For most Americans, the 2012 presidential campaign will be experienced on television, and voters will evaluate the candidates based on their performances at televised debates, daily news coverage, and in long-form interviews. Even with all of the changes in the media landscape over past several years, the most-watched regular forums for candidate interviews are the broadcast network morning news programs — NBC’s Today, ABC’s Good Morning America, and CBS’s The Early Show, with a combined weekday audience of more than 13 million as of the second quarter of 2011.
If Time magazine were really interested in what a conservative Reagan family member thinks of the GOP 2012 presidential field as it stands now in terms of living up to his father's political legacy, it could have easily asked conservative commentator Michael Reagan for his thoughts on last night's primary debate at the Reagan Presidential Library.
Instead, the magazine tapped liberal Reagan daughter Patti Davis who, predictably, concluded that none of the candidates, with the possible exception of left-leaning Jon Huntsman, fit the bill:
As the discussion turned to the current anemic job growth numbers and Texas Governor Rick Perry's views on economics, Wolffe claimed that President Jimmy Carter had created more jobs that President George W. Bush as he blamed Bush and Republicans for the current economic slowdown:
On Thursday's Today show NBC's Savannah Guthrie prodded Jon Huntsman to slam his fellow GOP presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann as too conservative, as she pressed the former Governor of Utah: "Are they too far right to win and beat President Obama?"
For his part, Huntsman played into Guthrie's portrayal of his competitors by responding that the American people "don't want politics at the extreme ends," as seen in the following exchange:
During Thursday's 12 p.m. ET hour on MSNBC, host Contessa Brewer, who is soon to be leaving the anchor chair, declared that moderate Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was "trying to turn things around with a new take-no-prisoners strategy, calling out his conservative competitors for their far-right views."
Brewer talked to Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of the liberal Slate magazine, who wrote a fawning profile of Huntsman for Vogue magazine. She wondered: "Is Jon Huntsman sort of an anti-Republican?" Weisberg didn't agree with that description, but argued: "He's what used to be the mainstream of the party, he's the kind of Republican who could win a national election against Democrats....But for some reason, for various reasons, the Republican Party seems to have been taken over by the Tea Party movement, by these sort of patriotic anarchists."
Jon Huntsman may be the liberal media's favorite Republican candidate, and CNN's Piers Morgan did nothing to dispel that notion in a two-part puff-piece interview Monday and Tuesday. The CNN host provided plenty of softball questions and positive commentary in what seemed at times to be a campaign promotion.
Morgan described the moderate candidate as "pragmatic" and "sensible," took pleasure in Huntsman's past as a young rock star, and pointed out his "impressive" resume as former governor of Utah. In contrast, he painted Huntsman's GOP opponents as taking the low road, telling the former governor they want to "tear your throat out."
As NewsBusters has been reporting for weeks, America's Obama-loving media are pushing for Utah's perilously moderate former governor Jon Huntsman to be the Republican presidential nominee.
On CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" Monday, the host was floored by Huntsman's claim in Chinese “I’m going to become the next President of the United States” telling his guest, "This clip could become viral. We could be huge here" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CBS's Jan Crawford highlighted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney 's fortune on Tuesday's Early Show and how "wealthier candidates, like Romney, John Kerry, and Jon Huntsman, are...hit with that nasty insult they're an elitist." Crawford did mention how that label has also been leveled at President Obama on more than one occasion, but also forwarded a myth about former President George H. W. Bush's 1992 encounter with a supermarket scanner.
Anchor Chris Wragge didn't use the "elitist" term as he gave the lead-in for the correspondent's report, but stated, "With millions of Americans out of work, and countless more struggling to pay the bills, how can a multi-millionaire presidential candidate not seem to be out of touch?" Crawford continued that "it's not exactly an issue of money, but how its used and...how you carry yourself. And now, Romney is certainly getting some criticism, as he tries to expand this home away from home. But this kind of criticism is always an issue, and other presidential candidates, and the President himself, are getting hit with it, too."
In two separate interviews of Republican presidential candidates, CNN's Piers Morgan exhibited an obvious contempt of Tea Party politics as well as a double standard toward moderate and conservative presidential candidates.
In Monday's interview with Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, CNN's Piers Morgan baited the moderate candidate to criticize the Tea Party for its unwavering defense of its principles. In contrast, Morgan used the same rhetoric the week before to put Tea Party champion Ron Paul on the defensive.
Newsweek's Michael Tomasky counts himself as one of many "impressed liberal[s]" who are heartened by Jon Huntsman's attacks on Rick Perry.
Writing yesterday on the Daily Beast website, Tomasky suggested the former Utah governor was "a narrow thread of hope about the future" of the GOP dominated by both leaders and rank-and-file primary voters who are far from "reasonable."
As such, Huntsman's tactic of violating Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment was harmful in the short term but a perfect plan for a long-term resurgence, Tomasky insisted (emphasis mine):
Want incisive news analysis and perspicacious probing of the people and events of the day? Then Mike Barnicle is your man—not.
On today's Morning Joe, reacting to Jon Huntsman's criticism of Republicans who reputedly reject science, the former Boston Globe columnist inanely asked former RNC Chairman Michael Steele: "what percentage of Republican delegates who go to the convention do you figure are total nutcases?" Video after the jump.
Editor's Note: What follows is NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell's thoughts on who won, who lost, and who should just pack it all in following last night's Republican presidential debate in Ames, Iowa.
Gingrich: The winner. Wasn't even close. Showed why Obama would pee in his pants having to debate this man.
Santorum: Also a winner. Showed most passion, and took on and beat up other candidates. But was it enough to keep him alive?
Just days before the Iowa Straw Poll, Republican presidential candidates face off tonight to debate at the Iowa State Fair. Absent from the debate are two rumored candidates, Gov. Rick Perry and Sarah Palin.
Included is the still wide field of GOP contenders, Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman. Will you be watching tonight?
This may not be the endorsement Jon Huntsman wants. MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Tuesday touted the Republcian presidential candidate's apparent acquiescence to a demand he made in an advertisement for Hardball. The journalist was so pleased, he dubbed himself, "the great communicator."
Matthews praised the moderate Republican for answering "the call I made during that promotional ad I was very happy to do when I said the Republican presidential candidates ought to have the courage to stand up and say that Barack Obama is as much an American as they are."
On Sunday’s This Week, ABC’s Christiane Amanpour repeatedly hit Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell with the White House’s plea for “revenue raising” measures, often the new euphemism for tax hikes, but when she talked to Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn, the Assistant Minority Leader in the House, she failed to press him about agreeing to GOP spending cut proposals and instead only asked him about prospects for a deal.
Amanpour began with how reasonable President Obama and Democrats, who “need revenue,” are acting: “Democrats are saying they’re not putting, for the moment, tax hikes on the table, but they need revenue, they’re talking about closing loopholes, subsidies for wealthy corporations. Is that out of the question for you, or are you willing to entertain that?”
John Lennon once wrote "all you need is love." If that's the case, then GOP unknown Jon Huntsman will be the next president of the United States.
The quasi-Republican former ambassador to China is finding the media environment filled with love. Huntsman, who was also the governor of Utah, is trying to position himself as "electable" because liberals, gays and the media love him. (Yes, sometimes those three groups aren't identical.)
They love him because he's the kind of Republican they could vote for if they held their noses and someone forced them to choose a GOP candidate. (Actually, they wouldn't, but it makes a convenient fiction.) After all, they claim, he's a "moderate Republican." Remember when we had "liberal Republicans?" According to Nexis, that term hasn't been used on ABC, CBS or NBC all year.
What else do you call a pro-gay Republican who not only worked for Obama and called him a "remarkable leader," but still has "respect" for the president after Obamacare and a host of other Big Government fiascos. Throw in Huntsman's lefty views on climate and what the Club for Growth calls "inexcusable" spending as governor, and you have an ideal media candidate.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist Colby King on Friday disgracefully called Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann "Barbie with fangs."
His fellow "Inside Washington" panelist Charles Krauthammer - obviously annoyed by this sexist display - replied, "It’s good to see how civil and non-ad hominem we are here in the Huntsman spirit" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Jon Huntsman wants you to know he rides a dirt bike. On real dirt! He's Salt of the Earth. Grease of the Garage. Dragster on the Dunes. Huntsman's runnin' and gunnin' for president. But underneath the Steve McQueen costumery, this made-for-cable-TV Moderate Speed Racer is a creaky old John McCain on Wheels.
The former Utah Republican governor and Obama ambassador to China is the answer to an election-year problem that doesn't exist. The quadrennial "problem," in the minds of Beltway GOP strategists and liberal media chin-pullers, is that the Republican Party isn't moderate, civil, self-critical or inclusive enough.
When Good Morning America's Robin Roberts conducted a softball interview with Barack Obama on Friday, she sought out questions from basketball stars. On Wednesday, however, George Stephanopoulos grilled Republican Jon Huntsman with queries taken straight from the White House's 2012 reelection team.
Stephanopoulos played up the presidential candidate's promise for "a civil campaign" and an ABC graphic reminded, "Huntsman's Promise to be Civil." Yet, the journalist quoted an Obama spokesman warning that Huntsman "would slash our commitment to education."
On Tuesday night, NBC decided to highlight a series of stumbles by Republican presidential candidates, none of them all that significant (Romney having $100 bills in his wallet and Perry referring to Twitter as “tweeter”), before later in the newscast showing White House-produced video of a baby which stopped crying when handed to President Obama. “The White House would probably love for us to believe this next piece of videotape is evidence of special healing powers,” Williams announced, feeling obligated to make clear he realized “it isn't, but it is amusing.”
Looking at the announcement by Jon Huntsman, Andrea Mitchell cited his “faulty sound system,” how the press pass misspelled Huntsman’s first name and how “the press corps was first directed to a plane bound for Saudi Arabia instead of New Hampshire,” but “even there geography was a problem.” After a clip of Huntsman saying “we’ve just come this morning from New York where we announced in front of the Statue of Liberty,” Mitchell pounced, complete with a big map on screen: “Except he wasn’t in New York, it was New Jersey.”
With Jon Huntsman's presidential announcement on June 21, the former Utah governor joins a crowded field vying for the Republican nomination. But while MSNBC has put most GOP hopefuls through the ringer, Huntsman has been heralded by the network as Mr. Civility in an otherwise nutty Republican field.
"There’s a difference between the press and the Democratic Party and the press and the Republican Party."
So said Chris Matthews on the syndicated program bearing his name this weekend in the midst of a discussion about how the news media treat presidential candidates (video follows with transcript and commentary, file photo):
In a June 16 story for the Politico, Molly Ball surveyed the existing GOP presidential field and essentially buried them all as pathetic losers who couldn't even carry their home states. The article headlined: "The GOP's Unfavorite Son Primary" detailed how current candidates Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and even undeclared ones like Rick Perry and Sarah Palin would have trouble winning statewide races.
Yes, you read that right. According to Ball, Perry could struggle to beat Obama in Texas and Palin could fall to the President in Alaska.
Timothy Egan, liberal reporter turned leftist online columnist for the New York Times, gave a potential kiss-of-death endorsement Thursday evening to a Republican presidential candidate -- moderate former Utah governor (and Obama ambassador to China) Jon Huntsman, in "The G.O.P.'s Jon Huntsman, the Reluctant Mormon." You see, unlike the "fact-denial chorus" who throw "red meat to the wackos" in a "sea of craziness" (now those are some seriously mixed metaphors) Huntsman is a thoughtful skeptic (i.e., he believes in manmade global warming and gay civil unions). After claiming Huntsman "brings a strong resume to the presidential race," Egan lamented:
But for the increasingly intolerant minority who will decide the next Republican nominee, Huntsman is already a heretic for speaking common sense on climate change, gay civil unions and immigration. And, of course, his decision to answer a call to service by going to China for President Obama doesn’t help his cause.
Newsweek's Evan Thomas said on Friday's "Inside Washington" that former Ambassador Jon Huntsman's big problem in getting the Republican presidential nomination is he's "too moderate" and "people like me like him."
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer humorously agreed saying this was a "fatal problem" for Huntsman (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MSNBC's Chris Matthews opened his "Hardball" program Monday by once again bashing the possible Republican presidential candidates.
With Indiana governor Mitch Daniels dropping out Saturday, Matthews focused his attention on Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman telling guests John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, "I don’t want an interview with any of these guys" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"He's a Morning Joe candidate." That could be the kiss of death among Republican primary voters, but Mark Halperin meant it as a compliment. Today's Morning Joe panel was unanimous in its praise for Huntsman's performance in New Hampshire over the weekend.
More from Mark Halperin:
"As impressive as any couple I've seen . . . I was pretty blown away by how effective he was . . . more [comfortable in his skin] than Barack Obama and George Bush, and they for me in my career have been the gold standard . . . One of the liberal trackers said 'I really like this guy. I'd cross over.'"
Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos conducted a confrontational interview with possible Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman on Friday, challenging the moderate governor from the right on spending and on the former Utah governor's praise of Barack Obama.
Stephanopoulos highlighted Huntsman's work for the Obama administration as ambassador to China: "The President is also a person, a particular person, President Barack Obama. You wrote to him saying, calling him a 'remarkable leader.' Do you stand by that?" After the Republican dodged, Stephanopoulos even followed up: "Do you believe he's a remarkable leader and are you in sync with his foreign policy?"
Although Stephanopoulos and ABC should be given credit for asking serious questions that conservative primary voters want to know, this isn't how the morning show treated Democrats in the 2008 cycle. Almost four years to the day, on May 21, 2007, GMA featured then-possible presidential candidate Al Gore for 10 and a half minutes.