On CBS's Sunday Morning, movie reviewer David Edelstein heaped praised upon The Ghost Writer, the latest film by director, and indicted child rapist, Roman Polanski: "Whatever you say about this man, a victim and a victimizer, he's an artist to the end. He can conjure up on screen his inner world. However, malignant."
Edelstein began the review by proclaiming that Polanski's new film: "shows its maker at the height of his powers." That despite the admission that the director is "likely en route to the slammer for a rape he committed in the '70s." Edelstein later gushed: "Polanski's The Ghost Writer is alive and gripping from its first frame....There's an icky erotic undertone. With Polanski, sex and death are sibling close."
Interestingly, on NPR's Morning Edition radio program on Friday, movie reviewer Kenneth Turan had almost identical praise for the controversial director: "Roman Polanski is back, his new film, The Ghost Writer, is a dark pearl of a movie, made with the flare and precision of a director suddenly returned to the height of his powers." Turan later hoped: "With any kind of luck, The Ghost Writer will help Roman Polanski catch fire one last time."
In an October 1, 2009 column entitled "Hollywood's Favorite Rapist," NewsBusters publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell detailed how those in the entertainment industry and the news media have defended Polanski in the wake of the director's recent arrest and indictment for the rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
In a story on American charitable giving on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Mark Strassmann cited liberal Princeton University bio-ethics professor Peter Singer on how much people should give: “[He’s] worked up a giving guide. The more you make, the more he believes you should give....He believes it’s within our power to virtually end world poverty.”
A clip was played of Singer arguing: “Well I think we should be giving something quite substantial....the right thing to do in this situation, where there are millions of children and adults, of course, dying from avoidable poverty related causes is to give something pretty significant. Something that makes a difference to how you live.”
While Strassmann simply introduced Singer as a bio-ethicist, in reality, the professor has a history of promoting radical ideas, such as justifying infanticide. In an excerpt of his 1993 book Practical Ethics, entitled “Taking Life: Humans,”Singer concluded: “Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is not wrong at all.” CBS certainly picked an odd person to lecture Americans on caring for those less fortunate.
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly seemed to pick up on a NewsBusters posting by the MRC’s Brent Baker which highlighted New Yorker magazine writer Rebecca Mead’s commentary from the January 3 CBS Sunday Morning in which Mead touted President Obama as a "certified intellectual," while accusing President Bush of giving terrorists a "partial victory" by creating "infringements of civil liberties." The FNC host took on Mead during his show’s regular "Reality Check" segment, as he introduced clips of her as evidence that network news organizations "skew left big time," and concluded that her analysis should have been "accompanied by a more conservative point of view."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, January 4, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC:
CBS’s Sunday Morning featured a commentary in which New Yorker magazine staff writer Rebecca Mead looked back at the past decade and hailed the “remarkable...election of a certified intellectual as President” before she cited “unforeseen blights of the era,” listing: “Small plates, Sarah Palin, Chinese dry wall, jeggins.” A fine encapsulation how the New York-based media elite’s view the world.
In her opinion piece tied to confusion over what to call the just-completed decade, she also characterized “the cumulative casualties of war and the infringements of civil liberties that took place under President Bush” as “evidence of at least partial victory” for al-Qaeda.
Mead’s CBS commentary delivered a condensed version of a January 4-dated New Yorker article, “What Do You Call It?,” in which she expressed astonishment John Kerry did not beat George W. Bush and fantasized about a Gore presidency. Mead rued how “the decade saw the unimaginable unfolding” of “the depravities of Abu Ghraib, and, even more shocking, their apparent lack of impact on voters in the 2004 Presidential election.” Plus, she imagined in the magazine:
In the alternate decade of fantasy, President Gore, forever slim and with hairline intact, not only reads those intelligence memos in the summer of 2001 but acts upon them; he also ratifies the Kyoto Protocol and invents something even better than the Internet.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, New York Daily News Washington correspondent James Meek related President Obama’s visit to the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan war dead at Arlington National Cemetery: “Now, cynics may say this was just an Obama photo-op. But they weren’t there looking him in the eye. I saw a man fully carrying the heavy burden of command on a weighty day.”
In an article Meeks wrote for the Daily News on Thursday, he used harsher terms to denounce any “cynics” critical of Obama’s visit: “If they’d been standing in my boots looking him in the eye, they would have surely choked on their bile. His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.” To use such a personal experience to promote the current administration and attack critics seems rather cynical.
In the Sunday Morning piece, Meek almost poetically described the President’s appearance at the section of the cemetery reserved for Iraq and Afghanistan war dead: “I was in Section 60 that morning when he made an unscheduled stop before huddling with his war council on sending more GIs into harm’s way. In a bone-chilling drizzle, he and the First Lady walked through the rows of gleaming white headstones. I saw the President embrace grieving widows, mothers, and battle buddies tending to the graves of loved ones. He asked about each one.”
Reporting for CBS Sunday Morning, correspondent Mark Phillips marked the 20th anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall by noting the economic difficulty East Germany has faced in the aftermath: “It still isn’t easy for many. East German industry without government subsidy could not compete. The economy shrank by an estimated 50%.”
Phillips mourned the loss of state-run industries after the oppressed nation was freed from decades of communist oppression: “The eastern landscape is littered with the ruins of former state-supported enterprise. A million people have gone west looking for work.”
Earlier in the report, Phillips credited those responsible for the wall’s collapse: “The main players on that night 20 years ago were the people of East Berlin....But it was the behind-the-scenes players who really determined events that night, mostly by doing nothing. Then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had refused to back the desperate GDR regime. Then President George Bush refused to gloat as the wall came down. Then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl went on to become the leader of a reunited Germany.” Ronald Reagan slipped Phillips’ mind.
Reporting the lead story on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Martha Teichner touted a new on-line poll conducted by Parade magazine about religion in America: “nearly a quarter of the respondents call themselves spiritual, not religious. And how about this? Half the people polled say they seldom, if ever, attend religious services.”
One supposed religious expert Teichner spoke with about the poll findings was Barnard College professor and Episcopal priest Randall Balmer, who argued: “And so you have all these religious options out there and we Americans are good consumers.” Teichner asked: “So you’re saying that Americans choose their faith or their spirituality in very much the way they shop a mall.” Balmer replied: “I think they do.” In 2006, Balmer wrote Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America.
The Parade magazine cover story about the poll was written by Christine Wicker, author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation. In addition, Wicker is also a contributing writer for the left-wing blog The Huffington Post. Just days prior to the 2008 presidential election, Wicker authored a post entitled “Evangelical Leaders Using God Like a Hired Gun,” in which she claimed: “They tried branding Obama the anti-Christ. They tried linking him with Islamic terrorists....They’ve used their pulpits to endorse McCain...None of these tactics has brought their errant minions under control. So using God like a hired gun to terrorize the town’s people, the evangelical Christian mullahs are declaring that Obamageddon is at hand.”
Appearing on CBS’s Sunday Morning, commentator Ben Stein ripped into CNN political analyst James Carville for claiming anti-Obama protestors were "classless": "the elitist anger of the liberal Democrats is boiling over as some ordinary citizens show they don’t like being pushed around....Contempt for the ordinary citizen is just not American and it does not win elections."
Earlier in his commentary, Stein wondered: "I thought the Democrats were the party of the little guys and those who aren’t classy or well born...So now the Democrats are admitting they’re the party of the rich?" He went on to point out that Democrats have "been getting the lion’s share of very large political gifts for years now. The truth is that the Democrats are the fat cats. I’m impressed that Mr. Carville admitted it. I like him more than ever now."
Stein continued: "I was also interested to see that Mr. Carville, a mere lad of 64, same age as I am, has made fun of the age of the tea party attendees." A clip was played of Carville declaring: " I mean they had every old crank in the country out there." Stein observed: "So now the Democrats don’t think the opinions of senior citizens are worth anything more than ridicule?"
Reporting for CBS’s Sunday Morning, political analyst Jeff Greenfield wondered about the impact of nationwide ant-Obama protests: "Does this new militancy on the Right pose an opportunity for the Republican Party or create a dilemma?" He fretted over the tone: "Some of it is aimed specifically and virulently at Obama....At his background, at his race, at his agenda."
Greenfield began the segment by highlighting the source of all the "militancy": "Discontent is in the air. You can see it in the signs they carry. Hear it from the most prominent voices on talk radio. All from the Right....And most notably from Glenn Beck, whose radio program and Fox News telecasts draw millions with his apocalyptic visions of where the President is going."Greenfield went on to include South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, whom he mistakenly labeled as being from Louisiana: "You even heard it from the floor of the House...In an unprecedented outburst from Louisiana Congressman Joe Wilson."
Later, Greenfield worried about "signs here that show like pictures of Hitler, Stalin, and Obama." One sign showed President Obama as Adolf Hitler, but as NewsBusters earlier reported, that particular sign has been traced back to followers of left-wing radical Lyndon LaRouche. In response to some of the other signs, Protestor Carol Fessler explained to Greenfield: "That comes from a fear...the fear is, you know, if the media’s not doing its job, if government is just taking over every single thing it can and we now have an unfettered liberal – the radical left has gotten control of the process. That’s the fear." Greenfield concluded: "Indeed, that fear has been fed not by politicians but by Fox News pundits."
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."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning correspondent Martha Teichner touted President Obama’s latest PR blitz to promote health care reform: "For the third time in five days, Barack Obama used the presidential bully pulpit on behalf of what he’s now calling health insurance reform. No more letting the angry opposition control the agenda."
Teichner dismissed that "angry opposition" by declaring: "Here’s a question. Do they even know what’s in the bills currently being considered by Congress? Do you?" Teichner and two liberal supporters of the Obama health care plan proceeded to educate viewers as to what was being proposed.
She spoke with former head of the left-wing group People for the American Way, Ralph Neas, now CEO of the supposedly "non-partisan" National Coalition on Health Care that is pushing for reform. In addition, Teichner spoke with University of North Carolina Professor Jonathan Oberlander, who in a July 22 article for the liberal British newspaper The Guardian wrote: "The Obama administration is pushing Congress to enact health reform legislation this year. And against all odds, Obama may pull it off....Obama’s election, after all, is a reminder that history is not always repeated. Sometimes it is made."
Marking the 100th anniversary of the NAACP on CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Bill Whitaker wondered: "A black president who addresses black issues unflinchingly...Attorney General Eric Holder dedicated to equal justice...some say begs the question, is the NAACP needed anymore? Is it even relevant? Is it time for the venerable organization to say ‘mission accomplished’?"
Later in the segment, Whitaker answered that question: "[Current NAACP President Benjamin Todd] Jealous and [former NAACP President Julian] Bond say with one of fifteen black males behind bars, with black students in inferior schools, with almost half of black homeowners in subprime mortgages...there’s plenty of work to do."
On NBC’s Nightly News on Wednesday, correspondent Ron Allen similarly questioned the NAACP’s relevance: "With an African-American in the White House and many discrimination battles won, the question is whether the NAACP is still necessary." Allen, like Whitaker, cited the organization’s leadership: "Jealous says the battle now is to close the social and economic achievement gap between people of color and mainstream America...A fight for justice and equality he insists must be carried on."
Neither Whitaker nor Allen applied a liberal political to the NAACP or featured any critics of the organization’s left-wing causes.
CBS’s “Sunday Morning” yesterday aired a remarkable segment that broadsided the national media for refusing to give our nation’s fallen soldiers the attention they deserve. Martha Gillis offered an uninterrupted, 3-minute monologue sharing the pain of losing her nephew, 1st Lt. Brian Bradshaw, who was killed on June 25 by an IED in Afghanistan. Gillis faulted the media for its virtual non-coverage, which, as NewsBusters reported last week, amounted to just 1/20th the broadcast network evening newscast airtime given to Michael Jackson's death.
In a statement released today, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell applauded CBS for the tribute (click here to view it online):
Congratulations to CBS News. This is nothing short of remarkably candid journalism. The raw emotion of 1st Lt. Bradshaw’s aunt Martha Gillis is heartbreaking. It moves the audience to see undue suffering – caused by the media – for a family that has already been crushed by the death of one of their young.
The CBS Evening News may have only devoted 13 seconds last Monday night to the deaths of seven soldiers in Afghanistan -- as Katie Couric anchored from the Staples Center the night before the Michael Jackson memorial -- and just 15 seconds Wednesday night to their caskets arriving back in the U.S., but the producers of CBS's Sunday Morning should be commended for giving Martha Gillis, the aunt of an Army Lieutenant killed in Afghanistan the same day Jackson died, an “opinion” segment in which she conveyed the frustration of military families over the media's misplaced priorities.
“My 24-year-old nephew, Brian Bradshaw, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan on June 25th, but you'd never have known it from the national media. I cannot tell you how that silence added to the pain of losing this bright, funny, thoughtful young man,” Gillis began as she expressed the “pain shared by many of the 4,000-plus grieving families whose loved ones have sacrificed their lives in two wars that have largely disappeared from the news.” Enhancing the impact of her words, CBS interweaved still shots from the procession and funeral for 1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw.
After recounting the respect and support from those she encountered as she attended her nephew's funeral, Gillis powerfully concluded:
Once I left town, though, soldier's deaths once again became invisible. Because of the incredible kindness of the people of Steilacoom, Washington, I wonder how many other people, in Maine or Texas or New York City, would also have honored Brian and the other soldiers who have died in the last two weeks if the media had simply let them know: Somebody's little boy, all grown up, died today. Someone's little girl found out today that Daddy is never coming home.
That news is hard to bear. When the nation they died for barely notices, it's crushing.
Last Tuesday, NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted that seven soldiers who had been killed the week prior in Afghanistan received just 1/20th of the evening newscast time that ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted to the passing of pop star Michael Jackson.
The same day, NewsBusters Publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell slammed the broadcast networks in a statement: "There is no justification for determining that the death of a celebrity over a week ago merits 20 times more news coverage than the tragic deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan."
Perhaps in some measure reacting to the criticism, CBS's "Sunday Morning" program yesterday aired a nearly 3-minute-long opinion segment featuring Martha Gillis, whose nephew, 1st Lt. Brian Bradshaw, was killed on June 25 in Afghanistan.
In the video, Gillis criticized the media for its lack of coverage [audio available here]:
Marking the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York City on Sunday, CBS’s Anthony Mason declared: "A night of violence that led to a new day for human rights... Stonewall triggered the modern gay rights movement."
Filling in for Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood, Mason explained: "...it was around 2:00 that morning that young gay patrons started fighting back against police raiding a New York City bar called the Stonewall Inn. Police accused the bar of selling liquor without a license but gays charged the raid was harassment." He went on to tout the progress made since the riot: "By the 25th anniversary of Stonewall in 1994, things had changed so much that New York City was hosting the gay games...In the years since then, six states have legalized same-sex marriage. Legislation is pending that would make New York the seventh."
Mason concluded the brief story by describing the ongoing struggle: "Not that gay rights groups believe their job is done. Among other goals, they're still fighting to overturn the military's ban on openly gay service members. Today, as in years past, gay pride parades will be held in New York and many other cities across the land. Marking the distance the campaign has already traveled from that turbulent night outside the Stonewall Inn."
In an interview with President Obama on Friday, CBS’s Harry Smith asked the "father-in-chief" about growing up without his own father: "In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?" [audio available here]
The first part of the interview, which aired on Father’s Day on CBS’s Sunday Morning, focused on Obama’s role as "First Dad" as Smith declared: "Maybe it was on election night when we first realized not only would there be a new president but also a new first family. A family with young children...Along with the role of commander-in-chief and leader of the free world, Barack Obama would be First Dad. So, yes, there would be a swing set and, yes, there would be a dog." Sappy piano music was played in the background as a montage of Obama family photos scrolled across the screen.
Throughout the fawning profile, Smith described a young Barack Obama without a father: "He is everything his own father was not...In his first book, ‘Dreams From My Father,’ Barack Obama speaks about both the cultivated myth of his father and the cold, hard truth that he was absent by choice." At that point Smith asked: "In this fatherless world, where did you learn to love?" Obama replied: "Where I learned, I think, to be a father, was looking at some people that I respected...And it just reminded me that, you know, whatever the hardships, whatever the obstacles, you can be a good dad."
Smith then held up the president as role model to all fathers: "Your whole life is under a microscope now and believe it or not every parent in the country is watching your every move as a parent. Are you aware of that scrutiny?...The First Couple has made being present in their children's lives a top priority. The world can wait til’ after Sasha and Malia's soccer or basketball game."
On Sunday, CBS’s Bill Whitaker praised the liberal activism of former TV producer Norman Lear: "But in 1980, the king turned his back on his TV empire. He grew alarmed as evangelical Christian preachers grew more visibly and vocally involved in politics with views and tactics he found divisive. He responded the way he knew best, on TV."
Whitaker, reporting for CBS Sunday Morning, went on to describe Lear’s efforts: "His ads spawned People For The American Way, his grass roots civics organization to keep Americans aware and protective of their rights." No liberal label was given for the left-wing "civics organization." Whitaker asked Lear: "What is it about the approach of the Religious Right that so rankles you?" Lear responded: "Politics and religion are not the American way. My contention is every individual's compact with God, with that, is different from every other individual's. So don't come to me with your compact and insist it must be mine. America is open to all of them."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Kimberly Dozier interviewed former C.I.A. agent Robert Baer, who argued that Iran: "...is empire by proxy. You get people -- it's like Communism. You get people to go along with you and your vision of the world. And they're saying, you know, ‘we can finally drive the United States out of the Middle East.’" Dozier added: "Unless, Baer says, we give President Ahmadinejad and his religious backers what they want."
Baer explained what Iran wants: "First of all, they want to be recognized as a major power in the Gulf...By the United States, by the Europeans. They want to be deferred to on big issues like Iraq and Afghanistan, issues that directly affect them." Dozier asked: "But in a sense, wouldn't the U.S., wouldn't Europe be rewarding them for bad behavior?" Baer replied: "Well, we would be. But does it matter? We have to be pragmatic about this."
Dozier went on to explain: "If we don't negotiate, Baer worries, the United States may find itself in yet another war we can't afford to fight." Baer exclaimed: "And do we really want to take down the most powerful country in the Middle East? I mean, we've just taken down Iraq, the second most powerful country, and it hasn't done a bit of good for anybody in the region." Dozier interjected: "It's a mess." Baer agreed: "It's a mess and it's going to remain a mess. Let's talk them back into the game of nations."
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer commented on former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele as chairman of the Republican National Committee: "So it was that the party of Lincoln, which had freed the slaves, but in the process had become the party of mainly white people, came full circle and turned to an African-American Moses to lead it out of the political wilderness."
Schieffer started his commentary by explaining how the Republican Party came to be the party of "mainly white people": "When Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, he told a fellow Democrat 'we have lost the south for a generation,' and he was right. Richard Nixon capitalized on southern anger brought on by that act, developed a southern strategy, which emphasized states' rights, won the presidency twice, and a region where there had been few Republicans since the Civil War became the base of the reborn Republican Party."
On Monday’s American Morning, CNN anchor John Roberts interviewed former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, and introduced her as being “added to our roster of economic analysts.” Roberts also failed to mention Hefner’s long-time support for President Obama during the segment.
The interview, which started just before the bottom-half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, began with Roberts giving the following introduction of the former Playboy CEO: “...[T]he economy is issue number one here at CNN....We love to get expert commentary on this, and we are pleased and proud this morning to have added to our roster of economic analysts the former CEO and chairwoman of Playboy Enterprises, Christie Hefner.” He first asked Hefner about the jobs market, and the economy as a whole. Hefner touted how that the “sense that I’m getting, in talking to CEOs, is that people are hoping for a late 2010 recovery.” Later, the anchor asked the former CEO about executive bonuses, and played a sound bite from Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who railed against the “bunch of idiots on Wall Street.” Hefner praised McCaskill’s “very good characterization” and labeled her a “pro-business Democrat,” despite her vote last year against a proposed increase in the exemption on the “death tax,” which would have aided small family-run businesses.
CBS’s Sunday Morning celebrated the 30th anniversary of its first broadcast in 1979 with host Charles Osgood citing CBS/New York Times poll numbers to demonstrate how American attitudes have changed over the past 30 years: "The majority of us now think homosexual relations between adults aren't wrong. That's a reversal from 30 years ago. As for sexual relations before marriage, the minority who disapprove is growing smaller. More people now support the legalization of marijuana than did 30 years ago. But still short of a majority. Views on abortion have hardly changed at all."
In addition to cultural issues, Osgood also explained how Americans are now ready for socialized medicine: "On the matter of health insurance, nearly half of all Americans now want the government to provide it for all problems. That's up from just over a quarter of us in 1979." Osgood also claimed: "Just one American in eight thinks the nation is more powerful today than it was ten years ago. In 1979, it was one in five." Apparently Americans were more optimistic about American power at the end of the Jimmy Carter era than at the end of the Bush era.
At the top of the show, correspondent Rita Braver did a similar look back at the last 30 years: "Three decades of change in our culture. Our communications, our politics." At that moment, a video clip of a gay marriage ceremony appeared on screen. After describing the end of apartheid in South Africa, Braver declared: "And the social order changed in this country, too." Braver spoke with Harvard history and economics professor Niall Ferguson and asked: "It does seem that white men are no longer calling all the shots." Ferguson replied: "Well, you're asking a white man if America-" Braver interrupted: " I know that, I'm asking you to fess up."
During live coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration at 9:30AM on Tuesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "And it reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt in March of 1933 in this regard, I mean the economy was in tatters, Herbert Hoover was an unpopular president, President Bush is not very popular, and he was able to galvanize people with his speech, FDR, move the nation, you know to have nothing -- you know, to fight for all of the civil rights and to start pushing forward the hundred days of the New Deal. And so you see the echoes of that." On the January 11 Sunday Morning program, Brinkley declared Bush in the "...the very bottom-rung of American Presidents."
Brinkley’s comment was prompted by Couric remarking: "...a confluence of events that will make him perhaps one of the most powerful presidents in history. It's hard to predict an administration and how successful it will be, but he really is starting off things in an enviable position, isn't he?" Later, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on that point: "But the interesting thing, Katie, is when we stop and think about it, our greatest presidents have always come to us during the worst of times. If history's any guide, the pieces are in place here for the making of a great president." On Monday’s Early Show, Schieffer compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Thalia Assuras examined President Bush’s historical legacy: "On January 20th, 2001, George Walker Bush took the oath of office as the 43rd president of the United States. His presidency and the future, a blank slate...Before the Iraq war. Before Katrina swept ashore. Before the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Assuras cited two historians in her report, both of whom labeled Bush one of the nation’s worst presidents. She first turned to historian Douglas Brinkley, who declared: "I think it's safe to say that President Bush is going to be seen as the very bottom-rung of American presidents...As a judicial historian looking at what's occurred on his watch, it is almost void of genuine accomplishment." The other historian Assuras included in her report was Joseph Ellis, who said of Bush: "I think that George Bush might very well be the worst president in American history...He's unusual. Most two-term presidents have a mixed record...Bush has nothing on the positive side, virtually nothing."
Following these Bush-bashing historical assessments, Assuras exclaimed: "And that's not a minority opinion. In a 2006 Siena College survey of 744 history professors, 82 percent rated President Bush below average or a failure. Last April, in an informal poll by George Mason University of 109 historians, Mr. Bush fared even worse; 98 percent considered him a failed president. Sixty-one percent judged him, as Ellis does, one of the worst in American history."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Chip Reid compared Obama’s economic plan to that of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal: "During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the Works Progress Administration, the WPA. It would put 8.5 million to work...Now a new American president-elect is vowing to put the country back to work. This Sunday Morning, we'll take a look back at the WPA. And the lessons it may hold for him and for the nation." Reid later played a clip of Obama addressing the economic crisis and then observed: "In 1933, another new president faced a collapsing economy and rallied the nation with similar words...75 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal."
In a segment that was a glowing tribute to FDR and the New Deal, Reid described Obama’s economic plan as a triumphant return of big government: "And now, President- elect Obama is talking about his own jobs program, that could cost half a trillion dollars. Economic analyst Jeff Madrick believes Mr. Obama is also sending a very clear message." Madrick observed: "Well, I think the government is back and we're all the better for it. In fact, the government's been away at least since Ronald Reagan." Reid touted Madrick’s latest book: "Madrick recently published 'The Case for Big Government.' He says today, as in the Depression, only government action can stop an economic dive to an unknown bottom." Reid did wonder: "So who's going to pay for big government?" Madrick replied: "I think down the road higher taxes, even on the middle class -- and I know this is anathema right now -- will be necessary to pay for the social programs we need."
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed actor James Franco, who stars opposite Sean Penn in a new movie about gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk: "Actor James Franco is here to talk about his role in the much-talked-about new movie, 'Milk.' He is amazing in it." At the end of the show, Smith thanked Franco for being a guest and offer this review of the movie: "James Franco in 'Milk,' amazing performance. Sean Penn, off the charts. It's a must-see for everybody."
On November 30, CBS’s Sunday Morning offered a similar glowing description of the film, describing Milk as a "rebel with a cause." In the Wednesday interview, Smith described Franco’s role in the movie as a career-maker: "...there’s this completely other performance here. I mean, there's a part of you that's go to be, ‘this means I have a career,’ and 'I'm not just -- I'm not the pretty face on the Gucci ads, I get a career now.’"
Following coverage of a Monday morning news conference in which President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric observed: "...two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates." She then asked political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "...in a way, this inoculates President-Elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?" Greenfield replied: "Yeah, I think so."
Greenfield went on to explain: "If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy." Couric followed up: "What about the confirmation process? Do you think there will be tough questions for Senator Clinton?...any road blocks during that process?" Greenfield responded: "One interesting thing is there are no -- I'll use this term -- fire-breathing conservative Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nobody who's looking to make points going after Bill Clinton."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, host Charles Osgood teased a story on politician Harvey Milk, who was the first gay man elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977: "The story of a rebel with a cause is being retold in the form of a just-released motion picture. And as it happens, the timing could hardly be more appropriate." The movie, starring left-wing actor Sean Penn, is set to come out just after the 30th anniversary of Milk’s murder, as correspondent John Blackstone explained: "He became the first openly gay man elected to office in the United States. A breakthrough that ended with assassination. Harvey Milk served less than a year here on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors but it was a year that changed history."
Blackstone, who has done numerous stories on Californians efforts to legalize gay marriage, made a comparison between Milk’s election and the current battle over Proposition 8: "In California, the renewed battle over same sex marriage has echoes in a new movie about triumph and tragedy in San Francisco 30 years ago...It is an accident of timing. Just as gay right activists have taken to the streets, angry over the ban on same sex marriage in California, the struggle for gay rights has also moved to the big screen."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Martha Teichner decided to try to define patriotism: "In reality, there may be no more loaded concept in the American political lexicon...The election will be a referendum on patriotism. One of campaign '08's central and most contentious issues." Teichner talked to liberal Brookings Institution analyst William Galston about the history of that "loaded concept": "It wasn't a question of one party or the other. It was President Truman, after all, who revived the idea of loyalty oaths and the legitimacy of imposing them." In the spirit of bipartisanship Teichner added: "Then there was Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. His extremist views on loyalty and patriotism made his name synonymous with the political witch hunts of the 1950s."
Teichner went on to conclude: "Each side's arguments have hardened over time and become weapons in partisan battles." Her example: "Look at the damage the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did to Senator John Kerry's presidential ambitions in 2004. Over the question of his patriotism." Teichner then examined a different take on patriotism: "Steven Johnston teaches political theory at the University of South Florida. He is outnumbered, but not alone, in believing that patriotism is actually a bad thing, harmful to democracy."