With each passing day, ABC's failure to speak to and about this issue tarnishes further the network's reputation as a legitimate news entity. I've sent a personal letter to Mr. Westin, calling on him now as President of ABC News, to publicly address and resolve this issue. If the charges are false, provide the evidence. We will gladly accept it and consider the matter closed. If the charges are correct, then ABC News must address this publicly and comprehensively.
Last week, Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell issued a statement expressing displeasure with "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, who, reported the January 27 edition of Politico, has daily message and strategy chats with Obama chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel and fellow Clinton administration alumni James Carville and Paul Begala. [click here]
The Media Research Center's MRCAction.org quickly took action, working with its grassroots members to present ABC News with a recusal petition (accessible here) and by informing members how they can call ABC News to complain about Stephanopoulos conflict of interest.
Below is an excerpt of Friday's MRCAction Alert, including information on how to call ABC News:
"What’s worse than the liberal media’s sycophantic coverage of President Barack Obama? ABC’s George Stephanopoulos actively helping design and deliver the Administration’s strategy and message - which he is then charged with reporting."
That was MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell's reaction to Tuesday's report by Politico that the "This Week" anchor has daily strategy and message chats with former Clinton administration alumni: Rahm Emanuel -- Obama's White House chief of staff -- and CNN pundits Paul Begala and James Carville.
“For Stephanopoulos, the line between journalist and liberal strategist would be completely obliterated were it not for the fact that it apparently never existed at all. He didn’t fail in his attempt at transformation from liberal operative to journalist – he never made the effort," Bozell concluded.
That's one of the selling points used over and over again by pundits, as they are paraded out repeatedly on broadcast and cable network news programs - that so-called "shovel-ready" projects will challenge economic woes by revitalizing something we need to do anyway. But only 3 percent of the Obama stimulus plan is slated for such projects.
"The total size of the plan is about $750 to $800 billion - roughly $300 billion is for tax cuts for businesses and individuals," CBS correspondent Chip Reid said on CBS's Jan. 12 "The Early Show." "The rest will be spent on everything from roads and bridges to renewable energy to create three to 4 million jobs. Republicans are raising red flags about the amount of spending."
Interviewing President-elect Barack Obama for Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos zeroed in on criticism of including tax cuts in the “stimulus bill” and repeatedly pressed Obama about naming a special prosecutor, a 9/11-like commission or at least getting “your Justice Department to investigate” what an e-mail Stephanopoulos showcased on screen described as “the gravest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping.” On taxes, Stephanopoulos demanded: “Do you really believe those business tax cuts are going to work to create jobs?” He soon yearned: “But you might give up on some of the business tax cuts?”
Stephanopoulos put this e-mailed question up on the screen from “Bob Fertik of New York City,” failing to note he's a left-wing activist with “Prosecute Bush & Cheney!” at the top of his Web site: “Will you appoint a special prosecutor (ideally Patrick Fitzgerald) to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping.?” As Obama expressed reticence, Stephanopoulos pushed for alternatives to drag national security officials into the legal process: “So, no 9/11 commission with independent subpoena power?” Not giving up, he offered another way to go: “So, let me just press that one more time. You're not ruling out prosecution, but will you tell your Justice Department to investigate these cases and follow the evidence wherever it leads?”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals. And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars. Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.
Before moving to the substance, a word about the roundtable's lopsided composition, which resembled nothing more than Homecoming for public radio types. To "balance" David Brody of CBN, ABC chose Kurt Andersen of Public Radio International, Alison Stewart of NPR, and John Dickerson of Slate and . . . NPR. Andersen kicked off the Supreme Court segment with his "moderate" liberal comment. Dickerson followed with his pre-emptive warning about that potential Republican "fake fight."
Some quick items from the Sunday interview shows and newspapers:
♦ On Meet the Press, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, who last month hailed Obama's “all-star cabinet,” on Sunday trumpeted the cabinet's “meritocracy,” and how it's supposedly made up of “superstars,” as she gushed over “people with so much brain power and so much education.”
♦ Over on ABC's This Week, during the roundtable's look at Caroline Kennedy as a potential Senator from New York, Sam Donaldson opined that “my preference would be Andrew Cuomo,” the liberal Attorney General for the Empire State, because, in part, “I thought his father would make a very good President.” That would be the far-left Mario Cuomo.
♦ In her final column for the Washington Post, outgoing ombudsman Deborah Howell urged the paper to address its lack of political diversity. Since “too many Post staff members think alike,” she advised: “Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper.”
As Americans across the fruited plain worry about their jobs and how they're going to make ends meet during the current recession, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman showed Sunday morning just how separated from reality and the common man he actually is.
Appearing on ABC's "This Week," the New York Times columnist said that he wasn't worried about how expensive president-elect Barack Obama's economic rescue plan might get, but instead that the problem will be "finding enough stuff to spend on."
How'd you like to have that problem this holiday season?
With total disregard for what Americans are going through, and an almost unthinkable ignorance of the government's current budget, Krugman responded to host George Stephanopoulos's question about whether he's sticking to the $600 billion economic recovery spending projection he offered on the program a month ago:
If you had any questions about how differently the economy will be covered with Barack Obama in the White House they were answered by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday when he credited the president-elect with causing the recent stock market rally as well as better than expected sales the day after Thanksgiving.
I kid you not.
During the panel discussion of the most recent installment of "This Week," Stephanopoulos said (video available here, relevant section at 11:05):
It appears being bestowed a Nobel Prize for economics doesn't improve one's economic acumen, for in the course of roughly 60 seconds Sunday, Paul Krugman said Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to raise taxes in 1937 deepened the Depression, but it's okay to raise taxes 70-plus years later when the economy is in trouble.
Interesting contradiction, wouldn't you agree?
What precipitated this bizarre, almost instantaneous economic flipflop on Sunday's "This Week" was ABC's George Will bringing up a little history by stating that net investment was negative throughout most of the 1930s because of the uncertainties about the economy and government's activist role during that period.
Nobel Laureate Krugman took issue with this premise (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 6:57):
For years NewsBusters and its affiliate the Business & Media Institute have agonized over the astounding economic ignorance of many press members who despite their lack of financial acumen have the gall to offer their unqualified opinions to the public.
No finer example of a media member who should understand her limitations and keep her mouth shut during economic discussions was the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker Sunday morning who on ABC's "This Week" actually said that all the problems in the financial services industry would have magically disappeared if only the Bush administration would have bailed out individual homeowners.
Maybe more interesting was that she began her nonsensical accusation by saying, "I've never understood." As this was the most accurate statement she made concerning this matter, she should have stopped there.
Journalists on TV Sunday heralded the importance and impact of Colin Powell's long-expected endorsement of Barack Obama which he made on Meet the Press. Later in that show, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell touted Powell's endorsement and critique of the McCain campaign as “a very powerful political statement.” On the same panel with Mitchell, Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham declared that “having Colin Powell endorse the Democratic nominee for President is like having the seal of approval from the most important military figure of the age.”
MSNBC was so excited by the news the channel produced a special Sunday Hardball devoted entirely to Powell's news. Chris Matthews teased: “Colin Powell, right in the kisser. Barack Obama gets the endorsement of the year. Let's play Hardball.” Cuing up a Meet the Press re-play at the end of the 5 pm EDT hour, Matthews celebrated: “This is history in the making, on Meet the Press, right now.”
NFL football bumped the EDT/CDT CBS Evening News, but both ABC and NBC made Powell their lead. With “Major Endorsement” as it's on-screen heading, ABC anchor Dan Harris teased, “Tonight on World News: On a roll. Obama wins a major endorsement from a major Republican.” CNN's 10 PM EDT Newsroom, which dedicated its first 30 minutes to Powell, plastered “Big-Time Endorsement” on screen before anchor Don Lemon wondered: “I know it is important, but just how important is this?”
CNN's Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, appearing on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, declared the announced support of Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell "the most important endorsement of the campaign so far."
Judging by other media reaction, it is a metaphysical certitude Gergen will not be alone in his Powell-loving assessment.
Is this announcement really the bombshell press members that have been in the tank for the junior senator from Illinois since he first announced his candidacy are making it out to be?
Consider how left-leaning many of the statements Powell made on Sunday's "Meet the Press" were, and how unlikely they will do anything to sway Independent, Conservative, and undecided voters (full transcript available here, file photo):
Update's Update: I have been assured by IT that we are FINALLY ready to go with this.
The American people in poll after poll and in greater and growing numbers are railing against the egregious liberal bias of the press. And nowhere are the media more horrendously slanted than in their coverage of the presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. They are (to say the least) very, very sweet on him.
The MRC has put together this college basketball tournament-style bracket event, the Sweet-On-Obama Sixteen Media Bias Tournament, so that you, the angered members of the media’s audience can vote for who gives Sen. Obama the most loving and fawning coverage of all.
A week-and-half before he'll moderate the third and final presidential debate, CBS's Bob Schieffer opened Sunday's Face the Nation by calling a foul on one team as he took sides and denounced Sarah Palin's daring to say, that “our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country,” as a sign of “a campaign that's turned down and dirty,” as well as “nasty,” thanks to John McCain's “new attack dog” who “took after Barack Obama in a style reminiscent of Spiro Agnew when he was Richard Nixon's running mate.” In the Washington press corps, a comparison to Agnew is no compliment.
Later in the program, he fretted to New York Times columnist David Brooks: “Do you think it's going to get nastier and nastier? It does look as if McCain is really going on the attack. You saw what Sarah Palin said.” Brooks, whom Schieffer labeled as a “conservative columnist,” assured Schieffer it would be an ineffective tactic since “Republicans have been using this attack -- too dangerous, too liberal” for “too long” and “you can't win that way anymore.”
Sunday night, ABC reporter David Wright described Palin's reference to Bill Ayers as “incendiary” as he asserted on World News: “Today, in San Francisco, Sarah Palin defended her incendiary comments that Barack Obama has been 'palling around' with terrorists.” Earlier in the day, ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos had scolded guest Tim Pawlenty about Palin's charge: “When Governor Palin says of Obama 'this is not a man who sees America as you do,' it sure does sound like she is questioning Senator Obama's patriotism.”
On Sunday's edition of "This Week," journalist Cokie Roberts indicated that, in regards to John McCain's reaction to the ongoing financial problems on Wall Street, "...He's a Republican and whenever Republicans get into this kind of mess, everybody, even people who were not born or close to being born, the specter of Herbert Hoover comes out to, to haunt them." Roberts didn't clarify just who the "everybody" is that would connect McCain and the Depression era president.
Roberts, who appeared on the ABC program's panel to discuss last week's Fannie Mae meltdown and the government's planned bailout, also asserted a "stark contrast" between the economic advisors of Senators McCain and Barack Obama. She then added that the Democrat's liberal experts reassure her: "I mean, the Obama advisers, with- looking at Bob Rubin and Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker in there, you know, you do feel a sense of security there."
Longtime journalistSam Donaldson placed blame for the Fannie Mae crisis at the feet of deregulation and singled out former McCain advisor Phil Gramm: "We deregulated in the beginning of '99 and 2000 the banking industry, Phil Gramm and others, I think that Obama ad is correct. He was one of the prime movers. Now we're going to have to clean that up at great expense."
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
During the panel discussion on the September 14 edition of ABC's "This Week," an interesting exchange occurred between conservative columnist George Will and ABC senior national correspondent Claire Shipman. On the topic of Senator John McCain's recent ad about a sex education bill Senator Barack Obama voted for while in the Illinois state legislature, Shipman could not seem to understand Will's point of view.
Host George Stephanopoulos described the ad as "looking at a vote that Barack Obama had in a committee when he was a state senator that advocated comprehensive sex education from grades K through 12.... The debate is whether -- what comprehensive sex education means and whether it means that kindergartners should be taught how to ward off a sexual predator or something more extensive than that."
In response, Will argued:
It is very common across the centuries for parents, not schools, parents to tell their children to be aware of strangers. What's new here and reflects a conservative-liberal difference is the idea, a, it has to be tarted up as sex education to be wary of strangers, and b, parents can't but the schools must in the kindergarten. Now that's a cultural divide and let's vote.
In Charles Gibson's third interview session with Sarah Palin, conducted at her home in Wasilla and featured on Friday's World News, Gibson asserted “we've got a very sick economy,” pressed her to list how she'd change Bush economic policy, insisted she concede “it's now pretty clearly documented you supported that bridge before you opposed it” (and to defend Alaska's continued earmark requests), all before he ran through several social issues -- from abortion to guns -- forcing her to state positions Gibson certainly realized would cement her to ideologically conservative positions seen as extreme by many of his viewers.
On the economy, with the Palin's airplane visible lakeside in the background, Gibson proposed: “John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.” Amongst his follow-ups: “Summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans.” Gibson soon ran through a list of social issue topics:
> Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?...John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?...Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?
> Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.
> Homosexuality, genetic or learned?
> Guns: 70 percent of this country supports a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Do you?
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who when interviewing John McCain six weeks ago scolded him for a criticism of Barack Obama (“I can't believe you believe that”), on Sunday's This Week prodded Obama to agree with those of his supporters who “heard subtle racial code” in the ridiculing, at the Republican convention, of his “community organizer” work. Stephanopoulos, who did challenge Obama to name three things he'd do as President which “would be unpopular with the Democrats in Congress” and to acknowledge McCain was correct on the surge, also cued up Obama on Sarah Palin's qualifications: “You said that your number one criteria for vice presidential pick was someone that's capable of being President. Did John McCain meet the threshold test?”
In the interview taped in Terre Haute, in what appeared to be a barn, Stephanopoulos noted that “it's pretty clear they didn't think too much of your early career as a community organizer. Governor Palin. Rudy Giuliani.” After a clip from Giuliani which produced boos from the Republican faithful, Stephanopoulos wondered: “What were you thinking when you heard the boos, the laugher?” Saying “it's curious to me that they would mock” his community organizer work, Stephanopoulos contended:
You're smiling about it, but some of your supporters were listening and they heard subtle racial code.
It remains to be seen whether this turns out to be Barack Obama's "Christmas in Cambodia" untruth, his Dukakis-in-tank hilarity -- or both.
Regardless, what follows is a pretty obvious "misstatement" that would not possibly be ignored if it were uttered by a conservative or a Republican.
In his hilariously titled post ("Mighta Joined If He Coulda Capped Some Cong") on Barack Obama's interview in a barn this morning (not kidding) on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, fellow NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reported on Obama's answer to a viewer's question about whether he ever considered military service. You can read Mark's post for his overall thoughts, but I want to focus on something the Illinois senator said that several commenters at the post took exception to (photo courtesy DayLife):
You know, I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. .... But keep in mind: I graduated in 1979.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: One of our viewers wrote in—you talk about service—and asked, Brenda Godfrey Bryan, Marietta, Georgia: did you ever consider joining the armed services to protect and serve our country? If not, why?
BARACK OBAMA: You know, I actually did.
BARACK OBAMA: You know, I had to sign up for Selective Service when I graduated from high school. And I was growing up in Hawaii, and I had friend whose parents were in the military, there were a lot of Army, military bases there. And I always actually thought of the military as some ennobling and honorable option. But keep in mind: I graduated in 1979. The Vietnam War had come to an end. We weren't engaged in an active military conflict at that point. So it's not an option that I ever decided to pursue.
An angry Senator John Kerry is also an entertaining John Kerry. And on ABC's This Week yesterday, Kerry provided us with a lot of comedy entertainment including his assertion that John McCain was forced to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate by Rush Limbaugh and "the rightwing." There are a lot of other comedy nuggets in this interview conducted by This Week host George Stephanopoulos who fails to challenge Kerry on most of his absurdities including the notion that that merely traveling though countries overseas on a brief campaign stint counts as foreign policy experience. The transcript is below but to fully enjoy the flavor, you need to see the video featuring a clearly perturbed John Kerry who seems not to have gotten over his 2004 election loss. The interview begins following an appearance by Senator Lindsey Graham and Kerry sounds a bit confused (emphasis mine):
ABC's George Stephanopoulos clearly had John McCain's houses on his mind Sunday, for during the latest installment of "This Week," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's real estate holdings were discussed with every guest.
What Stephanopoulos may not have expected was Time's Mark Halperin claiming that "this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates, but it's Barack Obama."
Adding delicious insult to injury, much to Democrat strategist Donna Brazile's dismay, Halperin saw the Obama campaign's attack on McCain not knowing how many houses he owns as opening the door for the Arizona senator to bring up the Illinois senator's connections to Tony Rezko, Reverend Wright, and William Ayers (video embedded right, partial transcript follows):
On Sunday’s This Week on ABC, host George Stephanopoulos seemed to buy into the idea that Georgia provoked war with Russia as he asked guest Mitt Romney, "Didn’t President Saakashvili of Georgia bring some of this on himself by going into South Ossetia?" After Romney informed viewers that Georgian troops were deployed in response to violent attacks by South Ossetians, the ABC host followed up by asking Romney to respond to charges that the push, presumably by the United States, to expand NATO and build a missile defense system was perceived by Vladimir Putin as "belligerent and aggressive." Stephanopoulos: "How do you respond to the argument that by pushing for Georgia to be in NATO, by pushing for Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this was seen as belligerent and aggressive by Putin and kind of brought him in?"
It seems that even ABC's George Stephanopoulos is getting fed up with Congressional Democrats blocking efforts by Republicans to expand offshore oil drilling in order to bring down gas prices.
On Sunday's "This Week," Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) was asked repeatedly why she refuses to allow this issue to come to a vote.
The look of disgust on Stephanopoulos's face as Pelosi mumbled non sequitur after non sequitur was almost more telling of his sense of frustration than the number of times he asked virtually the same question: "Why won't you permit a straight up or down vote?"
Readers should prepare themselves for an alternate reality, for Madame Speaker was quizzed on Sunday like never before (video available here, rush transcript from closed captioning, photo courtesy ABC News):