On Wednesday, both CNN and MSNBC raised the specter of past bombings against abortion clinics during their coverage of an Arkansas doctor who was critically injured in an apparent car bombing. During CNN’s Newsroom program, anchor Rick Sanchez asked former DC police detective Mike Brooks if the injured physician was an “abortion doctor.” He replied, “No, no. That was the first thing I thought.” Earlier in the afternoon on MSNBC, correspondent Pete Williams noted how the victim was “a family doctor” and was “not providing controversial medical procedures like abortions.”
Sanchez’s comments came at the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Sanchez first outlined how local police had initially reported the incident, which occurred earlier in the day, as being a mechanical problem with the car, and how they revised it to being a possible bombing. The anchor raised his “abortion doctor” question after Brooks, a frequent guest on Sanchez’s program, gave more details into the investigation.
During an interview of President Obama on Tuesday’s Anderson Cooper 360, CNN’s Anderson Cooper included a number of tough questions, compared to his gentle treatment of the Democrat almost a year ago, but concluded with three softball questions on the executive’s search for a family dog, his new limo, and his cigarette habit. The anchor asked the president if he had “lost some of that moral high ground” on his pledge to have an ethical administration, and why the commander-in-chief hadn’t use the phrase “war on terror” much since his inauguration.
The interview aired in three segments during the 10 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Cooper began the first segment by asking President Obama about the troubled nomination of Former Senator Tom Daschle to be the HHS Secretary: “Do you feel you messed up in letting it get this far?...What was your mistake -- letting it get this far? You should have pulled it earlier?” The anchor also asked as a follow-up, “Do you feel you have lost some of that moral high ground which you set for yourself on day one with the ethics reform?” The president’s answers on the issue included his admission that the nomination was a “mistake” and that he had “screwed up.”
Appearing on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, Evening News anchor Katie Couric discussed her White House interview with President Obama regarding the withdrawal of recent cabinet nominees: "He is surprisingly relaxed...extremely comfortable, very focused. It’s very different than sort of the buttoned-up Bush White House...he said to every person who interviewed him...that he ‘screwed up,’ he ‘messed up.’ And I think he really is trying to be the anti-Bush because President Bush was so criticized for never saying, you know, ‘I made a mistake.’" On Tuesday’s Evening News, Couric portrayed Obama as a victim.
Early Show co-host Harry Smith agreed with Couric and pointed out another criticism of the Bush administration: "There was also criticism of too much loyalty." Like Couric, Smith then praised Obama for being the "anti-Bush" and throwing Health and Human Services secretary nominee Tom Daschle under the bus: "...and here was Tom Daschle, who had been his mentor all these-" Couric interjected: "And he's been working on health care, by the way...for many, many months...And really focused on it. You know, President Obama reiterated that he thought Tom Daschle was the right man for the job, it was an honest mistake."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Plante reported on Health and Human Services Secretary nominee, Tom Daschle, failing to pay taxes and working as a health care lobbyist: "Daschle's problem shines a light on something that usually stays in the shadows around here, and that is how connections work in Washington. When is a lobbyist not a lobbyist, and how does a power player, like the former Senate majority leader, not know that he owes back taxes?"
The report featured Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibilities and Ethics, who defended Daschle: "What Tom Daschle does is the more sophisticated kind of lobbying we have in Washington, where he's a consultant. And he talks to people about the strategy for getting a piece of legislation passed...Maybe the truth of the matter is, you need some of those Washington insiders in order to make your new government work. But then let's say that."
However, in a 2005 column by Ari Berman in the liberal magazine, The Nation, Sloan was quoted reacting to an ethics scandal surrounding Republican House majority Leader Tom Delay: "The fact that Tom DeLay is under criminal indictment and Senate majority leader Bill Frist is under criminal investigation is a historic first...This demonstrates the culture of corruption among the Congressional leadership that has become a cancer on our country." Berman’s column was posted on the CBS News website.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer and Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth raved about the core members of the Obama administration and their pictures taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz during a segment on CNN’s Situation Room on Monday. Their conversation sounded as if the two were suddenly back in high school browsing a new yearbook. Blitzer gushed over the photos of President Obama and his wife Michelle and that of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, while Orth extolled how “they [the new administration] want a green America. They really do.”
Blitzer zeroed-in on Liebovitz’s photography at the beginning of the segment, as he introduced Orth: “...[Y]ou’ve got a new cover. It’s a pretty nice cover, about the new president of the United States....These pictures by Annie Liebovitz, the photographer, are really great pictures because it says a lot about the president, the first lady.” The two first discussed a shot of the Obamas walking outside the presidential limo on Inauguration Day, and the CNN anchor just couldn’t get enough: “[T]hey were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Who can forget that moment?...Look at those huge smiles....They are obviously holding hands, and very excited.” Orth replied, “Yeah, total energy. That was such an energetic day all the way around.”
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer commented on former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee: "So it was that the party of Lincoln, which had freed the slaves, but in the process had become the party of mainly white people, came full circle and turned to an African-American Moses to lead it out of the political wilderness."
Schieffer started his commentary by explaining how the Republican Party came to be the party of "mainly white people": "When Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he told a fellow Democrat 'we have lost the south for a generation,' and he was right. Richard Nixon capitalized on southern anger brought on by that act, developed a southern strategy, which emphasized states' rights, won the presidency twice, and a region where there had been few Republicans since the Civil War became the base of the reborn Republican Party."
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer went out of his way to point out the apparent lack of diversity in the leadership of the Republican Party during a panel discussion on Friday’s Situation Room. Just minutes earlier, Michael Steele had been elected the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Blitzer brought up the race of many of those who had voted for him with Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez: “Take a look at the audience, though -- and I want to show our viewers a picture of the audience. Michael Steele, the first African-American leader of the RNC -- Leslie, I don’t see a whole lot of black people, at least in that group over there.” He went on to say, “It’s encouraging. I’m sure you’re encouraged that all these white people basically elected an African-American to be their leader.”
The anchor’s comment came during the CNN program’s regular “Strategy Session” discussion. Besides Sanchez, Blitzer hosted Democratic strategist Donna Brazile during the segment. He brought up Steele’s election as the first topic. After getting both women to respond to the news, Blitzer made his comment about the seeming lack of black people. Sanchez responded by conceding to his observation, in terms of the top RNC members, but then pointed out that “if you walked around that room, there’s so much diversity there. There was so much excitement for Michael Steele.”
During the 3PM hour on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell derided Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for attending the annual Alfalfa dinner in Washington, D.C., declaring: "Sarah Palin is coming to D.C. she ran as a maverick this whole campaign, wanted nothing to do with people in Washington, the anti-establishment candidate, and now she's coming to the most exclusive dinner in Washington, to hobnob with perhaps the president, ambassadors, senators, all the people she derided during the campaign. What's up with that?"
O’Donnell spoke with Republican strategist John Feehery and Democratic strategist Morris Reid and played a clip of Palin explaining why she was attending the dinner: "Alfalfa dinner, yes. In fact, that's because President Obama is scheduled to be there. And how often will I have an opportunity to have dinner with the president. I will take up that offer to do so, yeah." O’Donnell then turned to Reid and asked: "Didn't she call him a terrorist on the campaign trail?" O’Donnell was referring to Palin’s comment that Obama was "palling around with terrorists," like his long-time Chicago associate and former domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers.
While discussing Rush Limbaugh’s opposition to the Obama administration’s massive spending bill on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked author Ann Coulter: "But don't you think that right now is not -- it behooves the Republicans to be a little bit more in the middle? I mean, what are -- they're not -- their voices aren't going to be heard anyway, as we saw with this economic stimulus plan...So doesn't it behoove them to be more bipartisan and meet in the middle?" Coulter did not feel "behooved": "I think it's just the reverse. I mean, we just ran John McCain, we are so sick of being in the middle."
The segment actually began with co-host Harry Smith trying to offer a fair assessment of Limbaugh’s comments about wanting President Obama to "fail": "I think if you listen to what Rush Limbaugh has said, 'I want him to fail,' he wants big government to fail...He wants certain things that are especially involved in this stimulus package to fail. I don't think he's sitting there saying 'as an American citizen, I want the presidency and the country to fail.’" Coulter agreed: "That's exactly right. In fact, I put it sort of the reverse way. I said, yes, of course, I want him to succeed, but that means he'll govern as a conservative...I sort of admire Rush's verve for switching it around that way." However, co-host Julie Chen wondered: "Oh, you admire that he put it that way? Don't you think it's a little bit irresponsible for him to put it that way?"
Newsweek’s Sarah Kliff, in a January 27, 2009 web-exclusive article entitled “Pro-Lifers In Obamaland,” failed to mention how several organizations and individuals she labeled as “pro-life” have friendly relations with pro-abortion Democrats. She also tried to portray the pro-life movement as being “split” between “those who are preparing for the fight of their lives and those who see an opportunity to redefine what it means to be pro-life,” with the latter being the organizations sympathetic to the Democrats. Kliff wrote sympathetically of these groups, which are actually trying to muddy the waters of pro-life activism
Kliff began by introducing Sister Sharon Dillon, a “50-year-old former director of the Franciscan Federation” who has been “a pro-life activist since high school.” Sister Dillon “doesn't agree with Roe v. Wade,” but she’s also “frustrated with the kind of single-minded activism she sees around her.” What does Sister Dillon see as being “single-minded”? Apparently, it’s “young girls chanting, ‘hey hey, ho ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go!’” So Kliff started with the premise that wanting to overturn this Supreme Court ruling is “single-minded.”
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, who had bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for “starting to sound a little like Chairman Mao” the previous day, labeled Rush Limbaugh “that corpulent Oxycontin aficionado of right-wing talk radio” during his usual “Cafferty File” segment on Tuesday’s Situation Room. The slam came during as Cafferty launched a mild criticism of President Obama’s first week in office on issues like his reluctance to answer questions from the press, the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and making an exception on his ban on lobbyists from his administration.
Cafferty began his commentary, which aired nine minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, by acclaiming the apparent success of President Obama’s first week in the White House: “It’s been exactly one week since Barack Obama became our 44th president -- what a week it’s been: signing executive orders; meeting with his teams of advisers on the economy, national security, Iraq, the Middle East.” He continued by focusing on how the new president has also been “learning some things along the way,” and began his critique of some of the actions by the Democratic executive, which included his smear of the conservative talk show host.
During his regular “Question of the Hour” segment on Monday’s Situation Room, CNN commentator Jack Cafferty compared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s idea to spend hundred of millions of dollars on contraception as a cost-reducing measure to the oppressive birth control policies of the Chinese Communists under Mao: “What exactly did she mean? Are the millions of dollars for contraception supposed to stop people from having babies? [That’s] starting to sound a little like Chairman Mao.”
The commentator began his 5 pm Eastern hour “Cafferty File” segment by describing President Obama’s proposed stimulus package, and how this past weekend, “lawmakers were out on their soap boxes. Democrats were selling the plan. Republicans were pointing out problems with the plan.” He then addressed Speaker Pelosi’s comments to George Stephanopoulos on This Week: “On ABC, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, defended hundreds of millions of dollars in the stimulus package earmarked for contraception. She said family planning reduces costs and explained that the stimulus plan includes assistance to states, and part of that includes children’s health and education. That includes contraception, which Pelosi said will, ‘reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.’”
If we are to believe Keith Olbermann’s latest wild theory, an innocent, mild mannered furniture salesman and humanitarian from Riyadh may have been inspired to become an al-Qaeda leader because he was falsely imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, courtesy of Olbermann’s favorite target, the Bush administration, who "created [his] reason for hating us."
Even for Keith Olbermann, this takes the cake, and makes you wonder if the rumors are true that the MSNBC host doesn’t really believe half of what he says, but only recites his rants and conspiracy theories for ratings. In light of reports that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Said Ali al-Shihri, who was released in 2007 and has now become an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen believed responsible for a September embassy bombing, Olbermann seemed to seriously suggest that al-Shihri may have been an innocent man when he was first jailed at Gitmo, and then became a terrorist leader as a result of his imprisonment. The Countdown host plugged the story before a commercial break: "But perhaps the real question is: Since we never tried him, never found him guilty, and the Bush administration set him free, what if he wasn’t a terrorist in the first place but we turned him into one by sending him to Gitmo?"
Less than a week after suggesting Republicans had "lost their cojones" after confirming Hillary Clinton for secretary of state, on Monday, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell wondered: "Does President Barack Obama finally have the cojones, that some Democrats haven't had in the past, in saying to other Republicans ‘you don't have to listen to Rush Limbaugh?’" Democratic strategist Penny Lee agreed with O’Donnell and replied: "Enough with this politics of personal destruction. Let us get back to business and you don't have to listen to the extremes on either side."
O’Donnell also spoke with Republican strategist Phil Musser and asked: "...what out does it give the Republican Party to have Rush Limbaugh out there saying, who is the voice of many conservatives, that he hopes the president fails. I mean, that's kind of lame, isn't it?" Musser responded: "He is raising some legitimate issues in the context of what some would characterize as maybe impolitic language, but that's his business." However, he later attacked Limbaugh: "...the Republican Party is now the minority party and in a lot of ways, we're back to throwing the bombs from the sidelines... And that's one of the things that I think Rush Limbaugh is stepping up to try to capitalize on."
Later in segment, O’Donnell attempted to portray Obama’s comments about Limbaugh as political savvy:
O’DONNELL: But isn't this exactly the kind of fight that Obama wants to have? Don't fight with the Republicans in the House, don't fight with the Republicans in the Senate, because you have to work with them. But find somebody like a Rush Limbaugh, who they can argue is on the fringe, and fight with him, score points with your base and not lose out with the Republicans that you need?
During a segment on Friday’s Newsroom program, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen heralded the FDA’s approval of the first human clinical trial involving embryo-destroying stem cell research. Cohen then gave a soft interview of the president and CEO of the company involved in the trial, who made the bizarre claim that new medical breakthroughs, including corneal transplants and anesthesia for women in childbirth, were supposedly “always met with concerns from the Religious Right” in the past. Cohen did not follow-up to this statement by the CEO.
The segment, which began 17 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, began with anchor Tony Harris trumpeting how the FDA’s approval of the embryonic stem cell clinical trial represented “major milestone in this field of research.” He then asked Cohen to “explain to us how significant a day this is.” The correspondent gushed in reply, “This is a big day, and I will tell you, I interviewed Christopher Reeve many times about stem cells, and I think he would probably be smiling if he were here to see this day.” She did not bring up the moral objections to embryo destruction in her explanation of the breaking news item which followed, just that “some say that some of this research has been overblown, and a it’s not quite as promising as many people say.”
In a rare instance of critical coverage of the Obama administration on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman about Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay: "I'm not sure if you've seen the New York Times this morning. On the front page there is an article that reveals that a terror suspect released from Guantanamo a few months ago...is now heading up Al Qaeda in Yemen. I'm wondering if this makes you less inclined Representative Harman, to support closing down the prison?"
Harman actually doubted the credibility of the usually left-wing newspaper: "Not at all. Obviously,if that allegation is true and if this fellow has now become a key Al Qaeda operative, that's shocking and disappointing." Harman went on to argue: "But there is really no justification, and there was no justification, for disappearing people in a place that was located offshore America so it was outside the reach of U.S. law. As President Obama said two days ago, there's a false choice between our safety and our values." Rodriguez then turned to Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra: "It all sounds great, but Representative Hoekstra you said yesterday that's placing 'hope ahead of reality,' right?"
Reportedly few Republicans see reason to ultimately vote against confirming Obama's attorney general designee and the GOP Senate minority has only put a one-week delay on his confirmation hearings, but the Washington Post was insistent in its January 22 headline that that Republican senators were set on "Obstruct[ing] Eric Holder's "Path to [the] Justice Dept."
This is markedly different from the Post's take in 2001 when Democratic senators objected to whom the Post called the "highly contentious" John Ashcroft. The January 16, 2001 edition of the Post described the Ashcroft hearings as the "first test of Bush's strength on [Capitol] Hill." (excerpt via Nexis, emphasis mine):
Supporters and opponents of John D. Ashcroft mobilized constituencies and honed strategies yesterday in last-minute preparations for the opening today of confirmation hearings over his highly contentious nomination as attorney general.
After being nominated for an academy award on Thursday for his role in the movie ‘Milk,’ actor Josh Brolin appeared on the CBS Early Show, where co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked: "...you played 'W.' You were here on the show talking about it. How did it feel to see him at the inauguration? Did you feel bad for him at all?" Brolin responded: "I don't know, personally? No, I think personally, I do. You know, watching him take off in the helicopter. But then I was also part of the, you know, the group that waved good-bye happily politically." Rodriguez and fellow co-host Harry Smith both laughed at the remark.
Earlier, Smith asked about Brolin about his role in ‘Milk,’ about the first gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk, and his murder: "Playing this San Francisco supervisor. This is the guy who ends up killing Harvey Milk. You were so -- you make such a commitment in this role. You made this guy real." Brolin explained his desire to be in the movie: "When I read it, I thought it was a really important film...And then the timeliness of it because of Prop 8, I think it's an incredible movie, I'm glad that there's so much notice for it." On December 10, Smith declared the movie, which also stars left-wing actor Sean Penn, was "...a must-see for everybody."
During live coverage of President Bush leaving on the presidential helicopter immediately following the swearing in of Barack Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric got reaction from liberal historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "Keep in mind, a lot of Americans are thinking it's pretty cool that he's leaving, too. A lot of Americans didn't take him as the real president after the Gore election in 2000. He's been very controversial. And a lot of people voted to get rid of Bush policies. So, and for some people are cheering the helicopter leaving, because they felt stuck for eight years." Couric agreed: "Right. Some people cheer in support, and some people, as Doug said, cheer because he's getting out of town."
Later, Couric asked Brinkley about Bush’s farewell press conference, particularly about the president’s defense of his response to Hurricane Katrina: "Doug Brinkley, you wrote a book all about Katrina and I was just curious to get your reaction to how the president assessed his performance vis-a-vis that disaster in that last news conference." Brinkley went on a left-wing rant:
He created a fairy tale for himself. Everybody knows the Bush Administration did not do a good job during Katrina. In fact, August, 2005, is the turning point. Even the national media -- which had been intimidated by the Rove White House for a while -- they changed. I was in New Orleans for the storm and the media was so angry at the seemingly lackadaisical response of the federal government and then the fact that the President of the United States did a flyover, didn't put his boot heels on the ground in Louisiana or Mississippi, didn't touch the flood waters. Many people I talked to remembered Hurricane Betsy in 1965 when Lyndon Johnson went there in the dead of night with a flashlight in his face saying 'this is your president.' Our president was AWOL during Katrina and it's, I think, probably going to be one of the hardest parts of his legacy to somehow fix by writing it -- changing it in a memoir or something.
During live coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration at 9:30AM on Tuesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "And it reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt in March of 1933 in this regard, I mean the economy was in tatters, Herbert Hoover was an unpopular president, President Bush is not very popular, and he was able to galvanize people with his speech, FDR, move the nation, you know to have nothing -- you know, to fight for all of the civil rights and to start pushing forward the hundred days of the New Deal. And so you see the echoes of that." On the January 11 Sunday Morning program, Brinkley declared Bush in the "...the very bottom-rung of American Presidents."
Brinkley’s comment was prompted by Couric remarking: "...a confluence of events that will make him perhaps one of the most powerful presidents in history. It's hard to predict an administration and how successful it will be, but he really is starting off things in an enviable position, isn't he?" Later, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on that point: "But the interesting thing, Katie, is when we stop and think about it, our greatest presidents have always come to us during the worst of times. If history's any guide, the pieces are in place here for the making of a great president." On Monday’s Early Show, Schieffer compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Sunday Morning liberal commentator Nancy Giles about the incoming Obama Administration and Giles could not resist bashing Bush: "Well, Barack Obama's going to have his hands full with a lot of the carnage that was left by the previous administration." Republican strategist Bay Buchanan was seated next to Giles and Giles defended her statement: "I had to put it that way, Bay. It is carnage." Buchanan joked: "I was told it would cease-fire here for two days." Giles replied: "I know, I'm sorry, carnage just slipped out, but I mean, he's going to have his hands full."
Co-host Harry Smith then chimed in, saying to Giles: "I spent the entire afternoon yesterday talking to people, and there were actually very few people who were echoing the sentiments you were echoing...There were some people who were angry and still carrying grudges. But moreover, it was a sense of for the moment, no more Republicans, no more Democrats, we're all on the same page, at least for a moment."
In contrast to her view of Bush’s "carnage," Giles praised Obama: " Barack Obama said something last year that I heard him say about his definition of homeland security and national security. It had to do with making education a real important thing. He felt that educating our young people would make the nation that much more secure. And I love that way of thinking."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on Barack Obama’s inauguration and made this comparison: "Well, people just want to be a part of it. It's like who wouldn't want to be a part of it if you could have been there when Lincoln gave one of his addresses or something...People really do feel this is a moment in history. And they want to be part of it."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith observed: "And there is an amazing feeling here, especially contrast with the feeling of eight years ago." Schieffer agreed: "Yeah, it really was, because don't forget, you had that really difficult thing down in Florida. People were not convinced. Some people were not convinced that George Bush really was legitimately-" Smith interjected: "Still not convinced." Schieffer continued: "-the president. There was a lot of rancor. People had fun, they came up, and -- but nothing like the spirit that you see here...There is a real spirit here. I've never seen anything quite like it."
Smith later declared: "They're here from Canada, California, Colorado, Ohio. They're from all over the country. Every color of the rainbow. And there really is a sense of togetherness, of unity." He then concluded the segment by exclaiming: "It really is that sort of a sense of E. Pluribus Unum, right?...Out of many, one." Schieffer agreed: "It really is."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show co-host Smith recounted being a passenger on Barack Obama’s inaugural train on Saturday: "On a freezing cold Saturday, people stood for hours just to get a glimpse. They wanted to be able to say in the years to come, ‘I was there that day when the train went through.’ In his fawning report, Smith used poetic language to describe the train ride from Philadelphia to Washington: "Barack Obama spoke of perfecting the Union, he spoke of common hopes and common dreams, he spoke of recognizing ourselves in one another...This was no mere victory tour, this was something more."
Smith found two particular passengers, Patricia and Ted Stiles, who showed bipartisan support for Obama: "Patricia and her husband, Ted, are lifelong Republicans who supported Obama. What did you see when you looked out the windows today?" Patricia declared: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for this nation. I'm excited, Harry, let me tell you." Ted exclaimed: "I saw large groups of people, I saw small groups of people. They were standing on their cars. It's like watching a regeneration of our country." A Sunday article in The Denver Post quoted Patricia Stiles, a Colorado native, about hugging Obama at the beginning of the trip in Philadelphia: "President-elect Barack Obama, the greatest, most articulate speaker I've known in my lifetime, standing there to my left. I just melted away."
During a report on Thursday’s Today show, NBC News correspondent Norah O’Donnell replayed Barbara Walters’ characterization of Sarah Palin’s recent interview as “disturbing” from Tuesday’s The View. O’Donnell highlighted how the Alaska governor’s comments about how the media treated her versus how it treated Caroline Kennedy “drew a reaction” from the ABC host, and that it was “one more sign that as Palin tries to quiet her critics, she is sparking another loud debate.”
Co-host Matt Lauer introduced O’Donnell’s report: “During the campaign, handlers tried to keep a tight lid on Sarah Palin, but as Barack Obama’s inauguration approaches, she’s speaking out more and more. But how much is too much?” The correspondent then began by highlighting “Sarah Palin’s latest target -- her online critics,” focusing on the governor’s counterattacks against those spreading “smears” about her family. The NBC on-screen graphic hyped how Palin had become “unleashed.”
Aratani began her Metro section front-pager finding that left-wing organizers known for over-the-top histrionics and disrupting congressional hearings face "a new problem: how to make demands without appearing adversarial" (emphasis mine):
Reacting to President Bush’s Monday press conference, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "Not going to get a 'job well done'...on the report card, on the final report card." That observation was prompted by Republican strategist Ed Rollins declaring: "I think to a certain extent, we have a lot to be thankful to this president for his service, but he's not going to get a ‘great job’ from the American public."
Prior to that exchange, Rollins criticized Bush for being too confident: "...you saw a lot of confidence yesterday, he always was a man that was overly confident." Smith asked: "Did you say overly confident?" Rollins elaborated: "I think he’s overly confident. I think he’s overly confident about a lot of things. I – there was no humility there yesterday when you basically talk in terms of the ‘Mission Impossible’ [Referring to ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner] sign, at the same time he can't find weapons of mass destruction...You know, you also -- forget ‘Mission Accomplished,’ he flew in a jet, he had a pilot's outfit on, it was sort of the conquering hero."
Now that Barack Obama is assuming the presidency, partisan criticism is suddenly so passé. Just ask Chris Matthews. In the course of cheerleading anchoring the MSNBC coverage of Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing today, Matthews suggested that the media shouldn't cover the Republican National Committee's criticism of Clinton.
The comments came during the Hardball host's chat with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. A few minutes earlier, Matthews had assured us that those who had the privilege of knowing Hillary personally were aware of what a "wonderful" person she is. Then it was time to attack Republicans for refusing to join the Hillary love-fest.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Thalia Assuras examined President Bush’s historical legacy: "On January 20th, 2001, George Walker Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States. His presidency and the future, a blank slate...Before the Iraq war. Before Katrina swept ashore. Before the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Assuras cited two historians in her report, both of whom labeled Bush one of the nation’s worst presidents. She first turned to historian Douglas Brinkley, who declared: "I think it's safe to say that President Bush is going to be seen as the very bottom-rung of American presidents...As a judicial historian looking at what's occurred on his watch, it is almost void of genuine accomplishment." The other historian Assuras included in her report was Joseph Ellis, who said of Bush: "I think that George Bush might very well be the worst president in American history...He's unusual. Most two-term presidents have a mixed record...Bush has nothing on the positive side, virtually nothing."
Following these Bush-bashing historical assessments, Assuras exclaimed: "And that's not a minority opinion. In a 2006 Siena College survey of 744 history professors, 82 percent rated President Bush below average or a failure. Last April, in an informal poll by George Mason University of 109 historians, Mr. Bush fared even worse; 98 percent considered him a failed president. Sixty-one percent judged him, as Ellis does, one of the worst in American history."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen reacted to a recent interview Sarah Palin gave to film maker John Ziegler for his new documentary about media bias in the 2008 election: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is lashing out at the media. She says she was treated unfairly on the campaign trail, and as part of a documentary called ‘Media Malpractice.’"
After airing a brief report on the documentary, in which correspondent Thalia Assuras focused on Palin’s criticism of CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, Chen spoke to political analysts Bay Buchanan and Joe Lockhart. Near the end of the segment, Chen asked Buchanan: "After she did part one of her interview with Katie Couric, she said in this documentary she knew it did not go well. I mean, whose fault is that?"
Buchanan replied: "Oh, there -- and I think it was her fault. But number one, she should never have been on with Katie Couric...A good campaign manager, a good media person, starts them in easy, puts them in with friendly people, gets them to get a little used to that." Chen vigorously defended Couric and attacked Palin: "If she can't -- wait, but if she can't hold her own against a TV journalist, how should the American people expect her to hold her own against world leaders, or terrorists, or anyone else who might have an impact on the lives of Americans?"
The conservative movement lost a great intellectual voice on Thursday. The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus died due to complications from cancer at the age of 72. Neuhaus, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of New York, was a well-known pro-life advocate, and founded First Things in 1990, a periodical focused on advancing “a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.”
...[We] have lost one of America's leading public intellectuals, a man of profound wisdom and learning, and a great champion for the unborn. It was Father Neuhaus, along with his dear, long-time friend George Weigel and just a handful of others like Michael Novak, who not only championed the pro-life cause for so many years, but who gave the rest of us both the grounding and the vocabulary to speak on this issue.