File this one under “Deluded Expectations.” During MSNBC’s coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, daytime anchor Alex Witt seemed frustrated that the election of Barack Obama 23 days earlier — and the accompanying “global outpouring of affection, respect, hope” — had not caused an end to terrorist violence.
Talking with correspondent John Yang, who was covering the Obama side of the story, Witt conceded that while “you certainly can’t expect things to change on a dime overnight....There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought — at least hoped — would be dampered down. But in this case it looks like Barack Obama is getting a preview of things to come.”
CNN is warning Americans that already making Barack Obama into one of America's greatest "heroes" may not be a good idea. Despite the fact that Barack Obama has yet to take office, despite that he has yet to really do anything to earn that status, CNN is saying that "already, he's being compared to the most remarkable leaders."
It might make one amazed that now, after cheerleading for him for the last four years, CNN suddenly finds that calling Obama a hero is not necessarily the best idea. "The Americans who are comparing him to those remarkable predecessors," CNN warns, "are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know."
And why do we "barely know" Barack Obama, CNN? Is it perhaps because the American media never took the time to vet this man? Is it because all we've gotten is hero worship from the media?
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, Walters asked few questions that put the Obamas on the defensive, in contrast with her January 2001 interview, aired on 20/20, with then-President-elect Bush in which she challenged him on a number of fronts. Most notably, she seemed to chide Bush for choosing John Ashcroft as Attorney General because he "openly opposes abortion," and claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights." She asked Bush about reports that, as governor of Texas, he "spent relatively little time studying specific issues," and "only does a few hours of work" a day. The ABC host also challenged Bush from the left on the trade embargo against Cuba, and even asked Laura Bush if her more "traditional" plans for her time as First Lady would be a "setback for women." It is also noteworthy that Walters asked Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam Hussein and cited "people in the know" who contended that the Iraqi dictator was "stronger than ever."
Working on the day after Thanksgiving, Brian Williams used Friday's NBC Nightly News to promote a new book from FDR's grandson, providing Williams with an opportunity to propose: “In your estimation, could we use a little FDR right about now?” Though Franklin Delano Roosevelt's policies failed to end the Depression, Williams hailed him as “the man who led this nation out of financial disaster.” Conceding “we can no longer talk to him,” as if we'd benefit from doing so, Williams trumpeted how “tonight we think we have about the next best thing” in FDR's grandson, Curtis, who “lives in the south of France after a career with the UN.”
Williams cued up Roosevelt, “I know you've been asked for comment along these lines lately: In your estimation, could we use a little FDR right about now?” Roosevelt naturally agreed as he recalled “FDR is credited with a fantastic list of legislative achievements,” but “to me, his achievement in conveying confidence and hope to the American people was far more important” and so “I hope Obama picks it up” and will “convey to the American public that they have to join him in coping with this recession.”
At this time of year, columns like Derrick Z. Jackson's of today condemning the materialism of the Christmas shopping season are as traditional as Budweiser's Clydesdale-drawn sleigh commercial. And part of me is sympathetic with Jackson's call for people to spurn the malls and curtail their gift-giving budgets.
But this of all years, did the Boston Globe columnist consider the disastrous consequences for the economy and the lives of millions of Americans if people were actually to heed his advice? Apparently not. Jackson's radical suggestion [emphasis added]:
I have a suggestion for these holidays. The average American, according to the government, consumes six times more energy than the world average. Take whatever you spent on gifts last year, slash 5/6ths of it, and see what you can do with the rest - unless of course you make a charitable donation. You're broke anyway, right, so what's the harm?
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, there was an obvious contrast with Walters’s interview with then-President-elect Bush in January 2001. After having pressed Bush with complaints from liberals about his choice of John Ashcroft as Attorney General, as she claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights," Walters this time not only failed to challenge Obama from the right in any of her questions, but she actually pressed him from the left as well as she seemed to fret about how long America has to wait for him to raise taxes on the rich. Walters: "During the campaign, there was a central and consistent theme of yours to raise taxes on people earning over $250,000 a year. Now, it seems there’s a little waffling on that. When are you going to do it?"
While introducing Michelle Obama for the second half hour of the special, Walters invoked President Kennedy’s family as she effused: "The Obamas harken back to another First Family, with their youthful embodiment of style, substance, and hope." But earlier, at the top of the program, she had taken a shot President Bush as "one of the most unpopular Presidents in modern history" and suggested that it is not "an exaggeration to say that the fate of the nation is riding on [Obama’s] shoulders." Walters: "In only 55 days, Barack Obama will replace one of the most unpopular Presidents in modern history. He will inherit two wars and an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression. Tonight, as families across our country gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, there is a sense of unease and a hope that someone can restore confidence and leadership. Although Barack Obama insists we have only one President at a time, some say that fear and financial uncertainty have forced him into the unprecedented role of a shadow President, even before he has taken the oath of office. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that the fate of the nation is riding on his shoulders."
Barbara Walters invites Great Leader to "give" Thanksgiving message to "the people." Great Leader obliges: be inspired by . . . me.
Check out the clip of Barbara Walters's interview of the Obamas, aired on GMA today, and tell me whether you find something off-putting in the way Walters poses what is, after all, a very banal question. And then there's the President-elect's self-centered answer . . .
Obama is starting to feel a bit of pressure from members of the far left of his own party who are beginning to raise their eyebrows over the fact that he hasn't shown any desire to institute any "change" thus far with his staff and cabinet picks even though they had "hope" that he would. Obama went so far as to address the situation today as MSNBC reported on its FirstRead blog.
Obama explains away his lack of "change" and his picking of a plethora of out-of-work Clintonites by saying that who he puts on his staff and cabinet don't matter. It's because he is the change we seek, you see? But, wait, you might ask. If the press were paying attention, they might remember that during his acceptance speech he said this whole thing wasn't about him, it was about us? Wasn't it that we were the change we were waiting for... right?
Is the press going to let him get away with dropping that hoary rhetoric only to say now it's suddenly all about him? Would they let such arrogance, such a flip-flop, from a Republican pass so easily?
ABC’s Barbara Walters couldn’t contain herself as she previewed her upcoming interview with Barack and Michelle Obama on Wednesday’s Good Morning America: “[T]hey’re very -- I don’t know how to put it. I don’t want to gush. They’re very cute, and very -- and very funny in this interview together.” Walters played two clip of the interview, which is set to air on ABC’s 20/20 on Wednesday night, in which she asked the president-elect softball questions such as, “How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?”
Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts interviewed Walters just after the top of the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC program, as “The View” co-host played the two clips from her time with the Obamas. During the first clip, after asking how the outgoing Illinois senator felt about the auto executives and their private planes, Walters brought up another group of business leaders: “Should bank executives -- it’s almost Christmastime -- forego their bonuses?” Once Mr. Obama gave his answer, she posed a question about a much less serious matter: “How are you going to get along without your Blackberry?” Roberts broke in after he answered, and remarked how it was “so tough to give up that Blackberry.”
Like clockwork Barbara Walters successfully landed an interview with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Channeling Lee Cowan, Walters claimed on the November 26 edition of “The View” she is “supposed to be neutral” then heaped praise on the Obamas. Barbara painted the soon to be first couple as “so smart” and “the most appealing couple” and then passed on a White House invite to all of “The View” co-hosts.
Joy Behar could not resist avoiding a swipe at the outgoing Bush administration wondering if Obama is “worried that Bush would cause more damage in the next 60 days” and felt “worried about that.”
The major broadcast networks have so far lavished praise on President-elect Barack Obama for his Cabinet choices, in contrast to the airing of complaints from liberals over President Bush’s choice of John Ashcroft as Attorney General eight years ago. But an exception came on Sunday as the CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell informed viewers that "not everyone is happy about some of Mr. Obama’s picks." But rather than examining whether conservatives will be unhappy with the liberal views of Obama’s Cabinet members, CBS’s Randall Pinkston instead focused on liberals who believe the President-elect is not delivering on his campaign promise of "change," even playing a clip of political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson claiming that Obama had chosen a number of "Clintonesque, moderate, centrist Democrats."
ABC correspondent Claire Shipman lauded President-Elect Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary-Designate Tim Geithner on Tuesday’s Good Morning America: “It might not be immediately obvious, but insiders say the President-Elect and his pick for the top economic spot could have been separated at birth.” She later quoted The Economist’s line about the future top bureaucrat, that both Obama and Geithner “have a hipster, wonky cool about them,” and that both “like to relax by shooting hoops.” Shipman even played up the “hipster” label by stating how “[t]he new Treasury Secretary is also known to surf and skateboard.”
Shipman began her report by describing what Obama admired about Geithner, along with a personal anecdote about the federal bureaucrat: “Well, his smarts and his style -- that's what aides say appeal to Barack Obama, and here’s another clue about his character -- he’s an avid amateur photographer, and friends say that very much explains the way he likes to work. He likes to watch, observe, and then act.” She then gave her “separated at birth” line.
Later, the ABC correspondent played three clips of a close friend of Geithner, Professor Justin Rudelson of Dartmouth, who unsurprisingly spoke well of the Treasury Secretary-designate. Then, as Shipman gave some details about how Geithner “married his college sweetheart” and how “his father was his best man,” sweet piano music played in the background, as you might expect in a gushy biography.
On Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Dean Reynolds reported on Barack Obama's announcement of an economic team, but instead of getting reaction from Republicans or financial experts, Reynolds decided to stick with the president-elect himself: "Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, as Treasury secretary. Obama said Geithner has an 'unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis.'And Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary himself, to chair the National Economic Council. Obama called him 'one of the great economic minds of our time.'
The only mention of Republicans in the story was about how cooperative they will be if Obama backs off tax increases: "As a candidate, he favored raising taxes on the rich, but as president-elect he now says he's inclined to wait on that, a concession that could bring congressional Republicans to his side."
Following the report by Reynolds, Smith played a clip of an interview with former Clinton Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, Arthur Levitt. At one point, Smith asked Levitt: "Barack Obama puts his economic team in place today. It's two months until he takes office. Is this audacious or is this good management on his part?" Levitt replied: "This is smart. I mean, we have an administration that is virtually powerless. Certainly a president who nobody listens to. What we've seen now with the new administration is we have a shadow administration in power, in place, acting in a constructive and in a cooperative way...We cannot afford a lost two-month period where public confidence would disappear. We cannot afford that."
Less than 12 hours after George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, glowed that “we have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes,” he popped up on World News to hail how Barack Obama's team recognized the Bush administration's “vacuum” and so decided to “step in and fill” it by showing “the President-elect taking action on the economy” day after day.
Anchor Charles Gibson set up Stephanopoulos by marveling: “George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents.” Stephanopoulos admired Obama's take charge actions:
I think what the Obama team saw -- starting last week with all of that uncertainty in the markets, in the dropping stock markets -- is they had to step in and fill a political vacuum. It began with that leak of Tim Geithner's name as Treasury Secretary on Friday, an announcement of a jobs plan on Saturday, carrying through to today, and there will be announcements both tomorrow and Wednesday to show the President-elect taking action on the economy.
On the Saturday Early Show on CBS, President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks were presented positively as correspondent Kimberly Dozier referred to a "superstar Cabinet," and its members as "bold" and "inspired," while co-anchor Erica Hill called the Cabinet "star-studded." The terminology was similar to that employed by NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the previous night's Nightly News, as she referred to Obama's "all-star Cabinet."
During the 8:00 a.m. hour of the Saturday Early Show, as she filed a story regarding Obama’s choices of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner, also from the Clinton administration, for Treasury Secretary, Dozier introduced her report: "Well, Obama’s Cabinet picks are coming one by one, and they’re calling it, in some cases, a ‘superstar Cabinet.’" After informing viewers that Obama may ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on, Dozier repeated the "superstar" label as she passed on praise from former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein. Dozier: "Ronald Reagan’s former chief of staff says Obama’s taking a page from his boss’s book, choosing a superstar team for their skills, not their political persuasion."
President and Mrs. Bush couldn't be handling the transition more graciously. But rather than celebrating the peaceful transfer of power that is the hallmark of our democracy, Hardball has announced a new feature, "Final Daze," intended to mock W as we count down his last weeks in office.
Mike Barnicle, sitting in for Chris Matthews, announced the new segment on this evening's show.
MIKE BARNICLE: And that brings us to a new, regular item we're starting tonight called "Final Daze." President Bush has 57 days left in office, and many are asking "where's Dubya?" With the economy tanking and the country looking for guidance from the guy who's still president, here's what we got today.
"This is a death-bed confession," Seton Motley quipped of Time magazine's Mark Halperin admitting that the mainstream media was biased towards Sen. Barack Obama. The MRC Communications Director made the remark on the November 24 "Fox & Friends" program
"As the mainstream media dies, they're trying to rectify their reputations and their relationships with their audience by saying, 'oh, you know, we were in the tank.' Clearly, this would have been a lot more useful in June or July," Motley added. "It does us no good now at the end of November."
But don't hold your breath for balance, the NewsBusters contributor told co-host Steve Doocy:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus package: "What about the $500 billion economic stimulus plan that President-elect Obama is planning? Do you think it's realistic to get that done in two years?" Not only was Krugman in favor of the plan, but he argued: "I'm actually worried that this plan may be too small... I'm still worrying that they're going to be a little bit short, because you just have to put all your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now."
Rodriguez’s discussion with Krugman was preceded by a fawning report by correspondent Dean Reynolds on Obama’s economic plan: "Well, the incoming administration is making it abundantly clear that it plans an active multi-billion dollar approach to kick-starting the economy. As one top economic adviser to Barack Obama put it, the era of dithering is over." Reynolds continued by declaring: "...with the actions taken so far to stem the tide proving to be totally ineffective, the incoming administration is setting the table for a long struggle to make things right."
Appearing on the November 24 "Fox & Friends," MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley reacted to left-wing bloggers critical of President-elect Obama for choosing center-left, rather than far-left staffers for his presidential transition team. [audio available here]:
GRETCHEN CARLSON, co-host, "Fox & Friends": Alright, Seton, so a lot of these people on the Left say, "Oh, wait a minute, Barack! You were supposed to choose people who feel exactly like we do on the issues." And in essence, he's chosen a lot of centrists. Will we now see the blogosphere really light up now with the ultra-left viewpoints?
Various "Good Morning America" anchors and guests on Monday gushed at the sheer brilliance of Barack Obama's incoming cabinet, including his "team of economic gladiators." Former top Bill Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos rhapsodized, "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." (What does that say about Stephanopoulos' friends in the Clinton administration?) [audio clip available here]
Co-host Robin Roberts was equally enthusiastic. Speaking with Stephanopoulos, she cooed, "Some would say it's a team of rivals, a la President Lincoln, or is a better comparison a team of geniuses as FDR did?" Continuing the fawning, Stephanopoulos readily agreed: "Well, one Obama advisor told me what they like is a combination of 'Team of Rivals' and 'the Best and the Brightest,' which was the David Halberstam book about the incoming Kennedy administration. I think there are parallels to all three." (This is somewhat of an odd comparison. Halberstam's 1972 book explores the origins of the Vietnam War and the mistakes made leading up to it.)
"In picking church, Obamas will weigh political, religious and personal feelings," the subheading to Russell Goldman's reads.:
Come Jan. 20, Barack Obama knows the house in which he and his family will live, but he has yet to decide at which house of worship they will pray.
Within steps from the White House, the Obamas can choose from a bevy of churches, each offering reasons to be selected, from historic connections to the presidency to historic connections to the African-American community.
Transcript from press conference of Pres. Barack Obama, Feb. 12th, 2011:
CNSNEWS.COM: Mr. President, when you first took office you promised to create 2.5 million jobs by January, 2011. But the Labor Department report issued yesterday indicates that in fact 1.7 million jobs were lost during that period. Why did your plan fail?
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Ah, but it didn't fail. To the contrary, we succeeded beyond all expectations. You misquoted our promise. We said we would create or "save" 2.5 million jobs. And a report prepared by my White House team being distributed to you demonstrates that had we not taken the bold steps we did back in 2009, we would by now have lost 5.8 million jobs. We therefore in fact saved 4.1 million jobs, more than 50% greater than the number of jobs we promised to save. So our program has been a huge success. Let's see, Keith, you had a question?
KEITH OLBERMANN: Yes, Mr. President. You are so wonderful, sir. Please comment, if you would, sir.
The "or save" makes Obama's plan virtually fail-proof. No matter how many jobs are lost, Obama will always be able to claim that things would have been much worse were it not for his plan. To his credit, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd pointed out the verbal sleight of hand on today's Morning Joe.
Tom Brokaw: talk show host or DNC enforcer? Barack Obama and Harry Reid were willing to let bygones be bygones, letting Joe Lieberman keep his Homeland Security Committee chairmanship.
But Lieberman's professed "regret" for statements he made in the course of supporting John McCain for president wasn't good enough for Brokaw. Interviewing the senator on Meet The Press today, Brokaw pointedly observed that he hadn't heard the word "apology" for Lieberman's lèse majesté. Brokaw broached the subject by asserting Lieberman needed to be held "accountable."
It may not be an automatic disqualifier for an Obama administration appointment, as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air suggested on Friday, but it's certainly an affront to the personal privacy rights of individuals and families.
The Politico reported Thursday evening about the fallout resulting from an intrusive question on the president-elect's 63-question personnel form:
President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team is asking potential appointees detailed questions about gun ownership, and firearms advocates aren’t happy about it.
In an MSM eager for the advent of the Age of Obama, Kate Snow may have taken the cake. The weekend GMA co-host almost sounded as if she were calling for some kind of coup d'etat, musing whether Obama should be urgently "forcing" change before he takes office. How over the top was Snow? She had to be talked down from her fin de regime fantasy but none other than . . . Paul Krugman.
ABC reporter John Hendren set the tone for the notion that time is dangerously a-wasting.
JOHN HENDREN: As with Hoover and FDR, the ideological gap between Bush and Obama could be too broad to bridge, leaving us with two more months of costly economic drift.
A little later, interviewing Krugman, Snow made her startling suggstion.
Ya gotta hand it to them. The Associated Press knows how to cut out all the extraneous background noise and get right to the important issues of the day. Barack Obama will surely be in the center of the vortex of some of the most important decisions in the world during the next four years and even his preparations for taking office are vitally important as a marker to what he might do in office. There are wars and rumors of wars, disasters and relief efforts and historic decisions will soon be made. But no decision is so important, as the AP dutifully tells us, than the one of what the president elect had for lunch. The shocking, heartwarming and resolute decision the leader of the free world... no the leader of all mankind... made for his lunch was apparently a corned beef sandwich.
Darfur still swirls with genocide, Iran is still making plans to destroy Israel, China is on pace to build the largest most dangerous army on Earth, the European Union still angles to lay America low, but all that pales in comparison to the important report the AP could muster (no, not mustard). Yes, the AP brings us the most salient story of our day: "Obama grabs lunch at local deli, greets patrons."
While ABC, CBS and NBC on Friday night all touted how news that New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner will be nominated for Secretary of the Treasury fueled a market rebound, NBC was the most excited with Andrea Mitchell, sounding completely in the tank, hailing President-elect Obama's “all-star cabinet” as she maintained “Obama is determined to pick the strongest, smartest people he can find, knowing that he is facing an economic crisis of historic proportions.” A Nexis search turned up no references on NBC, in December 2000-January 2001, to President-elect Bush's “all-star cabinet” though it featured some stars, such as Colin Powell.
NBC Nightly News put “OBAMA MOVES THE MARKET” on screen as anchor Brian Williams teased: “On our broadcast here tonight, Obama moves the market. Stocks go on a huge rally with first word of the President-elect's choice of a Treasury Secretary.” As he set up Mitchell, viewers saw “TAKING ACTION” beneath a picture of Obama.
Is Chris Matthews having more thrills about Obama? The "Hardball" anchor appeared on the November 21 edition of "Today" sounding more enthused about the incoming Obama administration than Obama’s own spinmeisters. With the news of Hillary Clinton as the incoming secretary of State, Matthews called it "an astounding gesture of magnanimity."
Taking a swipe at the outgoing Bush administration, Matthews claimed the world is "waiting to see us back in that family of nations" and touted Bill Clinton’s alleged popularity around the world. Matthews even opined that despite past primary rivalries, "the relationship is going by swimmingly."
Meredith Vieira then questioned Matthews why Obama has not urgently named a Treasury secretary with the financial crisis. Matthews defended the Obama transition team again opining "I think he’s got to wait to do what’s right," so he can look like "a Roman phalanx."
In an odd, non-sequitur of a segment, co-host Diane Sawyer kicked off the 8:30 hour of Friday's "Good Morning America" by reading aloud from an essay that President-elect Barack Obama wrote about Abraham Lincoln for a 2005 issue of Time magazine. Stopping the show cold for a minute and 22 seconds, she solemnly began, "...There was something that made us all stop and think. And you know, it's 60 days now. 60 days until the inauguration of a new president." [audio available here]
Then, Sawyer gravely announced that Obama had, in fact, written an essay: "And we saw that President-elect Obama has a favorite photograph, which he looks at. And here are the words that he wrote in Time magazine. An essay." To music that seemed reminiscent of the Ken Burns "Civil War" documentary, with images of Lincoln appearing on screen, the GMA host recited the words of the President-elect's Time article.
As Barack Obama appears to be appointing less than totally pro-surrender officials to his inner circle, far leftists are feeling constrained in their criticism by Obama Mania.
A Los Angeles Times article by Paul Richter with an amusing title ("Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet") notes that Obama has appointed or is considering many people who originally supported the war in Iraq (this apparently automatically makes them "hawks").
Richter's hawkish characterization of the likes of Richard Holbrooke, Hillary Clinton, Vice-president Elect Joe Biden, and John Kerry is inadvertently amusing to any reader who has followed the machinations in Washington since the 110th Congress began in January 2006.
Richter goes to one peace activist, Kevin Martin, to "prove" that Obama is a "centrist." But in the process, as noted in my bold, we see an antiwar zealot acknowledge that Obama Mania has gone over the top: