Don't look for ABC's Cokie Roberts to turn up anytime soon on that comfy couch featured in Hillary's announcement video, enjoying one of those cozy "conversations" Clinton claims to want.
Appearing on This Week today, Roberts left little doubt that she views Hillary as a seriously flawed candidate - if not person. Roberts began by damning Hillary with faint praise:
"I think she's got a lot of great attributes: she's a very disciplined candidate, she's very smart, she can raise more money than God, she has a terrific staff, she's been through a presidential campaign or two and knows how rough it is, which is really important as everyone at this table knows. And I think that all works for her."
Roberts than inserted the shiv: "What works against her is that issue of anger. And not just anger, sort of coldness."
CNN Saturday Morning News included the customary mainstream media genuflection to Senator Barack Obama. Anchor T.J. Holmes and senior national correspondent discussed Senator Hillary Clinton's announcement of an exploratory committee to examine her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
HOLMES: "So, has Senator Barack Obama just really shaken things up in the Clinton camp to where they have to change things, shake things up, move a timetable up a little bit because of just the rock star power that this guy has and all the attention that he's generating?"
ROBERTS: "I think that Barack Obama really has changed the dynamic for the Clinton folks. . . Suddenly, in comes Barack Obama, steals a lot of the limelight. And he's just one of those guys that the spotlight loves. You know, he doesn't love the spotlight so much as the spotlight loves him, if you understand what I mean."
If the timing came as a bit of surprise, nothing could have been less unexpected than Hillary's "I'm In" announcement of today.
But have a look at the video of her announcement. Rather than her "let's chat" rap, please focus on the background. Look out the door. Presumably the announcement was shot in one of Hillary's homes: Chappaqua or Georgetown. Now I know it's been a mild winter, but even so, surely the leaves are gone from the trees and bushes in either spot. And check out the yellow spot in the bushes. At first I thought it was just a warm dapple of sunshine. But freeze the frame when, about 1/4 of the way through, Hillary says "how to end the deficits that threaten Social Security." That's not sunshine -- those are flowers in bloom.
Conservative fans of the right-leaning TV show 24 shouldn’t be surprised that liberals such as Keith Olbermann are now savaging the program. However, the leftist host also mentioned NewsBusters in his diatribe. "Newsweek" magazine went further and speculated that the show is a "neocon sex fantasy."
The recent announcement by Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama that he’s running for President resulted in media swooning over his "big step." "Good Morning America" wondered if Obama’s "fluid poetry" could overcome Hillary’s "hot factor." (Another example of hard hitting journalism?)
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Claire Shipman effusively previewed the looming presidential battle between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. How, Shipman wondered, would Obama’s "fluid poetry" stand up against Mrs. Clinton’s "hot factor?" The tone of the January 18 piece seemed to indicate that, although members of the media may think both candidates are terrific, Obama hasn’t lost his "flavor of the month" status. In the segment, Shipman noted the New York Senator’s flip-flops on Iraq and that, despite being a "devout Methodist," she rarely talks about religion. However, it was this over-the-top praise that really demonstrated who the current media darling is:
Claire Shipman: "Though the change in [Clinton’s] views also mirrors the nation’s and the increasingly grim situation in Iraq, she could appear politically calculating while Obama seems principled. And the side-by-side talent show? Next to Obama's fluid poetry, Hillary Clinton's delivery can seem overly cautious."
You could sense the revelry as the Los Angeles Times featured Sen. Barack Obama's announcement on the top of its front page (Wednesday, January 17, 2007). (See the image.) Along with the 1469-word article is a color photo of Barack and a colored box highlighting his "Background," "Experience," and "Education." Inside, with the continuation of the article, is another generous photo of Barack, this one covering over 30 square inches. The article gushes that Obama is a "charismatic speaker" who "has been enthusiastically received by audiences around the country."
Here's Hillary's idea of diplomacy: bend to her will, or she'll put your life in danger. And that's how she treats our allies.
Yikes. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, let me try to send a message to Hillary's handlers: emergency personality makeover required! A couple more appearances as angry and unpleasant as this morning's on Today and Hillary's odds of winning the Dem nomination will be as slim as those she accorded to that of the surge succeeding.
The strategy for Hillary's conversation with Matt Lauer was transparent. Because her substantive position on Iraq is not as anti-war as that of Obama or Edwards, Hillary sought to compensate, in appealing to Dem primary voters, by sounding angrier about our policy than either of her rivals. From that perspective, you might say: Mission Accomplished. This was Hillary, rhetorically speaking, packing an M-4, grenades slung, knife between teeth.
But at what cost to her likability? Don't voters have to be able to warm up to a candidate? Yet Hillary hovered barely above absolute zero.
Beyond her tone, her message was about as cold-blooded as you can get. Twice she suggested threatening to cut off funding for the personal security of Iraq's leaders. As Hillary put it: "I don't think we should continue to fund the protection for the Iraqi government leaders or for the training and equipping of their army unless they meet certain conditions."
This was no idle threat. It was clearly a key element of Hillary's plan, one she repeated later:
"I [suggest] putting leverage on them and saying 'you know what, we provide security for the members of this government, we're cutting funding for that.'"
Just as when Democratic Senator Barack Obama said he was considering a presidential campaign last October, his announcement Monday -- via a Web video that he has set up an exploratory committee -- unleashed media excitement. The CBS Evening News treated it as one of the two big stories of the day: “I'm Katie Couric. Two major stories tonight: A vicious attack in Baghdad....And Senator Barack Obama takes a big step toward running for President. He says it's time for a change.” After that tease, Couric announced: “Hi everyone. He's generated a lot of excitement. And now it looks like Senator Barack Obama is, indeed, jumping into the presidential race. We'll have more about that in a moment.”
Over on ABC's World News, which devoted more than four minutes to the topic, anchor Kate Snow trumpeted how “Democratic rising star Barack Obama takes a major step toward a run for the White House.” She soon trumpeted how “the presidential race got a major jolt today. The man who could become the first African-American President took a major step toward becoming a candidate.” Snow even spun a negative into a positive: “His political resume is rather thin, but in the 2008 race, that could be a plus.” NBC anchor Brian Williams teased “a big step tonight for Barack Obama” before touting how “a bit of political history was made today, kind of, when Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama almost declared his candidacy for President.”
On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Miles O’Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain’s bid for the White House. O’Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain’s sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator’s record. But first, Miles O’Brien led with classic labeling bias:
7:26 (story tease)
Miles O'Brien: "Plus, Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader."
O'Brien: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for president. 'American Morning's' Bob Franken joining us live from Washington with more. Good morning, Bob."
Free Republic, a conservative website familiar to many at NewsBusters, is normally not in the business of breaking news stories. FR's raison d'etre is to serve as a gathering place for conservatives to post and comment on stories found elsewhere in the media - including at NB.
But today comes some interesting investigative reporting at Free Republic, billed as an FR Exclusive. As reported by FReeper Howlin, CNN has recently signed a deal to provide poll data for the '08 prez contest with a polling firm controlled by an avid Clinton supporter.
For Chris Matthews, there is one constant to be considered in analyzing the prospects of the presidential contenders on both the GOP and Dem sides: the presumed bigotry of his fellow Americans.
Kibitzing about '08 on this afternoon's Hardball with a conservative-free panel composed of Chris Cizzilla of the Washington Post, Mike Allen of Time and Howard Fineman of time immemorial, Matthews first handicapped the Dem field in these terms:
"Is the low estimate of [Democrats'] belief in [Hillary's] electability low enough thatthey think that an African-American guy has a better shot than she does? I mean that's a statement, I think, of pessimism about her shot if you shift to him for electability reasons."
Could Meredith Vieira be emerging as one of the morning shows' most incisive inquisitioners? As we noted here, Katie Couric's replacement at "Today" recently gave Ted Kennedy a rather rough going-over regarding his legislative proposal to require the president to obtain congressional approval for a surge.
This morning, she took on the hitherto untouchable Barack Obama. And while her tone and line of questioning were not disrespectful, neither was there any hint of the kind of MSM cheerleading that the junior senator from IL has no doubt come to expect.
Before we get to Vieira's questions, take a good look at the screencap. By his super-serious mien and the marble-pillared setting he chose for the interview, Obama was clearly trying to project the image of a ready-for-prime-time Commander-in-Chief. Call him "Stone Cold Barack Obama."
"We see his well-defined pecs, his perfectly hairless torso, just a bit of padding around the abs and a drawstring dangling from his form-fitting surfer trunks. The aspiring presidential candidate splashes through the water and squints into the distance; he is transformed into Burt Lancaster in 'From Here to Eternity.'"
No, of course the Democratic Party in Washington doesn't have a problem with the real or perceived masculinity of its male senators and congressmen.
Absolutely not. What in the world are you talking about?
You're all excited just because Maureen Dowd calls Barack Obama "Obambi," had to listen to him complain to her because she wrote that his ears are big (he's sennnnnnsitive about them, y'know), and told him that she's trying to "toughen him up."
Oh, and you still remember Al Gore bringing in Naomi Wolf in to help him during the early stages of his 2000 presidential campaign because:
..... he is a beta male, a subordinate figure, and must learn to become an alpha male, or leader of the pack, before the public can accept him as President .....
Your point is?
And I'll just bet you're going to try to make hay out of that Sunday New York Times Week in Review feature (requires registration) about the new Democratic Alpha Males:
In their first broadcast of 2007, ABC’s Nightline devoted the entire program to re-airing portions of stories from 2006 dealing with "power," including the shift in political power in the United States. The final segment of the newscast, entitled ‘Here Come the Democrats,’ featured three friendly profiles of prominent Democrats, including Cynthia McFadden’s tea with Senator Hillary Clinton and Terry Moran’s ‘Oba-mania’ during his interview with Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Here are some examples of the softball questions to Clinton and Obama re-broadcast Monday night:
Cynthia McFadden: "Do you actually like it? Do you actually like campaigning?...So, an association game, if you'll--if you will, a word or two about the following political folks, okay? President George Bush?
Senator Hillary Clinton: "Disappointing."
McFadden: "....So George Bush is disappointing....Is America ready for a female president? What do you think?"
Terry Moran: "Right now you're on a roll. You're--people, 'Oba-mania, they, they call it. The rock star. You get a big cheer when you get up there....It seems sometimes that much of your politics is about bridging divides....Republican-Democrat, black-white, red-blue. Is your politics about your biography?"
At the top of the Saturday Washington Post Style section is the headline "The Hard Core of Cool: Confidence, Grace, And Underneath It All, the Need to Be Recognized." Right next to the headline is a Reuters photo of Sen. Barack Obama, his head tilted up and eyes gazing toward the heavens. It's an essay by Metro section columnist (and former Post reporter) Donna Britt, part of the Post's ongoing "Being A Black Man" series.
Britt theorized that while white, Latino, and Asian men "have been deemed cool, black men remain cool's most imitated, consistent arbiters. I mean, there's cool -- and then there's brothercool. (Italics hers.) Think of Barack Obama's instantaneous ascension to 'coolest man in Congress.'"
Free speech is certainly wonderful to watch when practiced by one in possession of compelling ideas mixed with two doses wit and a splash of sarcasm. Such was the case on Thursday evening when comedian Dennis Miller was given the stage on “Hannity & Colmes” to pontificate anew with nary a discouraging word from the resident liberal antagonist (video available here courtesy of our friend at Ms Underestimated):
Looks like they found evidence of water on Mars, but unfortunately, they also found a sucker fish in water, so we're not allowed to study it any more.
Do you know why I'm no longer liberal? Because I wanted to stop my sentences one word short of the word "but." You know, as a liberal, I found myself using the word "but" more frequently than a proctologist filling out his day planner.
Then, Miller made an observation that most NBers are likely to find somewhat objectionable:
At the absolutely Bush-loathing website Buzzflash.com, there are Olbermann for President buttons. He is, they say, "the first-tier reality-based, progressive cable commentator" who has walked on "the path to becoming the contemporary heir to the courageous, succinct truth-telling of Edward R. Murrow." The love letter continued:
Olbermann's commentaries on the Bush Administration and America's promise are so succinct, articulate, and withering that they leave you breathless. You keep thinking, "How did the corporate media poobahs let someone so straightforward, eloquent and truthful on the air?"
In an age of media stenographers, Olbermann doesn't pull any punches. And he's not just hard hitting; he connects the dots too. In short, he puts the insane failure and duplicity of the Bush administration in context, a rare thing indeed on television and in the media in general.
Former Senator and Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards announced on Thursday that he will once again be a candidate for president in 2008, and he appeared on all three network morning programs to discuss his aspirations. Given the treatment he received on NBC’s "Today" and ABC’s "Good Morning America," it is clear he is not the darling of the media for this campaign cycle as ABC highlighted a potential campaign by Barack Obama, and NBC portrayed Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee.
On "Good Morning America," George Stephanopoulos accused Senator Edwards of exploiting hurricane Katrina by announcing his candidacy in New Orleans and wondered why Democrats should nominate him over "someone who was against the war from the start, like Barack Obama?" On NBC, "Today" co-host Matt Lauer inquired on whether Edwards can truly connect with the "have-nots" in America, given that he lives a luxurious lifestyle, and would he once again accept a nomination to be vice president, this time with Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, "So down the road, would you consider a vice-presidential slot for Hillary Clinton?" However, on CBS’s "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith gave Senator Edwards a softball interview. He asked simple questions that did not challenge Mr. Edwards record or current positions such as what advice Edwards would give President Bush on Iraq.
Catspawing for another candidate, or just solid journalistic probing? In either case, ABC's George Stephanopoulos gave John Edwards a rough go when the former NC senator appeared on Good Morning America today to announce his candidacy for president.
Steph was on the offense from the get-go: "Back in 2004, you criticized President Bush for exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 by having his convention in New York City. Aren't you exploiting Katrina by announcing your candidacy in New Orleans?"
Edwards didn't respond directly to the exploitation allegation, asserting only that he was seeking to draw attention to New Orleans's plight. And not to himself? At the risk of reading too much into every jot and tittle, I'd say that Steph's formulation "aren't you exploiting?" is considerably more accusatory than would have been "are you exploiting?"
On the McLaughlin Group's "2006 Year-End Awards" aired over the Christmas weekend, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift hailed Al Gore for the "Best Comeback," trumpeting him: "Al Gore, who is now in contention as a possible presidential candidate and who is leading a campaign to recognize the potential danger of global warming. Hooray that he is back."
After giving her "Enough Already!" distinction to "Bush and Cheney," Clift championed Democrat James Webb as her "Person of the Year" at the end of the show: "Virginia Senator-elect James Webb, the former combat veteran, novelist won the race and has the stamina and the imagination to help lead the campaign to get this country out of Iraq."
Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass comes at Barack Obama's media hype machine from a local perspective, wondering how a President Obama might be useful to corrupt Illinois politicians in both parties. But he says he like the man, if not his starry-eyed media hype:
He's a decent fellow and I like him. He might make a fine liberal president someday. And though I disagree with him on policy, I'd bet my White Sox tickets that his wife, Michelle, won't keep 800 secret FBI files of their political enemies hidden in some White House bedroom.
Obama isn't irritating. What's irritating is the relentless media fawning and hype. Tom Bevan of the Real Clear Politics Web site recently predicted the slobbering will "drive John Kass nuts."
New York Senator Hillary Clinton appeared on Wednesday’s The View to discuss politics and the re-release of her book, It Takes a Village. While there was some cheerleading for the 2008 Democratic presidential frontrunner by co-hosts Joy Behar and Rosie O’Donnell, for the most part, there seemed to be a great deal of restraint on all sides during Clinton’s two segments. Asked about a potential run for the White House, Clinton again said she was thinking about it "trying to sort all this out." On the war in Iraq, Clinton only got one challenging question in regards to her support of a "phased redeployment," from co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck:
Senator Hillary Clinton: "....So, if it's not going to change the mission, if it's not going to be a different strategy, I don't see where putting more troops will make a difference."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "Do you think pulling them out too early will–would equate to–sometimes I think of it as, you know, not finishing all of your antibiotics. Okay, there’s a problem there."
Hasselbeck: "So if you pull out too early, will that create more chaos?"
Interviewing Rick Davis, chairman of John McCain's presidential exploratory committee, on MSNBC at about 11:45 AM today, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell [NB file photo] demanded to know why McCain had hired Terry Nelson as his campaign manager. She described Nelson as "the man who was behind that dreadful commercial against Harold Ford. This is John McCain, the victim of these kinds of attacks in the South Carolina primary and other primaries back in 2000."
"Dreadful"? How about "funny and on the mark"? Who declared the ad "dreadful" other than the DNC and the MSM?
That's Meredith Vieira beaming at Hillary Clinton on this morning's Today. Someone might suggest to Meredith that when trying to ingratiate oneself with Hillary, it's advisable to avoid words bringing "imperious" to mind. But if the execution was flawed, no one can deny the fervor with which Vieira endorsed Hillary's paean to big-government, 'It Takes A Village'. Here's how Vieira opened the interview:
"I want to start with 'It Takes a Village' '07 because this book came out ten years ago, and a lot has happened in the past ten years that makes it I think even more imperative that we will need a village to raise healthy, secure children."
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was Tim Russert’s "guest" on “Meet the Press” Sunday, and it’s safe to assume the eloquent Georgian would have preferred something more pleasant for Christmas like a root canal, a colonoscopy, or an income tax audit. In fact, Russert gave Gingrich a grilling that many murder suspects don’t receive from hostile police officers in an interrogation room.
With that as pretext, while you read some of Russert’s inquiries, just imagine how incredibly unlikely it is that any Democrat candidate for president will ever face the kinds of questions Gingrich did this fine day. For instance, can you in your wildest dreams envision Russert asking John Edwards or Hillary Clinton something like this:
Reading this AP article on Evan Bayh's announcement that he won't seek the Dem presidential nomination because he's concluded the odds are too long, I kept searching for the predictable labeling reference. And sure enough it came:
"Bayh has charted a centrist's course throughout his political career."
That sent me scurrying to a favorite source, Project Vote Smart, to check Bayh's ratings from various interest groups. Yes, he's probably less liberal than, say, Barbara Boxer. But check out some of his ratings:
You might think the media, given the fact that they helped engineer a Democratic victory in the midterms, and that it’s almost Christmas (sorry, Holiday), would ease their assault on President Bush. And you would be wrong. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews recently remarked that President Bush is demonstrating "messianic nuttiness." CNN’s Jack Cafferty finds it "strange" that Democrats aren’t racing to impeach President Bush.
Over on MSNBC, the reliably biased Keith Olbermann has become completely unhinged. On December 9, he smeared Bush as "authoritarian" and the "worst ever" president. But, Keith, do you like him or not?
On CBS, "Evening News" host Katie Couric labeled Bush’s new poll numbers "devastating" and "stunning."
But not all politicians are bad, especially those with that "D" next to their names. Long time ABC reporter Barbara Walters named Nancy Pelosi the "most fascinating person of 2006." And, no, the network did not bestow a similar honor on Newt Gingrich in 1994. "The Los Angeles Times" provided an even more glowing description, calling the San Francisco Congresswoman an "American Everywoman."
Talk about bad timing. Dennis Kucinich yesterday announced that he will be running for the Democrat presidential nomination in '08 and almost no one noticed. No wonder. It was impossible for Kucinich to get the least bit of attention focused on himself because most of the media was in the midst of an orgy of Obama worship even though the junior Senator from Illinois hasn't even officially announced that he is running for president. In case you think things couldn't get any worse for the Kucinich campaign, they do. The day before Kucinich made his announcement that almost no one noticed, his former press secretary made a startling confession of personal incompetence and declared that Kucinich might not be qualified to become president because he was clueless enough to hire a press secretary with absolutely no ability such as himself. In case you think this is a skit for a comedy show, it's not. You can read for yourself the confession of incompetence by William Rivers Pitt at the Democratic Underground:
Bob Schieffer continued the "Early Show’s" praise of Barack Obama on Wednesday, declaring that the Illinois Senator "comes across as charming, as bright, and fresh." Schieffer, appearing in his weekly "Capitol Bob" segment on the CBS morning show discussed campaign 2008, at least as it pertains to Obama and to some extent Hillary Clinton, and opined on why the White House has delayed an announcement from President Bush on a new direction in Iraq strategy.
"Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm played the footage of Obama’s appearance on Monday Night Football before fawning over the Senator’s sense of humor and charm:
"Showing a great sense of humor there. He's so charming, the public is really in this honeymoon phase with him right now, but how do you see this campaign playing out?"