Cut out the middle-woman and install Obama's teleprompter on the Morning Joe set . . .
Give her high marks for candor: on today's show, Mika Brzezinski admitted that she has been "working with the White House" on oil spill talking points. But that still leaves the issue of the journalistic propriety of someone in Brzezinski's position serving as such a blatant shill for the president. H/t tip NB reader Ray R.
Mika could be seen reading from her notes during exchanges with former GE CEO Jack Welch, who was critical of the PBO's handling of the spill. After repeated ribbing from Welch and Joe Scarborough over her use of White House talking points, Mika came clean . . .
A Friday report by reporters Matthew Lee and Eileen Sullivan indicates that there is a serious shortage of critical thinking skills over at the Associated Press, or a serious desire to run interference for the Obama administration no matter how ignorant doing so makes the wire service's reporters appear.
Lee and Sullivan try to excuse the State Department's inaction on the vast majority of roughly 60 specific offers of assistance from over twenty nations, many of which go back to late April and early May (detailed in a 4-page State Dept. PDF here), because almost all of the offers are being made with an expectation that the costs of such assistance will be reimbursed. By my count:
15 of those assistance offers involve the provision of "containment boom" to protect beaches, shoreline, and other sensitive areas.
Roughly 10 of those 15 containment boom offers are over a month old, and a few were made on or before April 30, over fifty days ago.
Out of all 60 offers made involving all forms of goods and services, roughly a half-dozen have been accepted.
The reason Lee and Sullivan cast these offers as proof of a "double standard" is -- wait for it -- because the U.S. doesn't get reimbursed when it provides aid in natural disasters like earthquakes, and because many of the countries involved, several of which are dirt poor, receive American foreign aid.
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker believes Americans are the enemy of the nation moving in a new energy direction because of what she called our addiction to oil.
As the discussion on this weekend's "The Chris Matthews Show" moved to why President Obama hasn't attacked energy policy much like Eisenhower did the space program, Tucker said, "One of the differences between the '50's when Sputnik was launched and now, that was a battle against Communism."
She continued, "It's always much easier to rally Americans against an external threat, an external enemy."
And sadly continued, "In this case, the enemy is us. Americans are addicted to petroleum. We use way too much oil" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The question was precipitated by the President's abysmal performance in his Tuesday Gulf Coast oil spill address and, in particular, how media members on both sides of the aisle gave him pretty poor grades.
Finding this obviously inconvenient, Nagourney set out to defend Obama from his critics by surprisingly making the case that nobody cares what pundits say anymore:
The presidential commission tasked with investigating the BP oil spill is so short on technical expertise and packed with left-leaning politicians and knee-jerk environmentalists that even the Associated Press's resident ClimateGate apologist Seth Borenstein is concerned.
On December 12, 2009, over two weeks after the ClimateGate e-mails first appeared, Borenstein wrote that "the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." What part of Kevin Trenberth's famous October 12, 2009 assertion that "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t" did Seth not understand?
Nonetheless, non-skeptical Seth is somewhat taken aback at the lack of expertise in the spill commission's membership:
Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering
The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about "America's addiction to oil." One member has blogged about it regularly.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Thursday: "If Bush were the President, and handled [the Gulf Coast oil spill] this way, there'd be like a movement to throw him out of office and replace him with somebody."
Is Giuliani right? Would there be Democrats and media members calling for Bush's impeachment if he was still in the White House and was handling the oil spill in exactly the same way as Obama has?
Saturday demonstrated a staggering disparity in how media view those involved in the Gulf Coast oil spill cleanup.
While news outlets heaped scorn upon beleaguered BP CEO Tony Hayward for attending a yacht race in England Saturday, there was no such anger shown towards President Obama and Vice President Biden for going golfing.
In fact, as this Reuters piece illustrated, despite what our Commander-in-Chief was doing, it was perfectly acceptable for his administration to criticize Hayward's recreational exploits on his day off (h/t Hot Air headlines):
The top headline on MSNBC.com on Saturday morning declared "The granddaddy of all gushers? Not this spill." They touted a New York Times story:
President Obama called the leak in the Gulf of Mexico "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced." But scholars are debating that description.
It's a good idea for reporters to question politicians' bluster about history. But it certainly sounds to Obama critics like an "It's not so bad quite yet" spin. The Times story goes off the spill question and into other disasters. It's certainly true that the Johnstown flood (with 2,200 deaths) trumps an oil spill in its human toll. Reporter Justin Gillis grew more conceptual:
Appearing on Charlie Rose's PBS program, Time magazine's Mark Halperin dismissed the GOP responses to President Obama's Oval Office speech as "childish" and "churlish" adding that the GOP "mocked" the President on Tuesday night, instead of seeking common ground with him on new energy legislation.
The Time reporter thinks the present Gulf disaster constitutes a "national crisis," but also posited that another crisis exists -- "not having a national energy policy," as he framed it.
"I think everything they do must go towards trying to solve the generation's-long crisis of a lack of energy policy," Halperin said of the Obama administration. And of course in Halperin's view, "the biggest barrier to that now is there are no Republicans on board."
On Friday's Good Morning America on ABC, White House correspondent Jake Tapper described White House reaction to Republican Congressman Joe Barton calling BP's $20 billion escrow fund the result of a government "shakedown": "...the argument they're making, that the Republican Party is too close to corporate America.....And they've been given this great foil by Joe Barton."
When co-host George Stephanopoulos wondered if the Obama administration was at all concerned about being seen as anti-business, Tapper recited the White House spin: "...they say, at the end of the day, there were inequities throughout the Bush years and they need to correct those inequities. It was the wild west. And they'd rather be on their side, taking on corporate America, than on the Republican side, in their view, defending it."
Later, Tapper concluded: "...they think it was a good week. The President's trip down to the Gulf, the speech, the $20 billion escrow fund and then this gift from Joe Barton....they feel like they had a good week. Perhaps their first good week since this crisis began."
President Obama met with a group of prominent liberal commentators on Thursday to discuss the Gulf oil spill and the administration's response. The meeting came in the midst of a rare firestorm of criticism from the left over the president's response to the spill.
It was surely not coincidence that the journalists seen leaving the White House that afternoon--the New York Times's Gail Collins, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, and the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib--were some of the more prominent critics of the president's Oval Office address on Tuesday.
The meeting demonstrates two facts: the White House is trying furiously to spin media coverage of the federal response to the spill in the administration's favor, and the old White House double standard towards the news media persists.
The media reaction to the Obama administration's handling of the BP Gulf oil spill crisis has been a mixed bag. But it hasn't been good.
Some are arguing President Barack Obama has gone too far and overstepped his legal authority and some are arguing he hasn't gone far enough with the "boot on the throat" mentality. And on his June 17 Fox News Channel program, Glenn Beck played three separate examples of these differences you normally wouldn't associate with one another - CNBC's Matt Nesto, liberal flame-thrower and comedian Rosie O'Donnell and MSNBC's Ed Schultz.
"Even the people at NBC are noticing maybe something is not right," Beck said.
If you take MSNBC's Luke Russert's words at face value, you would think the Democrats are going to win big this November–all thanks to Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) comments on the Obama administration's treatment of BP, and their "shakedown" of the company via the escrow fund.
"A lot of Democrats see this as the ammunition they need to directly tie the Republican Party with that of big oil," Russert summarized.
Barton expressed his disapproval at the hearing for the White House's treatment of BP in forcing them to agree to the $20 billion escrow fund, calling it a "shakedown." MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer was visibly irritated during her news hour with the statement, and Russert called it a "really big blunder."
However, as NewsBusters reported, MSNBC's own Ed Schultz was ecstatic yesterday over the very actions of the White House, and spoke positively of the "shakedown."
On Thursday's Good Morning America on ABC, co-host George Stephanopoulos laid blame on BP and Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen for mishandling the Gulf oil spill response but depicted the Obama administration as having done everything it could. In contrast, on the CBS Early Show, guests from both sides of the aisle gave the President a 'C' grade for his response.
At the top of Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos described how BP CEO Tony Hayward would be facing a "public execution" in Thursday's congressional hearings and how Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak promised to "slice and dice" Hayward. In a report that followed, correspondent Jonathan Karl furthered the theme of courageous Democrats standing up to the big oil villain: "Tony Hayward may be the most hated man in America. And he's heading right into a buzz saw of congressional outrage. In his prepared testimony, Hayward declares, 'I am deeply sorry.' But the chairman of the committee says that's not enough." A clip of Democratic committee chairman Henry Waxman was played.
Minutes later, Stephanopoulos interviewed Louisiana Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and wondered: "...with everything the President and BP announced this week, do you think this is on the right track now?" After Nungesser expressed doubt about local fisherman being reimbursed for financial losses and a lack of organization in the response, Stephanopoulos deflected any criticism away from President Obama and suggested another target: "The White House has approved the building of berms, they've sent the boom down there, Admiral Allen is on the scene every day. Are you saying he is not giving you the help you need? And do you think he should keep his job?"
In a satellite interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) held shortly before 1 p.m. EDT today, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer criticized Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for denouncing the president for pushing BP to agree to a $20-billion escrow account for oil spill damages as a "shakedown":
So, there's Joe Barton calling the $20 billion in escrow a shakedown, and as you point out, there are people in your district who have lost their livelihoods! They wonder how they can feed their families!
But yesterday, Brewer's MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz used similar language to voice his giddy approval of President Obama's maneuvering [video embedded at right and available as WMV file here]:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan on June 17 joined forces to lambaste "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough for continuing to defend President Barack Obama's handling of the BP oil spill.
Scarborough presented a litany of arguments in Obama's defense, but Giuliani and Ratigan countered with specific examples of the president's failed leadership. Regurgitating liberal talking points, Scarborough blamed the crisis on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
"We hear that we had the technology to stop this," Scarborough claimed. "In 2002, though, Dick Cheney and his energy task force said, 'No, we're not going to take an extra step.'"
Giuliani responded with an eviscerating counter punch: "It's important to know as part of the history of this but the reality is, he's been president now for 18 months. It's about time we stopped blaming Bush."
You know why President Obama's Gulf Coast oil spill address from the Oval Office failed so miserably on Tuesday?
It went over too many heads.
At least that's what the folks at CNN.com believe.
Maybe that's why the so-called geniuses at MSNBC didn't like it - it went over Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Howard Fineman's heads!
Even more absurd in this piece by the CNN Wire Staff is that it completely ignored how Obama's speech patterns when he addresses the nation are at a lower grade level than those of George W. Bush (h/t Lachlan Markay):
MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews felt a "thrill" up his leg when Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Keith Olbermann's leftist bias was great enough to merit a Saturday Night Live parody of his show "Countdown With Keith Olbermann."
And yet both trashed President Obama's Oval Office speech on Tuesday. "Maybe I missed something. I thought it was a great speech if you've been on another planet for the last 57 days," Olbermann remarked. Matthews said that he didn't "sense executive command."
But Joe Scarborough, who has repeatedly thrown his support behind President Obama's handling of the crisis, thought the speech "struck all the right notes," and was in disbelief on his morning show over the media's general distaste for the speech. Scarborough then hosted David Axelrod for an interview that can only be described as a barrage of softballs.
"I just wonder if this is a season, that, no matter what the President's doing, he is going to get hit by both sides right now?" Scarborough asked Axelrod, senior advisor to President Obama.
There has been a lot of criticism hurled at President Obama over his handling of the BP oil spill. Some on the left are upset the president hasn't been more forceful with the oil giant. Those on the right generally argue Obama's leadership has been inadequate.
Rarely has the president been criticized for specific actions on this issue. But on "Closing Bell" June 16, CNBC's Matt Nesto was asked whether BP acted appropriately by agreeing to the White House's terms by cutting its dividend payments and agreeing to a $20 billion escrow account.
Nesto argued that the administration was circumventing the legal system with such acts.
Despite widespread criticism of President Barack Obama's Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill–including flak from MSNBC's left-wing posse of Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Howard Fineman–ABC's Terry Moran and George Stephanopoulos on the June 15 "Nightline" fawned over the president's speech and ignored its obvious shortcomings.
In recapping the address, Moran could not contain his adulation for Obama's ability to assert his presidential authority and inspire the nation:
"For the first time in the Oval Office, President Obama addressed the nation. A nation anxious and doubtful about his leadership on the environmental catastrophe that's unfolded in the Gulf for 57 days. So, the main goal tonight, show the country he's truly in charge."
"President Obama, who finished a two-day trip to the Gulf Coast this afternoon, clearly wanted to project power in his handling with the oil spill, and the most direct way to do that is to use the language of war of the commander-in-chief."
"As the cleanup efforts continue to grapple with the giant spill, residents all along the coast have grown more and more worried, more and more angry and the president spoke to that directly tonight, and he made a promise."
"At the end, like so many in the Oval Office before him, President Obama asked for prayers."
Plenty of prominent media figures were upset with President Obama over his substandard address to the nation last night (full text). While most are distraught, none seem to be doing what should be the essential journalistic task of the day: pointing out all of the factual misstatements the president made.
So, in absence of a serious attempt at fact-checking from the legacy media, let us undertake some of our own.
In all, the president misrepresented the federal government's--and especially his cabinet's--role in creating the conditions that led to the spill, the state of the nation's oil reserves, and his own administration's involvement with BP. Futhermore, his transition from discussing the Gulf spill to advocating "clean energy" legislation was a huge logical leap, and one that necessarily misrepresents the problems the nation faces with regard to energy.
A tale of two disasters: On ABC’s Good Morning America this morning, weatherman Sam Champion’s piece included reaction from several residents of Florida, Alabama and Louisiana to President Obama’s oil spill speech, and found three outright critics and no defenders of the administration’s handling of the disaster. One woman exclaimed: “What I would have liked to heard from him – that he actually had a plan.”
The kindest review came from a man in Alabama who merely hoped the federal response would improve: “I think we're seeing a change in how he's handling the situation. And I hope it's for the better.”
Five years ago, after President Bush spoke in New Orleans a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, ABC assembled a focus group of six people displaced by the storm, and taking refuge in Houston’s Astrodome. But to the evident astonishment of ABC’s correspondent, not one member of that group would denounce President Bush, but instead leveled their criticism at local officials who failed to prepare the city ahead of time.
Adler's chief complaint with last night's Oval Office address: Obama didn't call for massive tax hikes to push Americans to make more politically correct spending choices.
The Newsweek writer -- formerly a self-styled "propagandist" for the liberal Center for American Progress -- avoided the T-word until his last paragraph, but he made abundantly clear that he felt that a) American stupidity and short-sightedness was threatening to literally drown Manhattan in rising sea levels and b) Obama was not doing enough to make government force people to make better choices with their own money (emphases mine):
Guess Mike could always get a gig with the Vienna Boys Choir . . .
If MSNBC libs like Olbermann and Matthews were surprisingly critical of Pres. Obama's speech last night, PBO can apparently count on one defender at the network: Mika Brzezinski.
So fiercely did Brzezinski go after Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe today for his criticism of the speech, that the panel agreed poor Mike had been "emasculated." Joe Scarborough took it a graphic step further, saying Mika had "castrated" the former Boston Globe columnist.
Confirming her membership in Manhattan’s liberal elite, Katie Couric boasted on Tuesday’s Late Show that she plans to follow Tom Friedman’s admonition, that in refusing to move away from oil “we have met the enemy and he is us,” and so she’s realized she “should” buy a Toyota Prius, the favorite of conspicuously superior liberals, or at least a hybrid. Couric recounted how her daughter told her “‘we should turn in the car we have’ and ‘get a Prius or a hybrid.’ And I said, ‘you know, Ellie, we should do that.’ And we're going to look into it.”
“I think Tom Friedman had a great column,” Couric touted, on how “we are responsible for creating this problem” in the Gulf of Mexico “and we have to start contemplating our choices in terms of energy,” so “hopefully something like this will really force people to reconsider their choices.”
President Barack Obama's Oval Office address about the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico certainly impressed George Stephanopoulos, though that's not a difficult achievement for the favorably pre-disposed Democratic operative turned network political expert. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC were all back to regular programming two minutes or less after Obama finished, but that was enough time for Stephanopoulos to display his delight. “What struck me tonight,” he informed ABC anchor Diane Sawyer, is:
Oval Office addresses are often used when the nation is at war and tonight the President used martial language. He talked about a “siege,” the “assault on our shores” and his “battle plan” to fix it. And he said we have to “rally together.” [Audio available here]
The co-host of ABC's Good Morning America proceeded to relay, presuming the inspirational goal was met, that the White House was “reaching for” the “feel of Franklin Roosevelt during World War II and those fireside chats and the President even said that during World War II they said we couldn't build enough planes and tanks, but we did. We can beat this as well.”
To which, Sawyer chimed in by quoting liberal hero FDR: “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann isn't exactly known for her reticence on the news of the day. And when it comes to the White House's handling of the BP oil spill disaster, Bachmann had some harsh words for President Barack Obama.
"The thing that we're all focusing on today will be the president's remarks that he'll be giving tonight and it looks like an absolute opportunism moment for the president to try and advance the next stage of his legislative agenda," Bachmann said. "And I think the curious feature in all of this has been: this is a major disaster and yet it seems like every response that has been coming out of the White House has been about the president rather than about the disaster. That is odd to me. That seems extremely odd."
Appearing on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports on Tuesday, Politico columnist Roger Simon described a recent interview with President Obama: "...he showed a genuine irritation....when people like Bobby Jindal, you know, standing up, screaming about more federal action...a small-government, no federal aid kind of guy. And the President is calling out those people for hypocrisy."
Simon was discussing a quote from Obama in that interview, in which the President whined: "Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying do something are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much." Apparently, asking the federal government to do its job in a national emergency but not take over people's health care is the liberal definition of hypocrisy.
Earlier, Mitchell asked Simon to preview the President's prime time address on the oil spill. Simon gushed: "...he's cool and collected about things but he also realizes that he has to break through that, and tonight is his chance. You know, speeches have never failed Barack Obama. They started his presidential career. They've always rescued him at tough times.... I think he wants to re-establish that personal bond he once had with voters." He could hardly wait for Obama's performance: "I think tonight we saw a preview of it in Pensacola. He likes to preview the speeches like opening a play out of town before you go to Broadway."
When asked what President Obama needs to do to prove to Americans that his administration is on top of the Gulf cleanup, Ed Schultz pressed that the President needs to call the shots and go "dictator" in his dealings with BP.
"I think the President has to make it very clear to the American people tonight, Chris, that we're not going to be stuck with the bill on this," Schultz said about the BP oil spill.
"When does the President become a dictator on this?" Schultz asked in an outburst. "When does the President start really calling the shots and saying 'This is the number. This is what you're going to pay. We're not going to let you off the hook.'?"
He sternly warned that BP will do its level best to escape having to pay the full cost of the oil spill cleanup, and implored the President to be frank with BP in demanding that they pay full restitution.