Wednesday’s CBS Early Show worked hard to put as much distance as possible between Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as correspondent Chip Reid reported: "Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have both been leaders in Illinois Democratic politics for years, but long-time observers say that's about as far as the connection goes." Reid later dismissed Republican efforts to question Obama’s connection to the indicted Governor: "...that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together...Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
In a segment that followed Reid’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet: "Does any of this rub off on Barack Obama?" Sweet replied: "A little bit does. Because these are his -- this brings up the whole -- we're talking about the Senate seat for sale, but the criminal complaint does bring up Tony Rezko, it does bring up questions about the associations-" Smith interjected: "Which the Republicans tried so hard during the campaign to say Barack Obama is a Chicago politician." Sweet dispelled that characterization: "Right. And here's the thing, Obama does not come out of this culture."
CNN's Veronica De La Cruz is looking for biracial Americans planning on attending the Obama inauguration to potentially interview for a documentary project she is working on.
[Update: De La Cruz informed me that the documentary project is separate from her work at CNN]
Posted at her Twitter page a few minutes ago:
Re: Inauguration: If u know anyone who's going -- who is mixed race/ bi-racial and would be interested in being interviewed, pls contact me!
I'm sure De La Cruz won't have trouble finding Obama fans who fit her criteria. If you know of conservative or libertarian critics of Obama who happen to be biracial and plan on attending the inauguration you can let her know on Twitter @VeronicaDLCruz.
Speaking of Twitter, you can follow me there @KenShepherd.
Former top Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" to downplay the connection between Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, charged with trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, and President-elect Barack Obama. He helpfully argued that the profane references to Obama on the FBI's tapes indicate that "Blagojevich himself is the President-elect's best character witness."
Stephanopoulos and co-host Diane Sawyer did discuss the apparent contradiction between Obama's claim on Tuesday that he had "no contact" with the governor and chief spokesman David Axelrod's comments on November 23 in which he asserted, "I know he's talked to the governor." A very credulous Stephanopoulos explained, "Well, first of all, David Axelrod put out a statement late yesterday, where he said he simply misspoke there...That is backed up by everyone else on the team, as well." So, while an ABC graphic read, "Political 'Crime Spree': Will Allegations Affect Obama," the former Clinton aide obviously didn't think so.
On Saturday's "Good Morning America," various hosts and reporters gushed over the "exciting," "tantalizing" prospect that Caroline Kennedy could replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, should the former first lady be confirmed as Barack Obama's secretary of state. ABC News political director David Chalian enthused that "on top of the new Obama administration that she was a huge proponent and supporter of, it [the appointment] would just rise to this moment of, sort of, a return to that age of Camelot."
Weekend GMA co-host Bill Weir began the segment by wondering, "And who could upstage a Clinton but a Kennedy?" Later, fellow co-host Kate Snow cooed, "So, tantalizing. Kennedys and Obamas and Clintons, all the talk." Clearly agreeing, Weir enthused, "Exciting to talk about."
Updated below: CNN.com now noting Blago's Democratic affiliation
An unsigned CNN.com article on Tuesday which broke the news that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had been arrested by federal authorities omitted his Democratic party affiliation. Both Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris face conspiracy and bribery charges related to the appointment of Barack Obama’s successor to his Senate seat.
The article did describe the accusations against the Illinois governor and his aide in detail. Among other things, Blagojevich is accused of trying to obtain “a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions; placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year; promises of campaign funds -- including cash up front; [and] a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.”
"I don't know why he's attacking Time magazine," a puzzled Seton Motley told "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy this morning, referring to the president-elect's former longtime pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. On Sunday the retired minister -- who married the Obamas and baptized their children -- issued a fiery screed against the media -- calling the mainstream media the "gates of hell" -- from the pulpit of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ.
"They [Time magazine] were certainly much nicer to him than a lot of journalistic outlets were, and by nicer I mean hiding him and preventing him from being a bigger player in the presidential race," the MRC director of communications added. "Look, the media's not going to cover this guy in the way that they should because of his 20-year relationship with Barack Obama." [audio available here]
Doocy and Motley also discussed the media's reticence on reporting on Obama's Bill Ayers connection during the campaign. To see the full appearance, click the play button on the embedded video to your right.
On Monday’s The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Jamie McIntyre conveyed a dissenting view of whether retired General Eric Shinseki, Barack Obama’s choice for Veterans Affairs Secretary, can accurately be described as having advised the Bush administration to send more troops to occupy Iraq. McIntyre: "But Shinseki has his critics, too, who say, in fact, he never stood up to Rumsfeld, never pressed for more troops for Iraq, and, when asked in a private meeting of the Joint Chiefs if he had concerns about the war plans, never said a word, according to two people who were in the room. Asked by Newsweek two years ago to respond to the criticism he didn't press his concerns, Shinseki e-mailed back: ‘Probably that's fair. Not my style.’"
In the midst of more self-congratulatory excess over David Gregory becoming moderator of Meet the Press, he and anchor Brian Williams cued up Gregory to discuss Obama's “expectations management.” Gregory echoed that Obama must “lower expectations,” though, Gregory soon trumpeted: “He doesn't want to hit the ground running. He wants to hit the ground signing, signing a stimulus bill in the very early days of his administration because the economy cannot wait.” Williams first told Gregory, who appeared from the Meet the Press set: “Congratulations on your great new job so well deserved and what you know is a great honor.” Gregory agreed: “I do know it's a great honor” to host “a treasured platform in the country.”
Williams posed this tortuous question:
David, you also come to this job from your last position as chief White House correspondent. As such, it changes the way you, I'm sure, have looked a this race and the President-elect including as recently as yesterday's interview with Tom Brokaw. Talk about that, especially in the area so important these days of expectations management.
Jonathan Alter was an early accuser of new President George W. Bush when he and VP Cheney began to try to warn the country that an economic downturn was well underway as he was taking office. As Bush tried to warn the nation, the media jumped all over him for "talking down the economy." Yet, as we watch the reporting of Obama's current down talking of the economy, the media has said nothing similar to the condemnation reigned upon Bush.
The myth that people like Alter was pushing in 2001 was that Clinton bequeathed a good economy to Bush, but the reality was that the spiral had already begun to fall into negative territory months before Bush took office. Despite that obvious downturn, the media formed a chorus of attacking Bush for being too negative in the face of the American people. On March 26, Alter unleashed his Newsweek piece headlined "Thanks Ever So Much, President Poor-Mouth." Alter called Bush's warnings "risky and unusual," and made the pronouncement that Bush was wrong to do so. "Even if Bush turns out to be right in his predictions of gloom," Alter wrote, "that doesn't mean he was right to make them."
Media reports on President-elect Barack Obama's selection of retired Army General Eric Shinseki commonly described the pick as a “rebuke” or “repudiation” of the Bush administration for underestimating the number of troops that would be needed to occupy Iraq, but CBS's Dean Reynolds went further as he implied abiding by Shinseki's 2003 recommendation for “several hundred thousand soldiers” would have prevented wounded troops. On Sunday's CBS Evening News, over archive video of Shinseki visiting wounded soldiers -- and leading into a soundbite from Shinseki saying “veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular are confronting severe wounds, some seen, some unseen” -- Reynolds declared:
Now Shinseki will deal with the consequences of a policy that rejected his advice.
Of course, many soldiers and Marines have been wounded in Afghanistan and it's hardly an established fact that more American troops in Iraq in 2003 would have precluded a large number of American casualties which would require services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Those who thought that President-elect Obama's pre-Thanksgiving promise to "create or save jobs," appropriately satirized by Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters on November 24, might have been another one of the Oh-So-(in)Articulate One's "inartful" statements should know that it has become standard fare in Obama speeches.
In related news, Uncle Sam told us Friday that over 136 million seasonally adjusted jobs were "saved"in November (go here to replicate):
Never mind the 533,000 seasonally adjusted jobs lost -- which illustrates just how risible Obama's promise shift from the presidential campaign really is. Old Media's failure to note this shift is journalistic malpractice that would never occur during a Republican presidency.
In the midst of a discussion about President-elect Barack Obama's national security team, Washington Week host Gwen Ifill on Friday night's program sought confirmation for her theory that “what people are beginning to say is that this President-elect should be President now” as “people are saying why isn't Barack Obama leading the fight about the auto-makers?”
New York Times reporter Peter Baker agreed: “That's right, exactly.” He proceeded to fret over how “people voted for change and this strange, odd 77-day waiting period that we impose...between our election and our inauguration” just isn't compatible with the “hyperactive 24/7 fast-moving culture that we have today.” Baker admired how “Obama is trying to find some balance between respecting President Bush,” whom Baker conceded is “still in charge,” and “finding a way to assert leadership.”
Appearing on Friday's "Morning Joe," former CBS anchor Dan Rather chided President Bush for not doing enough during his lame duck period and argued for moving Inauguration Day up to December 1. And although Rather didn't explain specifically what Bush wasn't doing enough about (The financial crisis? The terrorist incident in India?), he did hyperbolically fret, "But, we're in possibly, possibly the biggest crisis we've been in since December 7, 1941 and maybe since the time of the Civil War." (As big a calamity as slavery and the dissolution of the Union?)
Addressing the past practice of inaugurating presidents in March, Rather lobbied "Thank heaven, we now swear them in, new presidents, in January. I'd be in favor of moving it up to December 1st."(The former network anchor didn't explain how he would then deal with situations like the protracted 2000 post-election battle.) [Audio available here.]
Unveiling President-elect Barack Obama as her “Most Fascinating Person of 2008,” Barbara Walters wrapped up her Thursday night prime time special by championing how Obama “has redeemed the American promise that an individual can make his own destiny and create a new world.” (Obama hasn't even taken office, yet he's already managed to “create a new world”?) She then presumptuously gushed: “We are all members of that new world now, and that for us makes him the Most Fascinating Person of 2008. Good luck, Mr. President.”
During a report on Thursday’s American Morning, CNN correspondent Alina Cho used personal anecdotes in attempt to show how Barack Obama’s Chief-of-Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel has “softened over the years.” Cho cited the outgoing Illinois congressman’s unnamed rabbi, who said he is “really just a nice guy, intensely spiritual, even polite.” She also stated how despite being labeled a “street fighter with a killer instinct,” Emanuel also has more of sensitive side: “His congressional colleagues say he’s the kind of guy who will chew you out then send you a cheesecake.”
A clip of comedian Andy Samberg doing an impression of Emanuel on Saturday Night Live preceded Cho’s report, which began 18 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. The correspondent began by bringing up Emanuel’s notorious use of “colorful language,” which Samberg parodied in his sketch. She also contrasted the “street fighter with a killer instinct” imagery with his rabbi’s “nice guy” label.
Sounding like junior high students reveling in their first romance, "Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer and ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos on Thursday celebrated the one month anniversary of Barack Obama's election as president. While talking to the former Clinton aide-turned journalist, Sawyer cooed, "Well, speaking of the President-elect, kind of an anniversary today. 30 days since he was elected."
She continued in a bubbly tone: "So, it's time to launch the first annual, ever, 30-day George Stephanopoulos presidential election awards." Stephanopoulos, of course, had nothing but praise for Obama. He enthused, "So, it's hard to imagine this first month going much better for the President-elect." He also lauded the Democrat for handling "the transition with the same kind of precision and discipline that he managed to show during the campaign."
A small county in rural Alabama is making national news for passing a motion declaring that the second Monday in November will be forever recognized as "Barack Obama Day".
Normally small county resolutions that affect a mere 40 of this nation's 301 million residents would not capture a national audience. In this case however the AP has discovered one of those pivotal occasions where they can pursue what should be an obvious national event while at the same time implying the obvious racism of the rest of the state that supported John McCain "largely on strong support from White voters."
MARION, Ala. - In central Alabama's Perry County, government workers already get a day off for President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Veteran's Day. In 2009, they'll get one more: "Barack Obama Day."
The rural county, which overwhelmingly supported Obama in last month's presidential election, has approved the second Monday in November as "The Barack Obama Day." Commissioners passed a measure that would close county offices for the new annual holiday and its roughly 40 workers will get a paid day off.
Perry County has 12,000 residents, most of them Black. Voters there backed Obama by over 70 percent in a state that gave 60 percent of the overall vote to Republican John McCain based largely on strong support from White voters. - Save the date: Ala. county passes Obama holiday
On Thursday’s "CBS Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked discussed the Obama transition with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, who observed: "...a lot of people said this is going to be a very extremist president and all that, that he's a very liberal Democrat, but as we have seen in appointment after appointment, he's hewing to the center. He's picking a bunch of flaming moderates here, when you come right down t it.
"Now some liberal Democrats may not like that, but he's getting praised generally across the board here." Smith agreed: "Yeah, Bob, I would guess that the only people who really feel like they have their feathers ruffled are, maybe, the liberal Democrats."
In reality, Obama’s pick for secretary of state, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting score of 9. Obama’s pick for commerce secretary, New Mexico Governor and former Congressman Bill Richardson, had an ACU score of 18 while in Congress. Obama’s chief of staff, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, has a score of 16.
At first glance, it's hard to figure out who is the bigger buffoon:
Is it Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, for suggesting that Arizona Governor and Obama Homeland Security Secretary-Designate Janet Napolitano is perfect for her presumptive position because she's single and can therefore "have no life"?
Or is it CNN's Campbell Brown, for criticizing Rendell's sexism and bias against employees who don't have families -- after Brown herself suggested in September that Sarah Palin shouldn't have accepted John McCain's vice-presidential nomination because of her daughter's pregnancy?
Another Hardball, another opportunity for Chris Matthews, his eyes on a Senate run, to ingratiate himself with his party's powers-that-be. No one is more powerful than Barack Obama, of course, and Matthews found numerous ways this evening to praise the president-elect, even lauding, as NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens has noted, his dud of an attempt at humor when it came to Bill Richardson's erstwhile beard.
Richardson, too, came in for some Matthews fawning.
When it comes to building a quota Cabinet that fulfills liberal demands for “diversity,” Barack Obama is far smoother than the “artless” and “calculating” Clintons were back in 1992, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell argued Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC. In contrast to the Clintons, Obama’s approach is “effortless. They’re creating a mosaic, but they’re not doing it by self-consciously creating that mosaic,” Mitchell enthused.
Talking about the naming of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as the new Secretary of Commerce and whether Hispanics would demand other slots in Obama’s Cabinet, Mitchell panned the approach taken by Bill and Hillary sixteen years ago:
They were trying to pick one from column “A” and one from column “B,” and diversity was such an important goal, that there were a number of very, you know, top level Democrats who happened to be white men stashed in hotels in Little Rock waiting and calling reporters like me and saying, ‘Have you heard? Am I getting Transportation? Am I getting Interior? What am I getting,’ you know. But first they had to check off all the other boxes.
Veteran Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein appeared on Wednesday's "Morning Joe" and gushed that Barack Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton to the State Department will benefit from the "real wisdom" Bill Clinton has "when it comes to foreign policy." Continuing to fawn over the President-elect's cabinet choices, Bernstein enthused, "And the real thing about this appointment, though, is that Obama is assembling a group of people to unite the country."
The author of the Clinton bio "A Woman in Charge" optimistically added, "He [Obama] wants a political consensus so he can do what other presidents haven't been able to do, which is to move the country in the direction he wants without division down the middle." Bernstein didn't explain how the liberal senator, who's lifetime American Conservative Union score is seven, would "unite the country."
During his regular “Political Daily Briefing’ feature on CNN’s “No Bias, No Bull” program on Tuesday evening, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post used Hillary Clinton’s famous descriptive about her conservative opponents in describing one group’s latest effort against the outgoing New York senator: “A group called Judicial Watch, charter members of the vast right-wing conspiracy -- they were on to Hillary back during the commodity trading days -- now, they say because of Article One in the Constitution says you cannot serve in the position where you got a -- voted for a pay raise while you were in Congress, they’re saying she is constitutionally ineligible.” He then opined that “the only thing for Hillary to do is just give her $191,000 salary as Secretary of State to Judicial Watch for their extraordinary creativity -- just save everybody the court costs.”
Admission: Lawrence O'Donnell is emerging as one of my favorite media liberals. On the one hand, almost exactly one year ago, his anti-Mormon rant spurred me to action. But lately, watching him as a frequent MSNBC guest, I've been impressed by his acumen and willingness to call them as he sees them.
Take O'Donnell's intervention on tonight's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," where he made the salient point that the scandal of the Marc Rich pardon is, ironically, being held against AG nominee Eric Holder . . . while Hillary Clinton skates.
On Monday’s “No Bias, No Bull” program, CNN’s Campbell Brown lashed out at President-Elect Barack Obama for his flippant response to a reporter’s question: “Mr. President-Elect, reporters, we hope, are going to ask you a lot of annoying questions over the next four years. Get used to it. That is the job of the media, to hold you accountable. But this isn’t just about the media. It’s about the American people, many of whom voted for you because of what you said during the campaign, and they have a right to know which of those things you meant and which you didn’t. Apparently, as you made clear today, you didn't mean what you said about Hillary Clinton. So, what else didn’t you mean?”
During the press conference where Obama unveiled his national security team, Peter Baker of the New York Times brought up the tough primary fight between the President-Elect and Mrs Clinton: “...[Y]ou were asked and talked about the qualifications of the -- your now, your nominee for Secretary of State, and you belittled her travels around the world, equating it to having teas with foreign leaders. And your new White House counsel said that her resume was grossly exaggerated when it came to foreign policy. I’m wondering whether you can talk about the evolution of your views of her credentials since the spring.” The outgoing Illinois senator replied, “I mean, I think -- this is fun for the press to try to stir up whatever quotes were generated during the course of the campaign. No, I understand, and you’re having fun.”
On Sunday’s CBS Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer discussed the challenges President-elect Barack Obama will face with liberal authors: "Today we ask the authors of four of the year's most important books to assess the problems the new administration will face." Schieffer asked the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, author of ‘The War Within: A Secret White House History,’ about Obama picking Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Woodward replied: "It's an amazing national security team that Obama appears to have selected. It's kind of like 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears.' You've got too cool, which might be -- or at least appropriately cool, General Jones as the national security adviser; Gates is kind of just right, in the middle; and Hillary Clinton, hot."
Schieffer later turned to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, author of ‘The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,’ and asked: "...your fascinating book, 'The Dark Side,' tells how the current vice president, Richard Cheney, amassed power unknown to any vice president in our history. I'd like to ask you first, how did he do that? And do you see Joe Biden having the kind of power?" Mayer replied: "it takes a president like Bush to have a vice president like Cheney. Obama, so far, seems to be so much more involved in the details and in kind of wanting to command the policies all the way up and down, really -- so I don't see it repeating." Mayer then went on to compare the Bush and Obama administrations:
Another difference that's very important is that both the president coming in and the vice president are lawyers, and one of the things that happened in the last administration was neither of them were. They were not constitutional scholars and they enacted policies that -- including legalizing torture for all purposes -- that really were not constitutional. And I don't think we're going to see that again. This is a -- this is a group of people who -- and the secretary of state is also a lawyer now. These people respect the law, I think.
Note to Chris Matthews: when mocking someone for using a ghostwriter, it's best to avoid doing so on a day when Hillary Clinton is prominently in the news . . .
On this evening's Hardball, Matthews went out of his way to mock Joe The Plumber for his use of a ghostwriter on his just-released book. This on the day Hillary Clinton was in the headlines, having been named Barack Obama's Secretary of State. You know, Hillary Clinton. The woman famous, in writing "It Takes A Village," for failing to credit her . . . ghostwriter.
Following coverage of a Monday morning news conference in which President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric observed: "...two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates." She then asked political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "...in a way, this inoculates President-Elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?" Greenfield replied: "Yeah, I think so."
Greenfield went on to explain: "If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy." Couric followed up: "What about the confirmation process? Do you think there will be tough questions for Senator Clinton?...any road blocks during that process?" Greenfield responded: "One interesting thing is there are no -- I'll use this term -- fire-breathing conservative Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nobody who's looking to make points going after Bill Clinton."
Less than nine months ago, the Obama campaign was slamming Hillary Clinton as utterly unqualified on foreign policy, having had no substantive experience during her husband’s administration and being dreadfully wrong in her judgment as a Senator when it came to “the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation,” the war in Iraq.
A March 11, 2008 memo by Obama ally (and now incoming White House Counsel) Gregory Craig suggested Clinton (unlike Obama) was using “false charges and exaggerated claims to play politics with national security.” The memo was passed around as Clinton was slamming Obama as not ready to take a “3am phone call” on a national emergency.
Yet today, as President-elect Barack Obama named Hillary Clinton to the top foreign policy post in his administration, none of the three broadcast network anchors chose to disrupt the moment by reminding anyone of Obama’s argument of a few months ago that, when it came to foreign policy, Clinton is an inexperienced phony. [UPDATE at end]