In a like vein as the story I posted a few days ago showing Reuters helping cover for Obama by lowering expectations, a trio of stories -- two from McClatchy and one from the AP -- prove to be little more than empty Obama boostering with little worth as news, though the AP piece at least comes close to being newsworthy. Unfortunately, this is the sort of empty reporting that has become du jour for the Old Media. It's the media's covering for the Clinton's all over again, yet 10-times more intense.
CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, whom President-elect Barack Obama has reportedly asked to take an administration post as Surgeon General and top health policy adviser, last year thought it noteworthy that the release of John McCain's medical records ignored the Senator's “mental health,” any “mention of post-traumatic stress disorder” or of “substance abuse.” Back in 2004, upon Ronald Reagan's passing, Gupta took to CNN to give legitimacy to claims of how throughout his presidency “many would accuse President Reagan of ignoring AIDS.” Gupta falsely charged that “the first time President Reagan would utter the word AIDS in public would be well into his second term, six years after the virus was discovered.”
The jump would take Gupta full circle back to activist liberal politics and policy-making. “He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton,” the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly and Howard Kurtz recalled in a story for Wednesday's paper (“Obama Picks TV's Gupta for Medical Post”) which relayed that in addition to the Surgeon General slot “he has also been offered a top post in the new White House Office of Health Reform, twin duties that could make him the most influential Surgeon General in history.” The Post article also noted that Gupta, who joined CNN in 2001 and has since also reported for CBS News, “met for more than two hours with Obama in Chicago on Nov. 25.”
Appearing on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, author Ann Coulter promoted her new book, ‘Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America’ by demonstrating how co-host Harry Smith contributed to liberal victimhood when he asked Ted Kennedy about the possibility of an Obama assassination in a January 29, 2008 interview: "...everyone talking about as if Obama is at some unique risk for assassination...you kept saying things like I am thinking of a word and it begins with the letter 'A.' And Teddy Kennedy was refusing to understand what you were saying..."
NewBusters’ Mark Finkelstein first reported Smith’s exchange with Kennedy. Smith asked the Massachusetts Senator: "...sometimes agents of change end up being targets, as you well know, and that was why I was asking if you were at all fearful of that." In her book, Coulter remarked on Smith’s interview: "Kennedy may be a drunken slob, but unlike CBS News anchors, he is not certifiably insane."
During the Tuesday exchange with Coulter, Smith defended asking the question: "A friend of mine who's a liberal -- who was a liberal talk show host in Denver was gunned down in his front yard. He was assassinated. I stood in front of the Murrah Federal Building. I have looked hate in the eye. I know that there are people in this country who would be interested in the death of not only Barack Obama but any president. That was a legitimate question to ask Ted Kennedy." Smith then asked Coulter: "You don't think as an African-American, that he was at some greater risk?"
ABC reporter David Wright on Tuesday appeared on "Good Morning America" and charitably compared Illinois Senator-designate Roland Burris to the title character of Frank Capra's classic film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." At the same time, Wright suggested that the Senate leadership, which plans on blocking the entry of Burris, might unfavorably be linked to Ronald Reagan's former Secretary of State, Al Haig.
After asserting that the potential senator, appointed by scandal-ridden Governor Rod Blagojevich, "is being treated like a tourist," Wright made his movie analogy. He explained, "Not since Mr. Smith came to Washington in that old Frank Capra film has an idealistic senator appointed by a corrupt party boss been so unwelcome at the capitol. But at least Mr. Smith got his seat." He added that "the leadership clearly hopes Burris will come off as presumptuous, as Secretary of State Al Haig did after Ronald Reagan was shot."
Barack Obama nominates someone to head the CIA whose major qualification is his inexperience. Even Democrats are dismayed. John Travolta's son, sadly, died. So in its crucial first half-hour this morning, the Early Show naturally devotes almost five minutes to the Travolta story while ignoring the controversy surrounding Leon Panetta's appointment. Far from revealing that even senior Dems like Senators Feinstein and Rockefeller have signalled their displeasure over the naming of Panetta, CBS' Chip Reid painted the pick as a sign of how Obama is briskly taking charge. Here was the sum total of the Early Show's discussion of the matter:
CHIP REID: He may not be Commander-in-Chief just yet. But Mr. Obama is wasting no time, on Monday picking former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the CIA, and retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence.
CNN correspondent Joe Johns’ report on Monday’s American Morning heaped praise upon Sidwell Friends School, the new school for the Obama daughters. Johns read from one of the school’s own mission statements about its “Quaker values” and later described how President-Elect Obama apparently “often seems in tune with Quaker principles -- seeking consensus with others; talking rather than fighting with opponents; and, at least in the case of Iraq, if not Afghanistan, opposing war even when the majority supports it.” The correspondent also featured three clips from The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn, who gushed over school: “Sidwell is a happy school....it can be a really magical place.”
Johns began introducing Sidwell Friends as “among the elite private schools in Washington,” and set the laudatory tone of the report by playing the first clip from Quinn, who described the school as “very much about peace and community” and that it’s “very progressive.” He continued by highlighting how “the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now.”
Various "Good Morning America" hosts and reporters on Monday glowingly commented on the first day of school for young Sasha and Malia Obama at posh private institution Sidwell Friends. At the same time, they ignored the contradiction of President-elect Barack Obama opposing vouchers which would allow poor inner-city children in Washington D.C. to do the same thing.
Instead, reporter Claire Shipman cooed over Sidwell Friends and the exciting opportunities awaiting the Obama children. Speaking of ten-year old Malia and the school, she enthused, "It's an award winning, entirely green building, complete with organic lunches, one of the many things that appealed to her and her family." Regarding Sidwell Friends, which costs over $30,000 a year to attend, Shipman touted, "Seven-year-old Sasha has a 25-minute trip to the lower school campus in Bethesda, Maryland where the emphasis is on Quaker values." At no time did Shipman, or any other host in the three segments that followed, mention Obama's opposition to school choice programs and vouchers.
In its opening half-hour, Good Morning America found time to tell us—twice—that Pres.-elect Obama choked up with emotion as he viewed his packed-up old home. But somehow ABC never got around to mentioning that a possible pay-to-play scheme was behind Bill Richardson's bye-bye as Commerce Secretary nominee.
After the show-opening roll in which the president elect was shown heading to DC, Robin Roberts literally bounced in her co-anchor's chair: "so excited, so excited, so excited . . . It's a new day, new year, new everything going on." Added Diane Sawyer helpfully: "And a president-elect." "Yes," concurred Robin, as if it wasn't clear that's what her excitement was really all about.
Then came the first mention of the Pres.-elect getting misty. Roberts: "He was home alone in Chicago. And one of Malia's friends came over and had a little scrapbook that he wanted delivered to his ten-year old, and he was flipping through it, and I would imagine, got a little choked up." When senior political correspondent Jake Tapper came on, he provided crucial additional details about the warm and fuzzy moment, complete with a clip of the president-elect recounting the story to reporters. But Tapper gave short shrift to the Richardson matter, and, appearing later, George Stephanopoulos was equally tight-lipped.
ABC anchor Dan Harris led Sunday night's World News with Commerce-nominee Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal, but framed the story around worries over Richardson becoming a “distraction” from Barack Obama's agenda. George Stephanopoulos, however, assured him it will only “be a blip.” Harris recited how “Obama is facing trouble abroad, trouble at home, and now trouble in his own cabinet.” So, “this is another major challenge” for the besieged Obama, Harris empathized, “at a time when the economy is reeling and war is raging between the Israelis and Palestinian militants.”
Following a report from Jake Tapper, Harris went to George Stephanopoulos: “Obama's coming into office with a very ambitious agenda, and if you add together what's going on with Richardson right now with the Blagojevich scandal, is that going to be a distraction in the key early days?” Stephanopoulos assured him, given all the issues on Obama's agenda including “the panoply of national security challenges he's going to face when he takes office,” that “this is likely to be a blip.”
Reuters ran a little flak for Barack Obama trying to help dull the outrageous expectations placed on The One by his irrationally exuberant adherents in theirs headlined "Congress faces historic challenges" -- As if no other Congress has faced "historic challenges" before? Reuters assures us, though, that times are so bad that we should not expect Obama to live up to any of his outlandish promises. This way, of course, if Obama reneges on them, the Old Media can remind everyone that it’s really our fault for expecting too much, not Obama's for reneging.
Naturally, we get the kind of Bush-is-worst rhetoric we expect from Reuters but we also find that Reuters seems to have forgotten that Congress itself has even lower ratings than does Bush. And Reuters starts off the story conveniently forgetting that the Democrats have controlled Congress since 2006.
During a report on Friday’s Situation Room, CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen failed to mention the left-wing affiliation of the “activists” who were protesting near the Chicago home of President-elect Barack Obama. She only labeled them as “pro-Obama” and that they “promote a list of campaign promises they want Obama to remember -- promises to bring the troops home, to stop foreclosures, to make a plan for universal health care.”
Roesgen’s short report, which began 36 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, began with a description of the tight security outside Obama’s home, and how “anyone who wants to make a political statement is pretty much pushed off to the side.” She described the group of people making the demonstration as “small in number, big in spirit.”
The CNN correspondent went on to describe the “activists” and their agenda:
Filing his January 2 Style section front-pager, "Hawaii's Still Waters Run Deep for the President-elect," staffer Philip Rucker made clear all he needs in life are some cool waves and a tasty Obama buzz:
HONOLULU -- In his two weeks in Hawaii, Barack Obama has oozed island cool: the black shades and khaki shorts, the breezy sandaled saunter that suggested he had not a care in the world. Who said anything about the presidency?
He strolled shirtless near the beach, enjoyed a shave ice and a local seaweed-wrapped delicacy called Spam musubi. One day, the president-elect flashed the friendly "shaka" sign, shaking his pinky and thumb in a local surfing gesture.
Has Paul Krugman become print's version of Keith Olbermann?
After you read his column published by the New York Times Friday in which he called Republicans "a party of whiners" that forty years ago "decided, in effect, to make itself the party of racial backlash," there may be little doubt.
Readers are advised to strap themselves in tightly, for Krugman appears to have woken up New Year's day with a vicious hangover, and the target of his disaffection was anyone with an "R" next to his or her name (emphasis added):
Ain't this post-racial period great? Here we have one of the more famous members of the Black Congressional Caucus accusing Senate Democrats of threatening to act like Orville Faubus, George Wallace and perhaps the most iconic of segregationists, Bull Connor.
Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther who is now a congressman from Chicago, levelled his accusation on the CBS Early Show this morning in reaction to the letter signed by all 50 Senate Democrats declaring that they would not seat Roland Burris, the African-American that Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday named to take Barack Obama's Senate seat.
On Tuesday morning’s Today show, NBC substitute anchor Lester Holt and correspondent Savannah Guthrie all but expressed regret over President-Elect Barack Obama having to make an “adjustment” -- not being able to “just pick up and go anytime he wants” due to “not just Secret Service, but a traveling corps of journalists now follows his every move, even in Hawaii.” Guthrie reported on the “signs Obama is growing a bit frustrated with all the attention.” The on-screen graphic accompanying her report inflated this apparent frustration on the part of future chief executive: “Man in a Bubble: Obama Chafes at Constant Scrutiny.”
Holt introduced Guthrie’s report with a lament over Obama’s seeming predicament: “He may not be president yet, but Barack Obama is getting an early taste of what life as leader of the free world is really like -- a lack of freedom, and an entourage documenting his every move.” Guthrie then began her report along a similar line: “Obama came here to Hawaii to get away from it all -- get one last vacation in before becoming president. But even here, he can’t just pick up and go anytime he wants, and that’s been quite an adjustment for the president-elect.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge seemed to feel sorry for Barack Obama having to withstand the media spotlight while vacationing in Hawaii: "Coming up, life in the media bubble. How is Barack Obama adjusting to the press following his every move?" However, as correspondent Ben Tracy later reported, that spotlight is not exactly harsh: "Tours of Obama's childhood stop at the apartment building where he grew up, a favorite lunch hangout, and the ice cream store where he had his first job. Tourist shops are also riding the Obama wave. The soon-to-be president is already a global celebrity."
Tracy began the reported by lamenting: "...the other day, the president-elect just wanted to eat his tuna sandwich. This vacation has been a bit of a reality check as to how little privacy Obama now has...He at times bristles at the constant media coverage...Yet at others, offers to buy reporters dessert." Tracy concluded the report by declaring: "And the media's trying to strike a balance between covering the person who's about to be the most powerful man in the world and also giving him his space to just be himself."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez introduced a segment on 2008 politics and declared: "The end of 2008 brings to a close one of the most exciting and historic years in national politics." At the top of the story, Mike Allen of the Politico explained what made the year so exciting: "2008 was the year that Barack Obama re-wrote the book on American politics."
The segment was comprised of various clips of campaign coverage, with the majority centered around Obama. In one clip, following an Obama primary victory, Early Show co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "The polls may have predicted it. It was still no less a breath-taking win for Barack Obama."
The most time in the segment given to the McCain campaign focused on mocking Sarah Palin, including a clip of Katie Couric asking Palin what newspapers she read and Rodriguez declaring: "The McCain campaign under fire for spending $150,000 on clothes and accessories." A clip of Tina Fey impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live was played, after which Allen remarked: "Never again will a presidential nominee pick a vice president who is identical to one of the greatest comedians in the country." Meanwhile, no clips of Joe Biden’s numerous gaffes were shown.
Taking adulation of Barack Obama on a looney left trip through idolization of Mikhail Gorbachev (Obamagasm + Gorbasm = Obamagorbabasm?), far-left Boston Globe columnist James Carroll dreamed that Obama will fulfill Gorbachev's 1988 pledge to achieve “the demilitarization of international relations” and change the world “from an economy of armament to an economy of disarmament.” In his Monday column, “Gorbachev's model for Obama,” Carroll, who fully credited Gorbachev with the fall of the Berlin Wall and dismantling of the Soviet Union, trumpeted Obama's opportunity: “By the grace of God, it is not too late to match the greatness with which Gorbachev acted 20 years ago, an overdue acceptance of his historic invitation.”
Fretting about America's “refusal to dismantle its Cold War military economy,” Carroll yearned for “yes we can” responses: “Is it too much to expect Barack Obama to change history? Make peace? Transform an economic system? Rescue the Earth? Build a political program around the truth? Restore a great nation's decency?” Justifying his faith in Obama, Carroll recalled: “On the cusp of this decisive year, it will do Americans well to recall that just such a transformation took place once before, even if we declined to respond with transformation of our own.”
(Just below Carroll's column, in the newspaper owned by the New York Times, readers were treated to an op-ed piece that carried a Tripoli dateline and the byline of “the leader of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” -- yes, that would be Muammar Gaddafi -- titled “Provoking Russia” and which began: “Once again, the West's policy toward Russia and its addiction to interfering in the affairs of other countries is having dangerous effects on the rest of the world.”)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals. And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars. Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.
Before moving to the substance, a word about the roundtable's lopsided composition, which resembled nothing more than Homecoming for public radio types. To "balance" David Brody of CBN, ABC chose Kurt Andersen of Public Radio International, Alison Stewart of NPR, and John Dickerson of Slate and . . . NPR. Andersen kicked off the Supreme Court segment with his "moderate" liberal comment. Dickerson followed with his pre-emptive warning about that potential Republican "fake fight."
Sure, its revenues might be plunging along with its share price, but the New York Times is still good for something. In these somber days of winter, the Gray Lady, her name notwithstanding, can still inject the sunshine of humor—albeit of the unintentional variety.
Take its current editorial, Getting Immigration Right -- please. With jobs at a premium and the collapse of the Big Three automakers attributable in no small part to the role of the unions, the Times naturally comes out in favor of:
making it easier for illegals to get into the country to compete for what jobs are left, and
granting the right of illegals once here to . . . unionize.
When during its first half-hour this Christmas morning "Today" moved to a conversation between Matt Lauer and Pastor Rick Warren, I braced myself. Don't tell me, I thought, they're going to get into the invitation Pres.-elect Obama extended him to give the invocation at the Inauguration, and the reaction of some gay-rights groups. Well, surprise! They didn't: not in word or implication. Warren appeared strictly in his role as pastor, and the conversation focused exclusively on the meaning of the day.
The video clip is of the portion of the conversation in which Warren describes the origin and practice of a Warren family tradition of holding a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day.
Conservatives still licking their wounds over the results of the November elections finally have something to cheer about: you don't have to read Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne's articles anymore because you know he's supporting Barack Obama.
So deliciously said MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart on Tuesday's "Morning Joe" with the latter actually not disagreeing.
The context of the discussion was another Post writer's Tuesday column in which Richard Cohen came down strongly on Obama's decision to have Rick Warren give the invocation during the upcoming Inauguration.
This led to the following fabulous exchange between Scarborough and Capehart (video embedded below the fold, h/t Ms Underestimated, file photo):
Given some of the reactions to an item I wrote yesterday about Barney Frank's objections to Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inauguration, let me state for the record that I lean libertarian on marriage. On the one hand, I don't like courts substituting their judgment for legislatures or the will of the people. But in the long run, I think it might be better for government to recognize that marriage is a religious or spiritual institution, and confine its role to enforcing agreements between partners.
That said, I can't help but chuckle at the way the MSM is twisting itself into knots over the Rick Warren issue. The latest, most entertaining episode occured on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, on MSNBC. David Shuster discovered that, contrary to his presumption, civil rights pioneer Rev. Joseph Lowery, also on the inaugural program, does not support gay marriage!
The Tuesday morning shows of NBC, ABC, and CBS all promoted Barack Obama’s celebrity status as hosts and reporters ogled the latest paparazzi photo of Obama in swim trunks while on vacation in Hawaii, as NBC’s Matt Lauer declared on Today: "And fit to serve, Barack Obama photographed shirtless in Hawaii and a lot of women are giving him the presidential seal of approval."
On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer outlined Obama’s workout routine: "...these photos of the first abs, which we've all been analyzing this morning. I just want to reminder you, to get those abs, he does standing triceps push-downs, shoulder presses, sit-ups with a high platform, one set of triceps, and calf raises." Fellow co-host Chris Cuomo added: "The most important thing that he does to be fit, is his diet. He's very careful about his diet. He's in good shape, certainly for a man his age. But I think it's how he eats."
On the CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Obama in Oahu. Why he’s getting a lot of attention." Smith later referenced a newspaper cover with the shirtless picture of Obama: "This picture is in a lot of papers around the country...‘Fit For Office.’" Meanwhile, fill-in co-host Debbye Turner Bell held up the paper declaring: "Take a look at this. I'll be happy to pick this up!"
ABC can't be so naive as to believe it wasn't a carefully calculated publicity stunt. Surely the good folks at Good Morning America know it was anything but an invasion of privacy--that the Clintons wanted the world to see the image of a blissfully happy married couple tripping the sand fantastic. And yet . . .
GMA devoted a segment this morning to a collective tongue clicking in concern that the Obamas' privacy is being invaded by photographs taken during their current vacation in Hawaii. To lend historicial perspective, other instances of photograhic invasions of presidential privacy were aired, including the image displayed here. According to ABC's Yungi de Nies, who narrated the segment, the photographic invasion of vacation time was "something the Clintons had to get used to. They were spotted dancing in the sand on one vacation." "Spotted"? I suppose. In the same sense streakers are "spotted" running across football fields.
Does Barney Frank think incest is worse than pedophilia? The question arises because, chatting with Andrea Mitchell this afternoon, here's how Frank reiterated his opposition to Barack Obama having granted Rick Warren the honor of pronouncing the invocation at the inauguration.
BARNEY FRANK: I think Rick Warren's comments comparing same-sex relationships to incest is deeply offensive, wildly inaccurate and very socially disruptive.
At the end of Monday’s ABC Good Morning America, co-host Chris Cuomo talked to Newsweek editor Jon Meacham about the magazine’s ‘Elite 50' list of influential people, as Cuomo put it: "People who will literally be able to shape our lives in many different ways." Meacham explained: "Our goal with this was, you know, elite got a bad rap this year. It wasn't a good thing to be an elitist. But there's a difference between elitism and excellence...we wanted people who really had fought their way up through a lot of obstacles in life, chiefly, the President-elect of the United States, and were able to exert that kind of command and control." Apparently, Obama staying at a $30 million Hawaiian resort for Christmas is a sign of his excellence.
Cuomo followed up by observing: "It's interesting because the aspects, the dynamics you're trying to capture here in the list, you have politics, economics, and then kind of other, other significant situations. Number one on the list, President-elect, soon to be President Barack Obama, incorporates all three of those." To that, Meacham replied: "With Obama there's been a kind of resurgence of American credibility. At least the world after several years of kicking us around a good bit, they're giving us a chance, I think, to reassert our leadership." [audio excerpt here]
In an abbreviated edition of Sunday's NBC Nightly News (shorted by golf in the EST/CST), the network still found time to tout as newsworthy how Vice President-elect Joe Biden will chair a “White House Task Force on Working Families.” With “Focus on the Middle Class” on screen below a picture of Biden, anchor Lester Holt, referring to ABC's This Week, asserted Biden had “revealed” his function: “In an interview that aired today, the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, revealed his role as the new administration's point man on the middle class.” (This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos summarized the interview on Sunday's World News, yet didn't mention the middle class angle.)
NBC reporter John Yang affirmed that “making good on a central theme of the campaign,” Biden “laid down a bold political yardstick for economic policy.” Viewers then heard a fairly pedestrian clip of Biden on ABC: “Is the middle class no longer being left behind? We'll look at everything from college affordability to after-school programs, the things that affect people's daily lives.” Yang then heralded, with “front and center” enlarged on screen from the press release: “Biden will head a cabinet-level task force making sure middle class and working families are 'front and center.'” How reassuring.
Some quick items from the Sunday interview shows and newspapers:
♦ On Meet the Press, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, who last month hailed Obama's “all-star cabinet,” on Sunday trumpeted the cabinet's “meritocracy,” and how it's supposedly made up of “superstars,” as she gushed over “people with so much brain power and so much education.”
♦ Over on ABC's This Week, during the roundtable's look at Caroline Kennedy as a potential Senator from New York, Sam Donaldson opined that “my preference would be Andrew Cuomo,” the liberal Attorney General for the Empire State, because, in part, “I thought his father would make a very good President.” That would be the far-left Mario Cuomo.
♦ In her final column for the Washington Post, outgoing ombudsman Deborah Howell urged the paper to address its lack of political diversity. Since “too many Post staff members think alike,” she advised: “Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper.”