There has been a lot of harsh criticism for Barack Obama's performance at Wednesday's presidential debate, but maybe the strongest came Thursday from former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.
Appearing on MSNBC's Daily Rundown, Brokaw said, "I think that this morning we have a kick-start to this presidential campaign. If it had been Romney performing like the president last night, it would have been over" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As Matt Vespa at NewsBusters noted earlier this morning, MSNBC's Howard Fineman was extremely unhappy with Jim Lehrer's performance as moderator in last night's first presidential debate. Vespa reports that Fineman "seemed agitated to the point of calling Lehrer 'useless' and equated his moderating of the debate to 'criminal negligence.'"
In what may be seen as a surprise, the same network's Laurence O'Donnell didn't share that sentiment, as Mackenzie Weinger reported this morning at Politico:
Appearing as a panel member on CNN's post-debate coverage on Wednesday, Democratic strategist James Carville gave President Obama a poor grade for his debate performance, asserting that 'I did everything I could not to reach it, but I had to reach it, and it looked like Romney wanted to be there, and President Obama didn't want to be there."
ABC's George Stephanonopoulos carried a eight-out-of-nine record of declaring the Democratic presidential candidate the winner into Wednesday night's Obama-Romney presidential debate. Surprisingly, the Clinton administration veteran affirmed that Mitt Romney scored points on President Obama: "I think Governor Romney definitely more crisp in his presentation tonight....he was able to be aggressive without being offensive."
Stephanopoulos later claimed that "Governor Romney will get the boost that challengers usually get coming out of these debates," while downplaying President Obama's own performance: "I didn't see any knockout punches....didn't see breakthrough moments or major mistakes by either candidate." [audio available here; video below the jump]
Having seen the candidate the press corps so obviously favors perform poorly while his opponent shined, Ron Fournier at National Journal, an Associated Press alum, dove so deeply into excuse-making that I half expected him to claim that the dog ate President Obama's debate prep.
The primary culprit, according to the forlorn Fournier, is something over which Obama has no control, as seen in the following excerpt from the 11:30 p.m. version of his dispatch. The report has an accurate headline admitting to something Fournier wouldn't directly acknowledge, namely that Romney won the night (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Time's assistant managing editor Rana Foroohar could have been mistaken as an Obama campaign flack during CBS's post-presidential debate coverage on Wednesday night, with her claim that "the key issue is, really, taxes, and I think that you have to wonder whether Romney's math adds up." She asserted, "There's a bigger math issue here, and that's whether or not lowering tax rates actually creates jobs and growth, and I would argue that, factually, it doesn't."
Foroohar also boosted the incumbent's massive stimulus spending, and held up communist China as a model: "I think what the President tried to convince voters, is that investment is going to create growth...and I think that there's a case to be made for that. If you look at where jobs are going - to places like China - infrastructure spending is much higher. There's a lot more investment in those, sort of, basic competitiveness issues. Unfortunately, I don't think the President made that point sharply enough." [audio available here; video below the jump]
How resounding was Mitt Romney's rout of Barack Obama tonight? In the post-debate spin room, a hopelessly muddled Martin O'Malley, Dem guv from Maryland and supposedly an Obama surrogate, wound up referring to "President Romney"! Freudian slip, anyone?
For good measure, pressed by MSNBC's Larry O'Donnell—clearly dismayed by Obama's dismal performance—to suggest what he'd recommend the prez do differently next time, a demoralized O'Malley could only mutter "uh, I don't know." View the video after the jump.
Judging from the reaction by the commentators on MSNBC, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had a big night during Wednesday's debate with Barack Obama.
Shortly after it's conclusion, one of the President's biggest fans said, "What was Romney doing tonight? He was winning. If he does five more of these nights, forget it" (video follows with transcript):
Reporting the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll numbers on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, political director Chuck Todd touted a rather obvious finding in the numbers, relentless media attacks on Mitt Romney have negatively affected how voters view the Republican nominee.
Todd proclaimed: "That 47% remark, it has left a mark, if you will. When we asked, 'Is there anything you've heard in the last few weeks that's made you more favorable or less favorable on Mitt Romney?', 51% said what they've heard has made them less favorable."
Mitt Romney's main advantage in his first debate with President Obama on Wednesday may be that the president will be speaking without a teleprompter. His second advantage is the president's record and how he has failed to fulfill many of his promises.
While the president will probably recycle his class warfare themes, Romney should focus on the president's domestic failures and on Republican initiatives that have worked in the past. We Americans didn't just crawl out of a cave. There is history.
Jay Leno again waded deeply into presidential politics on Tuesday evening.
Commenting on Vice President Joe Biden's "middle class has been buried" gaffe, the NBC Tonight Show host said during his opening monologue, "I’m sorry, which candidate is he campaigning for? I’m confused" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The day before Wednesday's presidential debate, CNN hosted liberal journalist Carole Simpson to give her take on the event. Not surprisingly, she laughed at Mitt Romney while praising President Obama.
"Romney is practicing zingers. He's not very funny," Simpson mocked Romney, before laughing. What did she say for President Obama? "I think he's much more comfortable in his skin." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Talk about missing the elephant (or is it donkey?) in the room – on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes reported that Senator John Kerry is "playing Mitt Romney in mock debates" with President Obama before Wednesday's debate. But she didn't once mention that Kerry's debate skills didn't help him in 2004, when he lost a presidential race to President George W. Bush.
Cordes did note that "Romney and...Kerry know each other well. They're both longtime politicians from Massachusetts." She also twice emphasized that Obama's campaign was "working hard...to try to lower expectations about his performance" during the upcoming presidential debates.
Leading into tomorrow’s presidential debate, journalists are busy setting expectations for the candidates. On Sunday’s Good Morning America, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos argued that Mitt Romney is under “huge, huge” pressure: “He is behind right now. He is behind nationally, he’s behind in all of the battleground states. This is the last big audience that Mitt Romney is going to have with about four and a half weeks left to go.”
But more undecided voters will be swayed by the media’s post-debate spin about who won and who lost than by any pre-debate expectations. Reviewing the last several campaigns, MRC analysts have found a clear trend of network reporters fawning over the performance of liberal candidates, while harping on any perceived weaknesses or gaffes from conservatives.
One of the most reliable pro-Democratic pundits is none other than George Stephanpoulos — not especially surprising, given his track record as a loyal operative for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, but hardly the objective, unbiased voice touted by ABC News. MRC has documented how, in eight out of the last nine general election presidential debates (every one since he joined ABC News in 1997), Stephanopoulos has gone on his network’s airwaves to claim victory for the Democratic candidate, all in the guise of offering impartial analysis. [Video review below the jump.]
On Friday's World News on ABC, substitute anchor David Muir filed a report which warned that the winner of the first presidential candidate debate may have to take advantage of a "'cares about you' moment," as the report seemed more preoccupied with Mitt Romney as the candidate more likely to fail in such a moment.
Muir set up the report by harkening back to an audience question in 1992 that left then-candidate Bill Clinton giving an answer which suggested he could "connect with average problems" better than then-President George H.W. Bush.
In an interview last Thursday with Reno, Nevada, station KTVN, Ann Romney said her chief concern with her husband winning the presidency would be his "mental well-being," adding, "I have all the confidence in the world in his ability, in his decisiveness and his leadership skills, in his understanding of the economy, in his understanding of what's missing right now in the economy - you know, pieces that are missing to get this jumpstarted. So for me I think it would just be the emotional part of it."
Obviously, in context, she was not suggesting her husband couldn't handle stress well, just that she knows the presidency is a stressful job and would be emotionally taxing on the man she loves. But to MSNBC's Martin Bashir, it was an opportunity to run a segment on his October 1 program where he strongly suggested that Romney may not be mentally fit for duty as president. [MP3 audio here; video embedded at bottom of post]
Although a CNNMoney survey had economists by a three-to-one margin saying a Mitt Romney presidency would be better for the economy than another term of President Obama, the report's title said they "reluctantly" chose Romney.
"And many of those picking Romney were more critical of, as opposed to excited about, the Republican challenger's plans," the report read. Would CNNMoney have reported that economists "reluctantly" picked President Obama by a three-to-one margin?
The media were all atwitter Monday over a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finding President Obama eleven points ahead of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in key swing states.
Within 90 minutes of the Post's Jennifer Rubin exposing that the margin of error in the poll was - wait for it! - an astonishing eight points, the paper felt the need to publish a new piece explaining the whole thing.
Norah O'Donnell made it clear on Monday's CBS This Morning that her job as anchor is to repeat her stick-a-fork-in-Romney mantra and boost President Obama. On the issue of the upcoming debates, O'Donnell asserted, "We already know he [Romney] has high negatives - perhaps, a likeability problem." She later asked if "we see the competitive President Obama...or will we see the cool, constitutional law professor?"
The anchor couldn't be bothered to bring up the continuing unrest in the Middle East; the related issue of the Obama administration's changing story as to what happened in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya; or the new developments in the Fast and Furious controversy.
Worried that anti-Obama TV spots focused on women voters may have an impact in narrowing the so-called gender gap, MSNBC today brought on former Clinton-Gore ad woman Linda Kaplan Thaler of the Kaplan Thaler Group to blast ads by the Romney campaign and Romney-friendly super PACs that feature children and address the explosion in federal debt under President Obama.
Anchor Thomas Roberts did mention Kaplan Thaler's former affiliation with the Clinton-Gore campaign at the open of the interview, but at no point did he ask her about the policy substance of the advertisements' arguments nor did he bring on an opposing point of view about the effectiveness of the ads. Here's the relevant transcript:
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, BBC America Washington correspondent Katty Kay dismissed the electoral impact of the Obama administration's mishandling of the crisis in the Middle East: "I'm not sure that who said what, when, and when the intelligence came out...I'm not sure that that's going to be a huge issue for voters in the course of this election." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, she did bemoan the fact that ongoing chaos in the region may blunt Obama campaign attacks against Mitt Romney: "It does mean that it's harder for the White House to keep focusing on what was a pretty disastrous response from the Romney campaign initially. So it kind of draws a line under that." And what of the "pretty disastrous response" by the President of the United States?
Calling them "Cheetos-eaters living in their mothers' basements," Joe Scarborough, angered by criticism by conservative bloggers of a segment on last week's Morning Joe, has told them to boycott the show.
Last week, Morning Joe ran a clip of the crowd chanting at a Romney campaign event. Morning Joe superimposed a screen graphic indicating that the crowd had been chanting "Ryan!" Romney was then seen instructing the crowd to instead chant "Romney-Ryan!" Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski proceeded to rip Romney for what was depicted as an egocentric display. In fact, there is considerable controversy as to what the crowd was chanting, with various people reporting from the scene that the crowd had in fact been chanting "Romney," so that Romney's action was gentlemanly, not egocentric. Listen and judge for yourself. On today's show, Scarborough ran a clip of the campaign event, but without the Morning Joe screen graphic that was at the heart of the controversy. View the video after the jump.
At the top of Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, moderator David Gregory announced Mitt Romney was backed "against the wall" in the presidential race and proceeded to ask both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Obama advisor David Plouffe: "Is the race over?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
After Christie rejected the notion and suggested Romney's performance in the upcoming first debate on Wednesday would reset the campaign, Gregory incredulously replied: "Why isn't it too late to believe that the presidential debates, after you announce your running mate, after you have your own convention including keynoter Chris Christie, that you can restart with the presidential debates?"
Let's see. Who has the bigger problem with Libya and the Middle East? Is it the guy who's in charge with a foreign policy in disarray who has described the first murder of a U.S. ambassador in 33 years a "bump in the road"? Or his presidential campaign challenger Mitt Romney?
If we're to believe Mike Allen, Jim Vandehei, and Politico, it's Romney, where "Romney advisers at odds over Libya" was the only thing visible on my computer screen when I went to the web site's home page at 10 p.m. ET. You have to go almost all the way to the bottom of the home page to see stories about how "at odds" Obama administration advisers have been and still are about the U.S. positions on Libya, terrorism, Israel, and the Middle East during the past several weeks. Several paragraphs from the Romney story, wherein one learns that there really isn't much in the way of conflict, accompanied by yet another round of "the polls say Romney's doomed," follow the jump (bolds are mine):
"The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power. When they desert those ramparts and decide that they will now become active participants, that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people."
So said Democratic strategist and pollster Pat Caddell at an Accuracy in Media conference earlier this month (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
With the first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in just three days, the media have been doing their darnedest to lower expectations for the President's performance.
Doing his part Sunday was New York magazine's John Heilemann who said on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, "Barack Obama's not a very good debater. He lost almost every debate that he debated with Hillary Clinton" (video follows with transcript and commentary):