Throughout George W. Bush's presidency, insults were doled out repeatedly about the commander-in-chief and that was just a fact of life for the highest-ranking public official in the land. However, now there's a new president, there seems to be a different standard on how you talk about a president.
CNN's Rick Sanchez, the host of the 3 p.m. hour of "CNN Newsroom" on April 2 took offense to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh described a flowery praise of President Barack Obama by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"Well, some folks are naturally graceful, some not so much," Sanchez said. "By that measure alone, radio yacker Rush Limbaugh is the polar opposite of our Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. Now, you can just disagree with Barack Obama on his leadership, perhaps his policies. But it's hard not to at least acknowledge the ease with which America's 44th president handled himself in London on a global stage, even among royalty."
Two journalists appearing as guests on CNN on Wednesday and Thursday praised “mighty Michelle” Obama for being “stylish,” “successful,” and for showing “an interest in wanting to reach out to people who may feel they’ve been disenfranchised or held at a distance from the power structure.”
Eighteen hours later on Thursday’s American Morning, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan tried to sell how Mrs. Obama could aid her husband on the international stage: “[She] helps people to get more of a human sense of the administration. And also, I think that for many people, there was, to some degree, a sense of being closed off to the rest of the world or closed off to those who are kind of outside of the mainstream by other administrations. And I think this is a way of trying to build those bridges in a way that is very non-confrontational.”
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez characterized those making light of President Barack Obama’s frequent use of a Teleprompter as being on the “far right” during a segment on Friday’s Newsroom program (audio available here). He also used a skit from liberal comedian David Letterman’s show on CBS which made fun of former President George W. Bush’s consistent verbal stumbles to underline his point.
Sanchez made the comment during a segment with comedian Carlos Mencia. He asked Mencia if he had heard of the Obama/Teleprompter humor coming from conservatives: “Hey, have you heard what’s going -- you know, the far right this week has been saying that President Obama is too stupid to talk without a script.” He then played Letterman’s skit, titled “Teleprompter Versus No Teleprompter,” which pitted an excerpt from President Obama’s first address to Congress against a clip from a town hall meeting given by former President Bush, with predictable results.
Both MSNBC’s David Shuster and CNN’s Rick Sanchez pulled their scoop straight from Media Matters’ blog, and focused on Newt Gingrich’s Twitter comments criticizing President Obama’s upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, instead of the controversy over the speech itself. Shuster targeted the former Speaker of the House during the “Hypocrisy Watch” segment on Tuesday’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue program, saying that Gingrich was “already telling Notre Dame what to do,” even though he wasn’t Catholic yet and had gone through two divorces.
Almost a day later on Wednesday’s Newsroom program on CNN, Sanchez devoted a whole segment to Gingrich’s Tweet, and also brought up the divorce issue: “Newt Gingrich couldn’t resist taking a shot at President Obama. He seems to infer that the president shouldn’t talk to a Catholic university because of quote, ‘values.’ Should Newt Gingrich, thrice married, go there? Really?”
On Tuesday’s Newsroom program, T.J. Holmes because the latest CNN on-air personality to forward the dubious claim that guns from the U.S. are a major factor in the rampant drug violence plaguing northern Mexico: “I don’t want to say enabling, maybe not the best word. But still, so many of the guns that are being used in Mexico are guns that come across the border from the U.S.”
His guest, columnist Sam Quinones of the Los Angeles Times, wholeheartedly agreed: “...[W]e can do a lot about the guns.....If you talk to Mexican officials, pretty much they don’t want to talk about anything but all the guns that are coming....down to Mexico and into the hands of cartel guys who are then killing cops, terrorizing a population, and killing off each other and so on.”
WHITFIELD: Well, that's interesting, because perhaps one other Republican whose name has been tossed into the whole could he run for president, but he can't, he did accept money for his state, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
STEINHAUSER: Exactly. That is very -- a very different case there, too, because Arnold Schwarzenegger is very much of a moderate Republican. He's kind of on the different end of the spectrum from Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford and Bobby Jindal.
Is foreign drug violence a reason to reinstate the ban on assault weapons in America? U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder thinks so. And judging by its relentless and one-sided coverage in the last month, CNN agrees.
Let's connect some dots: Remember that whole Obama "clinging to religion and guns" flap? Now, remember White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel saying never let a crisis go to waste? Good. Finally, remember how the media carried ... sorry, is carrying water for Obama?
It looks like Holder has internalized Emanuel's philosophy, and is looking at the bloody drug wars raging along Mexico's northern border as the crisis he needs to ratchet up gun control.
Last month, during a press conference in which he announced that more than 50 members of Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexican drug cartel, were captured, Holder revealed his intentions. "Well, as President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons. I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum," he said.
"That's your attorney general talking about selling out the second amendment and your rights for the benefit of the benefit of Mexico," Lou Dobbs said on his Feb. 25 program. But Dobbs must be a lonely man at CNN. The rest of the network took Holder's statement as its cue, began hammering the point that American weapons are being used in Mexico's increasingly violent drug wars.
A Nexis search revealed that out of 57 reports on the Mexican drug violence that have aired since February 16, half (29) of them have mentioned at least once that Mexican drug cartels are using American weapons.
A controversial $410 billion spending bill hits a snag in the Senate. This is the bill we've been talking about with about $8 billion in earmarks. Republicans and a few Democrats are mad about all that pork barrel spending. That led members from both parties to push President Obama to veto the bill.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid says the measure will be opened up for changes next week in an effort to gain more support. The bill is a hold-over from the last administration.
First, let me try and set this up. You have heard the conversation on this newscast and on many other newscasts just a couple of weeks ago. There were many red state Southern governors who were on the record saying we're so angry about this stimulus package, we are so angry about the spending, that we don't want the money. We don't want the money in our states.
You heard that from people like Haley Barbour and Governor Sanford of South Carolina, to a certain extent, from Governor Jindal in Louisiana. What six states, I ask, that resisted the stimulus money are getting for what they're putting into the system now?
In other words, let me rephrase that. How much from every dollar that they get from the government are they giving back or receiving? We have got a brand-new statistic. I want to break this down for you. And these are the six states that we were talking about, six red states.
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez turned to Eric Burns, the president of the left-wing organization Media Matters for America, to “fact check” Representative Mike Pence’s appearance on the program the previous day. Sanchez failed to mention the political leanings of Media Matters during the segment, and didn’t follow-up when Burns obliquely referenced his past occupation as a communications director for Democratic Representative Louise Slaughter.
Before introducing Burns, Sanchez played a clip of Representative Pence stating that he fought President Bush “on education spending. I fought my president -- was one of the 25 Republicans that opposed the prescription drug entitlement. I fought the earmarking culture and run-away spending under Republican control, and I’m going to keep fighting it as Democrats take us further down the road of deficit spending and debts.” The CNN anchor then made his introduction of the Media Matters president, omitting the left-wing stance of Burns’ organization: “Eric Burns is joining us now. He’s with Media Matters. His organization does the following -- you know what they do? They basically check to see if what politicians and people like me say on the air is truthful -- is accurate. When we make mistakes, they call us on it. I’ve been called.”
SANCHEZ: Since the administration of Barack Obama began in this country, has there been a heightened sense of any kind of hate? We first started discovering this last night in one of the interviews we did.
But before we do that, I want to show you something now. I want you to just write down some numbers. These are hate groups in the United States, all right? Let's start with the first year. I think we're going to start with the year 2000 -- 602 hate groups at the time in the United States, as counted by the best resource on this, by the way, the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Now let's go to 2007. Uh-oh. It's going up, 888. Now let's go to 2008. Uh-oh. Going up again, 926.
Minutes later, Sanchez interviewed Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
POTOK: Well, as you suggested in your intro, there have been quite a growth over the last eight years.
Until about a year ago, that growth was driven almost entirely by these groups pushing the immigration issue and especially the idea that people with brown skin are kind of coming to destroy our country. In the last year, though, we have seen several other factors come into play, you know, the assent, obviously, of Barack Obama, the announcement by the Census Bureau that whites will lose their majority in this country along about the year 2042, and the crashing economy and worsening unemployment.
PHILLIPS: And as we wrap this up and take it on to the next hour, I know Obama has inspired you tremendously on many different levels. Tell us why.
WONDER: He really echoes the spirits of so many voices that have come before him, talking about bringing us together as a united people of the United States of America. And to live in a time and space where we have a second chance to really make this, again, the great country that we deserve to always be. And I'm just very, very proud to have said to him about five years ago, when he was running for senator, I said, you know, I know that this is what you want to do and this is what your goal is for Illinois. But I really believe that if we pray on this, you'll become the president of the United States. And so we prayed in my studio, at Wonderland Studios. And then here we are in 2009. It's a wonderful thing.
The anchor congratulated Wonder again and then wrapped up her interview:
PHILLIPS: Yes, you are. And he's still got the innocent baby smile. Stevie, great to see you. Come back and see us again, OK?
On Wednesday’s Newsroom program, CNN’s Rick Sanchez referenced New York Times columnist David Brooks and The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan as “conservatives” during a short segment about Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to President Obama’s address before a joint session of Congress. Both men are known for their less-than-conservative stance on social issues, particularly on the issue of homosexual “marriage;” their sharp criticism of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin during her bid for the vice presidency last year; and their sympathy for Obama.
The anchor cited the two writers a quarter of an hour into the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program as examples of how Governor Jindal “hasn’t exactly been getting accolades from members of his own party” for his handling of the official Republican response to President Obama’s speech. Sanchez referred to Brooks as the “heralded conservative columnist for The New York Times,” and read a quote where he criticized the governor’s attack on big government: “It’s just a disaster for the Republican party. In a moment when only the federal government is actually big enough to do stuff, to say government is the problem -- it’s just a form of nihilism.” He then read an apparently sarcastic quote from “noted conservative” Sullivan: “This guy [Jindal] is supposed to be the smart one.”
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and CNN’s Rick Sanchez both poked fun of Fox News personality Sean Hannity for his on-air commercials for Stanford Coins and Bullion, which is part of the Stanford Financial Group led by Robert Allen Stanford, who has been in the news recently due to charges of fraud. It was the Huffington Post on Wednesday that pointed out the talk show host’s spots for Stanford. Olbermann named Hannity his “Worst Person in the World” on Thursday evening for the radio spots for Stanford.
Nineteen hours later, on Friday afternoon’s Newsroom program on CNN, Sanchez gave the misleading impression that Hannity was still doing the live spots even after the news of the investigation into Stanford came out: “Sean Hannity unabashedly endorsed Robert Allen Stanford on the air to millions of potential customers -- the same Fox News host who calls President Obama a socialist.” An on-screen graphic during Sanchez’s segment indicated that his source for the story was the Huffington Post, while another graphic asked, “Who’s Your Friend, Sean?”
On Friday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Heidi Collins failed to mention ACORN’s role in sponsoring a rally against foreclosures in an Oakland, California neighborhood. During her brief, video clips from the protest clearly showed the presence of the group’s signs, name, and logo.
Collins characterized the rally as “[a]nger over the foreclosure crisis pouring out into the streets of Oakland, California -- protesters had a rally in a neighborhood where last month, more than 165 people lost their homes, or now face the possibility of foreclosure. They’re vowing to stop the banks from taking control of the properties.”
Local media in the San Francisco Bay area did a better job of covering the protest. A news brief in the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday mentioned ACORN by name: “Community group ACORN...is launching a campaign to encourage families in foreclosure to refuse to leave their homes. The group staged a rally...at the East Oakland home of Rosa Gonzalez, who has been foreclosed upon but not evicted. ACORN held similar events at foreclosed homes in Los Angeles, New York, Tucson, Baltimore, Orlando and Houston. About 100 ACORN members and local residents listened to speeches urging a moratorium on foreclosures.”
To be clear, we don't fit into any template here, Democratic or Republican or otherwise. I play it down the middle.
Anyone who's seen Sanchez at work knows how funny that is. Throughout his program posts from the microblogging service Twitter crawl across the screen. Known as tweets, the messages Sanchez selects to air come overwhelmingly from liberals.
SANCHEZ: So, by the way, among those participating these days, Rush Limbaugh. He was watching us again this week, when we broke the news about a breakthrough on the president's stimulus package.
And now, as you listen to Rush, see if you can decide who he's more mad at, me for reporting the news of an apparent legislative victory for President Obama, or the three Republicans who broke ranks with Rush Limbaugh and sided with the president?
HARRIS: Let's make a deal. Negotiators say they could agree on a final version of the massive stimulus bill as early as today.
Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is on phone from Capitol Hill.
Dana, really, by today? Is that possible?
DANA BASH, CNN NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPODNENT: Their cautiously optimistic. I think we should stress the word cautious. I'm sitting in the hall of the capitol down the hall from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office. And there is a huge meeting going on, it's even going on for 24 hours. The White House has said the budget director said many some of the key centrist Senators who really hold a lot of power between the House and Senate on the president's stimulus package.
SANCHEZ: You know, it's funny, but, as I hear him (President Barack Obama).talk, I'm just thinking, tax cuts are spending, right? I mean, they really are, because you have got to get it from somewhere.
VELSHI: Right. If you think about it, is -- your own budget, right? If you have less money coming in, you have to have less money going out.
The issue is that -- the argument is that, tax cuts, while it brings less money into the government, which means it lowers the amount of money the government has, which makes it the equivalent of spending, it stimulates the economy, because it lets -- people will use that money in another way.
The way tax cuts could be considered spending, a contention with which Velshi agreed, is if one believes that all income belongs not to the individual earning it, but rather to the government. It's then government's option to determine how much people are permitted to keep and if they're using it "appropriately."
On Wednesday, both CNN and MSNBC raised the specter of past bombings against abortion clinics during their coverage of an Arkansas doctor who was critically injured in an apparent car bombing. During CNN’s Newsroom program, anchor Rick Sanchez asked former DC police detective Mike Brooks if the injured physician was an “abortion doctor.” He replied, “No, no. That was the first thing I thought.” Earlier in the afternoon on MSNBC, correspondent Pete Williams noted how the victim was “a family doctor” and was “not providing controversial medical procedures like abortions.”
Sanchez’s comments came at the end of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. Sanchez first outlined how local police had initially reported the incident, which occurred earlier in the day, as being a mechanical problem with the car, and how they revised it to being a possible bombing. The anchor raised his “abortion doctor” question after Brooks, a frequent guest on Sanchez’s program, gave more details into the investigation.
On Monday’s Newsroom program, anchor Rick Sanchez trumpeted a United Nations investigator’s apparent finding against Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concerning torture: “...[W]e’re making news here, because I just heard you on the record say that there does seem to be enough evidence to be able to make a case against Donald Rumsfeld specifically.” He also asked why Rumsfeld had been “singled out [and] not Cheney [or] Alberto Gonzalez?”
Sanchez had Manfred Nowak, the United Nations special investigator on torture, as a guest beginning at the bottom half of the 3 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. He introduced Nowak by reading a quote by the investigator himself: “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court.” Sanchez highlighted how the statement “isn’t being said by just anyone. This is being said, again, by Mr. Nowak, who is the United Nations special investigator on torture -- specific enough and important enough for us to have him on to talk about this now.”
Kyra Phillips of ‘Newsroom’ and Christine Romans discuss ‘discouraging’ lack of women in Obama’s cabinet, job package that ‘favors’ men.
Liberal feminists claim that President Obama’s administration will not have enough female representation and that the job creation part of his stimulus plan will favor men.
But on CNN’s Newsroom, lack of the feminist perspective certainly wasn’t an issue Jan. 23. In fact, it was the only voice viewers heard.
Newsroom host Kyra Phillips introduced Christine Romans’ estrogen-dominated segment which included feminists complaining about Obama. Romans mentioned that six cabinet positions out of 21 have gone to women, yet liberal feminist groups like National Organization for Women (NOW) and The New Agenda were “disappointed.”
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, Katie Couric incorrectly called one of the munitions reportedly used by the Israeli military a "banned weapon," and, after ignoring numerous violations of international law perpetrated by Hamas, relayed charges that Israel may have committed "war crimes." Referring to Israel’s alleged use of white phosphorus in Gaza, Couric introduced the report: "Hamas gave a thumbs-down to President Obama today, saying his Middle East policy is no different from President Bush's. Hamas just ended a bloody war with Israel in Gaza, and tonight there is growing evidence the Israelis may have used a banned weapon. Some even accuse them of war crimes." Video plus an online version of the story can be found here.
But the use of white phosphorus (WP) is not banned outright, though there are restrictions on its use near civilians areas, and the munition has actually been used by the American military in Iraq. After reports that WP was employed in Fallujah, Iraq, including criticism that it was employed too close to civilians, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace defended its use in a November 29, 2005 Pentagon briefing: "White phosphorus is a legitimate tool of the military. It is used for two primary purposes. One is to mark a location for strike by an aircraft ... The other is to be used ... as a screening agent so that you can move your forces without being seen by the enemy. It is not a chemical weapon ... it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they are being used for marking and for screening."
During a segment on Friday’s Newsroom program, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen heralded the FDA’s approval of the first human clinical trial involving embryo-destroying stem cell research. Cohen then gave a soft interview of the president and CEO of the company involved in the trial, who made the bizarre claim that new medical breakthroughs, including corneal transplants and anesthesia for women in childbirth, were supposedly “always met with concerns from the Religious Right” in the past. Cohen did not follow-up to this statement by the CEO.
The segment, which began 17 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, began with anchor Tony Harris trumpeting how the FDA’s approval of the embryonic stem cell clinical trial represented “major milestone in this field of research.” He then asked Cohen to “explain to us how significant a day this is.” The correspondent gushed in reply, “This is a big day, and I will tell you, I interviewed Christopher Reeve many times about stem cells, and I think he would probably be smiling if he were here to see this day.” She did not bring up the moral objections to embryo destruction in her explanation of the breaking news item which followed, just that “some say that some of this research has been overblown, and a it’s not quite as promising as many people say.”
PHILLIPS: Well, if anything, I think this just exemplifies how Barack Obama is going to be out of the box on everything, whether it's who he decides to have speak at the inauguration or what covers he decides to go on the front of or who he puts into his administration. It is all going to be about going out of the box and making people talk and bringing everybody together, whether it's gender, race, whatever it is.
Thinking out of the box, that's Obama alright. Mr. Originality's stacked his administration with loads of Clinton administration retreads. In terms of magazine covers, it's doubtful that he decides which periodicals feature him. Did he pose as Superman for Ms.? Not likely. That would have been a step down for his messiahship.
Then there is Phillips's belief that Obama is "bringing everybody together, whether it's gender, race, whatever it is." That's patently unrealistic. The notion that any politician can bring everyone - regardless of life experiences, political views, values, opinions, and traditions - together is a liberal pipe dream. And a selective pipe dream at that. After years of bashing President Bush and other Republicans, it's expected that magically all Americans will suddenly, joyously unify as one big happy family under Obama.
We've seen the mainstream media afflicted with Palin Derangement Syndrome. We've experienced the media in the throes of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Over at CNN, which modestly styles itself as the most trusted name in news, there's now an outbreak of Joe the Plumber Derangement Syndrome.
Meanwhile, something else to take note of today. I want to share with you the thoughts of Samuel Wurzelbacher -- you know, "Joe the Plumber" -- now Joe the war correspondent. Yes, he's been in Israel filing reports.
And here's his analysis, as reported by the Associated Press. You're going to love this: "I don't think journalists should be anywhere around war. I mean you guys report where our troops are at. You report what's happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it's asinine. I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting, war is hell."
There you have it.
Samuel, let me talk to you directly.
First, I was born in a communist country, so I'm familiar with people like you -- and Fidel Castro, by the way -- not to name drop -- who also think "that media should be abolished."
During a breaking news brief on Friday’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Kyra Phillips failed to identify the party affiliation of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, a Democrat, who earlier in the day had been indicted on 12 counts related to a corruption probe by Maryland state officials. She did identify Dixon as “the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor” and “the first African-American female to serve as that city’s mayor.”
Phillips began the brief with a lament over corruption in politics in general: “Oh, as if we don’t have enough public corruption within our politics to report, we’ve got another piece of news that [is] just developing right now.” She then reported that the Baltimore mayor had been “indicted on public corruption...12 counts, I’m told -- perjury, theft, misconduct in office.” After describing some of the circumstances into the multi-year investigation, she continued her lament by focusing on the prestige of Dixon: “It’s a shame -- Mrs. Dixon was the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor -- also the -- you know, the first African-American female to serve as that city’s mayor.” The mayor’s Democratic affiliation was neither mentioned by Phillips during her brief, nor by CNN’s on-screen graphics.
On Thursday’s Newsroom program, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta indirectly compared the Obama family to the pregnant Virgin Mary and St. Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem during a report about the unavailability of the Blair House: “...[I]t’s still not clear why there wasn’t enough room at the inn for the Obamas. The 70,000 square foot complex is actually bigger than the White House. There are 119 rooms, 14 guest bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, four dining rooms, dry cleaning facilities, an exercise room, and a fully-equipped hair salon.” Acosta also played clips from two sympathetic liberals who bewailed the situation.
Acosta began his report by presenting the lack of accommodations at the presidential guest house as a “Washington mystery.” He then played his first clip from Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University who unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Maryland in 2006. The on-screen graphic described Lichtman, who ran on anti-war, pro-abortion platform in the primary, as merely a “presidential historian.”