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):
On Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos condemned John McCain for charging that “Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.” Stephanopoulos, who interviewed McCain on Saturday at his Arizona ranch, declared: “I can't believe you believe that.” McCain insisted “I'm not questioning his patriotism. I'm questioning his actions. I'm questioning his lack, total lack of understanding,” leading Stephanopoulos to counter: “But that is questioning his patriotism. When you say someone would rather lose a war, a candidate, that's questioning his honor, his decency, his character.”
As McCain continued to defend his assessment, Stephanopoulos kept rejecting his reasoning (“So putting lives at risk for a political campaign, you believe he's doing that?”) and excoriating his characterization of Obama: “But you're questioning his motives.”
One of the favors the media routinely perform for liberal politicians is citing left-of-center think tanks as "non-partisan" entities, who just happen to have evidence proving the awfulness of conservative policies. A classic example occurred on the July 7 CBS Evening News, as reporter Chip Reid cited "the non-partisan Tax Policy Center" as showing how Barack Obama's "tax cuts" are superior to John McCain's.
In fact, the Tax Policy Center is the product of the left-leaning Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. The Tax Policy Center data cited by CBS followed the liberal approach of portraying tax cuts as a government giveaway, and calculating the raw dollar value of each person's "benefit." Reid reported: "A recent study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center says Obama's plan would give a cut of more than a thousand dollars to families making between $37,000 and $66,000 a year. Under McCain's plan, they'd get just $319."
On Saturday, Ben Stein accused the media of whipping the nation into a frenzy concerning how the economy is doing. On Sunday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos proved his point.
While talking to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on "This Week," Stephanopoulos actually said of the economy, with a straight face no less, "In the last four years it's gone more down than up."
During the roundtable discussion on Sunday's This Week on ABC, when host George Stephanopoulos asked why Barack Obama had not talked about the economy more in his campaign ads, ABC political analyst Mark Halperin argued that taxing the wealthy should be a strong issue for Democrats this year, although he conceded it failed when tried by Al Gore and John Kerry. Without making any mention of the case that lower taxes on all Americans is beneficial to the overall economy, Halperin merely talked about President Bush's tax cuts that "disproportionately benefitted the wealthy," and seemed to suggest that eliminating those tax cuts may help the economy. Halperin: "That's one issue, again, Gore and Kerry went up against George Bush whose tax cuts disproportionately benefitted the wealthy, one of the best issues the Democrats could have. Neither of them made it stick. I think Obama, again, compared to the last two Democrats to run, has a real chance to make that case on taxes and fairness and how to grow the economy in a way that, I think, could be one of the decisive issues in this race."
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange between Stephanopoulos and Halperin from the Sunday, July 6, This Week on ABC:
Here we go again. Just as with 2001-2003 coverage of Bush's tax cuts which gave the greatest percent cut to those in the lowest income tax bracket (going from 15 down to 10 percent, a 33 percent reduction), ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday chose to undermine the fairness of John McCain's proposed tax plan (and illustrate the media hostility sure to greet McCain whenever he takes a conservative position) by citing estimated dollar cuts by income level, as if it's unfair for someone earning more to get a larger dollar amount tax cut than someone making less.
Citing the Tax Policy Center, a project of two left of center organizations -- the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution -- Stephanopoulos reminded This Week guest Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governor of Minnesota, how “your trademark has been that the Republican Party has to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club.” Stephanopoulos, who failed to hit his other guest, Democratic Congressman Rahm Emmanuel with any numbers critical of Obama's tax plan, pounced on Pawlenty:
The Tax Policy Institute [actually, Center] has crunched the numbers on John McCain's tax plan. I want to put some of them up there right now. It shows that if you're making under $60,000 a year about, the bottom 60 percent will get about $150. The top one percent of people, making about $600,000 a year, get $45,000. The top 0.1 percent -- that's approaching $3 million a year -- get almost $270,000. How do you sell that as a plan that targets Sam's Club more than the country club?
When ABC's George Stephanopoulos, along with three-fourths of his panel, pile on a Democrat with the cameras rolling, you know said liberal elected official made a blunder of epic proportions.
Such was the case on Sunday's "This Week" when with the exception of Democrat pol Donna Brazile, it was virtually unanimous that Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama's decision to go back on his campaign promise to accept public funds was "a big, big deal and a big, big flip-flop."
Readers should brace themselves for an alternate reality, as in a strange moment in television news history, George Stephanopoulos, Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, and Matt Dowd actually agreed that the Obamessiah made a serious boo boo (video available here, Brazile's sycophancy removed for what should be obvious reasons, picture courtesy ABC News):
Who says there's no humor in politics? Obama communications director Robert Gibbs went on ABC's This Week today, and in one of the better deadpan bits since Buster Keaton actually said that Barack Obama's decision to quit the Trinity United Church of Christ was "not political."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: In Philadelphia, just in April, Senator Obama said of Reverend Wright "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." Now he's cut all ties to Reverend Wright, and left his church. What is it a mistake to wait this long?
ROBERT GIBBS: No, George. I think obviously what Barack Obama made in the past few days is a deeply personal, not a political decision. And as you heard the reasoning, he made that decision for two reasons. One, even guest speakers that were at Trinity, their views were ascribed to him even though he didn't hold those views, and secondly, the members of Trinity couldn't do what members of a church do, and that is, sit in quiet reflection and worship God.
Four days after NBC centered a story around an elderly couple forced to move “into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back” while “high food costs have meant” they've “gone hungry,” ABC's World News caught up Tuesday night with a nearly as silly anecdotal report on how families in Minnesota can no longer afford electricity. In the first of two families she showcased, reporter Gigi Stone relayed Julie Tkachuk's plight: “After paying for more expensive gas and groceries, Julie had no money for the heating bills left over from the winter.” Then Stone described the predicament of a family whose father “says business at his moving company is down 35 percent this year. There just wasn't enough money for the power bill.”
Referring to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Stone acknowledged that “there's federal assistance for people who can't afford their utility bills,” but she ominously intoned, “the number of applicants reached the highest point in 16 years.” ABC then aired a soundbite from Mark Wolfe of the National Energy Assistance Director's Association, an advocacy group for LIHEAP spending. The group's April 25 press release (PDF) hyping “the number of households receiving LIHEAP funds this year is the highest in 16 years” also, however, disclosed a fact ABC didn't mention -- that increase is merely 3.8 percent over fiscal year 2007 with the number of households on the dole in Minnesota rising from 120,765 to 126,500, hardly a huge jump.
Mystery is in the eyes of the borrower–and the MSM. The term "variable rate" in a mortgage might seem straightforward enough to George Will and our erudite NB readers, but to a college-educated homeowner–and ABC's Kate Snow–it's apparently a real brain twister.
Snow hosted a segment on this morning's GMA dedicated to determining how the various presidential candidates' proposals would address the problems of sub-prime borrowers. As is the MSM's wont, ABC focused on a single sympathetic case, that of the Cruz-Rivera family in Philly.
If the anger from the left over Wednesday night's debate on ABC continues to manifest itself this way, an old phrase concerning women will have to be altered to "Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned."
For those not getting the so-called joke, "In Memoriam" is a segment near the end of each installment of "This Week" when folks that have died the previous week, including military members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, are memorialized.
In this video (embedded upper right), it is Stephanopoulos himself being so "honored," as the text rolls across the screen:
Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos actually asked some tough questions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during Wednesday's Democrat presidential debate on ABC.
Yet, the Washington Post's television critic Tom Shales wasn't happy about this, and actually felt the event represented "another step downward for network news" wherein the moderators "turned in shoddy, despicable performances."
What follows are some of Shales' key criticisms (emphasis added throughout, picture courtesy NYT):
Challenged by George Will during This Week of March 30th, liberal economics professsor Paul Krugman looks nervously to liberal economics professor Robert Reich. Krugman was one of four liberals at the round-table versus the sole conservative, Will.
Have a look at the screencap from today's This Week, then please answer this serious question: has ABC no shame? How does the network justify a round-table consisting of four liberals against one conservative?
Let's review the batting order:
Robert Reich: Clinton's former Labor Secretary comes from the leftward reaches of the Dem party. He's a co-founder of the liberal American Prospect magazine.
Paul Krugman: Like Reich, a very liberal professor of economics, and a NYT columnist.
Donna Brazile: Dem activist, Gore 2000 campaign manager.
George Stephanopoulos: The show host was a senior political adviser to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and later became Clinton's communications director.
George Will: conservative columnist and [since we're talking batter order and this is Opening Day after all] baseball aficionado.
The AP reported this afternoon: “Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. An indictment unsealed in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a member of a Michigan nonprofit group, of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam's regime.”
When two of those Congressmen, Democrats Jim McDermott of Washington and David Bonior of Michigan, appeared from Baghdad on the September 29, 2002 This Week on ABC, George Stephanopoulos -- the MRC's Rich Noyes reminded me -- chastised a critic, not McDermott and Bonior, for daring to condemn the loaded charges against the U.S propagated by the two left-wingers. After McDermott blasted U.S. foreign policy from Baghdad, a shocked George Will remarked, "Why Saddam Hussein doesn’t pay commercial time for that advertisement for his policy, I do not know." Turns out, he did. [Video at right, audio available here.]
In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise. There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.
I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time. But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.
As media continue to report current economic conditions as being almost Depression-like, they conveniently forget which political party has controlled both chambers of Congress since January 2007 as well as who was in the White House when key financial services deregulation was enacted.
Such a well-timed amnesia hit ABC's Claire Shipman Sunday when during the panel discussion segment of "This Week," she blamed the current financial crisis on Republicans.
Color me unsurprised.
After host George Stephanopoulos asked Shipman's husband, Time magazine's Jay Carney, "How does John McCain fix his problem on the economy," the following ensued:
With Eliot Spitzer gone, Chuck Schumer moves to the head of the list of smugly self-righteous New York pols. So it was particularly satisfying to see Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ] put Schumer is his place on This Week with George Stephanopoulos today.
A guest with Kyl for purposes of discussing the economy, Schumer clearly came in with a game plan: to analogize President Bush to the man who presided over the beginning of the Great Depression: Herbert Hoover. After Schumer tried it twice, Kyl had had enough and unleashed a riposte as devastating as it was reasoned.
How much trouble is Barack Obama in over the extremism of Jeremiah Wright? Enough that Dem strategist Donna Brazile has been reduced to arguing that as black preachers go, Wright is relatively moderate. Enough that the normally affable Brazile got a bit short with Time editor Mark Halperin, he of the infamous memo to his subordinates during the 2004 presidential campaign while serving as ABC News political director.
The comments came during the panel discussion on today's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC.
Media watchers have been asking themselves since Barack Obama became the front-runner to win the Democrat nomination for president when the press will turn against him and start treating the junior senator from Illinois like a candidate instead of a rock star.
The worm might have turned on Sunday's "This Week," when, as my colleague Brad Wilmouth reported, Cokie Roberts actually used the feminist card to trash Obama for Hillary's sake.
Almost as tasty, about three minutes later, a discussion about how Obama is beatable as the Democrat candidate began with Cokie saying (video available here, relevant section begins at minute 12:30):
During the roundtable segment on Sunday's This Week, ABC's Cokie Roberts pointed out Barack Obama's rarely mentioned liberal voting record, calling him "squarely on the left of the Democratic party," and contended that the Illinois Senator, "oddly enough given the rhetoric, has not reached across the aisle and worked with people in the other party to get things done, which [Hillary Clinton] has done." Minutes earlier, sounding defensive of Clinton while raising the possibility that she could see a resurgence of support from white women a la New Hampshire, Roberts referred to Obama as "this cute young man" pushing Hillary aside with "sweet nothings" after all the New York Senator's years of hard work: "Here is this woman who's worked hard, she's done it all the way you're supposed to do it, and then this cute young man comes in and says a bunch of sweet, you know, nothings, and pushes you out of the way. And a lot of women are looking at that and saying, 'There goes my life.'" (Transcript follows)