A night after ABC led with the supposedly “remarkable reversal” by Senator Barack Obama to think about running for President, and a full story on the NBC Nightly News, both network evening newscasts were back again with full stories Monday night on Obama the “rock star.” Remarkably, given how he decides what is newsworthy, at the top of World News Charles Gibson asked: “Why does he get so much attention?” ABC's puff story for Obama -- reporter Kate Snow gushed about how “his base is growing. Even Oprah seemed to endorse him" -- followed the lead story about dour poll numbers for Republicans.
With “Overnight Sensation” on screen, NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed in his teaser: “Tonight, the overnight sensation surrounding a Senator with real star power, may have changed everything for the Democrats in the run for the White House.” Williams later cited how Obama has “rocked the political world” and cued up Tim Russert with how “they say here's a guy who could actually cause excitement over American politics to break out again.” Russert championed how “he's getting rock star treatment all across the country.” (CBS, and transcripts for ABC and NBC, follow)
On the heels of last week’s glowing reports on NBC’s ‘Today’ and CNN’s ‘American Morning,’ ABC couldn’t resist jumping on the Obama-for-president bandwagon. During the 7am half hour of Monday’s ‘Good Morning America,’ correspondent Claire Shipman reported on comments from Democratic Senator Barack Obama in which he expressed interest in pursing his party’s nomination for president in 2008. In her introduction to Shipman’s piece, GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts referred to the "red hot buzz" (generated by the mainstream media) surrounding Obama as proof that the senator is "already a major political player." Shipman promoted Obama as the new "it" candidate among Democrats. She also highlighted flattering statements from talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who described Obama as her "favorite senator," and political analyst Larry Sabato, who predicted that Obama has the "charisma to skyrocket" to become the preferred Democratic candidate for president:
Claire Shipman: "Barack Obama has become, in a matter of weeks, the new 'it' candidate for the Democrats...A recent ‘Time’ magazine poll shows [Hillary] Clinton well ahead of Obama in a potential presidential race, 43 percent to 30. But the comparatively unknown Obama has shown this week, if he decides to run, he can generate a lot of buzz in a hurry."
Larry Sabato: "Obama has the charisma to skyrocket right to the head of the pack."
The full transcript of Shipman’s report is behind the cut:
CNN reporter Dan Lothian resorted, not for the first time, to a classic example of liberal bias on Monday’s "American Morning." Beginning a piece on Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s potential White House run, he described the politician’s positioning this way:
Miles O’Brien: "Now, on the Republican side of the race for the White House, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney thinking hard about that. ‘American Morning’s’ Dan Lothian looking at that potential run. Dan, good morning."
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, polls seem to favor Senator John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the nomination in 2008. But Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seems to be carving out his base by appealing, political experts say, to the far right. It might feel like he's running for president in 2008, but Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney insists he's just doing his homework."
Reading their respective pay-per-view columns this morning, it's a gauge of just how far out Paul Krugman is on the port side of politics that his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert sounds positively moderate by comparison.
In The Obama Bandwagon Herbert expresses salutary - and surprising - caution when it comes to the current outbreak of Obama-mania:
"It’s a measure of how starved the country is for a sensible, appealing, intelligent, trustworthy leader that a man who until just a couple of years ago was an obscure state senator in Illinois is now suddenly, in the view of an awful lot of voters, the person we should install in the White House."
CBS reporter Gloria Borger has offered an interesting theory to explain the recent outbreak of Obama Fever, also known as Barack Mania: Democrats don't think Hillary can win.,
Appearing on this morning's Early Show, Borger said of Hillary:
"She's the automatic front runner. She has more money, more staff, more supporters lined up. She has Bill Clinton out there who is going to be her campaigner-in-chief."
Borger then dropped this bomb:
"And what you see happening right now is a lot of Democrats looking at the field saying 'oh, Hillary is the natural nominee?' And they don't believe she can win. That's why they are looking elsewhere. That's why you see Barack Obama's name come up now. The public will not see him as an inisder, they will see him as different kind of politician, which might appeal."
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. The same kind of folks who professed to find a non-existent right to abortion on demand in the Constitution have "discovered" another imaginary constitutional provision. According to its editorial this morning:
"The First Amendment, with its injunction that Congress shall make no law restricting religion, carries an implied corollary that churches should not meddle in politics."
The context was the Globe's complaint that Mitt Romney is reaching out for support to his fellow BYU alums who - oh, the horror! - also happen to be his Mormon co-religionists. The Globe sternly warns Romney to "make sure that the church stays out of his nascent presidential campaign."
(AP) London, March 2, 1867: Karl Marx, a rising star among centrist economists, announced today the publication of the first volume of his treatise, 'Das Kapital'.
OK, perhaps I exaggerate a tad. But is there any man of the left that the MSM is unwilling to cast as a "centrist" or moderate, particularly when he is seen as a potential Democratic presidential nominee?
The Associated Press offers a perfect case in point this evening. This article reports Barack Obama's acknowledgement on today's Meet The Press that, earlier protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, he is indeed contemplating a run for the presidency. Writes the AP:
"In recent weeks, his political stock has been rising as a potentially viable centrist candidate for president." [emphasis added]
Be it her politics - or perhaps her personality - one thing is clear: some big-time MSM women columnists don't dig Hillary. Yesterday I described here how the LA Times Rosa Brooks described Hillary - in the context of her support for legislation authorizing torture in ticking-bomb type cases - as having "hit bottom" and "fallen as low as it's possible to go."
Today Maureen Dowd weighs in - with a vengeance. The central thesis of the subscription-required Obama’s Project Runway is that the Illinois senator needs to decide whether he is content to be the glamor guy basking in Dem adulation, or wants to get serious and run for president. [On a related note, earlier today I posed the question here as to whether Obama is ready for prime time in light of his suggestion on last night's Olbermann that we should encourage Iran and Syria to "take ownership" for the stability of Iraq.]
I DVD'ed Olbermann overnight to check just how fawning a performance he would put in with his guest Barack Obama - whom FCC regulations require me to describe as "the rising star of the Democratic party." When it came to Olbermann's sycophancy, I wasn't disappointed. After accusing Republicans of "terrorizing" Americans, the MSNBC host continued:
"proposing an alternative course for American politics, one that replaces fear with - of all things - hope, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and his new book, The Audacity of Hope."
The midterm elections are approaching and some members of the media are revving up their bias. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann recently suggested that President Bush might be as big a threat as the terrorists. This was only a day after referring to conservative talk show hosts who visited the White House as the "Legion of Doom." CNN’s Jack Cafferty wondered if Karl Rove is planning an "October surprise" to salvage the Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections.
The print media have also offered unrestrained attacks from the left. A "Washington Post" report described House Speaker Dennis Hastert appearance as "a cross between Wildford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt." Nothing quite like objectivity, huh? A former "New York Times" bureau chief recently characterized the Christian right as "fascist." Perhaps he’d been chatting with "Newsweek" columnist Jonathan Alter. Alter told Don Imus he hoped the country has seen the last of "values voters."
The "Today" show fawned over Barack Obama, describing him as "electrifying" and a "rock star." This was on the same day that they giddily predicted a "perfect storm" to wipe out the Republicans in the midterms. Another early AM program, CNN’s "American Morning"encouraged author David Kuo to call for Christians to boycott the upcoming election.
This week’s cover story on "Why Barack Obama Could Be The Next President" is really part of an enormous package offering hope to liberals about defeating the conservative movement, especially the religious right. There is a six-page article by Joe Klein about being dazzled by Obama the "political rocket," a six-page excerpt from Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, explaining how "progressives" can neutralize religious conservatives, and, just to stay on point, a three-page excerpt from David Kuo’s book Tempting Faith titled "Why a Christian in the White House Felt Betrayed."
Klein's cover story, titled "The Fresh Face," tried to sound detached that Obama’s not "quite ready to answer the tough questions." (As you’ll see, Klein’s tough questions are pressing from the left, and he’s unhappy that Obama’s slow to commit.) Klein began in typical jaunty fashion about how Obama wows a Rockford audience with "sly hipster syncopation" and how his style is "quietly conversational, low in rhetoric-saturated fat; there is no harrumph to him."
One day after getting the celebrity treatment on "Today," Senator Barack Obama stopped by CNN’s "American Morning" to receive fawning questions from Soledad O’Brien. The big difference in the coverage is that while NBC's Meredith Vieira referred to Obama as a "rock star," O’Brien only mentioned that "some people say he is the brightest star in the Democratic Party." Isn’t it great when one media outlet differentiates itself from another? The morning host, who only mentioned Iraq and North Korea in passing, found time for particularly tough questions, including this hardball: "What’s your biggest fear?" Most of the anchor’s queries were of the short variety:
O’Brien: "Politics seems particularly mean these days."
O’Brien: "I think, we see partisanship that you see. And sort of, as you mentioned, in D.C. that you don't necessarily see in the American people. So why don't politicians get that?"
Despite the harsh headline: Hillary Hits Bottom, Hillary Clinton might actually welcome Rosa Brooks' LA Times column of this morning condemning her for supporting legislation allowing torture in ticking-bomb cases. Call it a 'Sistah Rosa' moment that Hillary can point to as proof she's not too soft on terror to be president.
But I wonder. Is Brooks aware - while bashing the presumptive presidential candidate for supporting legislation permitting torture in narrowly delineated cases - that Hillary is echoing her husband?
Has Brooks read this column by Alan Dershowitz? The Harvard law prof reports on Bill's recent NPR interview in which he said:
On this afternoon's 'Hardball,' interviewing James Baker about his new book on a life in politics, Matthews alluded to the risk of a political party fracturing in the course of a presidential primary campaign:
"How do you hold your party together when you have people, secular candidates like John McCain who's often in that [guest] chair, and Rudy Giuliani running against Brownback, and people like that, Frist and George Allen perhaps, who are real cultural conservatives?"
Riposted Baker: "We hold it together the same way that you hold your party together."
Interjected Matthews: "Well, it's not my party anymore."
For Maureen Dowd, politics are primarily personal. This morning she managed to reduce the current Korean conflict to an image of two boys behaving badly. Meanwhile, is mocking John McCain's POW past a smart move for Hillary? Dowd offered a stunning insight into the Hillary campaign that suggests it might not be the ready-for-presidential-primetime operation some might imagine.
The topic of Maureen Dowd's subscription-required column of this morning, Is Chivalry Shivved?, is the war of words between Hillary and John McCain, as the two top presidential contenders recently fired some early shots over the other's bow on the topic of responsibility for the N. Korean nuclear mess.
A phalanx of Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, claims the Bush administration is to blame for the N. Korean nuclear test. John McCain responds, pointing out that it was the Clinton administration's failed "agreed framework" that let Kim Jong Il merrily go about his bomb-and-missile-making ways.
So how does Hannah Storm of CBS' Early Show frame the state of play?
"Sen. John Kerry said that you must be trying to burnish your credentials for the nomination process, he's referring of course to your presidential aspirations. I mean, what do you say to those who say that you're [her voice breaking into a horrifed squeak] politicizing this issue?"
Conceivably one of the finest examples of hypocrisy and liberal media bias I’ve witnessed since this blog was created occurred on Sunday’s “The Chris Matthews Show.” The first subject for the panel – which consisted of Norah O’Donnell, Tucker Carlson, Andrew Sullivan, and Maureen Dowd – was – drum roll please – Mark Foley. As one would expect, there was tremendous disgust for Foley’s behavior, and the panel enunciated ties to Republican corruption and competence. Yet, when the discussion moved to Sen. Hillary Clinton running for president in 2008, and the possibility that she would name her husband as Secretary of State, no one on the panel, including Tucker Carlson, saw the inherent contradiction.
After all, the former president was sued, impeached, and implicated in several sex scandals. If Foley’s behavior was so atrocious to all four panelists, it quite appeared that such disdain was not shared for the former president’s behavior, and didn’t disqualify him from future service to the nation. For example, in the opening segment about Foley, Norah O’Donnell said:
Appearing on Monday's Tonight Show, MSNBC's Chris Matthews predicted Democrats will win the House since “I don't know how you can lose to this crowd,” declared that he's “rooting for” a Democratic Senate candidate because of the candidate's race, went on a rant against Dick Cheney over the false premises behind the Iraq war and argued that since President Bush “won't tell the truth about this war,” the “only solution...is an election.” Jay Leno began the segment by asking about the Mark Foley scandal, but soon moved to whether Democrats will take over the House. Matthews predicted they will win the House, but not the Senate, adding of a Democrat who is black: “I'm rooting for Harold Ford in Tennessee for a reason. I think we need a little diversity up there on Capitol Hill. That would be nice.” Apparently Maryland Republican Senate candidate Michael Steele, who is also black, would not add the proper “diversity.”
Matthews charged that Donald Rumsfeld “wants all the power in the world, but he doesn't want any responsibility.” As for Bush, Matthews contended: “The President won't talk to anybody who said he's made a mistake. He won't admit any mistakes, and in the end, he won't tell the truth about this war over there. And that's the problem we got with the President. The only solution to this is an election.” Matthews earned applause from the audience in Burbank when he urged both parties to declare “we're getting out of there [Iraq] at the end of this President's term.” (Transcript follows)
A. telling a story in which the n-word is liberally used, or
B. driving through a black neighborhood, flaunting rifles and yelling racial epithets?
I'm going with 'B.' So why did Chris Matthews devote the first half of this afternoon's "Hardball" to the n-word story, and not one second to the driving-through-the-black-neighborhood story?
You don't suppose, do you, that it could have anything to do with the fact that 'A' concerns Republican George Allen, and 'B' his Dem challenger, James Webb?
Matthews opened Hardball with an extended segment featuring Patricia Waring, who in 1978 was apparently the wife of the coach of the University of Virginia rugby club team. She claims that, attending one game, she overheard George Allen telling a story in which he repeatedly used the n-word. She says she confronted him about it, asking him not to use the word.
Anytime Maureen Dowd writes about Hillary, I figure it's good for an NB item. But reading and re-reading the pay-per-view Another Clinton Seduction at cock's crow, I just couldn't get a handle on what Dowd was getting at. Coming back to it in the light of a beautiful Ithaca morning, it suddenly dawned on me: Mo is mad at Hillary, and there are two reasons:
Hillary hasn't been tough enough on George Bush; and
Incredible as it might sound, Hillary - in contrast with certain NY Times columnists - has figured out a way to make men like her.
Dowd's ire is unmistakeable when it comes to Hillary's insufficient Bush bashing: "She has been like a silent-film star,lacking a voice in this chilling time when the Bush administration has Photoshopped the Constitution, portrayed critics as traitors, and spurred terrorism with a misconceived and mismanaged war in Iraq."
A liberal is someone who will always be able to find the dark lining, so long as it's a Republican sun that's shining. And so here's the latest dispatch from the No-Good-Deed-Goes Unpunished Directorate of the Department of Dark Linings:
Energy prices are down, maybe heading even lower . . . and that's bad.
So writes HuffPoster Raymond Learsy today. He begins by citing that irrefutable authority, Al Gore, for the proposition that "we are near the tipping point of climatic catastrophe." He next bemoans that "never or at least rarely ever, has there been a serious discussion on curtailing the availability of gasoline." By all means, I'd encourage Democrats everywhere to run on that platform!
For NewsBusters types, the question has always been whether Meredith Vieira would be as liberal as her Today show predecessor, Katie Couric. As of this morning, we have our answer. Yesterday, Hugo Chavez stood on the world stage and called the President of the United States a "devil" and claimed the speakers platform still stunk from his presence. Today, Meredith Vieira went on national TV and warned us not to be too quick to dismiss his message.
Interviewing Bill Clinton, she said:
"Now, it's easy to dismiss somebody like Chavez -- and some have -- as a nut. But do you think he is giving voice to to wider frustration in the developing world about this country and this country's policies? Do we need to change the way we act?"
Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, well known for slamming conservatives, talked last night with former President Clinton and proceeded to offer him non-stop softball questions. The ex-President plugged his new Clinton Global Initiative program to fight poverty, global warming and support racial reconciliation. (Stewart did not press as to what specifically the project will do.) The tenor of the comedian’s questions can be summed up in this query on what makes Clinton happy:
Stewart: "All right, so what, in your mind, you’ve worked, you’ve worked in government for most of your career. Now you are out and doing private initiatives, these types of things. What’s more effective? What are you having more fun doing and what do you think is more effective?"
Yes, that’s right. Jon Stewart asked the former President what he found "fun," political or private life? It became clear, very early in the program, just how the talk show host differentiated between George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Stewart: "We got a fine program for you tonight Former president Bill Clinton will be sitting down with us today. And uh, I'll ask him probably questions about the political climate and the complex issues, and he will be like [high pitched, hysterical voice], duh, I don't know. Oh, no, wait. That's, uh, oh, right, no, this is President Clinton."
If you thought Al Gore would somehow go away after the 24/7 promotion of his lecture film "An Inconvenient Truth," you couldn't be more wrong. The failed presidential candidate is continuing to build his media empire with a follow-up book entitled "The Assault on Reason." He's going to use its commercial appeal to decide whether he should run for president or not, at least according to the Washington Post:
Although saying he has no plans to run for president in 2008, former
vice president Al Gore has nonetheless left the door ever so slightly
ajar. It's a good bet that door will swing open a good bit wider come
That is when Gore is scheduled to publish his next
book. With no fanfare, he signed a few weeks ago with Penguin Press to
write "The Assault on Reason."
As described by editor Scott Moyers [any relation to Bill?], the book is a meditation on how
"the public arena has grown more hostile to reason," and how solving
problems such as global warming is impeded by a political culture with
a pervasive "unwillingness to let facts drive decisions."
On Monday morning, the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared on the morning shows of each of the three broadcast networks, ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today," and CBS’s "Early Show. While "Good Morning America," and "Today" avoided talk of possible future campaigns, Rene Syler on the "Early Show" looked ahead to the Presidential campaign in 2008 and inquired if Mr. Giuliani would himself be a candidate:
"If I could, sir, ask you about your political aspirations because there's been a lot of talk. You remain a presidential prospect for 2008, will you run for president?"
Matt Lauer gave it the old college try, doing his best to lure Hillary Clinton into some Bush-bashing on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. But demonstrating savvy political instincts, or at least those of her advisers, Clinton held fire, not deigning to swing at the anti-Bush softballs Lauer served up on this morning's 'Today.'
Lauer: "Are we safer today five years after the attacks of 9-11?"
Hillary: "I think it is fair to say we are safer but not safe enough. We have a lot of work to do."
Lauer lobbed a couple questions inviting Hillary to suggest that our war on terrorism has made things worse:
"I am curious how you feel about this. Do you think there are more or less people today, more or fewer people today who want to bring harm to the United States than there were in the days prior to 9-11 and the actions we have taken post 9-11?"
While former President Bill Clinton is angry with ABC over the content of it’s miniseries, "The Path to 9/11," he shouldn’t find much to complain about regarding the network’s news coverage of his wife. The entire Wednesday edition of ABC’s "Nightline" was devoted to anchor Cynthia McFadden’s day of campaigning with Senator Hillary Clinton in upstate New York. The half hour was full of softball questions and Bush bashing. While no Clinton critics were highlighted in her report, McFadden did find a New York Republican supporter of Clinton who gushed:
Unidentified female: "I think she’s fabulous. I think she’s more beautiful in person. But more than her beauty, she’s genuine and very intelligent and well-spoken."
Among political consultants, the general rule of thumb is that a disapproval rating of 40% spells a candidate's near-certain defeat. After all, virtually no one who disapproves of a candidate will vote for him, while approving of someone is no guarantee of a vote.
Hillary Clinton's disapproval rating of 44% in a recent Time magazine poll thus bodes very ill for her presidential prospects. Yet the Sunday Times of London has managed to put a rosy gloss on what would have most politicians looking for another line of work. Pollyannas the Times of the poll results:
"Only 44% viewed her negatively, figures that President George W Bush can only dream of at the moment."
During the course of a conversation with former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Jed Babbin on this afternoon's show, Tucker Carlson described himself as "a real conservative."
But it was just a few minutes earlier, chatting with New Republic editor-at-large Peter Beinart, that Carlson mentioned in passing that he hadn't supported President Bush for president in 2004.
When Carlson stated that he had been wrong to support the war in Iraq [and now opposes it], Beinart retorted:
"You've just made a statement which almost guarantees that you're going to have to support the Democratic candidate in 2008 because there's virtually no chance we're going to have a Republican candidate who says they were wrong to support the war in Iraq. So I congratulate you on flipping over to the other side."
Replied Carlson: "Well I doubt I'm going to support the Democratic candidate. Whether I'll support the Republican candidate is a whole separate question. I didn't last time, I may not this time."
If once is an aberration, and twice a trend, what's three times?
The first time Joe Biden told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that he was "praying," it got my attention. By the third time - using the variant "I pray to God" - I was thoroughly curious. Then something happened at the end of the interview that might provide a clue as to Joe's sudden bout of religiosity.
By the way, Biden claimed to be 'praying' in response to various pieces of evidence that Wallace confronted him with suggesting that, at long last, the security situation in Iraq might be improving. Biden repeatedly responded that he was 'praying' that Wallace was right, all the time suggesting that in fact there was no real reason for optimism.