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.
The three broadcast networks started their evening newscasts on Tuesday with stories on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest and corruption charges. All of the newscasts mentioned Blagojevich's Democratic affiliation, but only in passing. And, only ABC's World News questioned the details about the Illinois Governor's relationship with President-elect Barack Obama, while NBC and CBS brushed over the President-elect's connections with Blagojevich and seemed content to end their investigation of this relationship by reporting on Obama's statement that he was not aware of what was going on.
ABC and NBC both identified Blagojevich as a Democrat early in their reports. NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams's introduction to the report by Lee Cowan described the charge as "that the two-term Democratic governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder." Brian Ross, reporting for ABC's "World News," identified the Illinois governor as "the boyish looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder."
The CBS "Evening News," however, did not identify Blagojevich as a Democrat until the very end of Dean Reynolds's report when an on-screen graphic identified the governor as "(D) Illinois" and Reynolds claimed that "fellow Democrats worry that whoever he might pick could wind up tainted politically and could ultimately cost the party a valuable seat in Congress."
This is just too perfect. Earlier today, noting that none of the network morning shows explicitly identified Rod Blagojevich as a Democrat, I wondered out loud how the MSM would treat a Republican in like circumstances. It's taken less than three hours to get our answer.
Let's preface this by saying that Norm Coleman is not, repeat not, the target of an investigation. To mention him anywhere within a million miles of Blago is unfair. I'm citing the MSNBC coverage just for purposes of illustrating the double standard. At about 11:20 AM ET, here's how Contessa Brewer threw it to Norah O'Donnell.
CONTESSA BREWER: Let's head over to Norah now, live at the politics desk, with more on a potential problem for GOP Senator, and the incumbent here in Minnesota, Norm Coleman. Norah.
If Rod Blagojevich were a Republican, what's the over-under on the number of times the network morning shows would have mentioned that fact in their coverage today?
But Blago is a Democrat. So how often did Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show explicitly identify him as such during their opening half-hours today? Not once. The closest any came were references at Today and Early Show today to "Democratic politics" and one at GMA to "the Democratic Chicago machine." Speaking of GMA, George Stephanopoulos, appearing there, put in the most embarrassingly sycophantish performance of the morning.
If Gov. Blagojevich does not resign immediately, impeach him.
This is the inescapable conclusion that comes after reading Tuesday’s 76-page criminal complaint against the governor alleging a runaway crime spree of political corruption.
Even if the governor were found not guilty of every accusation against him — and given the apparent weight of the evidence against him, we’re not taking any bets — the criminal charges would cripple his already limited ability to lead Illinois.
The newspaper's editorial conveniently overlooks that Milorad Blagojevich is a Democrat. It also ignores that only two years ago the Chicago Sun-Times endorsed him. Its October 20, 2006 editorial, "Blagojevich for governor," took passing note of ethical problems and decided they were of little consequence:
Sure, the sitting Democratic governor of Illinois has been arrested and charged with attempting to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat. But enough about that. Jay Leno is starting his show 90 minutes earlier!!
Yes, a bit after 1 PM today, MSNBC actually pre-empted its Blago coverage to go to a news conference at which NBC honchos, with Leno present, announced that the Tonight show host would be moving from 11:30 to 10 PM.
Andrea Mitchell was in the midst of a serious dialogue with Pete Williams, when someone apparently whispered in the NBC justice correspondent's ear . . .
I'm looking for the first MSM wag who will have the gumption to suggest that Rod Blagojevich, the Dem Illinois governor accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, should have put it on Ebay.
Suggested MSM defense of Blago: hey, even with the bailouts, car czars and other government intervention in the economy, we're still trying to encourage the free market system, aren't we?
Updated below: CNN.com now noting Blago's Democratic affiliation
An unsigned CNN.com article on Tuesday which broke the news that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had been arrested by federal authorities omitted his Democratic party affiliation. Both Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris face conspiracy and bribery charges related to the appointment of Barack Obama’s successor to his Senate seat.
The article did describe the accusations against the Illinois governor and his aide in detail. Among other things, Blagojevich is accused of trying to obtain “a substantial salary for himself at a either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions; placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year; promises of campaign funds -- including cash up front; [and] a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.”
It's very doubtful that the name "Vanessa Niekamp" rings a bell with very many readers here. That's because the media elites like some whistleblowers, and not others.
In other circumstances, someone like Ms. Niekamp would be a heroine. In the current circumstances, she's barely a footnote. In my opinion, it's because she was involved in exposing shenanigans conducted on behalf of the then-presidential candidate the media loves and adores that threatened to derail his march to victory.
If it weren't for Vanessa Niekamp, the public might not have learned of the duplicitous and likely extra-legal dives into State of Ohio databases by state employees determined to dig up dirt on Joe the Plumber. A subsequent investigation by the Ohio Inspector General (OIG; PDF is accessible at the first item at this link) determined that Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley and state employees at other agencies had engaged in "improper" records checks "without any legitimate business purpose."
Ah, the land of lollipops and unicorns has descended upon us now that the savior has won the election.
Perhaps with the safety of the completed election securely behind, Peter Slevin of the Washington Post did a very cutesy article covering the not-so-cutesy terrorist, Bill Ayers.
Ayers was gracious enough to come out of the woodwork to offer his viewpoints on the Republicans demonizing him during the campaign.
"Pal around together? What does that mean? Share a milkshake with two straws?" Ayers said.
No William, palling around together might include one pal giving another a glowing review of their book, or perhaps the two of you serving together on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or maybe even inviting Obama over to your home to help launch his political career. Hell, who's to say Bernardine Dohrn wasn't serving up milkshakes in your living room at the time? But maybe we're just splitting hairs on defining the term ‘pal.'
As NewsBusters previously reported, the same broadcast networks that two years ago could not get enough of the Mark Foley scandal, are offering little to no coverage of Foley’s successor, Tim Mahoney, now embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. The networks on October 21 completely ignored the news that Congressman Mahoney’s wife is now filing for divorce. Fox News’ "Fox and Friends" only provided a brief news read. After co-host Brian Kilmeade read the brief, Steve Doocy editorialized "I think [the Foley] scandal got more ink, didn’t it?"
In related news, Mark Foley himself recently announced his endorsement for Barack Obama. Though Obama won over another Republican, it’s a safe assumption it will not receive the same news coverage as Colin Powell.
Update: Mark Foley issued a statement denying his support for Obama:
In Saturday's "Attacking Obama's Associations," New York Times reporter Michael Cooper reviewed a John McCain campaign ad emphasizing Barack Obama's ties to controversial Chicago political figures like the radical Bill Ayers and the felonious fundraiser Tony Rezko. He wasn't impressed, which is no surprise from the McCain-mocking Cooper. But did Cooper really compare domestic terrorist Bill Ayers to shady financier Charles Keating? Why yes, yes he did.
But first, Cooper confidently claimed that
--the effort to tie Mr. Obama to Mr. Ayers is overstated. Mr. Ayers, who is now an education professor in Chicago, did host a coffee for Mr. Obama's first run for office, and serve with him on a charitable board, but the two men do not appear to have been close, and Mr. Obama does not appear to have expressed sympathy for Mr. Ayers's past radical actions.
In preparation for a report on the investigation into whether Sarah Palin fired Alaska’s public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, for personal reasons, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Palin on the hot seat. Alaska lawmakers set to release a report today on the Troopergate investigation. We'll go live to Alaska for the latest details on the potentially explosive report." Co-host Julie Chen later introduced the segment by explaining: "The McCain-Palin ticket is bracing for what could be an embarrassing report. Lawmakers in Alaska are expected to release the results of an investigation into possible abuse of power by Governor Sarah Palin in the so-called Troopergate inquiry."
Correspondent John Blackstone reported: "Well, when the Troopergate report is released later today, it will show that since Sarah Palin became governor, her husband Todd repeatedly and frequently had conversations with government officials, all aimed at having their former brother-in-law, state trooper [Mike Wooten], thrown off the force." Blackstone never made mention of charges made against Wooten that he threatened to shoot Palin’s father, tasered his ten-year-old stepson, or was caught drinking on duty. The closest Blackstone came was to quote the man Palin fired: "Although the trooper has a disciplinary record, [former public safety commissioner Walt] Monegan said in a phone interview last night, he's not a bad cop."
On Tuesday, an Associated Press article featured on MSNBC.com and briefly as a top headline on the popular internet homepage MSN.com was titled: "McCain linked to group in Iran-Contra case." The subtitle read: "Organization had ties to former Nazi collaborators, right-wing death squads." The article attacked a group founded by retired U.S. General John Singlaub: "The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe."
The AP appears to be getting its story tips from the Obama campaign, as Boston Globe deputy national political editor, Foon Rhee, reported: "The Obama camp today is sending around reports on Singlaub, founder of the US Council for World Freedom, which was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal during the mid-1980s and was criticized for supposed links to Nazi collaborators and right-wing death squads in Central America." The AP article justified reporting on the tenuous McCain connection by explaining: "McCain's ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor condemned the McCain campaign for "blasting" Barack Obama and playing a "guilt-by-association game" by discussing Obama’s connection to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Glor proclaimed: "Using a new ad to pile on adjectives, 'dangerous,' 'dishonorable,' 'liberal,' and 'risky.' And using running mate Sarah Palin to name names, trying to link Obama with controversial characters like the once radical anti-war advocate William Ayers and fiery pastor Jeremiah Wright."
While Glor referred to Ayers being "once radical," in a 2001 New York Times article, Ayers expressed no remorse for his 1970's terrorist activities, saying: "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough." In addition, in October of 2006, Ayers did an interview with the Communist publication ‘Revolution’ and defended left-wing radical Ward Churchill who referred to victims of September 11th as Nazis: "He’s being pilloried for his politics, for being a leftist, for being a critic of U.S. imperialism as it relates to Native Americans. How can we as socialists or as communists or as leftists, how can we leave him in the cold and say, well I’m a good leftist because I don’t talk the way Ward talks. I find that appalling. And I would hope that when they come to get Ward, we all link arms and don’t allow it."
At the top of the CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith described how the McCain campaign was criticizing Barack Obama for his connection to domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, but avoided any such label: "...dredging up of a character that Barack Obama knows from Chicago named Bill Ayers, who was one of the founders of the Weather Underground. So it's really getting crazy..." Smith offered no explanation of the terrorist activity launched by Weather Underground. In a later segment, correspondent Chip Reid also avoided the terrorist label, but did describe the activity of the organization: "William Ayers, a former radical who participated in a domestic bombing campaign during the Vietnam War."
At the same time that Smith and Reid worked to downplay Ayers’s terrorist activity and connection to Obama, they also bashed the McCain campaign for daring to even mention such a connection. Smith began the show by declaring: "It's getting ugly. Less than a month to go and the campaigns are turning negative in the race for the White House... Desperate measures or smart strategy?...And the campaign is getting nasty to say the least." In his report, Reid blamed the ugliness and nastiness on the McCain campaign: "But with a flurry of new negative ads and attacks, it's clear the gloves are now completely off. John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is leading the charge...With the campaign's new bare knuckle strategy, attacking Barack Obama's character..."
On The Corner, Mark Hemingway underlines just how microscopic an ethical question can be from Sarah Palin's mayoralty and still be cited as breaking national news in an "investigation" by the AP.
She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free "awesome facial" she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The "absolutely gorgeous flowers" she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.
The story was headlined "AP Investigation: Palin got zoning aid, gifts." Most of the story covered a zoning exception Palin got on her lakefront house. AP's Brett Blackledge cites tiny scandals like these as a way to underline "Palin claims she has more executive experience than her opponent and the two presidential candidates, but most of those years were spent running a city with a population of less than 7,000." According to Blackledge, she was suspect from Day One: