Editor's Note: This was intended for publication pre-debate on October 16. We apologize for the delay.
As he prepares for the second debate, Obama faces a major dilemma: how to be more aggressive without jeopardizing his alleged likability, the main thing he supposedly has going for him with voters.
The Barack Obama the public usually sees is not the real Barack Obama. The former is a carefully manufactured media image designed to appear eminently reasonable, highly engaged, ultra-caring, inordinately intelligent and as one who transcends the pettiness that plagues so many politicians. The real Obama is none of those things.
Mitt Romney senior adviser John Sununu had another contentious encounter with CNN's Soledad O'Brien Wednesday.
At the conclusion of their lengthy Starting Point segment about Tuesday's presidential debate, O'Brien thanked her guest for coming with Sununu responding, "It's always good to come on the groupie channel" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
During Tuesday's post-debate coverage on CNN, as the panel discussed moderator Candy Crowley giving cover to President Obama's attempt to defend his initial flawed response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, CNN correspondent John King blamed former Governor Mitt Romney for giving Crowley the opening to undermine the GOP candidate's criticism of Obama for taking so long to recognize that the attack was a premeditated act of terrorism.
Shortly before 11:30 p.m., CNN anchor Anderson Cooper had raised the subject as he defended Romney's reasoning and suggested that Obama was taking himself out of context to cover his own tracks. Cooper:
Debate moderator Candy Crowley admitted on CNN's Debate Night in America that Governor Romney was “right in the main” but “picked the wrong word” on the Obama administration’s immediate response to the terrorist attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.
Immediately following the second presidential debate, Crowley was repeatedly asked for her thoughts on what she had just witnessed first-hand at Hofstra University. On everyone's mind was the foreign policy discussion between the two candidates, in which Crowley defended the president for what he said in the Rose Garden on Sept. 12 about the Benghazi consulate attack that occurred the day before. [ video below, MP3 audio available here ]
Moments after the second presidential debate ended David Gregory rushed to offer assurance to Barack Obama supporters as he declared: "I think liberals can breathe a sigh of relief. It's not curtains for the President. He showed up and showed up big tonight."
While Mitt Romney's performance was called "strong" by Gregory and his colleague Chuck Todd, the both of them agreed, during NBC's Tuesday night post debate coverage, that the GOP nominee "stumbled" on the issue of Libya. (video after the jump)
Minutes after the second presidential debate ended on Tuesday, ABC pundits Matthew Dowd and Donna Brazile brushed off the three-plus minute advantage of speaking time President Obama had over Mitt Romney under CNN's Candy Crowley's moderation. Dowd asserted that this imbalance would lead to "conservatives and Republicans attacking Candy Crowley, and when that happens, that is a sure sign that President Obama won this."
Brazile seconded this taunt: "When Republicans lose debates, they always find something wrong with the moderator or the referee." The two ABC panelists didn't give such an assessment after the first debate on October 3, even though liberals, such as Howard Fineman, attacked moderator Jim Lehrer.
Pollster Frank Luntz got more than he bargained for on Tuesday.
In a focus group on Fox's Hannity program after the debate, one of the participants who voted for Obama in 2008 said of the President, "He’s been bullsh--ting the public with the media behind him" (video follows with transcript and absolutely no need for additional commentary):
Conceivably the biggest moment in Tuesday's presidential debate was when moderator Candy Crowley injected herself into the discussion siding with Barack Obama on remarks he claimed he made in the Rose Garden following the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Long-time Democrat campaign strategist Joe Trippi said on Fox News shortly after the debate's conclusion that this looked like "the ref just threw the flag" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Former debate moderator (and liberal journalist) Carole Simpson has been making the media rounds before Tuesday's presidential debate, giving President Obama the edge and implying that the standards for debate moderators are sexist. She continued that on Tuesday's Starting Point.
She gave Obama the town hall-style debate advantage as a "people person" and "touchy-feely." In contrast, she cited criticism of Romney "that he doesn't relate to ordinary people." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CNN's Anderson Cooper cited the liberal Tax Policy Center debunking Mitt Romney's tax plan on Monday, without noting that one of the authors admitted the plan could still work with different assumptions. He waited until the end of his report to admit that the studies in question were "making assumptions."
"[A] bipartisan panel of three authors for the Tax Policy Center examined the plan and concluded that there's really no way of making the numbers work, that is, unless the middle class pays more," Cooper reported on the night before Tuesday's presidential debate. That is misleading, since the study admitted reliance on "certain assumptions" and one of its authors said the plan could work. The TPC report was released in August.
On Tuesday's NBC Today, during a panel discussion previewing the second presidential debate, co-host Matt Lauer mandated that Mitt Romney answer charges that he's moderated his positions: "How does Mitt Romney answer that question tonight of, 'Why have you moved to the middle, have become more moderate in these closing weeks?'"
Former McCain campaign advisor Steve Schmidt rejected Lauer's assertion: "I don't think he has to answer that question." Lauer immediately interrupted: "What if he's asked that question?" Former Democratic governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm joined Lauer in ganging up on Schmidt: "Oh, I think he does. He absolutely does."
There must be some kind of alternative universe reporters at the Politico inhabit as they toil for the online publication. That's the only conceivable explanation I can conjure up when I read some of what is presented there.
Take a report which first appeared early Monday morning from Anna Palmer (please). If she weren't reporting from that alternative universe, she wouldn't possibly be able to believe what she wrote in her story about how big, bad, eeeevil l-l-l-lobbyists will have so much influence in a possible Mitt Romney administration, and how that is such a stark contrast to how pristine and pure things have been during the Obama years (bolds are mine):
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham doesn't think the liberal media's bar is very high for Barack Obama to get wildly favorable reviews after Tuesday's upcoming presidential debate with Mitt Romney.
Appearing on Fox & Friends early Tuesday morning, Ingraham said, "He can sit there playing Angry Birds on his iPhone and I think they’ll go, 'Oh wow, masterful performance'" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Tonight’s town hall-style presidential debate will ostensibly feature questions from undecided voters, but the evening’s agenda will really be decided by the moderator, as CNN’s Candy Crowley will select which of the more than roughly 80 voters in the room will actually get a chance to talk to the candidates.
Reviewing the five previous town hall debates, the journalist-moderators have tended to skew the agenda of these so-called citizen forums to the liberal side of the spectrum, but not always. Overall, questions have been twice as likely to favor liberal causes versus conservative ones.
The Left and the establishment press (but I repeat myself) are taking heart in the fact that Bruce Springsteen has agreed to campaign for Barack Obama in Ohio and Iowa later this week.
The campaign of Mitt Romney, and Republicans in general, are the ones who should be cheered by this development for two reasons. One of them, which is being reported, is that Springsteen said earlier this year that he wouldn't be campaigning; the fact that he has changed his mind proves that Team Obama is genuinely worried about their boss's reelection prospects. The second isn't as well-known, but should be. "The Boss" (i.e., Springsteen) went all-in with the Occupy movement earlier this year, essentially ratifying our incumbent president's endorsement. Springsteen's stance was described in several places in February, including at the Gothamist:
On Monday's NBC Today, political director Chuck Todd analyzed the state of the presidential race following a series of new national polls showing a slight Romney lead: "Well, look, the first debate really did sort of shift things....the numbers I've seen, and in talking to both campaigns, something shifted fundamentally."
However, only four days earlier, on Thursday's Today, Todd argued the debate was "not as helpful to Romney as he might have hoped," leading co-host Savannah Guthrie to conclude: "Alright, so the debate had maybe not as much of an impact." That was as the ABC and CBS morning shows highlighted Romney's clear momentum.
Good Morning America's Jake Tapper on Sunday actually raised the issue of media bias, highlighting that Mitt Romney operatives "generally think that the media is in the tank for President Obama." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Some of Tapper's colleagues on ABC have given Republicans good reason to believe this.
The journalist was responding to weekend GMA anchor Dan Harris's question about whether the "stage may now be set for an Obama comeback narrative." Tapper replied, "absolutely" and added, "So, yes, they [Team Romney] think that, without question, the media is ready to write the Obama comeback story."
For some peculiar reason, NBC's Meet the Press spent precious air time Sunday just weeks before a presidential election on an interview with Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert.
By far his best line was, "I don't really watch the news so much. I come in around 6:30 and I just say the opposite of whatever Rachel Maddow says the night before, and I'm usually good" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"The key difference between these two candidates is that one is going to do all he can to avoid a new war in the Middle East and the other one is going to hand over U.S. policy to Bibi Netanyahu and launch a new global war."
So actually said the Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show Sunday (video follows with commentary):
If you've been paying attention to the Drudge Report lately, you've seen headlines linking to Real Clear Politics data showing how the presidential race has tightened since President Obama and Mitt Romney debated in Denver.
Criticism of Barack Obama came from a surprising source Sunday.
Appearing on Meet the Press, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw said the President “is going to have to answer for” the explosion in the federal budget deficit that “happened on his watch” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Jay Leno spent nearly three minutes of his opening monologue Friday trashing Vice President Joe Biden for his performance during Thursday's debate.
Although the Tonight Show host did poke some fun at Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin, the bulk of his jokes targeted Biden including him saying it was "really smart" of moderator Martha Raddatz "to cut Joe off after that third scotch and soda" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In an op-ed at "Bloomberg View" on Wednesday evening, editor and columnist Michael Kinsley's headline teased that "Maybe President Romney Wouldn’t Be So Bad," before twice urging readers to vote to reelect President Obama, including in the final paragraph after an alleged parenthetical (and obviously mythical) "Pause for reflection." Ha ha.
What came in between wasn't very funny at all -- and since he's an editor, his view of things presumably has impact beyond his columns. The worst whoppers came in the following paragraph: