The mainstream media seem to have boiled down the president's reaction to the Gulf spill to two caricatures: either he has failed to satiate public appetites by feigning outrage, or he is succeeding by acting angry. Whereas journalists rightly expected President Bush to do something about Katrina--and excoriated him when he supposedly didn't do enough--the media seem content listening to Obama speak.
That the president may not be doing everything in his power, like, say, meeting with the CEO of British Petroleum, seems not even to cross their minds. So the only critique of the president that remains is one of style. By focusing on what the president has said--rather than what he has done--and how he has said it, the media have diverted (albeit unintentionally) attention from the administration's actual response to the spill to its emotional and verbal response.
Obama and his predecessor both accepted responsibility for the spill and Hurricane Katrina, respectively. But the mainstream press took the former at his word; they rightfully held him accountable for his administration's actions. No such accountability is present in the media's reporting on Obama's response to the Gulf spill.
CNN anchor Dr. Sanjay Gupta refreshingly made an implicitly pro-life argument during a report about how toxic chemicals possibly affect the unborn children: "Here in the womb, enveloped in darkness and warmth, a baby's life begins in earnest. It is a sacred space: pristine, insulated, more than nine months of safe refuge from the world outside" [audio available here].
Dr. Gupta made that statement as he gave a voice-over for the first segment of his "Toxic Childhood" special, which first aired on Thursday evening at 8 pm Eastern. CGI of a baby in the womb played as he described the "sacred space." The anchor continued on this note in his first question to Dr. Frederica Perera of Columbia University: "We imagine a baby sort of nice and safe and tucked away in the womb, impervious to all the assaults that occur on the body. You say, not so fast?" So Gupta twice referred to the unborn human as a "baby."
MSNBC continued its defense of President Obama against “racist” critics Tuesday morning. The network’s show “Morning Joe” featured a panel of journalists discussing just how some opponents of President Obama’s agenda refuse to support him–because the President is either a Democrat or African-American.
After host Joe Scarborough and Time's Mark Halperin ripped the Drudge Report for its headline painting President Obama as “going street,” Dee Dee Myers and Norah O’Donnell jumped in to offer their two cents about racially-motivated oppositions to President Obama’s agenda.
First, Halperin mentioned poll numbers showing voters as distrustful of Obama’s ability to improve the economy from President Bush’s term.
“A lot of that is white working class voters who don’t have confidence in [Obama] because he’s a Democrat, but for some of them clearly also because he’s African-American,” Halperin said.
Scarborough then asked Myers, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, if race was an indeed an issue in the backlash against Obama in the BP Oil Crisis. “Yes,” Myers affirmed.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour claims that the media's coverage of the Gulf oil spill is doing far more damage to his state's economy than the spill itself.
"The coast is clear," Barbour quipped on Fox News Sunday. "The truth is we've had virtually no oil." Barbour criticized media coverage generally, and Fox in particular. Shep Smith, whose show airs at 4pm and 7pm on weekdays, has been one of the loudest voices reporting on the spill.
Barbour claimed the media are responsible for "the biggest negative impact" on Mississippi. "The average viewer on this show thinks that the whole coast from Florida to Texas is ankle deep in oil," he added, and "of course it's very, very bad for our tourist season."
The roundtable panel for today's Morning Joe took a stab at President Obama's frustration with the media for being critical of his BP oil spill response. The segment began with a clip of President Obama's testy, self-defensive comment to NBC's Matt Lauer, wherein the commander-in-chief blustered that he was determined to learn "whose ass to kick" for the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Time magazine political analyst Mark Halperin found the President's anger at the media "ironic" because, "no one in the modern era has ever gotten into the Oval office with the press as glowing as Barack Obama did. For him, this is a new experience." [WMV video available here; MP3 audio available here]
Host Joe Scarborough seemed to share Halperin's sentiments and argued that the President needed to "grow a layer of skin" because: "If you're a Republican politician and a member of the press doesn't come up and like slap you in the face when you come to Washington, you're grateful. You're like a beaten dog. You'll take whatever crumbs they throw you. This guy gets adulation for years, years, and he hates the press. I just don't get it."
What's really staggering is that while some in the mainstream media are starting to realize how much the press have gone easy on Obama, they're announcing these revelations with a sense of detachment from the problem, as though it’s merely an observation, not an indictment.
The following exchange was aired during the June 8 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
How's this for outside-the-box thinking - use nuclear explosives to stop the BP oil spill that is ravaging the Gulf Coast?
According to some of the panelist on Fox News Channel's "Forbes on Fox," using nuclear materials would be a more expeditious way to solve this calamity.
"That's right, nuke it." "Forbes on Fox" host David Asman said on the show's June 5 broadcast. "Some scientists do advocate this. The Soviets apparently succeeded in doing it. Here is the video they say actually shows it. And now some at ‘Forbes' agree, nuke it.
Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, was one of the strongest proponents of using nukes for fear that the relief well option could be thwarted by a hurricane.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research believes that oil from the leaking deep water rig in the Gulf of Mexico could impact much of America's East Coast by summer.
As reported by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Thursday, scientists using a detailed computer modeling program have created a video image of what they feel is possible in the coming months.
"'I've had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?'" says NCAR scientist Synte Peacock, who worked on the study. 'Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood'" (video follows with more of this report and commentary):
On the Wednesday edition of “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough attacked Republican political strategist Karl Rove for his critique of the Obama administration’s delayed response to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Scarborough was irate at the “hypocrisy” of the statement because during his time in New Orleans in the middle of Katrina, he recalled, “a lot of people keeping their mouths shut because they didn't want to criticize President Bush.” [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]
This outburst was in response to Karl Rove’s statement on Fox News that, “The president and his people are in charge of this under the Oil Spill Liability Act and they don’t have a plan.” Scarborough then hastily asserted, “Just keep your mouth shut. I'm not saying don't criticize the president, but if you were involved in Katrina, keep your mouth shut.”
Of course, during a post-Katrina interview with “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams, Scarborough felt no compulsion to keep his mouth shut in deference to the president. At the time, Scarborough asked if Williams found it an "ironic choice" to report “from a major American city where young children died of dehydration out on sidewalks, and now you've got the President of the United States delivering a speech to the nation from Jackson Square, an area largely untouched by Katrina's devastation.”
It was bound to happen and no one can really blame them for doing so, but someone eventually had to determine who the political winners and losers are for the tragic circumstances surrounding the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Looking forward to the upcoming election cycle, MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough determined the time was right to take a stab at it, although reluctantly on his June 2 broadcast.
"[W]e will stay with BP for one second but talk about presidential politics and I know this will be offensive to some people but it's just a reality that there is somebody in the White House, somebody in the Democratic Party, somebody in the Republican Party that's trying to figure out the political impact of this environmental tragedy. And we were talking with Chuck Todd last hour about how it ramps up when the oil starts washing on Florida shores, Chris. That makes this a much bigger political event in terms of presidential politics, like it or not."
Not letting a good crisis go to waste, MSNBC’s left-wing rabble-rouser Ed Schultz insisted on "Morning Joe" today that the BP oil spill reinforces the need for new legislation to restrict corporations from engaging in political speech.
“I really believe that this what is happening in the Gulf is a classic [example] of how we do need campaign finance reform,” implored Schultz. “It’s all interconnected.”
To provoke this remark, "Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist tossed Schultz a softball while plugging the liberal activist’s new book.
“One of the things you talk about a lot on your show and write about in the book is the relationship between money and politics,” declared Geist. “So what you have essentially, you could say, is a form of legalized bribery. I contribute to you, Senator Schultz, and you carry out my interests in Washington. What do we do to change that? We all know that’s the problem. We all know people are acting on behalf of corporations and not people.”
"It took about three days" after Katrina's landfall in New Orleans for the media to attack the Bush administration for acting "too little, too late," but after April's oil spill it took "about four weeks before you heard any criticism of any substance on the networks," Media Research Center's Rich Noyes told Fox's Clayton Morris on the Saturday, May 29 "Fox & Friends." Noyes and MRC analyst Kyle Drennen wrote about that double standard three days earlier on NewsBusters.
Playing devil's advocate, Morris noted that in the initial aftermath the damage of the BP oil well blowout was grossly underestimated, perhaps accounting for the lack of critical response by the media.
Noyes granted that point, but argued that only explains about "the first week or so" of the media's silence. In fact, it took normally partisan Democrats like James Carville coming out to complain about the Obama administration's reaction before the media took up the torch on the issue, when "it should be the other way around," the MRC Director of Research argued.
For the full interview, click on the play button in the embed at right.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell appeared again on last night's "Hannity" for the weekly look at the MSM's liberal pathology in a segment entitled "Media Mash."
The first topic: the liberal media are slowly waking up to the president's incompetent handling of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Mr. Bozell compared that to how it took a mere 72 hours after Katrina's landfall in New Orleans for the media to slam then-President Bush.
The NewsBusters publisher also addressed how Sam Donaldson compared Mexican President Felipe Calderon's scolding Arizonans for their anti-illegal immigration law to how President George H.W. Bush rebuked the Communist Chinese after the Tiananman Square Massacre.
For the full segment, click the play button on the embed above at right.
The front of Thursday's New York Times Home section is dominated by a photo illustration by Josef Astor of someone in a white hazmat suit, accompanying Penelope Green's long article on detoxifying her home: "Domestic Detox: Cleaning to Extremes." Here's the text box for flavor: "Your lovely scented candles are polluting the air and the shower's spewing pathogens. Now what?"
I kept looking for the wink, the sign that Green was being facetious, or at least half-facetious. It never came. The hook: She invited "building biology" consultant Matthew Waletzke into her home to skillfully play on her sheltered liberal urbanite fears.
When Matthew Waletzke appeared at the door of my East Village apartment to evaluate my home for what he calls "toxic exposure" -- the alternative world's catch-all phrase for potential health hazards like mold, indoor air pollution, household chemicals and electromagnetic radiation (beware your Wi-Fi!) -- I half-expected to see a guy in an "Andromeda Strain"-era hazmat suit.
I had called Mr. Waletzke not because I'd gone all radioactive, like Julianne Moore's character in "Safe," the 1995 movie directed by Todd Haynes about a woman who becomes allergic to her life, but because his specialty seems like an idea whose time has come.
Pollution, we're learning, is personal.Each year brings reports of a new domestic horror, from the medical waste in the municipal water to the carcinogenic bacteria sprouting in your shower head. Your child's sippy cup is leaching the endocrine disrupter BPA into his milk (let's not even think about what's in his nonflammable pajamas), and there are phthalates in your shampoo (also your sex toys). And if your (bleached, pesticide-soaked cotton) bedding doesn't kill you, your clock radio just might, say those who classify electromagnetic frequencies as carcinogens.
CNN's Anderson Cooper first defended the Obama administration's initial response to the Gulf oil leak and then criticized him from the left on Tuesday's AC360: "A month ago, it seemed like the federal government was on top of this. They were beating back claims...that this was Obama's Katrina." He later continued that "it doesn't seem like there's much pressure being applied to [BP], if it's there at all."
Cooper brought on CNN senior political analyst David Gergen and liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley for a panel discussion on the environmental disaster 25 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. The anchor included his apologetic of the early response by the administration in his first question to Gergen: "David, I mean, a month ago, it seemed like the federal government was on top of this. They were beating back claims by conservatives that this was Obama's Katrina, and now, it seems that may have been premature."
"When the oil slick first spread, we learned the Interior Department's chief of staff was rafting down the Grand Canyon, and now that it's reached our shores, the president is in California raising money for Barbara Boxer, while the head of the EPA makes plans to raise more campaign cash in New York City," said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee
"Clearly, this Administration's priorities are grossly misplaced when vacations and campaign fundraisers are more important than focusing on one of the greatest environmental disasters in our nation's history."
Clearly it's a GOP talking point, but still, after the media made so much out of Dubya's "heckuva job" comment, you'd think, for better or worse, that more blame would be placed at Obama's feet (Kanye West, call your office).
Doesn't everyone remember in 2005 when George W. Bush's Press Secretary Scott McClellan (bless his back-stabbing heart) called reporters into the West Wing of the White House and scolded them for asking too many questions about Hurricane Katrina? That followed a similar admonishment earlier in the year about the press's obsession with anything and everything to do with the Iraq War.
You don't remember those things? That's because they didn't happen. Oh sure, someone will be able to find examples of McClellan, as well as successors Tony Snow (RIP) and Dana Perino occasionally expressing irritation with reporters for their silly and/or repeat questions on these and other subjects. But summoning them to the West Wing for a beatdown? Hardly.
That's what Obama administration Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is said to have done last Friday with White House reporters. Here's the full text of audio that can be heard at Breitbart; a somewhat expanded text report, along with a the continually updated original graphic screen-grabbed and incorporated into the image at the top right, are at Capitol News Connection:
CBS and NBC on Tuesday night reached deep into a Washington Post story – specifically, the 20th paragraph of a 24-paragraph article – to pluck out a quote in order to demonstrate a “frustrated” President Barack Obama has been angry about the gulf oil spill. “A frustrated President Obama says ‘plug the damn hole,’” Katie Couric teased at the top of the CBS Evening News. She soon elaborated:
Frustration over the spill has been simmering for weeks, even in the Oval Office. We learned today that in the first days of this crisis an angry President Obama snapped at a meeting, quote: ‘Plug the damn hole.’ The President will head to the gulf coast on Friday, his second visit in about four weeks.
The NBC Nighty News plastered the quote on screen, as Brian Williams announced:
We also learn more today about the President's frustration. A Washington Post article saying President Obama bluntly told an aide in the Oval Office: ‘Plug the damn hole.’ That hasn't happened yet, but the President is heading back there Friday.
He may be out of office, but Cheney Derangement Syndrome lives on.
This time, and just like other times in the past, "The View" co-host and host of her own HLN show, Joy Behar used the BP oil spill to attack the Bush administration, specifically former Vice President Dick Cheney by suggesting he was really behind the oil spill. Her source - it was an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and aid to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson.
"There is a lot of blame to go around, obviously," Behar said on the May 25 broadcast of "The View." "But I was listening to this guy, Lawrence Wilkerson. Who was the -- he is now a retired army colonel and he worked with Colin Powell during the Bush administration. He was the undersecretary to him. And he says, and I quote him, ‘The whole oil spill can be laid at Cheney's feet.'"
What is it about oil spills that make liberals so slippery?
Come to think of it, this isn't fair. What is it about oil spills that make liberals more slippery than usual? There, that's better.
The fact that oil companies receive federal subsidies doesn't sit well with Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation magazine and occasional guest host on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show. Sitting in for Maddow on May 21, Hayes lambasted libertarian GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul for not condemning subsidies to the fossil-fuels industry --
HAYES: The very idea of government subsidies runs counter to the libertarian governing philosophy. And yet when they're in power, when conservatives are in power, reflexively pro-business conservatives have no problem with them. They chuck their supposedly principled free-market ideals right under the wagon the first time BP comes calling.
From the "Did I Say That Out Loud?" Department: "Crashing Vor" on the Daily Kos asserted on Tuesday morning that a good crisis should never go to waste. The Gulf oil spill must be exploited, and the greens must "use this moment, use the deaths of species and the suffering of people who depend on them, in the most cynical, calculated way, as bad as a Republican after 9/11, to make real, lasting change in how we address the costs of our way of life." That means a command-and-control "climate change" bill. Get it now, before stupid Americans lose interest:
There is only one possible redemption in this horror, and even that is a slim chance. If the enormity of what has happened in the Gulf can hold the country's atrophied attention long enough, and if we can mobilize fast enough, we might, just might, be able to bring about a positive change from this:
Real and comprehensive energy and climate legislation.
We must act now to force our legislators to write law with teeth and real effect, law that requires consumers pay the true price of the carbon they burn, law that requires business to pay the true price of the carbon they spew, law that includes the costs of things "no one could have anticipated" into the price of doing business.
It may have taken over a month, but media outlets are finally beginning to point some accusatory fingers at Barack Obama for his deplorable handling of the Gulf oil spill.
On Monday, WCBS-TV in New York actually asked the question, "Could the oil spill in the Gulf become for President Barack Obama what Hurricane Katrina became for President Bush?"
Reporter Marcia Kramer surprisingly answered, "Some in our area think so."
She then interviewed New Yorkers with negative views of how the man currently residing in the White House has handled this crisis (video available here, partial transcript and commentary follow, h/t PoliJAM):
On Monday’s Tonight Show on NBC, Meet the Press host David Gregory appeared as a guest, and, while Gregory seemed to initially defend Tea Party activists against suggestions by Jay Leno that the movement has had a double standard in its treatment of President Bush and President Obama, Gregory also questioned the ability of its members to take part in "governing" as he asked: "How do you have a movement predicated on not governing and then seek to govern?"
Gregory also seemed to agree when Leno asserted that deregulation policies, which he alleged that Tea Party activists endorse, have led to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
JAY LENO: Well, to me, BP is a perfect example. BP seems to have done this on their own. They don't pay attention. They essentially make their own rules because they pay off everybody. That's what the Tea Party wants. That's unregulated and look what happened.
DAVID GREGORY: Right, but in this case, right, you have a breakdown of regulations that led to getting contracts and their technology breaking down. But, right, I mean at some point, the government is the only entity that can clean up after a huge mess...
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, May 24, Tonight Show on NBC:
Bill O'Reilly on Monday offered an obviously satirical solution to the Gulf oil spill that has generated some ire from the usual suspects on the left: "stuff every member of NBC News in that hole."
As readers are well aware, the Fox News personality has had an ongoing war with General Electric and its television subsidiary over its dramatic left-leaning approach to covering the news.
With that in mind, while chatting with the folks from Fox & Friends by phone Monday about a variety of issues, O'Reilly made the following tongue-in-cheek remark when the subject of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico surfaced (video follows with partial transcript):
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interrogated BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles on the Gulf oil spill: "Can you can understand why a Congressman told us that BP has lost all credibility?" However, on Thursday, fellow co-host Harry Smith went easy on Energy Secretary Ken Salazar, allowing the Obama administration official to shift blame to the oil company.
Rodriguez pressed Suttles repeatedly: "But it seems like every day we hear new allegations that BP had been cutting corners beforehand....So many of these keep mounting. How can you keep responding to this?...are you confident that BP will survive this?"
In contrast, Smith never asked Salazar if the Obama administration could "survive" its failures in responding to the crisis. Instead, he gave the cabinet secretary every opportunity to go after BP: "...The CEO of BP says the environmental impact in the Gulf is going to be minimal. Is this guy in touch with reality?" As NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock noted on Thursday, hosts on both the ABC and NBC morning shows actually had some tough questions for Salazar.
"Although the Gulf spill has lowered the percentage of Americans who support offshore oil drilling, a new Pew Forum poll finds a stunning 54 percent still support it," an incredulous Erbe wrote, adding, "So it will take more than a major, irreversible environmental disaster to persuade gas glugging Americans to trade in their pickups for hybrids. I see."
To Erbe, it can't possibly be that average Americans are more even-keeled than their hot-headed, grandstanding congressmen who would capitalize on a disaster for crass political gain. No, it's that oil-addicted American idiots across the fruited plain just aren't following the example of their betters on the Hill:
Early Show's Harry Smith on Thursday conducted a softball interview with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, allowing the Obama official to pass the oil spill blame to BP. He tossed this easy question to the cabinet member: "...The CEO of BP says the environmental impact in the gulf is going to be minimal. Is this guy in touch with reality?"
In contrast, hosts on NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America grilled Salazar during similar segments on their shows. Surprisingly, it was GMA's George Stephanopoulos who most stridently demanded answers.
He complained, "You gave BP and other oil companies permits without getting the proper clearances. You failed to conduct four monthly inspections of the rig over the last year."
CNN founder Ted Turner, who thinks Christianity is a "religion for losers," apparently believes that the Gulf oil spill could actually be God sending us a message that drilling for oil is bad. Will media liberals read him the riot act as they have Sarah Palin for making similar claims?
"I'm just wondering if God's telling us he doesn't want us to drill offshore," Turner told a CNN interviewer. Recent coal mine disasters, Turner said, may also be signs that "the Lord's tired of having the mountains of West Virginia -- the tops knocked of of 'em so they can get more coal. Maybe we ought to just leave the coal in the ground and just use solar and wind power."
So far the legacy media have been completely silent on Turner's claims (shown in a video below the fold), in stark contrast to Sarah Palin's statement that the construction of an Alaska natural gas pipeline was God's will.
... Sure looks like it, based on what Maddow said on her MSNBC program during separate shows last week.
Here's Maddow on May 12 talking about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, congressional hearings on the disaster, and "climate change legislation" --
MADDOW: In the shadow of the BP oil disaster, jaw-dropping hearings, senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman introduced climate change legislation in the Senate today, the American Power Act. Among other things it includes subsidies for offshore oil drilling. Subsidies, taxpayer subsidies. These oil companies already don't pay federal royalties on anything that they drill out there. But how about expanded taxpayer subsidies for them to do it too, to do it more? This is, not to put too fine a point on it, our oil. And yet we're paying them to drill it and then we're not collecting a percentage from it, even though it's ours and even though we bear the environmental disaster risk whenever anything goes wrong.
All of a day later, Maddow's dubious assertion about oil companies not paying royalties to the federal government for offshore drilling was undermined by an unlikely source, one of her guests Thursday night, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
Imagine that a few months after a new president takes office, his administration approves an offshore oil well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico. It is to be run by BP, whose employees were very generous donors to the president's campaign. The oil company airily dismisses the possibility of a catastrophic leak that might destroy the coastline. Nearly a year later, the president-to the dismay of his environmentalist supporters-says he wants to greatly expand offshore drilling. Soon after that, the BP well explodes, and oil spews into the gulf. It's clear to everyone that the blowout is a major catastrophe, requiring a federal mobilization. But the president's initial response is to say, in effect: do not worry, BP will pay for the cleanup. Eleven days pass before he goes to survey the scene...Imagine the reaction of Washington-the media, Congress, the "national conversation"-if the president wasn't Obama but George W. Bush. "We would be under siege," says Dan Bartlett, who was communications director in the Bush years. "There'd be calls for special prosecutors, investigations everywhere. The focus wouldn't be on what was happening out in the gulf-it would be on what happened in the West Wing."