ABC on Tuesday introduced Barack Obama with an opening that looked and sounded more like a movie trailer for an action film. As dramatic, pounding tones played throughout, an announcer began, "The State of our Union. We heard this, just two years ago."
Then, images of the President, firework-style graphics and people crying appeared onscreen. A clip from 2008 showed Obama proclaiming, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America."
During the intro, ABC also included a segment often seen on the weekend Good Morning America, montages of people summing up their feelings in three words. This version of "In Three Words" was political. As the triumphant music played, the announcer wondered, "With so much at stake, what do Americans want to hear tonight?" Some of the signs featured: "Health care now," "more city jobs" and "public services matter." There were no Tea Party-esque "cut our taxes" declarations.
On Sunday’s Good Morning America on ABC, during a discussion of President Obama’s upcoming State of the Union Address, as guest Mike Paul of MGP and Associates PR argued that Obama needs to talk about forming a "partnership" with businesses and cutting taxes, co-anchor Dan Harris fretted that there would be "political risk" in Obama getting too close to business. Harris: "Isn't there some political risk here, though, for the President getting too cozy with the business community, given the fact that there are a lot of people in this country who are still very, very, angry at the CEOs and at Wall Street for helping create this mess in the first place?"
After Paul alluded to Obama utilizing business leaders as "experts," Harris continued: "Yeah, but there are a lot of people who say these are the experts who got us in trouble in the first place."
On the January 23 World News Sunday, ABC News Senior Washington Editor Rick Klein used President Obama’s euphemism for spending as "investments" as he and anchor Dan Harris discussed how Republicans will likely respond to Tuesday’s State of the Union Address. Although the setup piece by correspondent David Kerley did allude to Obama’s word choice to call his plan "cut and invest" as having significance, noting that it "worries Republicans," after the piece had ended, Klein twice used the term "investments" as if it were straight, nonpartisan terminology. Klein:
But when you get down to the policy, the President talking about the targeted new investments, that is going to be such a tough sell in the current environment. Republicans are busy preparing long lists of budget cuts. That's going to be their focus. So, regardless of what the applause looks like on Tuesday night, it's going to be very difficult for the President to get any Republican support for any even very targeted new investments.
Kerley’s report had played a soundbite of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s skeptical response to the term "invest":
New York magazine's John Heilemann said this weekend that President Obama is the only serious adult in the deficit reduction conversation now going on in Washington.
This deliciously came seconds before Heilemann told other guests on the syndicated "Chris Matthews Show," "I have been dispirited by the lack of strategy on the part of the White House since the midterm elections...specifically on this [issue]" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
For much of the liberal media, President Obama operates in a vacuum. In their minds, if he says he will do something, he will most likely do it, even if he has a blatant record of not following through on similar promises.
Take Obama's lobbyist rhetoric, for instance. When the President claimed the White House has "excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs" he was telling the truth, sort of. He did not mean, and his staff has confirmed this, that they've excluded all lobbyists from the process, as, you know, a reasonable person would gather. He just meant that some lobbyists that applied for jobs in his administration didn't get them.
As it turns out, there are over 40 former lobbyists working in the White House or some branch of the executive (see chart below the fold).
The New York Times today ran a glowing story on President Obama's upcoming crackdown on lobbyists, never once mentioning his duplicitous statement during the State of the Union.
There are at least two sides to every argument, unless the issue is homosexuality. Then, according to CNN, there's only one side and it's the homosexual activists who get to tell it.
CNN advocated a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy in 12 different reports between Jan. 28, the day after President Barack Obama reiterated his pledge to end the current military policy of banning openly gay citizens from the United States military in his State of the Union address and Feb. 2.
CNN allowed spokespeople from gay advocacy organizations such as Servicemembers United, the Log Cabin Republicans and the Palm Center, as well as several former and active gay military personnel, to plead their case without challenge
Of the 12 people CNN chose to appear on air (nine were military personnel) to discuss "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," only one expressed support of the current policy. Despite a Military Times poll that indicated 58 percent of military personnel are opposed to allowing openly gay people in the military, 78 percent (7 out of 9) of the military personnel featured in CNN's recent reports expressed their desire to allow homosexuals in the armed forces. One person remained neutral.
"Our deployed soldiers deserve to have their full rights," an anonymous female soldier told CNN's Ted Rowlands.
Is Barack Obama just too complex for voters to figure out? That was the premise behind the New York Times's Sunday Week in Review lead story by Richard Stevenson,“The Muddled Selling of the President.”
Stevenson denied Obama was a liberal (despite his push for government-supervised health care and $787 billion in “economic stimulus” spending), suggesting he was too “complex” for such a label. Further, he wondered if Obama's recent political struggles means it's no longer “possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?”
On this much, President Obama’s friends and foes could agree: He eludes simple labels.
Yes, he’s a liberal, except when he’s not. He’s antiwar, except for the one he’s escalating. He’s for bailouts, but wants to rein in the banks. He’s concentrating ever-more power in the West Wing, except when he’s being overly deferential to Congress. He’s cool, except when he’s fighting-hot.
In a world that presents so many fast-moving and intractable problems, nuance, flexibility, pragmatism -- even a full range of human emotions -- are no doubt good things. But as Mr. Obama wrapped up his State of the Union address on Wednesday night with an appeal to transcend partisan gamesmanship, he was plaintively testing a broader proposition: Is it possible to embrace complexity in a political and media culture that demands simple themes and promotes conflict?
Maybe it’s just happy coincidence. Maybe Hollywood really is taking White House suggestions for its scripts. Or maybe liberal group think has evolved to the point where they don’t just think the same things, they think them at the same time.
Whatever the case, just a day after President Obama’s “surprise announcement” in his State of the Union speech that he intends to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy, the issue surfaced again in prime time. And the inclusion of propaganda in a TV drama was even more incongruous and gratuitous than Obama’s sop to his left wing.
The Jan. 28 episode of Fox’s forensics-based crime drama, “Bones,” centered on the murder of a gay man, and the writers took the opportunity to inject some standard talking points about the inequity of gays being unable to marry and the threat of physical violence from straight men.
Robert Reich must have nightmares about Fox News. Shoot, he must have triple locks on his doors and sleep under his bed out of fear that Roger Ailes will come and take him away.
In a Monday column at Salon.com ("Is the President Panicking?"), Reich excoriated President Obama's proposed discretionary spending "freeze" -- a "freeze" that NewsBuster Julia Seymour noted fails to offset the spending proposals Obama brought up in his State of the Union speech -- for "invok(ing) memories of (Bill) Clinton's shift to the right in 1994," especially because "it could doom the recovery."
That was absurd enough, but in the process of recounting his fevered view of 1990s history, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor threw in this whopper, revealing that for Reich, as Buffalo Springfield told us so many years ago in their 1960s hit song "For What It's Worth," paranoia really does strike deep:
In December 1994, Bill Clinton proposed a so-called middle-class bill of rights including more tax credits for families with children, expanded retirement accounts, and tax-deductible college tuition. Clinton had lost his battle for healthcare reform. Even worse, by that time the Dems had lost the House and Senate. Washington was riding a huge anti-incumbent wave. Right-wing populists were the ascendancy, with Newt Gingrich and Fox News leading the charge. Bill Clinton thought it desperately important to assure Americans he was on their side.
The Washington Post launched an interactive page this week to profile President Obama's record on his campaign promises after one year in office. The Post put promises into three categories: "To Do," "In Progress" and "Completed."
Based on the president's record, most people would be surprised to learn the Post put most of the promises in the "In Progress" category -- and didn't even include a "Broken Promises" category. Many recent promises made as president would belong in that category.
"In Progress" according to the Post includes "reversing" the Bush tax cuts, while the "To Do" list includes "enact a windfall profits tax" on oil companies.
James Valvo, government affairs manager for Americans for Prosperity, offers the following additions to the Post's analysis:
During CNN’s post-State of Union coverage on Wednesday night, three liberal commentators- Paul Begala, James Carville, and Roland Martin- put up an energetic defense of President Obama’s rebuke of the Supreme Court during the address. Begala and Carville took issue with Republican panelist Alex Castellanos’s reproof of the President, while Martin rebuked Justice Samuel Alito’s reaction.
Anchor Wolf Blitzer played a clip of the relevant portion of the President’s speech, where Mr. Obama condemned the Court for its recent decision on campaign finance regulations, and highlighted how Justice Alito shook his head and mouthed “not true” in response. Blitzer then turned to the panel for its take on the moment. His fellow anchor Campbell Brown, who was moderating the panel, first questioned Castellanos on Alito’s reaction: “Was that appropriate, Alex Castellanos, to have that kind of reaction from Alito when he said that?”
President Barack Obama's plan to "freeze" a tiny portion of the federal budget hit Washington with a "thud" Jan. 26.
Conservatives argued that the spending freeze Obama would highlight in his State of the Union address Jan. 27 wasn't enough. Liberals, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called it "appalling on every level."
Krugman denounced the plan as "bad long-run fiscal policy." Of course, this is the same columnist who argued for a much larger stimulus package than the $787 billion one that was signed into law.
After Obama's State of the Union address the spending freeze seemed all but forgotten - and no wonder since the speech was full of proposals to spend, spend, spend.
The National Taxpayers Union Foundation, part of a non-profit citizen's group that works for lower taxes and smaller government, analyzed all those proposals and found that despite the so-called spending freeze Obama's proposals would cost more than $70 billion.
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.
Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered the definitive debunking of the president's statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick "demagoguery"), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.
Of the three morning shows on Thursday, only NBC’s Today show skipped any mention of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address. Both ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Early Show gave McDonnell’s rebuttal at least minor attention.
On the Early Show, Chip Reid explained, "Virginia's newly inaugurated governor Bob McDonnell gave the Republican response. He echoed the sentiment of many in his party who believe big government is not the solution." Reid then featured a clip of McDonnell calling for limited government.
ABC co-host George Stephanopoulos only referenced McDonnell as an intro to a question for former Governor Mitt Romney: "Jobs. That's the President's number one priority. In the Republican response last night, Governor McDonnell said the same thing."
CRITICAL UPDATE AT END OF POST: Obama praised the 2009 budget when the Senate passed it!
After President Obama told the nation during Wednesday's State of the Union address that he inherited the huge budget deficits befronting the country, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) turned to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and said, "Blame it on Bush."
In reality, this was one of many Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) moments last night as the President once again played fast and loose with the facts in a nationally televised address.
Sadly, media are deeply at fault here, for if they wouldn't allow the White House to repeatedly blame the nation's current fiscal problems on the previous Administration, Obama would be forced to be more truthful. As NewsBusters has regularly shown, America's so-called journalists have been aiding and abetting these falsehoods for quite some time.
But before we get there, here's what Obama said last night (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript includes McCain saying "Blame it on Bush," file photo):
Keith Olbermann should keep a calculator on hand during his broadcasts. If he'd had one, the liberal MSNBC host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" could have run the numbers on Jan. 27 following the State of the Union address.
Olbermann was recapping President Obama's speech and told viewers: "Among those seated with the first lady in the visitor's gallery ... a man from Arizona whose company received $99 million from the stimulus and used it to create at least 50 permanent clean energy jobs."
Nightline anchor Terry Moran started laughing Wednesday night just as George Will finished his critique of President Obama’s State of the Union address while Democratic activist Donna Brazile was also not impressed by Will’s assessment. Leading into the chortling from Moran, who is reportedly under consideration to take over This Week, Will wrapped up:
Finally, he said at one point that we are going to freeze government spending for three years. That’s just not true. We’re proposing to freeze one-sixth of government spending for three years. Finally, the motif of his talk was Washington is tiresome, annoying and dysfunctional -- and Washington should have more of the nation’s revenue and a bigger role directing its affairs.
Was Moran scoffing at Will’s evaluation of Obama’s speech, just amused by Brazile’s disdain for Will as Will spoke which Moran, but not the audience, could see -- or just reacting to something else in the studio? You watch and decide.
Following President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, on CBS Katie Couric revealed her reading interests as she endorsed the take on Obama from a liberal New York Times columnist: “Well, as Tom Friedman said, 'he's better at making us smarter than making us angry.'” (Friedman's actual assertion in his January 27 column: “He is so much better at making us smarter than angrier.”)
Then, after the Republican response, Anthony Mason recited as relevant the very skewed findings of a CBS News/Knowledge Networks online poll only of those who watched Obama, nonetheless touting how 83 percent approve of Obama's “proposals made in his speech,” with disapproval from a piddling 17 percent. As evidence Obama “may have made up sound ground” with the public, Mason juxtaposed how for “shares your priorities for the country” Obama jumped to 70 percent for viewers of his speech compared to the 57 percent determined in an earlier national survey. (The online posting contends both numbers are just for those who watched.)
Both ABC’s Diane Sawyer and CBS’s Katie Couric interviewed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as part of their networks’ run-up to tonight’s State of the Union address, but the contrast was stark. While Sawyer attempted to feel Emanuel’s pain over the setbacks for health care legislation (“Two times you have rolled the health care rock up the hill....and two times you have seen it crash back down”), a much feistier Couric interrogated Emanuel over the White House’s political failings.
“As you know, people were pretty disgusted by deals that were made up on Capitol Hill like the one given to Ben Nelson to win his support. If the White House was so involved, was this done with your blessing?” Couric demanded. Moments later, she hit Emanuel with this zinger: “You are considered a master political operative, you were the guy four years ago, of course, who orchestrated the Democratic takeover of the House. Where were you when Massachusetts was going down in flames for the Democrats?”
In an attempt to boost flagging approval ratings, President Barack Obama announced a series of initiatives aimed at helping out the middle class on Jan. 25, two days ahead of his State of the Union address.
The networks, which have protected him from public outrage for months, praised the initiative. NBC heralded the move, giving Obama credit for "getting the message" Jan. 25. CBS's Katie Couric said the same thing that night.
"Good evening, everyone. He got the message: it's the economy middle-class voters are most worried about. And with critical congressional elections coming up this year, President Obama today rolled out a series of proposals designed to show he's on the case," Couric said as she teased White House correspondent Chip Reid's story.
On the eve of President Obama's first State of the Union address, the lead story in Wednesday's New York Times by Jackie Calmes focused on Obama's abrupt transformation into a born-again deficit hawk: "Obama, On Own, To Set Up Panel On Nation's Debt."
In a related video, Calmes played along with Obama's sudden about-face, claiming "the president wants to make deficit reduction a big part of his second-year agenda." Obama can apparently do no wrong: After spending months defending Obama's costly stimulus package, Calmes is now giving Obama credit for the opposite: cutting spending!
Obama's pre-State of the Union political woes were barely mentioned, a far cry from how the Times treated George W. Bush's political misfortunes before his last two addresses.
Scott Brown replacing Ted Kennedy in the Senate really irritates the Washington press corps, as evidenced by Washington Post business section columnist Steven Pearlstein, who in Wednesday's paper cited Brown's victory as an example of the “wretched” state of the nation while he scolded Massachusetts voters for selfishness in picking Brown to replace Kennedy who had fought “for social justice.”
Massachusetts, which for nearly half a century proudly sent a senator to Washington to fight for social justice and universal health care, has chosen as his replacement someone who campaigned in effect on the slogan “We've got ours, so the hell with everyone else.”
Appearing on CBS’s Sunday Morning, commentator Nancy Giles shared her thoughts on Congressman Joe Wilson’s outburst: "Some sign waving and you probably heard about it, heckling. At a joint session of Congress....That’s the voice of Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, not some drunk at open mic night, calling the President a liar."
Giles continued, denouncing all health care reform protestors: "He later apologized, but still, it was a frightening mix of disrespect and bad behavior, with a dash of this summer’s town hall meeting craziness. I guess we should be grateful that there weren’t any ‘show us your birth certificate’ signs and at least no one beat anyone with a cane, which actually happened in the old Senate chamber in 1856."
Giles would certainly know about "disrespect and bad behavior," on the October 5, 2003 broadcast of Sunday Morning, she compared conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to Adolf Hitler: "So as Rush’s world has steadily crumbled, it’s no wonder he allegedly had to turn to prescription pain killers....Edgy, controversial, brilliant....Hitler would have killed in talk radio. He was edgy, too."
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson: "The irony of a congressman trying to heckle a President in the midst of a speech that was, among other things, about the need for civility, is just one ugly sign of the mindless meanness that has settled over our politics."
Apparently Schieffer forgot this passage of President Obama’s speech last Wednesday: "Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim...that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple." Calling your critics liars hardly sounds like a call for "civility."
New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse ignored his own reporting yesterday when condemning Republican Rep. Joe Wilson's "You lie!" outburst during President Obama's speech to Congress, with Hulse insisting it was a wholly unprecedented outburst. Yet in a 2005 story Hulse admitted Democrats had "hollered" at Bush during the State of the Union when Bush brought up Social Security reform.
Hulse took another bite out of Wilson today, in a story co-written with regional reporter Robbie Brown, datelined Swansea, S.C., "Heckler's District Mostly Supports the Outburst." At least today's story provided a single sentence pointing out that President George W. Bush "drew derisive hoots from Democrats" in his 2005 State of the Union address, while insisting that Wilson's outburst was worse.