ABC reporter David Wright on Tuesday appeared on "Good Morning America" and charitably compared Illinois Senator-designate Roland Burris to the title character of Frank Capra's classic film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." At the same time, Wright suggested that the Senate leadership, which plans on blocking the entry of Burris, might unfavorably be linked to Ronald Reagan's former Secretary of State, Al Haig.
After asserting that the potential senator, appointed by scandal-ridden Governor Rod Blagojevich, "is being treated like a tourist," Wright made his movie analogy. He explained, "Not since Mr. Smith came to Washington in that old Frank Capra film has an idealistic senator appointed by a corrupt party boss been so unwelcome at the capitol. But at least Mr. Smith got his seat." He added that "the leadership clearly hopes Burris will come off as presumptuous, as Secretary of State Al Haig did after Ronald Reagan was shot."
In its opening half-hour, Good Morning America found time to tell us—twice—that Pres.-elect Obama choked up with emotion as he viewed his packed-up old home. But somehow ABC never got around to mentioning that a possible pay-to-play scheme was behind Bill Richardson's bye-bye as Commerce Secretary nominee.
After the show-opening roll in which the president elect was shown heading to DC, Robin Roberts literally bounced in her co-anchor's chair: "so excited, so excited, so excited . . . It's a new day, new year, new everything going on." Added Diane Sawyer helpfully: "And a president-elect." "Yes," concurred Robin, as if it wasn't clear that's what her excitement was really all about.
Then came the first mention of the Pres.-elect getting misty. Roberts: "He was home alone in Chicago. And one of Malia's friends came over and had a little scrapbook that he wanted delivered to his ten-year old, and he was flipping through it, and I would imagine, got a little choked up." When senior political correspondent Jake Tapper came on, he provided crucial additional details about the warm and fuzzy moment, complete with a clip of the president-elect recounting the story to reporters. But Tapper gave short shrift to the Richardson matter, and, appearing later, George Stephanopoulos was equally tight-lipped.
Although most media members used the occasion of Mark Felt's death on December 18 to praise the former FBI official better known as "Deep Throat," George Friedman of the geopolitical intelligence organization Stratfor warned readers about journalists becoming "tools of various factions in political disputes" as well as "the relationship between security and intelligence organizations and governments in a Democratic society."
As Friedman indicated, Felt is a pop hero to media members across the fruited plain.
The Associated Press called him an "inspiration to a generation of investigative journalists" the day after his death. The Washington Post wrote days later, "Without a single byline he inspired thousands and thousands of campus misfits to get journalism degrees."
Unlike an adoring press that's always interested in the next gotcha story regardless of the consequences, Friedman, ever the concerned citizen looking out for America's national security interests, didn't write about Felt's role in the Watergate scandal with such glowing praise (emphasis added throughout, h/t many NBers):
ABC can't be so naive as to believe it wasn't a carefully calculated publicity stunt. Surely the good folks at Good Morning America know it was anything but an invasion of privacy--that the Clintons wanted the world to see the image of a blissfully happy married couple tripping the sand fantastic. And yet . . .
GMA devoted a segment this morning to a collective tongue clicking in concern that the Obamas' privacy is being invaded by photographs taken during their current vacation in Hawaii. To lend historicial perspective, other instances of photograhic invasions of presidential privacy were aired, including the image displayed here. According to ABC's Yungi de Nies, who narrated the segment, the photographic invasion of vacation time was "something the Clintons had to get used to. They were spotted dancing in the sand on one vacation." "Spotted"? I suppose. In the same sense streakers are "spotted" running across football fields.
Two situations over the weekend illustrate that the Associated Press's habitual failure to identify the political party of Democrats in trouble is more than likely a conscious decision. This is despite the AP Stylebook's guidance (as of 2000, the latest free edition I can find; a PDF is here) that a reporter should "include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is."
In both of the instances I will cite, local papers decided that party affiliation was important enough to include. But AP reporters decided that they weren't, even though out-of-state readers are less likely to know the party affiliation of the politician(s) involved.
Associated Press writer Glen Johnson's story on the indictment of a close friend of Salvatore DiMasi, Massachusetts's Democratic Speaker of the House, is the latest in a long line of fairly long stories about Democratic politicians in trouble that fails to identify their party affiliation.
The story names a half-dozen politicians, all of whom are Democrats, without identifying the party of any of them. No variation of the word "Democrat" appears anywhere.
Lynn Sweet wants the Obama team to come clean over its contacts with Blago. David Shuster has a different concern. He's hoping the media won't get "adversarial" once the Obama folks get around to releasing their report about who said what to whom.
Shuster made his pre-emptive plea for good media manners on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show Shuster has recently begun hosting now that David Gregory has moved on to Meet The Press.
Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times, began with a reasonable reporter's take on the pending release by Team Obama of its accounting of contacts between the President-elect's representatives and Blago and his minions: take your time but be complete. In contrast, Shuster's focus was his demand for media decorum and desire to exculpate Rahm Emanuel before even learning the facts.
The first of just three questions asked of Barack Obama at his December 17 press conference [audio available here]:
CYNTHIA BOWERS, CBS News Chicago correspondent: I have a question. You ran on a platform of transparency. How difficult is all this having to wait to release your inquiry business when the American people expect transparency?
Yes, you read that correctly. Bowers prompts Obama for an answer wherein he can lament having to wait to answer questions about the nature of his interaction with indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.).
Perhaps the lap dog media are cowering in the corner after Obama yesterday swatted Chicago Tribune's John McCormick on the proverbial nose for his Blagojevich question. Bowers has covered Chicago for CBS News since 1999 and hence seen the president-elect rise from relative obscurity to the highest office in the land.
What a difference an administration makes. During the Bush years, if a spokesman or the president himself attempted to dodge a tough question, the media would go into their Sam Donaldson impressions and pundits would see a conspiracy of silence.
But now that it's Obama, the dodging that was once denounced is suddenly celebrated. Thus, appearing on today's Morning Joe, Larry O'Donnell declared "impressive" Pres.-elect Obama's stiff-arming yesterday of a reporter who dared asked Blago-related questions.
The video clip also includes a gratuitous bit of nastiness from Obama adviser David Axelrod aimed at Mika Brzezinski.
President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides did nothing inappropriate.
Obama pledged to make the review public, but said he decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and "I don't want to interfere with an ongoing investigation." U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald released a statement confirming the request.
By contrast, back in October when Gov. Sarah Palin (R) released her own report denying impropriety in her firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, the AP noted that "Palin Pre-Empts State Report, Clears Self in Probe." As e-mail tipster Matt Healy observed in his e-mail:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the potential impeachment of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich with Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and asked: "You've been calling for impeachment proceedings since the day after this scandal broke. Why? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" Schakowsky explained: "No, this isn't about the legal process. This is about the governor being unable to govern right now. This is really a political question. Right now, our state is without the leadership that we need and so, of course, he'll be innocent until proven guilty in the courts."
This is not the first time Rodriguez gave the benefit of the doubt to a Democratic official embroiled in scandal. In March, Rodriguez defended the disgraced Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, who was accused and later convicted of perjury, regarding sexually explicit text messages. At the time, Rodriguez asked the prosecutor in the case: "But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
The media defense of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and corruption in politics continued Sunday morning as new "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, along with his guests, actually defended Blago's actions as "pay to play" business as usual that's just "part of the system" and "how the world works."
Such seems an astounding about face from the press's disgust and incessant focus on the so-called "Republican culture of corruption" that surrounded the reporting of former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay's travails in 2006, as well as the attention given to Jack Abramoff the same year in order to assist the Democrat takeover of both chambers of Congress that November.
Amazingly, two years later, the corruption in Illinois involving not only a Democrat governor, but also having some links to folks connected to the newly-elected Democrat president-elect, are just "part of the system" and "how the world works" (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 4:20, file photo):
In today's "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" moment, PBS's Jim Lehrer actually defended the corrupt actions of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Friday asking his guests, "What's the big deal here?"
I kid you not.
During his discussion with regulars Mark Shields and David Brooks on Friday's "News Hour" the subject of Blago arose, and Lehrer took what has to be considered an absurd position on this issue (video available here with relevant section at 6:00, partial transcript follows, h/t Mike Francesa via NB reader John F.):
Which would be the safer place to be for a political figure who's received death threats?:
a. A school concert in a public venue. b. A press conference in the company of the President-elect of the United States of America.
If you answered 'b,' you're thinking like me and presumably most people. If you answered 'a,' you're A.B. Stoddard. The associate editor of "The Hill" offered up the strange excuse that death threats are preventing Rahm Emanuel from attending press conferences in the course of an MSNBC appearance this afternoon during which she also claimed that "President-elect Obama is taking steps to be as forthcoming and as open and as transparent as he promised he would be."
What follows are the questions that President-elect Obama took today at his 11 a.m. news conference after formally announcing former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as his choice for Health and Human Services Secretary.:
JACKIE CALMES, Wall Street Journal: Given the, in your statement when you addressed the controversy over Gov. Blagojevich, you did not repeat what your spokesman said yesterday about having him, that he should resign. Why did you not? And could you tell us what context, if any, you know that your staff or any emissaries for you have had with prosecutors or the FBI?
PHIL ELLIOTT, Associated Press: Thank you. Have you or anyone in your transition or campaign been intereviewed as it relates to the criminal complaint? And who is the transition advisor referenced in the complaint?
ABC was the only network to break into its daytime programming on Thursday with live coverage of Barack Obama’s press conference regarding the Wednesday arrest of Illinois’s Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. Neither CBS nor NBC interrupted regular programming to cover the press conference, during which Obama also named former Senator Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary.
This lack of coverage is particularly odd because both CBS and NBC featured live coverage of past significant Obama press conferences. Since being elected to the presidency, Obama has held seven press conferences, including Thursday’s. CBS provided live coverage of three of them, Obama’s first on November 7, the announcement of Obama’s economic team on November 24, and the announcement of Obama’s national security team on December 1. Meanwhile, NBC covered five of the seven press conferences, the same as CBS, with the addition of a brief Obama press appearance on November 26 and the announcement of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as commerce secretary on December 3. Apparently neither CBS nor NBC felt that Obama addressing a major corruption scandal in his home state was worthy enough to interrupt "The Price is Right" or local news.
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show’s regular "Miller Time" segment, comedian Dennis Miller used humor to make a serious point about Barack Obama’s connections to corrupt and questionable characters in Illinois, and whether the President-elect was aware of the darker sides of his colleagues. Miller: "It’s just nice to know that my President-elect went through that entire system – all of these guys – Ayers, Blagojevich, Rezko, the Reverend Wright – and he didn’t notice any of them. At his worst, he is oblivious. At his absolute worst, he is disingenuous. He had to know something about some of these guys. ... We’re told that he’s the smartest guy on the planet on one hand. In the other hand, he never noticed any of this stuff. Come on, get the antenna up there, Barack. You got to wake up."
Liberal-leaning Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn is tired of politicians -- Democratic and Republican -- declaring that Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest was a "sad day" for Illinois.
The sad day, rather, was Wednesday, when Blago returned to work:
[I]n statement after statement, our gloomy pols were keening as though a great leader had fallen or an important factory had closed.
Perhaps this was their acknowledgment of the severity of the charges and the depths of the alleged betrayal of the people. Perhaps they felt it would be undignified to pump their fists and say "Yessssss!" as many of the rest of us did.
But look. There have been many sad days in Illinois political history.
The days when elected officials have pocketed kickbacks, payoffs and bribes, for instance.
President-elect Barack Obama's transition website Change.gov is censoring questions offered by readers about disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Although the "Open for Questions" page was launched Wednesday stating "The Obama-Biden Transition wants to hear from you," readers have been quick to shelter the president-elect from inquiries relating to Blago.
A simple typo, or has all the bleeping news out of Chicago liberated ABC to start using some salty language its own? Check out the screengrab from this morning's Good Morning America.
As correspondent Jim Avila came on to narrate a segment about Blago's wife Patty and the conflicts among her, her powerful Chicago pol father, and her husband, the screen graphic read, as you see, "GOVERNOR'S FAMILY FUED." Reading the transcripts of Blago and Patty's colorful conversations, I'll say they did! But surely GMA could have found a more G-rated way of reporting that ;-)
If naiveté were a crime, Jesse Jackson Jr. could be looking at a life sentence. Either that, or Senate candidate 5 wasn't being completely candid in his press conference this afternoon.
Jackson professed shock that Rod Blagojevich—a man who long before this week's arrest had a Katrina-sized cloud over his head—might have been conducting his Senate-seat search in accordance with anything but the most Mother Teresa-worthy standards.
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show worked hard to put as much distance as possible between Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as correspondent Chip Reid reported: "Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have both been leaders in Illinois Democratic politics for years, but long-time observers say that's about as far as the connection goes." Reid later dismissed Republican efforts to question Obama’s connection to the indicted Governor: "...that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together...Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
In a segment that followed Reid’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet: "Does any of this rub off on Barack Obama?" Sweet replied: "A little bit does. Because these are his -- this brings up the whole -- we're talking about the Senate seat for sale, but the criminal complaint does bring up Tony Rezko, it does bring up questions about the associations-" Smith interjected: "Which the Republicans tried so hard during the campaign to say Barack Obama is a Chicago politician." Sweet dispelled that characterization: "Right. And here's the thing, Obama does not come out of this culture."
"This is a pattern we've seen for many years, especially when it comes to scandal. We call it drop the (D). You see stories like this [Blagojevich]," all the time NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham told FNC's Neil Cavuto. While some print outlets just bury the Democratic label deep within an article, "a lot of times on television we're not seeing that [the party label] at all. We've seen that in the Blagojevich coverage. You could have watched CBS today and not found a single mention," that the indicted Illinois Governor is a Democrat, Graham added. [download video here] [audio here]
Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, appeared on the December 10 "Your World" program to discuss the stark contrast between how the media ignore or downplay party labels for Democrats in trouble with the law, while trumpeting the Republican party affiliation of GOPers in legal or ethical hot water.
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell will appear on the Sean Hannity radio program later this afternoon. We're not certain about the time, but he will appear with FNC's Juan Williams to discuss how the media are not covering the Obama angle on the Rod Blagojevich scandal.
Note -- A related November 5 story at KHAQ in advance of the Obama-Blago meeting that is no longer available at KHAQ's site is here at my web host. It has been taken down from the related web site, and I believe its Google cache has also been removed.
(original post follows)
Yes indeed (content at original link was deleted; current link is to copy at my web host; HT to an e-mailer, who tells me that “this is (in) the newspaper from Quincy, IL from KHQA, a CBS affiliate”; bold is mine):
By Alexis Hunt Saturday, November 08, 2008 at 9:48 p.m.
Duckworth comments on consideration for Senate
QUINCY, IL -- Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.
Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it. Illinois law states that the governor chooses that replacement. There's already been speculation about his selection...from Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior to Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.