If only Joe Biden had seized the moment with one brilliant burst of brevity . . .
This morning on GMA, Biden had the chance to turn his presidential candidacy announcement into a funny, feel-good moment that would have won him untold millions in free coverage. Sadly, the senator from Delaware couldn't resist his proclivity to pontificate.
Diane Sawyer had the scoop: Joe Biden appeared on this morning's Good Morning America to make it official -- he's running for president.
First came the obligatory questions about Iran and Iraq. Diane next tried lure Biden into expanding on his statement that Hillary's nostrums for Iraq would be a "disaster." Biden wouldn't bite: "I have great respect for Hillary Clinton . . . she is fully qualified to be president . . . She is a first-rate person."
Biden similarly declined to rise to Sawyer's bait about Obama's inexperience, responding: "This guy's incredible. He's fresh, he's new, he's got great ideas."
Talk then turned to Biden's Achilles heel: his famed motor mouth. Sawyer: "The Washington Post says your friends have told you that you have to learn to 'put a sock in it' and not talk so much, and that you're taking their recommendation to heart."
Biden launched into a 93-word response in which claimed he was taking his friends' advice to heart, but in the same breath added that "if it takes more than three minutes" to give an answer, he's going to do it.
Imagine if in response to Diane's question, Biden, after a pregnant pause, had let his entire answer be a big, smiling "yup!"
It would have been priceless, and splashed all over the media. But Joe just couldn't "hep" himself. Joe Biden: once again, victim of his own verbosity.
Hillary has to be nervous. At this juncture in the campaign, she’s being edged out in the Goo Primary. Her natural allies in the media suddenly are more adulatory toward Barack Obama – and more defensive of anyone who would dare question his exotic biography.
Insight magazine, a long-standing publication of The Washington Times Company, published a gossipy item with anonymous “Democratic Party” sources (they claimed some of them came from Hillary’s camp) that Obama had attended a madrassa, a radical Islamic school, in Indonesia as a child. The story was unproven, and should not have been published in its sorry condition.
When a NBC military analyst made the case that US withdrawal from Iraq would have very harmful consequences, you might have expected Meredith Vieira to argue the point. But not only did the NBC host seem to buy into his logic, she took it a significant step farther toward its logical conclusion.
Retired LTC Rick Francona was Meredith's guest on this morning's "Today." The appearance was sparked by reports that the US has amassed firm evidence that Iran is supplying a variety of weaponry to Shia militias in Iraq, including shoulder-fired missiles and sophisticated IEDs responsible for the deaths of many Americans. The screen graphic posed the question "Is U.S. Fighting Iran in Iraq?"
Francona made his thesis clear from the get-go: "We're in a power struggle with the Iranians over who's going to exercise influence in the future in Iraq, and they want to be that power. It's either us or them."
Vieira set the stage for her off-the-Dem-reservation remarks with this question: "So they're hoping if and when we leave Iraq they will fill the power vacuum that is left?"
Lynn Sweet has seen an angry Hillary up close and personal, and it left a mark, as you can see by the screen capture of Sweet describing that moment. You can't get much more mainstream than Sweet: D.C. bureau chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, columnist for The Hill, a weekly newspaper that covers the Congress, member of the National Press Club and the Gridiron Club.
Appearing on this afternoon's Hardball, Sweet was discussing the incident in which Hillary, in Iowa, jokingly referred to having experience with "evil men." The question naturally arose as to whether Hillary was alluding to Bill.
So imagine the look on my face when I picked up the Times this morning to see yet another fawning portrait of Obama today (Mon. Jan. 29, 2007)! This time, the piece is, "Occidental recalls 'Barry' Obama," placed prominently on the top of page B1 spanning 1,456 words. (See an image of the article.) Three photos, including one of a smiling, youthful Obama, accompany the piece. Need I even mention that the article is a pretty positive sketch of its subject?
CNN analyst, author, and former Clinton operative James Carville appeared on Monday’s "Good Morning America" and complained that journalists are too tough on Hillary Clinton. Referring to the comment made by the New York Senator and 2008 presidential candidate that she has experience dealing with "evil and bad men," Carville asserted that members of the media should be lauding her strong sense of humor. The Louisiana native also touted Mrs. Clinton’s nascent White House run, saying that it was the best campaign kick off ever. However, the CNN analyst became most animated when speaking of Hillary’s recent joke:
Diane Sawyer: "I want to turn to Iraq in a moment, but you mentioned sense of humor. So, who did you think she was talking about when she said that about bad men?"
James Carville: "You know– You know, journalists are funny. All you hear is, [Adopts whiney tone] 'Hillary don't have a sense of humor. She’s too cold. She does this and that.' And then, she cracks a joke, which, by the way which was a pretty funny joke. And they say, 'Well, look at this. Look at this.' You know? And I thought it was sophisticated, and the fact that she didn't answer it is an element of good humor. And I know her personally to be a very warm and humorous person and I was delighted to see that come out. Good joke, Senator. Way to go."
CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reported that Hillary Clinton’s campaign trip to Iowa this past weekend "marked the first time any Clinton has ever campaigned in Iowa." Ms. Bowers, reporting in the 7:00 half hour of Monday’s "Early Show," should have researched the facts before making such a blanket assertion. According to a Nexis search, CNN reported on February 11, 1996 that then President Clinton was campaigning in Iowa, even though he had no primary opponent, to "solidify his support." And, a Nexis search on Hillary Clinton revealed that the New York Senator was the key note speaker at a Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner to raise funds for Iowa Democrats on November 15, 2003.
Ms. Bower’s report, while not necessarily biased, raises the question, is anyone at CBS doing research? One would think that in the wake of the Dan Rather "memogate" scandal in 2004, CBS journalists would be more cautious about what they report and would take the time to verify the accuracy of their claims.
Today's starter: Over the weekend, I went to the National Review Institute's first Conservative Summit where the 2008 presidential election was topic one. Several of the candidates were there including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who in all likelihood announced his presidential candidacy on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday.
Largely lost in the MSM's focus on Hillary's laugh line in Iowa about her experience in dealing with evil men was something she said that was immeasurably more noteworthy. In one stunning, self-centered swoop, Hillary Clinton has transformed herself into an anti Iraq-war radical. The woman who voted to authorize the war now calls for the US, come hell or high water, to be out of Iraq by the end of President Bush's term. As per this report, here's how she put it in Iowa yesterday:
"I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it," she said, "this was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy, and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office."
The Los Angeles Times is continuing its fawning and glowing coverage of Democratic freshman Senator Barack Obama. Only 11 days ago, after Obama announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee, the Times commemorated the event on the top of its front page with 1,469 words, a color text box, and photos (see this).
Yesterday (Sat. January 27, 2007), the Times published its latest adulatory piece, "Early on, Obama showed talent for bridging divisions." It was on the front page, and it featured a nice, smiling photo of a youthful Obama with more pics inside. (See an image of the piece.) It runs a generous 1,204 words, and let's just say the Obama camp won't be calling the Times to complain. It's a pretty sweet profile. ("Interviews with more than a dozen people associated with the law review, both liberals and conservatives, found no one who did not profess respect for Obama." You get the idea.)
Just when we were getting warm 'n fuzzy with Chatty Hillary of the living room couch, she went Mike Tyson on us.
Can you imagine the MSM's collective gasp of horror if a Republican presidential candidate threatened to punch out opponents? It would be a field day for the psychologists, as one after another would be paraded across TV screens to speculate on the subconscious roots of such hostility, and opine on the fitness for office of anyone harboring such pugilistic predilections. Lefty foreign policy mavens would be invited to fret over the way such knee-jerk aggression might lead us into war, etc.
But NBC raised nary an eyebrow when reporting on Hillary having uttered just such a threat during a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday. View video here.
Imagine if one of the leading Republican candidates for president in 2008 like John McCain or Rudy Giuliani had a civil lawsuit for campaign finance fraud pending against him. Do you think that the media would be following this action with every legal brief filed, and every breath uttered by anyone involved?
Well, there is a huge campaign finance fraud case pending against Hillary Clinton that was enacted by the largest contributor to the junior senator’s 2000 campaign almost three years ago, and the media couldn’t care less. Those looking for some background regarding this issue should read a comprehensive analysis of the subject published by the New Media Journal last March.
With that in mind, on January 11, a brief was filed concerning this action in the California Court of Appeals alleging criminal misconduct by the lady who would be president that no media outlet reported except for World Net Daily:
Push Poll: Definition: "A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. Push polls are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning. The term is also sometimes used incorrectly to refer to legitimate polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative. Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants."
Melissa Russo, political reporter for NBC's NYC affiliate WNBC, recently followed Rudy Giuliani up to New Hampshire. In her report on this morning's "Today," Russo stressed that at a GOP campaign stop, Giuliani failed to inform the Granite State Republicans that "he's far from a social conservative."
As the 2008 campaign heats up, members of the mainstream media are having trouble deciding between their old favorite (Hillary) and the new flame (Obama). Both CNN and ABC leapt to the defense of Senator Barack Obama after he was accused of attending an Islamic madrassah as a child. (Of course, ABC once devoted an entire episode of "Nightline" to murky allegations that George W. Bush did coke as a younger man.)
But perhaps Obama should be a little worried. The "Early Show" demonstrated exactly why Hillary is still the media’s favorite. Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews told Hillary Clinton that "ideologues on the right" were responsible for the death of her famous health care plan.
ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked another 2008 candidate, Bill Richardson, if, as president, he would please just raise taxes.
It's not uncommon for an interviewer to tell a guest offering orotund pronouncements that he's sounding "like a candidate." But Meredith Vieira took that one giant step further this morning, informing renegade Republican Chuck Hagel that he was sounding downright "presidential."
Of course, nothing sounds more presidential to an MSMer's ears than defeatist criticism of the war in Iraq and by extension of the current occupant of the White House. But when it came to the key question, Hagel, far from flashing presidential timber, equivocated like a garden-variety pol.
Vieira: "Senator, at this point, do you believe we are fighting and dying for nothing?"
Hagel immediately went into bob-and-weave mode: "Well, I think the Congress needs to take a look at it and each member of Congress needs to go on the record and need [sic] to address the issue in a very clear way so that they can go back to their constituents and say yes I either support an escalation to put 22,000 more troops in the middle of a sectarian civil war, or I don't."
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," ABC’s Jake Tapper continued the media’s campaign to defend Senator Barack Obama against charges that, as a young child living in Indonesia, he attended a madrassah, an Islamic school that teaches virulent anti-Americanism. Co-host Robin Roberts and Mr. Tapper alternatively referred to the charges as "smears," "dirty tricks" and "lies." According to a 1999 MRC Reality Check, ABC gave no such courtesy to then-Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. On August 24 of that year, "Nightline" host Ted Koppel devoted an entire half hour episode to the unsubstantiated rumors that Bush used cocaine as a younger person. Obama, who has admitted trying cocaine as a teenager, was not asked about it in a January 24 GMA appearance. Here is Koppel’s explanation for the media’s interest in Bush’s youth:
Ted Koppel: "So here we are in this curious twilight in which [Bush] plainly acknowledges excessive use of alcohol until he turned 40, makes no claim of privacy in the area of marital infidelity, unlike some people we know he did not cheat on his wife, but leaves the question of youthful cocaine use ambiguously addressed with this assertion: I did make mistakes years ago."
-Nightline August 24, 1999
And here is the combined defense of Robert's introduction and Tapper's report on the January 25 "Good Morning America."
Robin Roberts: "Now, to the field of contenders, the presidential hopefuls who want President Bush's job. And the dirty tricks seem to have already begun. The target? Senator Barack Obama."
In discussing the resolution passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressing disagreement with President Bush, CBS’s "Early Show" only featured sound clips from senators who voted for the measure, including from Senator Chuck Hagel, the lone Republican on the panel to vote for it. There was no video of any of the nine Republicans who voted against the proposal. Though many of these nine oppose President Bush’s troop surge, they view a non-binding resolution to be the wrong tool to express this.
CNN’s "American Morning," however, recognized the differences of opinion on the panel. They aired footage of Indiana Senator and ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee Richard Lugar, who opined:
Since her successful senatorial campaign in 2000, Hillary Clinton has enjoyed huge financial support from wealthy liberal Hollywoodans. However, a report posted at ABCNews.com suggests that some movie industry heavyweights are jumping off her bandwagon and onto Barack Obama’s (h/t Drudge):
On Wednesday morning, hundreds of Hollywood's movers and shakers received an invitation that they may find hard to refuse.
They've been invited to come meet Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party's new superstar. He already has the buzz, but can he bring home the prize?
On Wednesday’s "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith pressed Republican Senator and presidential candidate John McCain on the war in Iraq and the president’s handling of it, but in a subsequent interview with Democratic presidential hopeful and Illinois Senator Barack Obama, Smith only had softball questions. For instance, Smith wondered what Obama was thinking while he was listening to the president’s speech and what running for president has taught the Illinois Senator. Smith also neglected to question Obama regarding his inexperience.
Mr. Smith first talked with Senator McCain, and Smith spent much of the interview discussing Iraq. Given the tone of the interview, it seems unlikely that McCain will be the media sensation he was in 2000. During today’s segment, Smith first wondered if President Bush even deserved another chance on Iraq:
Here’s something you don’t see every day: a columnist at a liberal newspaper saying bad things about Democrats. In this case, it’s especially odd given that the targets of the disaffection were primarily media darlings Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
The battle of the cable news networks rages on, and gets funnier and funnier by the minute. In this latest installment, a Fox News spokesperson has deliciously disparaged one of CNN’s biggest stars.
As reported by the New York Times (emphasis mine throughout):
A Fox News spokeswoman, Irena Briganti, said CNN was mainly looking for publicity in attacking its higher-rated rival. Of Mr. Cooper’s comment, she said, “Yet another cry for attention by the Paris Hilton of television news, Anderson Cooper.”
What was this recent fracas about? You’ll never guess:
Q. How do you know a presidential candidate has thin national-security credentials?
A. When he has to cite his undergraduate major as evidence of his experience.
Barack Obama made the morning show rounds today. The amiable Robin Roberts interviewed him on ABC's Good Morning America. Inevitably, talk turned to his presidential prospects.
Roberts: "You're calling for a slight withdrawal of troops and I need to ask you this -- are you concerned that your lack of experience, when it comes to foreign policy, may hurt your chances in the run for the White House?" [Note Robin's apologetic "I need to ask you."]
Obama: "Well, actually, my experience in foreign policy is probably more diverse than most others in the field. I'm somebody who has actually lived overseas, somebody who has studied overseas. I majored in international relations.
In response to president Bush's State of the Union Address, the Washington Post's main criticism (by reporter Glenn Kessler in the "news" section, not the editorial page) seems to be that Bush doesn't understand who "the enemy" is in the Global War on Terror. Yet as the Post proceeds to knock what they perceive as Bush's simple minded rhetoric with today's news article they only reveal it is they, rather, that has no idea who our enemies are.
In his State of the Union address last night, President Bush presented an arguably misleading and often flawed description of "the enemy" that the United States faces overseas, lumping together disparate groups with opposing ideologies to suggest that they have a single-minded focus in attacking the United States.
The headline was "President's Portrayal of 'The Enemy' Often Flawed." The Post's conception of "flawed" is just as ill considered as they imagine the president's to be and their analysis adds up merely to mirror the conception held by many Europeans.
Once again, a National U.S. paper "arguably" chooses sides with Europe's interests over that of America.
As reported by NewsBusters, Keith Olbermann during Monday’s “Countdown” declared Insight magazine as part of a quartet of the Worst Persons in the World. Its crime? Publishing an article suggesting that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) attended a Muslim madrassa as a child.
In reality, KO should point that castigating finger at himself given that he hasn’t always been so critical of the conservative magazine. In fact, in the eight other times that a LexisNexis search identified KO referenced Insight, he quoted from the publication quite warmly as if it was a credible source (h/t NewsBusters member “mlong”).
What did all those eight instances have in common? Well, if you guessed that the magazine was criticizing President Bush or a member of his administration, you’d be correct.
Hysterically, the most egregious example of Olby’s hypocrisy on this issue was him actually using an Insight article to declare Karl Rove “The Worst Person in the World” on September 6, 2006:
The "historic" Democratic presidential primaries of 2008 are kicking in already, and the online announcements of Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have spun the media into a frothy sweet Frappucino of giddiness.
Take ABC, whose Claire Shipman described the emerging Democratic race this way: "Call it Obama wave collides with Clinton juggernaut," a contest between Obama’s "fluid poetry" and Hillary’s "hot factor" from her "ever-popular" husband. If this piece was in print instead of on television, it would have fallen off the page with all the exclamation points. High-school dance squads have less enthusiasm; high school term papers have less hyperbole.
Tuesday’s "Good Morning America" attempted to simultaneously trash George Bush while also building up the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, who, according to anchor Robin Roberts, is "electrifying" the presidential race. Meanwhile, the ABC program chose to allow political columnist Mary Ann Akers to assert President Bush will be delivering his 2007 State of the Union address "from the gutter." GMA correspondent Claire Shipman set up the nasty quote by remarking on how little applause is expected during the speech:
Claire Shipman: "And we’re also told that the speech will run about an hour, that’s taking into account anticipated applause. But, of course, they can't be counting on an overwhelming amount of that this year. The State of the Union address is normally an occasion marked by steady applause, lawmakers scrambling over each other to glad-hand the President. This year’s address, Bush's first in front of a Democratic Congress, may have an entirely different tone."
Mary Ann Akers (Columnist, Washington Post website) "Essentially, President Bush is going to be delivering his State of the Union address from the gutter. His approval ratings are dismal. The American people, according to the latest polls, are relying more on Congress than they are on the President to resolve the Iraq war."
Akers has delivered snarky, liberal-pleasing comments in the past. She previously wrote the "Heard on the Hill" column for Roll Call. And in 2006, as a Huffington Post columnist , Akers sarcastically wrote about George Allen’s campaign troubles, noting that the Senator’s newly found Jewish heritage had resulted in a nickname: "Macacawitz."
CNN heavily promoted an "exclusive" last night with stories by John Vause and Howard Kurtz rebutting an Insight magazine article on Barack Obama’s Indonesian schooling, that it occurred in a "madrassa," with the on-screen graphic "DEBUNKING A SMEAR." Conservatives shouldn't defend journalism from conservative media outlets if the story doesn't stand up -- if it carries a lot of shaky anonymous sourcing and can easily and passionately be portrayed by liberal media outlets as a "smear." Insight's story seems underbaked, not ready to face prime-time liberals like last night's fusillade from Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper and Paula Zahn, who brought on CAIR, not Obama, for outrage over "Islamophobia."
The sad thing here is that Democratic candidates (and the Democrat-dominated media) will follow the usual Clinton formula: they'll push outrage at unsubstantiated charges, and then not really press the candidate about the issues raised. Obama's Illinois church and religious beliefs (and his former lack of religious beliefs) are very interesting topics. Like everything about Obama, they need more investigation from the media and less exaltation. But the media will quickly suggest (and have suggested) that Obama's exotic upbringing makes him more qualified to understand the world. He has certainly pushed that line. Take this AFP wire story where race-transcending Obama touted to the reporter that he was "greatly influenced" by his Asian sojourn:
If Hillary isn't quite getting out the long knives, let's just say she's oiling the scabbard. As we noted earlier, on this morning's "Today" Clinton drew an invidious comparison between herself and John Edwards, referring to him as "on the sidelines" while she's in "the arena."
And after some persistent questioning by Diane Sawyer on today's Good Morning America, Hillary took a little swipe at her other major opponent, Barack Obama.
Sawyer: "Yesterday, talking about Senator Barack Obama, when asked specifically if he is qualified to be commander-in-chief, to be president, you didn't answer, you said 'I'm going to let the American people decide.' You know the office, you know him. Why not say?"
Gee, I wonder whom Hillary had in mind when she blamed her bad image on "radio and cable TV" this morning? She didn't quite name Rush, Hannity et al. as the "evildoers," but there was no mistaking the object of her disaffection.
The comment came in the course of a "Today" interview with Meredith Vieira. Meredith began with a slow-pitch softball, asking whether Hillary believes the public has stopped listening to President Bush. Hillary allowed that "there's a great discouragement about the president's leadership."
But Meredith maximized the MPH with her next question:
"Many voters still have this very negative opinion of you, and some of the words that are used to describe you are not very kind." As Vieira beginning ticking off the awful adjectives: "strident, cold, scripted, phony," Hillary burst into this political season's most insincere laughter.
Meredith took note of Clinton's feigned frivolity: "You're laughing at that. Advisors have said that they want to humanize you. Why do people seem to have that perception of you after knowing you for 15 years."