Obama transition

By Warner Todd Huston | January 29, 2009 | 3:43 AM EST

Politico reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel holds daily chit chat sessions with several Old Media pals every morning to start his day. Apparently Emanuel has for years been involved with daily bull sessions to plan media coverage and ideological strategy with CNN's James Carville and Paul Begala, as well as ABC's George Stephanopoulos, with the occasional participation of pollster Stan Greenberg. But there is one little problem with this daily palling around with mediots these days: Emanuel now works for the White House. [Image credit: politico.com]

As Politico's John Harris notes, "in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington’s prevailing political and media interpretation -- at least on the Democratic side -- is being hatched on these calls." In light of this early morning scheming, one has to wonder where the supposed autonomy of the media is if they are being programed by the Obama White House in off the record, secret and daily conversations? Where is their objectivity if these media mavens are all assisting Emanuel mold and shape the news to further a specific ideological goal?

By Warner Todd Huston | January 28, 2009 | 2:48 AM EST

The old joke about CNN in the 1990s was that it stood for the Clinton News Network. The current joke about the anti-Israel Associated Press is that AP stands for Allah Press. In the 70s, people joked that NBC really meant National Broadcasting for Communists. We've all heard the various joke acronyms before, of course. But, the presumed sentiment of the individuals working for these news agencies aside, these are just sarcastic jibes cast at journalists and the companies they work for. But, a current situation blurs the line between mere jokes and reality. Time Magazine has employed a photographer named Callie Shell that has apparently been doing double duty as both a "journalist" AND a member of team Obama, taking pictures subsequently sent out as official White House photos.

How is it that we can have someone thinking that bias cannot be presumed when that same person is working for both a news agency and at the same time for the subject of that news? Is the love that the press has for The One so blurred that they cannot see a difference between covering Obama and working for Obama?

By Tom Blumer | January 25, 2009 | 1:19 PM EST

I guess President Josiah Bartlet, the mythical president in The West Wing television series, would have been pleased. 

Jonathan Martin at Politico.com reports that the Obama Administration is concentrating lots of power at the top (bolds are mine):

West Wing on steroids in Obama W.H.

President Barack Obama is taking far-reaching steps to centralize decision-making inside the White House, surrounding himself with influential counselors, overseas envoys and policy "czars" that shift power from traditional Cabinet posts.

Not even a week has passed since he was sworn in, but already Obama is moving to create perhaps the most powerful staff in modern history – a sort of West Wing on steroids that places no less than a half-dozen of his top initiatives into the hands of advisers outside the Cabinet.

By NB Staff | January 24, 2009 | 10:10 AM EST
Sean Hannity debuted his “Media Mash” segment Friday night on his FNC show with NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham as the guest expert to comment on a series of clips, most familiar to NB readers, of the most sycophantic inaugural coverage. Under the “Morning Bias” heading, Hannity ran a bunch of sappy pro-Obama clips from Tuesday coverage, all of which NewsBusters has showcased:
ABC Enthuses Over 'New Face' of Obama; 'Driven by an Audacity to Hope'
ABC Touts Messages From Kids to Obama: Stop the Wars! Save the Earth!
CBS’s Smith: Obama Inauguration a ‘Sacred Event’
ABC: 'National Pride' Made Cold Feel Warmer as Seagulls 'Awed'
By Brent Baker | January 23, 2009 | 10:22 PM EST
ABC and CBS on Friday night delivered glowing assessments of President Barack Obama's first three days in office, with ABC's George Stephanopoulos declaring “this first week was disciplined and strategic” enabling “sweeping change.” Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer pronounced: “Change the tone and change it at warp speed.” CBS's Bob Schieffer relayed how “I think he's off to a very good start” and marveled at how -- given “the severity of the problems” -- any “human” could “live up to the expectations,” yet Obama “has laid out an ambitious program” and by closing Guantanamo and deciding to “outlaw torture” he “has told the world that we will practice what we preach.”

Admiring how Obama's discipline is meant to demonstrate he's “moving on all fronts to bring change,” Stephanopoulos trumpeted how on day one and day two he's used executive orders to bring “sweeping change to open government,” “sweeping change in foreign policy” and “then day three, today, two promises kept.”
By Brent Baker | January 22, 2009 | 10:26 PM EST

CNN's Campbell Brown on Thursday night framed a panel segment around Rush Limbaugh's comment that he wishes President Obama will fail if success means implementing socialist policies, a remark she characterized as matching his usual “outrageous” outbursts and which “has a lot of people crying foul out there.” Guest Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time magazine and the former political director at ABC News, then denounced Limbaugh as “off-key” from the “mainstream media” and “congressional Republicans” -- as it that's a bad thing -- and thus declared expressing the view “a big mistake.”

Brown played a clip of Rush Limbaugh telling FNC's Sean Hannity that he wants President Obama to fail, as Limbaugh wondered: “If his agenda is a far-left, collectivism -- some people say socialism -- as a conservative...why would I want socialism to succeed?” As if that were some sort of over the line concept, Brown asserted “outrageous [is] Limbaugh's stock and trade, but this has a lot of people crying foul out there.”

A lot of people in what Limbaugh dubs the “drive-by” media, apparently, as Halperin scolded Limbaugh for straying from the establishment's party line:

By Brent Baker | January 22, 2009 | 10:09 AM EST

ABC's World News on Wednesday night used limited news time to feature a silly piece with soundbites from naive kids around the world sputtering beauty pageant-like simplicities about how President Barack Obama will bring “world peace” and inspires them to say “yes, we can!” Reporter Jim Sciutto touted how “we heard children around the world expressing hope and fascination with the new American President.” Viewers heard a boy in Russia yearn for “peace, democracy and friendship” and a girl in the United Arab Emirates assert “he's interested in giving peace to the world and stopping wars,” all before a boy from Indonesia promised: “He's going to change the world and make world peace.” From Gaza, a kid hoped Obama will “prevent Israel from attacking us.”

From Pakistan, Sciutto relayed, “hope for an American President with a Muslim father.” A boy then wished “he can make the citizens of the U.S. recognize that we, not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims.” And what story on foreign reaction would be complete without input from France? A French girl: “I think that he may stop the war in Iraq. At least I hope he will.”

By Tim Graham | January 21, 2009 | 5:10 PM EST

On Inauguration Day, National Public Radio wanted to know how the Iraqi people would greet the American transition of power.

By Erin R. Brown | January 21, 2009 | 2:20 PM EST

The inauguration of the first African-American president is an historic affair, one that should be properly celebrated by all. But when the so-called "objective" network anchors begin comparing a routine political ceremony to a spiritual awakening, have they gone too far?

"Sacred." "Majesty." "Sacrament."  "Pilgrimage." These are words loaded with religious and spiritual meaning. And they're words used to describe the inauguration of President Barack Obama by CBS, NBC and ABC anchors on their evening and mornings news shows.

By Brent Baker | January 21, 2009 | 12:51 AM EST
Nightline's slug for its Tuesday night story about President Obama's inauguration: “America the Beautiful.”

With that iconic song title on screen over images of Barack Obama being sworn in as President, President Obama and Michelle Obama walking during the parade and views of the crowd, at the top of the program ABC's Terry Moran plugged a segment:
By Brent Baker | January 20, 2009 | 9:25 PM EST
Offering the most hyperbolic take of the night on the crowds who attended President Obama's inauguration, on World News ABC's Bill Weir delighted in wondering “can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer?” He decided it can indeed since “never have so many people shivered so long with such joy” while “from above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.” Weir was certainly awed.

Meanwhile, over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams must have been as awed as those seagulls since he contended he could “feel” the masses watching from around the nation: “While it was unfolding today here in Washington, you could feel the millions around the country who were watching it all.”
By Matthew Balan | January 20, 2009 | 6:19 PM EST

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in his latest heart-palpitation over the new era of Barack Obama, inadvertently let the cat out of the bag regarding his network’s transparent to court a left-wing audience.

“This is the network that has opened its heart to change -- to change and its possibilities. Let’s be honest about it. These -- these people watch this network out here,” Matthews gushed Tuesday morning.

Matthews’s co-anchor and fellow liberal Democrat Keith Olbermann, jokingly seconded his observation: “He’s Chris Matthews and he approved that message.” Matthews then made an indirect slam at Obama’s detractors: “We’re not crotchety about change -- stuffy” [audio available here].

Matthews’s latest gush came just before the bottom half of the 11 am Eastern hour of MSNBC’s coverage of the inauguration. He first remarked on the apparent giddiness of the mass of people in attendance for the swearing-in of the 44th president: “Well, there’s one thing you can’t see at home. I have never seen so many teeth in my life. Everybody is smiling. I mean, it’s all teeth out -- when you get close.” Olbermann responded with his first joke: “ A combination of smiling and the weather -- there’s chattering going on.” Matthews then continued about how the crowd seemed “radiant” and how they were “lucky enough to be in this business today, looking out the window here and getting the reaction when the crowd catches your eye. It is such a deal.”