CNN continued to harp about "big oil’s" record profits and the Democrats’ proposed windfall taxes on companies like ExxonMobil on Wednesday. In an interview of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback on "American Morning," co-host John Roberts was amazed over the Republican’s opposition to the tax proposal. "There were a couple of other provisions in this bill. One of them were to roll back the $17 billion in annual tax breaks so that these five biggest oil companies get. Together, they made... $36 billion in profits in the first quarter this year. Why do they need $17 billion in tax breaks?" Later, during "The Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer returned to his laser-beam focus on ExxonMobil as a particularly "guilty" part of "big oil." He asked former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, "Explain why it's appropriate at this time of rising gas prices, for ExxonMobil, for example, to get additional tax cuts."
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pressed McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina about oil companies "awash in record profits" on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room." The CNN host used ExxonMobil as an example five different times in his questioning. "...ExxonMobil has got these billions and billions of dollars in record profits. They can afford to not necessarily get additional tax cuts."
After Fiorina outlined McCain’s proposal to lower the federal business tax rate at the beginning of the segment, which began 14 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer took a persistent stance in asking if the reduction in taxes included "big oil." First, the CNN host asked, "Would that reduction of the tax rate also include, as Obama says, ExxonMobil and the other big oil companies, who are awash in record profits?"
Blame do-nothing Republicans for high gas prices. That was the impression visitors to ABCNews.com got this afternoon.
Among the "top headlines" lineup Web site editors included a story on "Fueling Anger" with the teaser headline: "Rejected! Big Oil Tax Gets Shelved." [see related post about CBSNews.com's bias here]
The accompanying caption to the ABC photo illustration read, "With prices soaring, GOP halts Democrats' wide-ranging energy plan."
The article itself, by writer Z. Byron Wolf, was front-loaded with bias, slamming Republicans for their filibuster of a new windfall profits tax measure while dismissing the GOP's energy plan as ineffective in the short term (emphases mine):
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the June 10 "Fox & Friends" to discuss yet another poll noting that the public perceive what the MRC has documented for nearly 21 years: the media are not only biased ideologically, they tailor campaign coverage in a way that goes softer on candidates they favor, such as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
For example, Bozell note, the Illinois Democrat's numerous gaffes have received widespread play in blogs and on video-sharing sites like YouTube, yet are virtually ignored by the MSM:
Barack Obama has a long history of gaffes on this campaign trail, Bosnia sniper type of gaffes. We've documented them. Others have documented them. But you won't see them on the news media. So you just can't say, I mean it's, what Ed has said is true, Hillary did stumble and did make mistakes and Bill did make mistakes but so did Barack Obama and they weren't covered.
Audio from the two segments is available here. Transcript below by MRC intern and NewsBusters blogger Lyndsi Thomas:
CNN’s Veronica De La Cruz pulled her scoop on Thursday’s "American Morning" straight out of the left-wing blogosphere. The network’s Internet correspondent cited both the Huffington Post and the Daily Kos in her short segment on the brand-new changes on John McCain’s presidential campaign website.
De La Cruz first zeroed in on McCain’s new slogan. " His new slogan reads ‘a leader we can believe in,' 'a leader we can believe in.' If it sounds somewhat familiar, you probably know that Barack Obama always used the slogan 'change you can believe in.’" She then used an image from the Huffington Post to make her next point. "And if you take a look at this image, we are looking at this. This is found on huffingtonpost.com. You see that, when you put the two Web sites up next to each other. There's one on top, you see Barack is up there, McCain's new logo also looks similar to Barack Obama's as well."
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on Barack Obama becoming the first black nominee of the Democratic Party: "And the question, one of the many questions of the morning, is America really ready to elect a black man president? We have a brand-new CBS poll. The numbers will amaze you." At that point, co-host Julie Chen added: "You know who I would love to see handle that question?...Senator John McCain. It would be very interesting to see how he would handle that question." Smith agreed: "Yeah." Does Chen think McCain will say no?
Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez provided a segue to the story when she explained that: "I came to town [New Orleans] last night to interview Senator John McCain as he kicked off his general election campaign. Here in this city where so many voters are African-American. That's an important demographic for the Senator to woo, especially now that the Democratic nominee is African-American."
With the traditional media admitting they find it hard to curb their enthusiasm for Barack Obama, John McCain demonstrated again today that he is reaching out to the new media, giving blogging critics from the right and left the opportunity to participate in the blogger conference calls he has been regularly conducting. The Washington Times noted the phenomenon in an article of May 16, McCain widens dialogue on blogs, reporting that three of the seven questions in the May 15 conference call were posed by liberal-leaning bloggers.
Of the half-dozen or so questions McCain took in today's blogger call [in which I participated], one was from a blogger from the left. James Kirchick, a New Republic assistant editor/blogger [and National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association 2007 Journalist of the Year], quizzed McCain on his position on the proposed amendment to the California constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman [McCain expressed support for the amendment and for the ballot initiative giving citizens the right to vote on it].
The most barbed question actually came from the right. Quin Hillyer of the Washington Examiner began by expressing "all due respect," eliciting a wry "I always like that beginning" from the senator. Hillyer went on to describe what he characterized as "one of the most frequently aired complaints from conservatives," to wit, that "when you disagree with conservatives you seem to use the anger and the language of the left, and to question not just conservative positions but motive or integrity." Hillyer asked for assurances that McCain would "avoid that tendency" if he were elected President. McCain fundamentally disagreed with the premise, stating that he treated all people with respect.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began the show by declaring: "A place in history. Barack Obama claims the Democratic presidential nomination. The first African-American to do so." While Obama’s win was indeed historic, correspondent Dean Reynolds later reported on Obama’s "ecstatic" supporters and the Senator’s humility: "...despite the thunderous, indeed ecstatic, applause at the arena in St. Paul, Barack Obama was not gloating. He dutifully paid homage to his defeated rival and her [Hillary Clinton’s] legion of supporters."
Reynolds soon followed up describing John McCain's speech as the beginning of a Republican "attack" against Obama: "John McCain is waiting for him and Tuesday night he sounded a theme of attack." In a later interview with McCain, co-host Maggie Rodrigguez wondered: "It's one thing to say that you are the better candidate. It's another to say that he [Barack Obama] is not qualified. Which is it?" Rodriguez also linked McCain, who spoke from New Orleans, to failures in Hurricane Katrina: "Here in New Orleans, a city that symbolizes one of the greatest failures of the Bush Administration, the response after Hurricane Katrina, you spoke a lot about failings of this administration. Are you trying to distance yourself from President Bush?"
In the midst of reports on the historic nature of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s candidacy and as speculation roils about whether he will ask his bitter rival Hillary Clinton to join the ticket, the Boston Globe also found time to take a few jabs at presumptive GOP nominee John McCain and former rival Mitt Romney.
Local politics writer Yvonne Abraham, in a June 4 article titled "McMitt Picking," sought to discuss the potential pairing of McCain and Romney for the presidential and vice presidential spots on the Republican ticket. However, her column was a little less than friendly.
In an interview free of substance in which Scott McClellan appears to be an innocent victim on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began by asking the former White House Press Secretary turned Bush-bashing critic: "How you holding up?" McClellan responded by claiming: "It's tough when you take on the system. The system kind of fights back and engages in some personal attacks and misrepresentations of what's in the book."
Smith then referenced "personal attacks" made against McClellan by Bob Dole: "Among the people who have come out to say disparaging things about you, Bob Dole called you a 'miserable creature.' What is it like to have been so much a part of a certain -- of that political culture and have that culture turn on you?"
Later, McClellan explained that: "...it's time to move beyond this destructive culture in Washington and end the partisan warfare that has existed for the past fifteen years, if not longer. And that's the larger message in the book that they can take away from it." Smith replied by asking: "Do you think Republicans will look at this and take this seriously at all?" So according to Smith, the "destructive culture in Washington" is a Republican problem.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer made little effort to hide his liberal viewpoint during an interview of Scott McClellan on Friday’s "The Situation Room." After asking the former White House Press Secretary about his "revival" of the question of whether President Bush used cocaine as a young man, the CNN host followed-up by asking, "I guess the question is, is the President -- this is a blunt question -- in your opinion, a serial liar?"
Earlier in the interview, which began 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer addressed the issue of supposed "war crimes" related to the Iraq war. First, Blitzer played a video question from a viewer who asked McClellan, "Would you now consider testifying about your colleagues at a war crimes trial?" After listening to McClellan’s answer, Blitzer replied, "Knowing what you know now, do you believe war crimes, as this I-reporter suggests, were in fact committed?"
Prior to the airing of the video question, the on-screen graphic hinted at what was going to be asked: "‘Propaganda’ on Iraq: Were Crimes Committed?"
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed former Bush Administration advisor Dan Bartlett about Scott McClellan’s memoir and suggested that McClellan’s harsh criticism: "...actually confirms what a lot of people have come to believe, though, about the Bush Administration, that truth was secondary to policy and politics." On Wednesday, CNN’s John Roberts made a similar observation about the book.
In a report prior to Smith’s interview with Barlett, correspondent Jim Axelrod wondered: "So why would Scott McClellan write a book bound to cut him off from so many old friends?" Axelrod answered his question by playing a clip of former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart: "It's setting the record straight, not taking the fall for things he didn't do, not looking like the patsy, but also there -- it strikes me that there's some -- there's some conviction in here that there's information that the public should have had they didn't have and somebody had to tell this story."
Eat your heart out Lyndon LaRouche. The Trilateral Commission is so 1970s. It's really "The Fellowship" that's really running the world according to religion professor Jeff Sharlet in his new book "The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."
Despite being a fanciful yet unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, U.S. News & World Report dignified Sharlet's take on a little-known Christian organization with a May 28 article by Jay Tolson entitled "Exposing a Network of Powerful Christians.":
It is an elite and secretive network of fundamentalist Christians that has been quietly pulling strings in America's highest corridors of power for more than 70 years. Or so claims Jeff Sharlet, author of a new exposé, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. And in his telling, the group that calls itself the Fellowship operates at the very center of the vast, right-wing conspiracy that has promoted unfettered capitalism and dismantled liberal social policies at home, even while encouraging ruthless but America-friendly dictators abroad.
CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin, during a segment on Wednesday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," accused her former bosses -- presumably those at MSNBC, where she worked prior to joining ABC in July 2003 -- of pressuring her to run positive stories about the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq: "When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation... and my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings... the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the President."
[Yellin repeated her "patriotic fever" line in a clarification posted Thursday at CNN's AC360 blog.]
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer about the political fallout of Scott McClellan’s Bush-bashing memoir: "The White House is essentially dismissing McClellan's book as sour grapes from a disgruntled employee who was let go early...What do you make of all this?" Schieffer replied by declaring that: " Well, it generally happens in these kinds of things when an insider makes a disclosure, those that are still on the inside start to raise questions about motivations. But I think you have to look at what he said, these are some very serious allegations."
However, while Schieffer had no doubt of McClellan’s motives, when former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg wrote an editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal in 1996 accusing the network of liberal bias, Schieffer was shocked at the idea. In his first book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," Goldberg recounted how Schieffer reacted at the time: "It’s such a wacky charge, and a weird way to go about it...I don’t know what Bernie was driving at. It just sounds bizarre." Rather than being "serious allegations," Schieffer dismissed Goldberg’s charges as merely "wacky," "weird," and "bizarre."
CNN correspondent Carol Costello, covering the reaction to McClellan’s new "tell-all" book about the Bush administration on Thursday’s "American Morning," added some liberal-leaning psychoanalysis to the obligatory quotes from current and former administration officials and a clip from Rush Limbaugh. "Unflattering kiss and tells about the Bush administration are a dime a dozen. Spilling the beans: former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, former Iraq Envoy Paul Bremer, and former Senior Economic Adviser Larry Lindsay. From a psychological standpoint, that's not surprising. Analysts say the Bush administration demanded loyalty and suppressed dissent -- a perfect recipe for rebellion."
Costello included a clip of Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist, who noted that McClellan’s book "appears to be an act of revenge" done "in a potentially very self-destructive way." Because of this, she concluded that "you have to wonder about the guilt that they feel," because "they're asking for punishment, in a sense."
Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media writer and a CNN contributor, contended on Wednesday's "The Situation Room" that in the lead-up to the Iraq war, "anti-war voices had limited access, it seems, to the airwaves, while administration officials, of course, were on every day pounding on that message [in support of going to war in Iraq]." He also claimed that "[i]t was only when violence surged in Iraq and public opinion began turning against the war that ABC, CBS, NBC, and the rest of the media turned more skeptical."
Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten, in his latest column titled "The rebirth of abortion," voiced his dismay that social conservatives are reviving the issue of abortion in the 2008 presidential campaign. "If there's one issue that epitomizes the culture wars that have so deeply divided American politics over the last eight years, it's abortion. That's why those who benefited most from those wars are desperate to revive abortion's single-issue virulence in this presidential cycle." He continued that "some on the right think they see an opportunity to hammer once more on the abortion wedge."
Rutten also launched an attack one key member of the so-called "hard cultural right:" Robert Novak. At one point, Rutten suggested that if Novak used a phrase like "abortion industry" to describe abortionists and their supporters, it would be legitimate to use a term like "under the sway of neo-fascist clericism" to describe Novak and his pro-life fellow travelers.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book attacking the Bush Administration: "Breaking news this morning -- a bombshell memoir. President Bush's former press secretary accuses him of misleading the nation on Iraq." Co-host Harry Smith then introduced the segment by declaring: "Sharp attacks on President Bush by his former Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, who is releasing a memoir."
Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported that: "...in a book to be released Monday, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan takes direct aim at the administration. On the war in Iraq, which he defended daily – In some 350 pages of 'What Happened Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception,' McClellan accuses President Bush and his advisers of confusing a propaganda campaign with the honesty needed to ensure public support."
Later, Smith quoted from the book and emphasized McClellan's credibility as he talked to Mike Allen from the Politico, who broke the story:
CNN’s John Roberts wasted no time to herald Scott McClellan’s "revelation" on how the Bush administration supposedly used "propaganda" to push the Iraq war. After reading an excerpt from McClellan’s book on the issue, Roberts responded, "He finally articulates what we all came to believe... and further goes on to say that this war was unnecessary."
Roberts, who, during McClellan’s time as White House Press Secretary, was the White House Correspondent for CBS, made the comment during an interview of the Politico’s Mike Allen, who broke the McClellan story on Tuesday. Allen, like Roberts, was a White House correspondent during McClellan’s time as Press Secretary, first for the Washington Post, and then for Time magazine.
Allen, in reaction to Roberts’s commentary on McClellan, replied, "Well, John, I think that's right, that these aren't particularly novel observations." He continued that McClellan "has put on a new hat. He's put on a historian's hat. He's not an administration flack anymore...."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" evening news anchors, ABC’S Charles Gibson, NBC’s Brian Williams, and CBS’s Katie Couric, were all on to promote an upcoming cancer research telethon, but near the end of segment, co-host Harry Smith asked about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book in which McClellan claims the media did not ask tough questions leading up to the Iraq war and Couric agreed:
I think it's a very legitimate allegation. I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism. And I think there was a sense of pressure from corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kinds of dissent or any kind of questioning of it. I think it was extremely subtle but very, very effective. And I think Scott McClellan has a really good point.
Perhaps a better example of "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism" would be Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather, using fraudulent National Guard memos to attempt to smear President Bush just prior to the 2004 election.
ABC reporter Martha Raddatz openly editorialized on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" that she is "disappointed" in former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan for not slamming the Bush White House sooner. McClellan, who has written a tell-all book bashing the President, Karl Rove and other operatives, was prominently featured as GMA's top story.
After being prompted by co-host Robin Roberts for her opinion, Raddatz unloaded: "...I'm really surprised....and disappointed." She lamented that as press secretary, "[McClellan] didn't stand up and say wait a minute, I'm not going to say these kind of things anymore. So, we're surprised." Co-host Diane Sawyer could not restrain herself from describing the new book in the most dire terms. In an intro, she breathlessly announced, "A scathing presidential review. One of the President's most loyal political aides turns on him..."
Barack Obama's penchant for gaffes is hardly anything new, but as the Illinois Democrat has come closer and closer to becoming the official Democratic presidential nominee, it seems the mainstream media have become less and less likely to note his gaffes. A cursory Web search finds a few instances of the mainstream media picking up on Obama gaffes in 2007, when Sen. Clinton was well ahead of Obama in the polls and was widely expected to be marching towards coronation in Denver.
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, 46 days old on Tuesday, has run into some speed bumps, created because of a series of missteps magnified because he is under microscopic scrutiny.
It's too early to say whether the gaffes slow Obama's momentum -- or if they become barricades, extracting a more significant price for the Illinois Democrat's White House bid. They are getting noticed.
Consider the items that have been accumulating since Obama announced on Feb. 10:
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed to mock John McCain's military service as he quipped that McCain was "awol" for not showing up for a Senate vote on providing college tuition to American troops, and further accused McCain, whom he called "Senator 'I Support the Troops,'" of "supporting himself instead of the troops." The MSNBC host also mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California. Notably, just a few weeks ago, Olbermann thought it was amusing to scold Ann Coulter for making a crack about Barack Obama being a "Manchurian candidate" because it might remind people of McCain, even though it was Olbermann, not Coulter, who drew a connection as he observed that the film The Manchurian Candidate was about a "presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia." (Video of Olbermann's "Manchurian Candidate" comments can be found here.) (Transcripts follow)
CNN correspondent Carol Costello compared Cindy McCain to a "Stepford Wife" due to her "low key" role in her husband’s campaign so far, in a segment on Wednesday’s "The Situation Room." Costello, detailing Mrs. McCain’s recent photo spread in Vogue magazine, stated the feature "projects an image quite unlike the Cindy McCain we see on the trail," and a talking head described this "Cindy McCain we see" as "low key... taking the traditional role of standing by her husband's side at events." Costello then quipped, "A role critics say makes Mrs. McCain look like -- well, Glenn Close in the movie ‘The Stepford Wives.’" [audio available here]
On the other hand, Costello described Michelle Obama’s Vogue spread more glowingly: "...Michelle Obama chose a traditional black dress with pearl earrings for her Vogue spread. As The Washington Post described it, it was if Michelle Obama was saying 'I am not some scary other.... I am Camelot with a tan.'"
"American Morning" substitute co-host Kyra Phillips pressed former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Iraq war on Wednesday, asserting that her liberal talking point was a fact. When Giuliani defended President Bush’s legacy, that he "will go down as he has protected us against terrorism when nobody thought it could be done," Phillips retorted, "But the Iraq war is not about protecting us from terrorism. It's been the most unpopular and controversial war." When the former mayor challenged this statement as her opinion, Phillips became rather defensive. "Oh, I’m not saying that. No, no, no, I'm not voicing my opinion.... I'm voicing what's out there. I’m voicing the realities" [audio available here].
During MSNBC's live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell seemed to take seriously suggestions by Hillary Clinton "loyalists" who argue that Republicans in control of the election process in some red states Barack Obama hopes to carry may deny him a "fair vote" in the November general election. Mitchell: "Other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are ... Republican governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. ... [Obama] has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote, if he's the nominee, in those red states." (Transcript follows) [audio available here]
During an interview with Lisa Caputo of the Clinton campaign, Caputo commented that the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote among Democratic primary and caucus voters while Obama wins the delegate count reminds her of the 2000 election. Matthews then contended that Al Gore "may well have won the election" if he had requested a statewide recount instead of "just a couple of counties" because Gore might have won most "intended votes."
Media Research Center Director of Research and NewsBusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes appeared on Fox News's "America's Election HQ" program shortly before 6 p.m. EDT today. The topic: The Bush White House's complaint about NBC's misleading editing of President Bush's interview with correspondent Richard Engel.
You can find an excerpt of the transcript below the page break, or the full segment by clicking the play button on the embed at the right. [audio available here]
For more of NB's archive on Engel's reporting, click here.
Lou Dobbs, during an interview on Monday evening with James Rubin, challenged the Clinton campaign advisor over his accusation that John McCain was a "hypocrite" and a "flip-flopper" in terms of dealing with Hamas, noting that CNN’s own interview of McCain contradicted Rubin’s charge. Dobbs chastised, "I would not have taken it as far. I would not put it as forward-leaning as you on the issue."
Doesn't Mika Brzezinski have any Republicans in her Rolodex? With Joe Scarborough home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby, Mika has been filling in as anchor, and I sense doing much of the show's booking [mention is often made of her work in that regard]. Today's guest lineup consisted of six Dems/liberals versus a sole Republican, brought in almost at show's end.
Here's the list, in order of appearance, of today's political guests coming from outside the NBC/MSNBC family [Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell also appeared as guests, and Harold Ford, Jr. and Pat Buchanan served as panelists]:
Jonathan Capehart--WaPo editorial writer
Ted Sorensen--former JFK speechwriter
Doris Kearns Goodwin--historian and former LBJ aide
Tom Daschle--former Dem senator [check out the spiffy red spectacles]
Terry McAuliffe--Clinton campaign chairman
Jon Meacham--Newsweek editor and contributing editor of the center-left Washington Monthly