayers and plowing millions into white elephant spending projects such as high-speed rail, but it apparently didn't occur to Thrush and Budoff Brown that Obama's prescription may be to "grow government first and ignore questions later" given the failure of the first stimulus package of his administration.

By Noel Sheppard | January 26, 2011 | 2:48 PM EST

Prior to calls for civility and what turned out to be a disastrous "date night" for the Democrats, Barack Obama was nicely set up to catapult himself into a fabulous 2011 approaching next year's reelection campaign with an enviable head of steam.

Having been all but considered dead - am I allowed to say that post-Tucson? - after his shellacking at the polls in November, the President eked out win after win in the lame duck session, and did a very admirable job with his memorial speech.

Even conservatives like syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer were singing his praises.

The nation was also getting a proverbial thrill back up its collective leg according to polls making the coincidence of all these stars aligning so perfectly right before the State of the Union address almost Capraesque.

By Geoffrey Dickens | January 26, 2011 | 1:39 PM EST

NBC's Today show, on Wednesday, used the occasion of two responses to Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, by Republicans Paul Ryan and Michele Bachmann, as an opportunity to portray the GOP as a party divided. Despite a historic victory by Republicans in last year's midterm elections NBC anchors, past and present, on this morning's Today show, took pains to portray the Republican Party in dire trouble with co-anchor Matt Lauer questioning if the party was "split" and "heading in different directions" and Meredith Vieira wondering if there was "a divide." Even former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw got into the act as he claimed the GOP was locked in a "two front war" against Democrats and the Tea Party.

NBC's White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie kicked off the GOP "divide" theme when she declared "Republicans had what amounted to dueling responses" in her set-up piece to a Lauer interview with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In that segment Lauer pressed Giuliani "Do you worry...that as we approach the next election in 2012...that the Republican Party is split and heading in different directions," as seen in the following exchange:

By Tim Graham | January 26, 2011 | 12:51 PM EST

Leigh Giangreco of The Eagle, the student newspaper at American University in DC, reported that disgraced former CBS news anchor Dan Rather spoke to students on Monday and claimed "The increasingly biased media will threaten the U.S." since "independence" of Rather's self-admiring sort is in short supply. Who keeps letting Rather "inspire" journalism students? It's like inviting Bernie Madoff to talk to business majors.

“A free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom,” he said. No one seemed to ask how it's the "heart of democracy" to smear a president with false National Guard documents. But Rather even slammed colleagues: "Rather believes today’s correspondents give more lip service and less facts to support their stories, saying commentators like Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews do not perform valuable services and present rhetoric as truth." There was no direct quote (and it wasn't in the video attached).

Naturally, Rather felt CBS went about "sleazing up" his newscast after he left. As if he hadn't "sleazed it" enough with his own journalistic malpractice:

By Geoffrey Dickens | January 26, 2011 | 12:30 PM EST

It appears NBC's Matt Lauer is not happy about Barack Obama's failure to exploit the Tucson shooting to push for more gun control as on Wednesday's Today show, he seemingly expressed disappointment to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani that the President "missed" an "opportunity" to address it in his State of the Union speech.

Lauer's anti-gun question to Giuliani came on the heels of his pushing White House senior advisor, on yesterday's show, to reveal if Obama would join current NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg in making a push for more gun control. On this morning's Today show, Lauer went even further, as he, in addition to throwing Bloomberg's words in Giuliani's face, also read directly from a Brady Center press release, as seen in the following January 26 exchange:

(video, audio and transcript after the jump)

By Noel Sheppard | January 26, 2011 | 11:54 AM EST

David Gergen not surprisingly believes that increased federal spending on education - or "investments" as Democrats like to say - is essential irrespective of our nation's current fiscal crisis.

On "Anderson Cooper 360" following the President's State of the Union address, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer did his darnedest to explain to the CNN senior political analyst that our mammoth budget deficits should first be brought under control before any additional outlays are considered (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Kyle Drennen | January 26, 2011 | 11:53 AM EST

During coverage of President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, all three broadcast networks, CBS, NBC and ABC, managed to compare the tone of the speech to that of Ronald Reagan. Reporters and pundits uniformly praised the supposed optimism of Obama. [Audio available here]

On CBS, Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted how political analyst Jeff Greenfield thought it was "down right Reaganesque" and that "some" have argued "this could be his Reagan moment." Greenfield himself declared: "He kept talking about winning the future and that was always a big theme about Reagan....the constant reiteration of optimism....he was clearly striking rhetorical notes that reminded me of Mr. Reagan."

View video below

By Scott Whitlock | January 26, 2011 | 11:16 AM EST

ABC on Tuesday introduced Barack Obama with an opening that looked and sounded more like a movie trailer for an action film. As dramatic, pounding tones played throughout, an announcer began, "The State of our Union. We heard this, just two years ago."

Then, images of the President, firework-style graphics and people crying appeared onscreen. A clip from 2008 showed Obama proclaiming, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America." 

During the intro, ABC also included a segment often seen on the weekend Good Morning America,  montages of people summing up their feelings in three words. This version of "In Three Words" was political. As the triumphant music played, the announcer wondered, "With so much at stake, what do Americans want to hear tonight?" Some of the signs featured: "Health care now," "more city jobs" and "public services matter." There were no Tea Party-esque "cut our taxes" declarations.


By Ken Shepherd | January 26, 2011 | 11:16 AM EST

In his January 26 article "MSNBC's Sarah Palin Sickness," Hollywood Reporter's Paul Bond tackled the left-lurching network's obsession with the former Alaska governor.

"MSNBC’S dependence on Palin was best displayed with the recent shootings in Tucson that left six people dead and Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded. MSNBC was crucial in driving the narrative that the killer was egged on by violent political rhetoric, particularly from Palin. Even after it was learned that the shooter was an atheist, flag-burning, Bush-hating, 9/11 Truther who enjoyed joking about abortion (not exactly the portrait of a Palin supporter), MSNBC still did not let up on that story line," Bond noted.

All told in the year 2010 alone, Sarah Palin was the subject of 611 segments on the programs hosted by MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Ed Schultz, and Rachel Maddow. Bond didn't take into account non-primetime MSNBC hosts like Joe Scarborough, Chris Jansing, or Tamron Hall. Adding in those numbers could easily push the total to near or above 1,000.

See screen capture below page break

By P.J. Gladnick | January 26, 2011 | 10:56 AM EST

I am not now nor have I ever been Glenn Beck.

Please, please believe me!

I am NOT Glenn Beck!

Such was the tone of the unintentionally hilarious article in The New Republic by contributing editor John McWhorter. Apparently his "thought crime" in the eyes of Jim Sleeper writing in Talking Points Memo was agreeing with Glenn Beck on the social toxicity of Frances Fox Piven:

By Noel Sheppard | January 26, 2011 | 10:02 AM EST

NewsBusters for years has chronicled the staggering idiocy of comedian Bill Maher.

On Tuesday's "Situation Room," we got a hand from Wolf Blitzer when he marvelously countered Maher's complaint that CNN's decision to air Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) Tea Party response to the President's State of the Union address was depriving Democrats of equal time (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Brent Baker | January 26, 2011 | 9:27 AM EST

ABC’s Christiane Amanpour hailed President Obama’s State of the Union address as “very Reaganesque,” but in October, holding herself up as some kind of protector of Reagan’s legacy, she discovered “a long and venerable tradition of conservatism in this country” exemplified by Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley and “all of that sort of intellectual conservatism,” yet now, she feigned distress, “people are looking at the Tea Party and saying this is not conservatism as we knew it but it's extreme.”

Asked for her “take” on Obama’s address, Amanpour trumpeted his “Sputnik moment” as “remarkable,” heralding Tuesday night on ABC:

By NB Staff | January 26, 2011 | 9:26 AM EST

The consensus from last night seems to be that Obama learned little from the midterm shellacking his party was handed in November. Despite paying lip service to spending cuts, deficit reduction, and market economics, Obama wholly embraced big government liberalism throughout the speech. The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes summed it up thusly:

Less than three months after voters across the country expressed their utter disdain for Washington and an overreaching government, Barack Obama’s second State of the Union address, and the mindless symbolism surrounding it, validated their judgment and demonstrated that many in the political class, beginning and ending with the president himself, learned nothing from that election.

By Mark Finkelstein | January 26, 2011 | 8:54 AM EST

How can a Dem president tell that his SOTU was a for-real floperewski?  When even Andrea Mitchell pans it.  Yet that's precisely what NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent did on Morning Joe today.  

What was particularly unkind about Andrea's cut was that she criticized both the form and the substance of the speech.  After observing that Pres. Obama's oratory lacked "energy" and "passion," Mitchell opined that "it doesn't add up. The dollars and cents don't add up."  Ouch.

Before Andrea's assessment, the rest of the panel, with the notable exception of Howard Dean who managed to defend the speech, took turns lampooning it, with Joe Scarborough contributing a particularly brutal basketball analogy.

View video after the jump.

By Jack Coleman | January 26, 2011 | 8:33 AM EST

"News is about stories," Rachel Maddow intones in this MSNBC "Lean Forward" promo. "It's about finding all the disparate facts and then finding their coherence. Doing this right takes rigor and a devotion to facts that borders on obsessive. ... At the end of the day, though, this is about what's true in the world."

Just as the purpose of this promo is to convince MSNBC viewers and advertisers that Maddow is so nobly inclined, despite a never-ending supply of inconvenient facts to the contrary.

On her show Monday night, for example, Maddow talked about Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin being selected to provide the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union speech and Ryan as author of "A Roadmap for America's Future," his detailed legislative proposal for reducing federal debt, when she said this: