Interviewing Bill Clinton for Tuesday's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos' nine minute segment mostly amounted to a strategy session that was devoid of tough questions. Stephanopoulos stuck to softball comments, such as inquiring of the Clinton Global Initiative. He also speculated how Barack Obama could regain his "gut connection" with the American people. [MP3 audio here.]
Some people, if they were interviewing their former boss, might feel an extra responsibility to ask probing, grueling questions. Instead, Stephanopoulos brought up Sarah Palin: "Is she qualified to be president?" He followed up, "What's your gut on that?"
The former Democratic operative turned journalist could have pressed the ex-President about the details of his charity, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). Considering that the international group deals with several world leaders, he might have asked if there was any conflict of interest for Bill Clinton's Secretary of State wife. Stephanopoulos could have queried as to the funding for CGI. He did not.
Emily Lenzner, Executive Director of Communications at ABC News for its DC-based shows, who spent eight months in 2007-2008 as editorial producer for This Week with George Stephanopoulos (for whom she also toiled inside the Clinton White House), has left ABC News for Anita Dunn's “strategic communications firm.” SKDKnickerbocker announced Monday she'll be a Managing Director with the firm led by Dunn, the Obama administration's Communications Director in 2009. SKDKnickerbocker's “About” page boasts:
We helped Barack Obama by being the only firm in America to do direct mail and television advertising for his 2008 presidential victory. We helped SEIU fight to stave off millions of dollars of healthcare cuts.
Their “Case Studies” page, which touts work for a bunch of liberal candidates, highlights “FAR-REACHING ROLE IN ELECTION: Obama for America.” That page trumpets: “No other firm had as far-reaching a role in President Obama's election...with Anita Dunn serving as one of the top officials of the campaign and the firm producing both television advertising and direct mail for the campaign.”
The massive revolving door between the mainstream media and the Obama administration has spun once again, this time as former White House budget director Peter Orszag signs on as a New York Times op/ed columnist.
Orszag is the eighteenth individual (that we know of) to transition between the White House and the mainstream press. He will surely not be the last. That amazingly high number again underscores the ideological similarities between members of the Obama administration and members of the press.
Andrew Breslau, who for eight years ending in 2006 toiled at CNN “as a senior manager and producer,” has been named President of New York City-based The Nation Institute, affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine run by frequent MSNBC guest Katrina vanden Heuvel, and home to Christopher Hayes, Rachel Maddow's fill-in host.
The institute's August 18 press release described Breslau's CNN duties: “Tasked with managing a team of journalists covering the U.S economy, he also helped cover events overseas that ranged from the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.”
Prior to joining CNN, Breslau was quite active with a series of left-wing enterprises, starting in the mid-1980s writing for Mother Jones magazine and then helping to found Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting as its first associate director, the release from the institute's Communications Director, Ruth Baldwin, recounted.
Jennifer Loven, an 18-year AP veteran and the wire service's chief White House correspondent, has decided to put her communications talents to work for The Glover Park Group, a DC-based “strategic communications firm” founded in 2001 by a bunch of Clinton and Gore staffers, most prominently Joe Lockhart, who found themselves unemployed after the 2000 election. She'll be “Managing Director in its Public Affairs practice,” a Thursday press release from the Glover Park Group, plugged by Politico's Mike Allen, announced.
Amongst the clients touted on the Glover Park Group's Web site: American Civil Liberties Union, Alliance for Climate Protection, Campaign for Women's Lives, Better World Campaign and the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty. They also list some corporate clients, but no conservative activist groups.
A second Obama administration veteran has landed in a media firm’s executive suite. Two months after ObamaCare’s chief propagandist, ex-ABC and CBS correspondent Linda Douglass, became Vice President of the Atlantic Media Company, Michael Calderone reported Tuesday afternoon on “The Upshot” Yahoo News blog:
Former White House social secretary Desirée Rogers has been named chief executive of Johnson Publishing Company, billed as “the world's largest African-American owned-and-operated publishing company.” JPC publishes both Ebony and Jet magazines.
The news about Rogers came the very week MSNBC entered a partnership with the Chicago-based Ebony magazine to air joint reports on education policy, culminating in a two-hour special at noon EDT this Sunday: “Making the Grade.”
Calderon reminded readers that “Rogers, a former corporate executive and a Chicago friend of the Obama family, resigned in February from her position as the first African-American social secretary” after she “came under fire during her White House tenure after socialites-turned-reality-TV stars Tareq and Michaele Salahi famously crashed a state dinner.”
"Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you," King said. "Twenty-five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Gov. Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast ever of ‘Larry King Live.' And now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I'd like to end ‘Larry King Live,' the nightly show that -- this fall and CNN has graciously accepted to agree to, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids' little league games."
Investigative journalist John Dougherty of Arizona deserves a hand from everyone concerned with liberal media bias, because he has given it up. Dougherty, pictured right in a photo from his website, has, shall we say, crossed the border from being biassed to seeking the Democratic nomination for US Senate.
In the late 80's he was involved with uncovering Charles Keating's use of campaign contributions to five senators-including John McCain, whom Dougherty would most likely face in an election-in exchange for putting pressure on banking regulators. He also investigated Governor Fife Symington, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and Sherrif Joe Arpaio.
Whatever else he has done in the past, Dougherty has already succesfully morphed into a politician, writing a blog for the Huffington Post on illegal immigration and its relationship to crime that directly contradicts the conclusions he reached in an article he wrote for the High County News.
Good Morning America on Tuesday skipped the news that Peter Orszag, Barack Obama's budget director, is resigning from the White House. Perhaps not coincidentally, Orszag is also the fiance of GMA's weekend anchor Bianna Golodryga. CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today both covered the subject.
Today reporter Savannah Guthrie explained, "It's a mix of the personal and the political. Most budget directors stay about 18 months. If he had stayed much longer, he'd probably have to get into the next budget cycle and be in for the long haul. He's also getting married this fall."
The Early Show's Betty Nguyen pointed out, "Orszag would be the first high profile member of the Obama administration to leave." GMA has a history of ignoring awkward details for Golodryga. In January, the show skipped the fact that Orszag had a love child with his previous girlfriend (after divorcing his first wife). NBC covered it.
This is the second spin for Chen through the revolving door. He was the long-time White House correspondent for the Los Angeles Times when he left the newspaper “to join the NRDC in 2006, but then jumped back into the world of journalism in 2007 with a job at Bloomberg,” Politico’s Patrick Gavin recalled in a Sunday post. (Screen shot is from an April 28, 2005 news conference with President Bush.)
In an e-mail to the Politico’s Mike Allen, Chen trumpeted that at the NRDC he will be able to perform “the Lord’s work” and that he wants to “help public officials find the wisdom and courage to do the right thing to combat climate change before it's too late.”
Completing a full spin through the revolving door, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS and ABC correspondent before jumping aboard the Obama campaign in 2008 – followed by HHS and White House positions promoting ObamaCare -- has re-joined The Atlantic as a Vice President who “will concentrate on company strategy and communications,” the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reported online Thursday morning.
Before joining the Obama campaign as senior strategist and senior campaign spokesperson on the road, Douglass toiled for National Journal, part of Atlantic Media which also owns The Hotline. Her first stint in the new administration was as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, followed by Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, a slot she left in April.
Atlantic Chairman David Bradley recognizes the conflict between her political agenda and being a journalist, but he told Kurtz “she's too big an editorial talent for us to keep her out of the editorial product.”
The revolving door of political journalism underscores the brazen liberalism of today's newsrooms -- 15 former journalists now populate the Obama administration. And though taking a job in such a far left administration demonstrates journalists' overwhelming liberal politics, ABC News's deputy political director Teddy Davis has managed to raise the bar.
Davis announced yesterday his intention to leave ABC, and said he will be "working with the SEIU team on their political campaigns and policy agenda." The Service Employees International Union, of course, is a group of liberal shock troops who recently tried--and failed--to field far left candidates in an effort to defeat centrist Democrats.
So while some journalists have gone to bat for the Executive, Davis has managed to one-up virtually all of them in accepting a gig with one of the most partisan and thuggish groups on the political scene.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
"Officials say it's too soon to pinpoint the exact cause of the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that took the lives of 29 miners, but we certainly know enough to identify the root cause," Huffington began. "It's the same cause that led to the 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 12 miners. And it's also the same cause that led to the Lehman Brothers disaster, the Citigroup disaster, the bursting of the housing bubble, and the implosion of our financial system: a badly broken regulatory system."
"The economic collapse has not killed people, but it has gradually destroyed millions of lives. Both calamities occurred because elected officials who should have been creating a regulatory system that protects working families instead created a system that protects the corporations it was meant to watch over."
Linda Douglass, the former ABC News and CBS News Washington correspondent who signed aboard the Obama campaign in May of 2008, is resigning next week from her post as Communications Director for the White House’s Health Reform Office, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported Thursday afternoon on the paper's “44” blog (which I saw plugged on DCRTV.com). Kurtz described her as “a top pitchwoman for President Obama's health care plan.”
Is another media gig in the offing? No word yet. Kurtz quoted her statement, which only said she wants “to step off the treadmill for awhile and rediscover the experience of dining with my husband on a regular basis.”
Douglass, who appeared frequently on MSNBC's The Ed Show to disparage conservative criticism and champion ObamaCare, “said she will be 'cheering with pride from the sidelines as this historic law takes effect,'” Kurtz relayed. And maybe not really making a full break: “Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer says Douglass 'will continue to be a valued adviser to this President and this White House.'”
The former Chairman of the California Democratic Party was for some reason treated as a journalist during yesterday's White House press briefing, and used the opportunity to smear a prominent conservative blogger.
Bill Press, who chaired the California Democratic Party for a few years in the 1990s, and who now hosts a radio talk show, demonstrated his total lack of serious journalistic credibility at yesterday's briefing.
He misquoted RedState's Erick Erickson to make it seem as if he was encouraging the listeners of his radio show to not fill out the Census, and tried to turn Erickson's statement into an attack on CNN, who recently hired Erickson as a political correspondent.
In 2008, just four years after leaving NBC News, Jane Pauley gave the maximum allowed donation to Barack Obama ($2,300) and campaigned for him in her native Indiana where she proclaimed “I want to see the cool, steady hand of Barack Obama on that Bible on Inauguration Day” and predicted Obama will be “an exceptional” President, enthusing: “I so look forward to it!”
On Tuesday morning (March 9) Pauley reappeared on the Today show, which she co-hosted from 1976 to 1989 before spending more than a decade with Dateline NBC, as the narrator of a new monthly segment produced by the liberal AARP, “Your Life Calling Today,” about those 50-plus reinventing themselves. “We are welcoming back a very, underline ‘very’ good friend and familiar face around here, Jane Pauley,” Matt Lauer announced, explaining “she’s been working with AARP which has produced and sponsored a new series of reports for us.” Her first report looked at a woman who “left a lucrative career so she would have more time to knit socks.”
Not exactly hard-hitting political reporting, but it gives me a hook to share some 2008 video of Pauley praising Obama as she made appearances on his behalf. “Pauley called the last eight years a mistake and says America must make the right choice come election day,” WISH-TV channel 8 reporter Phil Sanchez related on the Indianapolis CBS affiliate’s Sunday, September 21, 2008 newscast. Just over a month later, following an event in Bloomington, sporting an Obama button she told Indiana University’s public TV station, WTIU:
Buried in a recent New York Times profile of senior White House advisor David Axelrod was this nugget of information: he used to be a reporter with the Chicago Tribune.
The fact is hardly a secret -- the White House notes Axelrod's brief stint at the Tribune on its website. But that bit of information was an interesting element of a predictably laudatory profile. One of President Obama's chief message-men was a political reporter for a major newspaper. Who knows better how to address journalists than a former journalist?
For its part, the Times skipped over any discussion of the significance of Axelrod's experience in journalism. The paper simply noted his former position in passing.
Not a move by a political correspondent, but it counts nonetheless. “Former Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson will join the Obama administration and head to London as a speechwriter for Ambassador Louis Susman,” a big Obama fundraiser, Washington Post “Federal Eye” blogger Ed O'Keefe reported on Monday in a post I saw highlighted on DCRTV.com.
O'Keefe elaborated: “Thomson, who grew up in Surrey, England, worked for The Post from 1983 to 2008, most recently as a film critic for the Weekend and Style sections.”
By O'Keefe's count, “Thomson is one of at least 14 journalists to join the Obama administration, with virtually all of them serving in a communications capacity,” and, intriguingly, O'Keefe asserted “other reporters at national outlets are known to be considering similar roles.”
Nine days after ABC announced on Good Morning America that financial correspondent Bianna Golodryga would be marrying top Obama official Peter Orszag, NBC’s Today made sure to highlight the revelation that the budget director has also fathered a child with his (now) ex-girlfriend. Good Morning America skipped this development, as did CBS’s Early Show.
Orszag, the director of the Office and Budget Management and his ex, Claire Milonas, released a statement on the birth of their daughter. In a possible attempt to embarrass rival GMA, Today touted the story with a graphic that screamed, "Oh Baby, Engaged Budget Czar Has Child With Other Woman."
Reporter Norah O’Donnell highlighted, "This comes just one week after the announcement that Orszag was getting engaged to ABC's Bianna Golodryga. She broke the news on national television." O'Donnell then played a clip of Golodryga discussing the engagement on GMA. NBC doesn’t often delight in awkward situations for the Obama administration. But the correspondent also added, "Simply put, this is an embarrassment for one of the President's top advisers and a member of his cabinet."
The official announcement will apparently come tomorrow morning (NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock reported on the early leaks last week): former Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos will start Monday as co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. He’ll also keep his job as the host of ABC’s This Week, at least for the time being.
Here’s one yardstick for measuring the media’s response: Back in 1997, CBS announced that ex-GOP Representative Susan Molinari (pictured at right) would take over as co-host of Saturday Morning. Journalists quickly howled at the breaching of the sacred “barricade that is supposed to exist in journalism between the political people and the officials on the one hand, and the reporters on the other.” NPR’s Mara Liasson said it was “disturbing” of CBS to hire a Republican; Nina Totenberg exclaimed: “This really makes me want to puke.”
Molinari’s Saturday CBS show avoided politics, so she spent most mornings talking about movies and toys and vacation ideas. But according to the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, “Stephanopoulos, now ABC's chief Washington correspondent, had told network executives he wanted to inject GMA with a harder-news focus as a condition of taking the job.”
Here's another entry for the revolving door file: Politico's Jonathan Allen (pictured at right), formerly of Congressional Quarterly and former Sen. Paul Sarbanes' office, will take over as the top staffer at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's DWS PAC, according to Roll Call (h/t e-mail tipster Bob Foster).
For his part, Allen, whose wife works as the communications director for freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), found it an offer he couldn't refuse:
"I wouldn't go work for just anyone," Allen said. "She wanted me to come work for her, and it was impossible for me to say no. She has a heart of gold and resolve of steel. ... I find that inspiring."
Roll Call's Steven T. Dennis has the story here, but only the lead paragraph is available to non-subscribers. Below is an excerpt, courtesy of Foster:
The Daily Beast on Friday reported that former Democratic aide turned journalist George Stephanopoulos has now pulled ahead of ex-Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo’s son, Chris Cuomo, in the race to become the new co-host of Good Morning America. Correspondent Rebecca Dana quoted an ABC source as saying, "It’s George’s now to lose."
Dana added, "That both contenders are associated with prominent Democrats has helped to add a campaign vibe to the contest for Sawyer’s anchor chair." She then gossiped, "There is a rumor floating around ABC that Mario Cuomo has placed some calls on his son’s behalf..." (Chris Cuomo is also the brother of New York state’s current Democratic attorney general.)
If Stephanopoulos does become the new host of GMA, there would potentially be an opening at his old show, This Week. The Daily Beast asserted that the contenders are Jake Tapper and Nightline co-host Terry Moran, a well known liberal. On February 20, 2009, Moran famously provided this over-the-top comparison between Barack Obama and George Washington: "I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office."
Steve Waldman, the "founding soul of Beliefnet" and a former Newsweek reporter and US News & World Report editor is now spinning through the revolving door into the Obama FCC, reports Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA Today:
Steven Waldman, founder, editor and leading political blogger of Beliefnet.com, the nation's top Internet spirituality site, is leaving for a post in the Obama administration.
He's posted a farewell letter on his blog calling this "the most difficult (and surreal) post I've had to write" as he departs to become senior adviser to new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski.
From liberal Democrat Howard Dean to top editor of the magazine which proclaims it has “The Website Washington Lives By.” The “preppy-looking 28-year-old” Garrett Graff “has eased his way up the ladder -- from presidential campaign speechwriter to media blogger, from Washingtonian freelancer to top dog -- with remarkable fluidity,” Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz marveled in a Monday “Style” section profile of Graff.
Kurtz outlined how, when his father was toiling in Montpelier for the AP, a 14-year-old Graff went to work in the summer for then-Governor Howard Dean, soon “building Dean's first Web site in 1997.” Graff got into Harvard and landed “Washington internships at ABC and the Atlantic” and “when Dean launched his presidential bid, Graff was his deputy national press secretary.” Then, “after Dean imploded, Graff moved to Washington and launched the Fishbowl DC blog for Media Bistro, showing a flair for self-promotion.”
In the midst of all the elite upset over the Fox News Channel's supposedly over-the-top opposition to President Barack Obama, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz pointed out in a Saturday story across the top of the “Style” section that the apparent two finalists to replace Diane Sawyer (who is moving to World News in January) on Good Morning America “have politics, but little else, in common.” Liberal Democratic politics, that is, since the two names in play are George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo.
Kurtz began his October 24 story: “One helped elect a president, the other grew up as the son of a governor. Now George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo are engaged in a very different kind of contest, for one of the most coveted prizes in network television.”
Roberta Baskin, a veteran of CBS News, ABC News, PBS and Washington, DC's ABC affiliate, with a stint at the Center for Public Integrity mixed in, “will join the Department of Health and Human Service's office of inspector general as a senior communications adviser in mid-August,” Washington Post “Federal Eye” blogger Ed O'Keefe reported late Monday. Specifically, O'Keefe related, her job will be “to help drum up media attention for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, an HHS-Justice Department task force aimed at combating Medicare and Medicaid fraud.”
My list of journalists who have jumped to the Obama administration -- plus one who traveled through the revolving door from helping the Obama campaign into a news media slot -- is now up to thirteen. Not counting Baskin: Three each revolved through CNN and the Washington Post; two through ABC News; and one each via the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time magazine.
In an open letter sent today to ABC News President David Westin, NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell questioned the ethics of ABC as a "news" network and wondered "how in the world can anyone take ABC seriously" after it was announced that ABC News has hired Democratic donor Dr. Richard Besser to be their new Senior Medical Editor.
The letter begins here, and continues in its entirety below the fold.
July 30, 2009
Dear Mr. Westin,
It was reported today that you have hired Dr. Richard Besser as your new Senior Medical Editor. By now you also know Besser is a Barack Obama donor, having contributed $400 to his campaign in 2008.
As your new senior health correspondent, he will play a pivotal role in your coverage of the health care debate going forward. How in the world is this ethical?
ABC’s newly hired senior medical editor is also an Obama donor, having contributed $400 to the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008. TV Newser reported on Thursday that Dr. Richard Besser, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, would assume the position in September. A search on the website Open Secrets finds two donations by Dr. Besser on August 22, 2008.
As senior health correspondent, Dr. Besser can be expected to play a major role in ABC's coverage of the health care debate this fall.
Dr. Tim Johnson, who currently holds the position for ABC, has long been an advocate for government-run solutions to the health care problem in America. Going back to the last big push in the early '90s, he told then-First Lady Hillary Clinton on July 19, 1994: "So at least from the physicians represented here, you get a 100 percent vote, including mine, for universal coverage." Johnson will become the "chief medical editor" for ABC News.
With the revelation that Newsweek Washington bureau reporter Daren Briscoe will start a new job on Monday as Deputy Associate Director of Public Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (earlier NB item), my list of journalists who have jumped to the Obama administration -- plus one who traveled through the revolving door from helping the Obama campaign into a news media slot -- is up to a dozen:
Three each revolved through CNN and the Washington Post; two through ABC News; and one each via the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time magazine.