Long-time PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, the first host of the 2008 fall presidential debates, is dead serious about his utter lack of bias. Appearing November 27, 2006 on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Lehrer insisted with a very straight face that “I am bias-free....Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story, not what the journalist brings to the reporting.” When Colbert insisted Lehrer must add some flavor, straight-faced Lehrer declared his contribution was “the flavor of neutrality.”
Lehrer can offer a different flavor. During live coverage of the Democratic convention on August 25, he gauzily reacted to Jimmy Carter’s florid praise of Barack Obama’s race speech in March: “If it happens that he is elected, or even his just being nominated, will send positive ripple effects throughout the country on the race issue.”
CMI Director Robert Knight appeared on Fox News Live on Friday morning to discuss the key role that character played in the presidential primary debates, a major finding from CMI's latest report, "‘Character,' the Most Important Issue in the Presidential Debate."
"Character was the big factor. A third of the questions were directed at trying to find out whether the candidates had leadership, honesty, integrity, and courage qualities. We were surprised at that. We were not surprised to find that the democrats faced twice the number of softball questions as did the Republicans."
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts" the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, once said. Apparently, the ladies of "The View" disagree. Debating which presidential nominee has better judgment, Whoopi Goldberg once again forwarded the myth that the Bush administration completely ignored Afghanistan and focused instead on Iraq.
"President Bush came over here to New York City and said we’re going to go get the people who did this to us. He did not go get the people who did this to us. He went to Iraq. Now that’s not where the people were. They were in Afghanistan. [applause] Now how do you miss that? So none of this has worked."
To repeat the same history lesson to Whoopi, the Bush administration began military operations in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, less than a month after the attacks of September 11. The invasion of Iraq did not commence until March 19, 2003, and even then and to this day, a sizeable military force remains in Afghanistan.
John McCain got involved in the bailout negotiations after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Sen. Lindsey Graham yesterday that the bailout plan would fail unless McCain came in and brought balky Republicans aboard. That's what Bob Schieffer reported on this morning's Early Show. Schieffer's account stands in stark contrast with the allegation by Dems like Barney Frank and their MSM cohorts that McCain's moves of yesterday were nothing more than a political "stunt."
Here was Schieffer speaking with the Early Show's Maggie Rodriguez at 7:05 AM EDT today:
BOB SCHIEFFER: I am told, Maggie, that the way McCain got involved in this in the first place, the Treasury Secretary was briefing Republicans in the House yesterday, the Republican conference, asked how many were ready to support the bailout plan. Only four of them held up their hands. Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you've got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you've got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don't do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that's how, McCain, apparently, became involved.
It might not do John McCain any good politically. But once in a while, it's refreshing to hear an MSMer called out on political bias.
It happened this morning when John McCain told Mika Brzezinski "I know you're a supporter of Senator Obama." Mika resorted to her favorite defense to the bias charge, mentioning that she has a brother who works on the McCain campaign and asking the Arizona senator to "say hello" to him for her. Just for good measure, McCain called Mika's tactic "a cheap shot."
It was Mika's question about campaign ads that touched things off . . .
Tom Brokaw had his Pauline Kael moment on MSNBC this morning. Though the story might be apocryphal, the late New Yorker film critic is famously credited with saying she was shocked by Nixon's 1972 victory, since everybody she knew had voted for McGovern.
Here's Brokaw on today's "Morning Joe," discussing the importance of the upcoming debates.
TOM BROKAW: Debates should be judged on two big counts: tonal and substance. You know, are you comfortable with this person? Look, everybody believes that on debating points, John Kerry probably beat George Bush, the 43rd, the last time around. But people liked Bush.
Joe Biden appeared this morning on Meet the Press, moderated by Tom Brokaw. In the opening series of questions, Brokaw probed Biden about the effect of Governor Sarah Palin's inclusion in the presidential campaign.
Brokaw asked generally how Biden would handle his upcoming debate with Palin, underscoring his question with the premise that it might be a delicate situation debating a woman. Biden responded with a rambling answer in which he stated that he debates women all the time in the U.S. Senate and had previously run against a formidable female opponent in one of his Delaware Senate races. Biden went on to say that he would have an easier time debating vice presidential runners-up Tom Ridge and Mitt Romney since he was familiar with their policy positions. Biden said he did not know Governor Palin's policy positions (video here).
BIDEN: ... what is new is I have no idea what her policies [are]. I assume they're the same as John's. I just don't know.
Biden further claimed he had not seen Palin's entire RNC speech (only the ending).
On Sunday’s Meet the Press, during an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, NBC host Tom Brokaw brought up Barack Obama’s recent declaration at the Saddleback Forum that the question of "at what point does a baby get human rights," is "above my pay grade." After playing the relevant clip of Obama from the August 16 candidates forum, Brokaw asked of Pelosi: "Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, ‘Help me out here, Madame Speaker, when does life begin?’ what would you tell him?"
After Pelosi, labeling herself as an "ardent Catholic," avoided giving a straight answer, and contended that "over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition," Brokaw jumped in: "The Catholic Church, at the moment, feel very strongly it begins at the point of conception."
Ed Morrissey writes about Pelosi's response to Brokaw's question, and includes video here.
It’s no secret that Bill Maher, the host of the HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher," loathes religion. He came under fire earlier this year for slandering Pope Benedict XVI.
On Tuesday night, CNN’s Larry King gave Maher another chance to smack Christianity, which Maher called “detrimental” and “the ultimate hustle.”
Maher was on "Larry King Live" to promote his latest vehicle, the film "Religulous," which is due to open October 3. "Religulous," which reportedly takes aim at all religions, was supposed to be released around Easter of this year. It had been called a documentary previously but Maher is now selling it as a comedy. Larry King opened his interview with Maher by praising the movie but noted that it will offend people.
Billed as a roundtable, it played more like a group therapy session for distraught Dems on the verge. Obama's polls dropping. An inchoate sense this might all be slipping away. Chris Matthews and his guests for the show-ending "Politics Fix" on this evening's Hardball were united in bemoaning Barack's plight. The host himself was the ultimate downer, analogizing Obama's campaign to that of . . . Michael Dukakis.
Matthews fellow sufferers were Jeff Johnson, host of The Truth on BET, and Salon.com editor Joan Walsh.
Not that there was any doubt that McCain walked away the winner from Rick Warren's forum, but when David Shuster cracks that Obama was lucky not too many people were watching . . . Subbing for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball, Shuster kibitzed Saddleback with Dem Steve McMahon and Republican Todd Harris. Shuster made his surprising remark at segment end.
DAVID SHUSTER: I think it also revealed that John McCain's going to be a much better debater than a lot of people think. And maybe also in some sense, Barack Obama is lucky in a way that Saturday night was Michael Phelps' night and not a night when a lot of people were paying attention to politics.
A bit later, Shuster used Phelps to work in an obligatory swipe at President Bush. After rolling tape of a clearly-excited Phelps mentioning that it was "pretty cool" that the president had taken pictures with him at the pool after the 400 individual medley race, Shuster pounced: "even cooler for the president, who's probably happy that someone popular wanted to get a picture with him."
Andrea Mitchell's floating of the Obama-camp accusation that John McCain cheated by overhearing Obama's responses at the Saddleback forum, as NewsBuster D.S. Hube reported, isn't the first time the NBC correspondent has made herself propagator-in-chief of Obama's conspiracy theories. As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has now written NBC to protest Mitchell's behavior. Here's an excerpt from his letter to NBC News president Steve Capus [emphasis added]:
[I]nstead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.
In asserting a "pattern" of such behavior by Mitchell, what did Davis have in mind? Almost surely it included a very similar stunt that Mitchell pulled in connection with Obama's cancellation of his planned visit to injured troops while in Germany for his speech in Berlin. As I noted here at the time, Mitchell passed along the Obama camp's unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that McCain had pulled strings with Pentagon buddies to have them withdraw permission for the visit.
Many of you are aware of the kerfuffle surrounding the "cone of silence" complaint being ginned up by the Obama campaign after the recent Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency on Saturday, August 16. The claim made by Obama and his willing accomplices in the Old Media (like Andrea Mitchell, not to mention the DailyKos) is that John McCain "cheated" by hearing the questions proffered to Obama, who was first up to be questioned by moderator Rick Warren. McCain's answers were just too glib, the Obama meme posits, so he must have heard the questions ahead of time instead of being placed in an area off stage where he could not hear the proceedings. Yes, they are saying he cheated.
On Sunday, August 17, The New York Times did its level best to assist the Obama campaign to further that mistaken conception -- well, all right, that outright lie -- even as they debunked the story. How? By making their headline seem to support the Obama claim that McCain cheated, that's how.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Defeat it. Couple of points. One, if I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that and I know how to do it. I will get that done.
MR. GREGORY: Andrea Mitchell, that's a pretty clear contrast.
MS. ANDREA MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there was the crisp, immediate, forceful response by John McCain, clearly in a comfort zone because he was with his base. And Barack Obama, taking a risk in going there but seeing an opportunity. And a much more nuanced approach. The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that -- what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.
First, it publishes an article about how the McCain campaign feels the New York Times editors are like a blogger "sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."
Then, a few hours later, it publishes a piece about presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama being afraid to debate McCain in a town hall format.
Honestly, with fair and balanced coverage like this from America's leading wire service, who needs Fox News? (emphasis added throughout, photo courtesy Weekly Standard):
It seems Barack Obama had a "senior moment" on Wednesday during his trip to Israel regarding which Senate committees he is a member of. On the same day's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the "Fox All Stars" segment, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes called out Obama for his claim, which the Illinois Senator made while trying to impress Israeli reporters, that he is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, as he took credit for the passage of legislation regarding Iran. Barnes: "[Obama] was trying to brag about how tough he was on the Iranians, and he said his committee, the Senate Banking Committee, had passed a resolution ... that would have caused American firms to divest of Iranian interests. And the trouble is, he's not on that committee. ... And he didn't vote for it. That would be a senior moment if McCain did it."
Indeed, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs membership roster does not list Obama's name. But during a news conference, which aired live Wednesday morning during CNN Newsroom, Obama seemed to embellish his resume: "Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon." (Transcripts follow)
McClatchy Newspapers won the MRC’s 2008 Dan Rather Award for the Stupidest Analysis for its article spinning the success of the troop surge in Iraq as bad news for Iraqi gravediggers. Apparently the editors are aiming for a repeat performance at next year’s program.
In his June 26 article, writer Stephen Thomma, on the recently released debate proposal by the Commission on Presidential Debates, found a stature problem for the Illinois senator should he agree to sit-down townhall debates.
Here’s the relevant excerpt from "Under Debate Plan, Obama Loses Height Advantage":
Poor Katie Couric. She's been stuck in a ratings rut since taking over the "CBS Evening News" anchor slot and has been rumored to be departing the Eye network. Now comes more bad news for the former morning star: Barack Obama has begged off on CBS's North Carolina debate.
That leaves Couric as the sole broadcast news anchor who hasn't moderated a debate this cycle. That isn't likely to change either since general election debates are usually Jim Lehrer's province. Couric isn't the only CBSer who's disappointed:
"It's a shame because the debates have been interesting and appealing to the audience, and because I think Katie would have done a really good job," CBS senior vice president Paul Friedman told the New York Times.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, though. After Obama's dreadful performance in the most recent ABC debate it's no wonder he canceled. Still, you have to wonder how this makes Couric feel about her position at CBS. Will I have to make a CBS-Couric breakup image sometime soon?
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed worried by Hillary Clinton's pledge during Wednesday's debate that "if Iran attacks Israel, apparently Senator Clinton is going to order massive retaliation." Olbermann suggested Clinton had "set herself up as an imperial President waiting to happen." After the MSNBC host contended that Clinton's pledge "may be further to the right than the Bush administration," liberal talk radio host/MSNBC analyst Rachel Maddow further charged that an "immediate threat by Iran" was merely "invented by neo-cons." Maddow: "Hillary Clinton, of course, put an exclamation point on it by talking about poleaxing our entire approach to foreign policy in order to counteract this immediate threat by Iran, which has been invented by the neo-cons." (Transcript follows)
Referring to the debate, Olbermann teased the April 17 Countdown show: "The only real news, if Iran attacks Israel, apparently Senator Clinton is going to order massive retaliation. Did she set herself up as an imperial President waiting to happen?"
The Media's Reaction to George and CharlieCall it the Audacity of Journalism.
ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos slipped and let a bit of actual reporting seep into their Democrat Presidential debate moderation efforts on April 16. They mistakenly engaged in fifty minutes worth of pertinent inquiry, largely regarding the patriotic perspectives and numerous troubling relationships of Illinois Senator Barack Obama -- and to a lesser extent examining the fact that New York Senator Hillary Clinton has a Herculean ability to create her Living History out of whole cloth.
The response from the Left has been withering and unremitting.
When it comes to news, much as comedy, timing is everything -- and it's clear the good folks at the New York Times don't have it.
On Saturday, the Times published an op-ed by graphics director Charles M. Blow carping and whining about the now infamous Democrat presidential debate broadcast on ABC Wednesday, and, in particular, that no time was spent talking about climate change.
Well, Charles, maybe that's because in an ABC poll that was embargoed until 11:35 PM Thursday, exactly ZERO respondents felt global warming was the single most important issue in their choice for president.
Alas, that didn't prevent Blow from blowing his top concerning the matter (emphasis added, h/t Chris Horner):
The left-wing blogosphere's outrage against ABC ["Boycott Fig Newtons!"] over its allegedly unfair questioning of Obama during Wednesday's debate has seeped over into the MSM in the form of Derrick Z. Jackson's Boston Globe column of this morning. While the headline moots the matter in the interrogative "Tough questions or just plain bias?", there's no doubt as to the answer in Jackson's mind. Just two paragraphs in, the columnist unleashes [emphasis added]:
In some 1,600 words of transcript, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos tried to eviscerate Obama in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
The liberal outrage over Wednesday's Democrat presidential debate on ABC continues to mount.
On Friday, billionaire George Soros's MoveOn.org published a petition at its website, along with a video (embedded right), asking Americans to protest "[debate] moderators [that] abuse the public trust every time they ask trivial questions about gaffes and 'gotchas' that only political insiders care about."
The following text hysterically accompanies the petition:
Despite the liberal media’s outrage over ABC’s handling of the Democratic debate, ABC’s "The View" had no criticism. On the April 17 edition, Barbara Walters actually praised Gibson and Stephanopoulos for the tough questions. She also noted the candidates made "some very important points...that we have not heard before." Even reliably left wing partisan Joy Behar, also an ABC employee, had no criticisms.
Discussing Charlie Gibson’s question if the winner of the nomination will pick the runner up as a running mate, Joy Behar finally discovered that the Constitution originally awarded the second place finisher to the vice presidency. Did Behar learn this through extensive research or just simply reading the Constitution? Nope. She acquired this knowledge from watching HBO.
BEHAR: I’ve been watching the "John Adams" miniseries on HBO I believe, or Showtime. And in those days, the president, who was elected by the Electoral College, got to be the president. And the second, who got the second most votes, was automatically the vice president.
GOLDBERG: Which is what I said months ago.
BEHAR: So that really is very American from the founding fathers to the-
The continuing left-wing furor over George Stephanopoulos's perfectly valid question about Barack Obama's associations with a known terrorist reminded me of something I wanted to blog earlier in the week before it erupted: an admission of a leftward bias on the part of the media from BET founder Bob Johnson.
Interviewed by the Charlotte Observer Tuesday, Johnson said that the "liberal media" want Obama to win, partly out of racial pandering but also because he is more liberal than Hillary Clinton (whom Johnson supports).
"They sort of dislike Hillary for her vote on the war. They don't want to see Bill and Hillary in power again," Johnson is quoted as saying. "So Obama comes in and runs a smart campaign. But that's not the Second Coming, in my opinion, of John F. Kennedy, FDR or the world's greatest leaders."
Reporting that “ABC News is getting hammered by the mainstream and liberal media,” as if they aren't the same, FNC's Brit Hume led his Thursday “Grapevine” segment with examples of the left-wing outrage over Barack Obama being pressed at Wednesday's debate on subjects the media consider off limits. Hume highlighted how “the left-leaning Washington Post TV writer Tom Shales said anchors, quote 'Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos turned in shoddy, despicable performances,'” (Noel Sheppard's earlier post on Shales).
Hume proceeded to note how Greg Mitchell, Editor of the Editor & Publisher trade magazine, “said it was quote, 'perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years.'” Naturally, Keith Olbermann brought him aboard Thursday's Countdown to expound further.