Exactly five years ago, an international coalition of troops led by the U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrowing Saddam Hussein's tyrannical dictatorship in just three weeks. Since then, Iraqis have voted in free democratic elections to seat a representative parliament; Saddam and several of his henchmen have been tried and convicted in public war crimes trials; and a bloody insurgency fomented by al Qaeda in Iraq is in retreat after a surge of U.S. troops and a shift to more aggressive counter-insurgency tactics.
Analysts at the Media Research Center have studied TV news coverage of the Iraq war from the beginning, even before the first bombs fell on Baghdad in March 2003. The record shows the networks have trumpeted bad news — setbacks for the U.S. coalition and allegations of misdeeds by American troops — while minimizing good news such as the success of the 2007 troop surge and acts of heroism by U.S. soldiers.
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" continued its political activism disguised as satire on March 15, this time choosing to make the case for Barack Obama while doing an entire sketch about John McCain being "crazy old."
During Saturday's "Weekend Update," former SNLer, and current "30 Rock" co-star Tracy Morgan, stumped for Obama, and did so quite comically (embedded right).
How's this for a balanced Today panel to discuss the impact of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's extremism on Barack Obama: two liberals who agree it shouldn't hurt him, with one suggesting the situation might even help Obama?
The panel discussion was preceded by a segment narrated by Lee Cowan, the NBC correspondent covering the Obama campaign who has admitted "it's almost hard to remain objective" about Barack. Cowan buttressed his case in that regard. After playing the clip of Rev. Wright using the n-word to make an invidious comparison between Obama and Hillary, Cowan claimed the words were "old." True--if Cowan considers December, 2007, when Wright uttered them--ancient history.
Then it was on weekend co-anchor Amy Robach's interview of Michael Dyson and Melinda Hennenberger. Dyson, who as Robach noted is an Obama supporter, is a Georgetown professor and MSNBC political analyst. He has in the past garnered headlines for his fierce criticism of Bill Cosby, claiming among other things that Cosby "battered poor blacks" with his calls for self-reliance.
On Friday morning's Today, MSNBC host Chris Matthews lamented Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "blaming 9/11 on us," and compared that to conservative ministers like Jerry Falwell blaming it on "sodomy and everything else." But Matthews stressed that it really shouldn't reflect badly on Obama, who is still a unifier, and not a "black separatist" like his pastor. MRC's Justin McCarthy did the transcript on the Democratic contest:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: At the end of the week, Chris, who do you think came out ahead of the two?
MATTHEWS: Well, I think it was kind of intermission. I think it hurt Barack to have his minister out with all these mouthings blaming 9/11 on us. It will never sell to the American people.
VIEIRA: How damaging do you think that will be, Chris?
According to Media Life Magazine, the three big network evening news broadcasts have slipped badly in the key 18 to 34 age bracket. At the same time, though, the Cable news nets have picked up among that same demographic. All three network newscasts have lost numbers since last year, with Katie Couric having the worst slide of the three.
According to Media Life, the main reason the evening news shows have been losing so steadily is because the Internet and Cable can give news at any time the viewer is ready to take their news whereas the evening news must be specifically scheduled into the viewer's lives. Media Life claims that the 18 to 34 age group just "never got into the evening news habit" -- a pretty plausible point.
On Thursday's "Today" show when co-host Meredith Vieira asked NBC's Washington bureau chief Tim Russert if there would be any "fallout for the Democrats" from the Spitzer scandal, Russert asserted: "Probably not....that story pretty much leaves the front pages."
However, last year, when Senate Republicans David Vitter and Larry Craig were in the news for sex scandals the "Today" show wasn't so quick to let those stories rest and predicted they would have a lingering impact on the party and even conservatism as a whole. As the MRC's Tim Graham reminded NewsBusters readers earlier this week, the "Today" show, ran headlines trumpeting: "Conservative Crisis," and "Craig's Crisis: The Last Straw for the GOP?" Co-host Ann Curry used the scandals to bury Republicans on the August 29, 2007 edition of "Today":
For the second consecutive day NBC's "Today" show refused to identify Eliot Spitzer as a Democrat. In a total of seven Spitzer-related segments on Wednesday’s "Today" show and one interview with Barack Obama, where the scandal was mentioned, not one anchor, reporter, guest, talking head or on-screen graphic mentioned Spitzer's party affiliation. However, following the trend on NBC's Nightly News, the "Today" show graphics department did take time to place an "R" next to Rep. Peter King and New York state Rep. Joe Tedisco.
National correspondent Natalie Morales did note that, "the governor was under lots of pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle" to step down but never bothered to note on which side of the aisle Spitzer stood.
The following opening story from the March 12, "Today" show was typical of the rest of NBC News' Spitzer reports, in its refusal to note his party affiliation.
Democrats dialing for damsels don't get labeled with the big "D"
Changing His MindRonald Reagan often said "I did not leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me."
For floundering and foundering New York Governor Eliot Spitzer -- a twist on the Gipper's words. Spitzer didn't leave the Democratic Party: the Media just didn't see the need to mention the fact that Spitzer was - at least until noon Wednesday -- one of the most powerful Democrats in the nation.
On Monday afternoon, the Big Three Networks (NBC, ABC and CBS) and the Associated Press led the charge of the wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news that Spitzer was involved with an interstate prostitution ring. And with near unanimity they failed to mention that Spitzer is a Democrat.
Spitzer - who since his years as the Big Apple's swashbuckling anti-capitalist Attorney General the Press has glowingly called the Champion of the Everyman -- was caught on one or more wiretaps dialing for damsels to the tune of $5,500 an hour.
Only the press can fail to see the irony of calling someone who inherited $500 million - and who hires ladies of the evening at hourly rates equal to a semester's tuition at a state university - a champion of the everyman.
Jim Cramer is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. But the host of CNBC's "Mad Money" normally lets his emotions show over matters financial. In August, for example, he went ballistic at Ben Bernanke, pleading with the Fed chairman to lower interest rates in the face of widespread home foreclosures.
This morning, however, Cramer got verklempt not over the discount rate but at the falling fortunes of his friend Eliot Spitzer. Cramer went to Harvard Law with the embattled governor and his wife Silda, and over the years has defended Spitzer against the torrent of criticism directed at the so-called sheriff of Wall Street for his high-handed tactics.
Cramer appeared on this morning's Today to discuss with Meredith Vieira yesterday's dramatic Fed move. But at the end of the interview, Vieira raised the Spitzer situation, and that sent Cramer to the verge of tears. The transcript below doesn't do justice to just how emotional Cramer became, so readers might want to view the video.
With four hours of air time to fill NBC's "Today" show devoted a whopping 11 segments to the Eliot Spitzer scandal but not once did any of the show's anchors, reporters, guests, talking heads or even on-screen graphics mention the fact that Spitzer was a Democrat.
"Today" co-anchor Meredith Vieira set the tone when she ignored Spitzer's party affiliation as she opened the March 11, "Today" show: "Good morning, client number nine. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, a hard-charging moral crusader caught in a federal sting involving a high-price call girl ring." NBC's Matt Lauer, also bypassing the "D" next to Spitzer's name, piped in: "Just when you thought you couldn't be shocked any more we go from Eliot Ness to Eliot Mess. Another high profile politician making a stunning admission."
The following is a breakdown of all the Spitzer-related segments:
A prostitution scandal strikes the Democrats? When Sen. David Vitter admitted he’d used the services of the "DC Madam," thanks to probing by ABC News, the major media saw harm for the entire Republican Party nationwide. Will Governor Spitzer become a national problem for the entire Democratic party? Or will the media suddenly keep the scandal as localized as they can make it?
NBC and MSNBC were especially aggressive in describing conservatives and Republicans "in crisis." The standout quote on the Vitter scandal (along with the Mark Foley internet-messages-to-pages scandal) came from MSNBC reporter David Shuster on August 29, 2007, who blurred the ethical embarrassments into Hurricane Katrina:
If Hillary Clinton's latest gambit--floating Obama as her VP--were a play not a ploy, and the Today crew the theater critics, they would have left at intermission to begin penning a blistering pan.
Interviewing Tim Russert, Matt Lauer kicked off the kicking around of Hillary's idea.
MATT LAUER: Let's talk about this idea. Is it being floated seriously? Is this light-hearted, and who's behind it?
TIM RUSSERT: Well the Clintons are behind it, and New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin said today that he talked to a Clintonista who said it's an attempt to belittle Barack Obama, that if they can suggest that he can be Vice-President, it's an indication that who should be President?
LAUER: Yeah, but couldn't it backfire? I mean, he's ahead in the delegate count, she needs a miracle. Might it not come off as ignorant, or arrogant, not to be too harsh?
On Sunday's Meet the Press, this exchange stuck out for me, where Hillary Clinton endorser Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, expressed anxiety that Barack Obama could win the big states that lead to an Electoral College win. But wait, didn't Hillary favor abolishing the Electoral College in 2000? Yes, she did, at least grudgingly. Here's today's exchange:
MR. RUSSERT: Governor Rendell, if, in fact, Barack Obama goes to the convention in Colorado in August with the most elected delegates, having won more contests and a higher popular vote, the cumulative vote, could he be denied the nomination?
GOV. RENDELL: Well, sure, Tim, because, number one, Hillary Clinton has won states with about 260 electoral votes. Barack Obama has won states with about 190. And we decide the presidency not by a popular vote, we decide it by the electoral vote. And the traditional role of the superdelegates is to determine who's going to be our strongest candidate.
With political pundits across the fruited plain believing that NBC's "Saturday Night Live" transformed the Democrat presidential campaign by exposing media's love affair with Barack Obama as well as their apparent disdain for Hillary Clinton, one has to wonder just how far the program's producers and writers are willing to go to advance their candidate of choice.
After all, for the third week in a row, "SNL" began with a skit highly favorable to Clinton, and this time made Obama look like an incompetent, inexperienced fool.
In this week's opening sketch, Hillary, played by Amy Poehler, introduced a campaign advertisement depicting a frightened President Obama calling a sleeping Senator Clinton at 3:00 in the morning:
The Media, as Sisyphus, Unwinding its Terror TaleThere is a push by the Jurassic Press -- in two directions at once -- to frame just-so their presentation of the murder and murderers engaged in the attempted global implementation of political Islam.
One such shove was again demonstrated by the New York Times this past February 13th. The Media attempt to present these bits of human flotsam -- and their family members and friends -- in the most sympathetic of possible lights. The Times portrayal of the mourning father and grandfather of recently rubbed out Hezbollah serial assassin Imad Mugniyah -- responsible for amongst many other atrocities the 1983 bombing of the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut (American death count 241) is nothing more than another attempt to humanize these inhuman creatures.
The other Press effort underway is the minimization of the evil of these acts and actors. There is even a feel to some of these reports that those delivering them almost do not wish to have to do so, but are forced to by circumstances and forces (the Internet, anyone?) beyond their control.
Key facts that would exhibit the depths of barbarism mined by these men (and women and, sadly, their bloodletting-by-proxy children) are left out.
With Hillary firmly in the race after her Texas and Ohio victories, the Dems are setting about forming that circular firing squad for which they're famous.
Evidence comes from this morning's Today show. First, goodbye Obambi, hello Rambo-ama. Then, DNC Chairman Howard Dean on the hot seat, snapping at David Gregory, calling his suggestion that a nominee decided by party elites would appear undemocratic "complete nonsense."
Appearing on the March 5 "Your World" program with guest host Brenda Buttner, MRC Director of Media Analysis and NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham lambasted the mainstream media for its gauzy treatment of Democratic frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.):
It's really sad that at this point in the presidential campaign, when we're in a situation where they are saying now that the math is impossible for Hillary Clinton to get the Democratic nomination, that now suddenly the media is going to try to vet Barack Obama's record. And really, obviously, the media itself are saying, 'Well, obviously the Saturday Night Live skit had something to do with this.'
They're taking their cues on when to be a professional journalist based on comedy sketches?!
Barack Obama was clearly off his game on Wednesday's "Today" show as he not only confused David Gregory with Matt Lauer but even worse proclaimed that he "won Michigan." Gregory, substitute hosting for Matt Lauer, did remind Obama that it was he and not Lauer that was conducting the interview, but failed to correct the more egregious error of Obama claiming a victory in a state where he wasn't even on the ballot.
The following is the complete interview as it occurred on the March 4, "Today" show:
DAVID GREGORY: How is Senator Barack Obama feeling about his campaign this morning? He joins us now from San Antonio, Texas. Senator good morning to you.
BARACK OBAMA: Good morning, Matt.
GREGORY: It's, it's David today Senator. The reality--
Despite the fact that John McCain officially clinched the GOP nomination on Tuesday, the three network morning shows on Wednesday devoted almost a full hour of air time to covering the Democratic presidential race and barely nine minutes for the Republicans. Additionally, the Arizona senator did not appear on NBC's "Today" show, ABC's "Good Morning America" or the CBS "Early Show." Democratic Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, however, showed up on all three programs.
The network morning shows featured the Democratic presidential candidates for a grand total of 59 minutes and 12 seconds. McCain and his remaining rival, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, received a mere nine minutes and ten seconds of coverage. Now, obviously, the Democratic race is a close, hard fought contest. So, it's natural that it would receive more attention. However, McCain's very act of winning the nomination should be a well covered event, especially considering the candidate's remarkable rise from the political dead. The networks, apparently, saw it a different way.
Monday’s NBC psychic crime drama "Medium" featured a plot line in which an Arizona senator and former POW is discovered to be a two-time murderer and a cannibal. While it is safe to assume that the story was written before the Hollywood writers’ strike, and before the rise of John McCain to front-runner status for the GOP presidential nomination, the blatant use of McCain’s personal history, as a politician and Vietnam POW, as grist to feed the murderous plot is obvious.
In Monday’s episode, titled “Aftertaste”, the medium (“Allison DuBois,” played by Patricia Arquette) suspects an ex-POW Arizona state senator is involved in a murder she sees in her dreams. Through a series of psychic flashbacks, she discovers that the senator (“Jed Garrity,” played by Gregory Itzin), as a young Army captain held by the North Vietnamese, proposed to his cellmates that they kill and eat a dying American soldier rather than starve to death. “Garrity” drew the short straw and committed the actual murder himself by strangling the dying soldier.
Jury selection began Monday in Chicago in the trial of Syrian-born businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a major supporter of Barack Obama. Two days before the 2006 elections in which Democrats won by running against a "culture of corruption," Chicago newspapers revealed that Obama purchased a home in the summer of 2005 for $1.6 million, but to complete the deal, he would need to buy an adjoining parcel for $625,000. Instead, Mrs. Rezko bought the parcel, and they closed on the properties on the same day. Rezko was already under federal investigation for kickback schemes.
To a political opponent, this might resemble a lobbyist’s sweetheart deal like the one that started Rep. Duke Cunningham’s political decline, where a lobbyist paid $700,000 more for Cunningham’s home than his own sale price months later. But the national media are anything but opponents of Obama’s. An MRC analysis shows that despite Obama’s high national profile as a Democratic symbol of hope, network TV news and the national news magazines have done a dreadful job of telling the Rezko story, and have struggled not to repeat it.
Torn by her liberal guilt of being forced to choose between a woman or an African-American man to have a shot at making history, Eleanor Clift lost it on this weekend's "McLaughlin Group" as she called the choice a "tragedy." The "Newsweek" editor claimed liberals, particularly women, were confused as to whether to dump Hillary for Obama as she blurted: "Women have waited decades to see the first woman president and it's actually something of a tragedy that a talented African-American guy comes along at the same [time.]"
The following is the full exchange as it occurred on the March 1, edition of "The McLaughlin Group":
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK: Women have waited decades to see the first woman president and it's actually something of a tragedy that a talented African-American guy comes along at the same--this isn't liberal guilt.
PAT BUCHANAN: Why's it a tragedy?
CLIFT: Because you have to choose between two people who you–
In an animated sketch entitled "The Obama Files," candidate Barack is seen hiding Jackson from the press by talking to him in a broom closet as he instructs the reverend to go abroad as a "special envoy" to what ends up being non-existent countries.
Later, Sharpton showed up complaining that Obama had sent him to East Paraguay (h/t Tim Graham):
NBC's "Saturday Night Live" responded to criticism over two skits from its February 23 program that gave the appearance the show was supporting Hillary Clinton's campaign for president by giving the junior senator from New York her own "Editorial Response" in the most recent installment.
To make it clear the show isn't in the tank for Barack Obama's opponent, the real Hillary Clinton was allowed to address the nation rather than "SNL" actress Amy Poehler.
That should settle once and for all the questions about which candidate "SNL" is endorsing.
Hillary's editorial response immediately followed the opening sketch which, once again, was a lampoon of a recent debate between Clinton and Obama:
It certainly is no surprise the stock market's big decline on Friday would be the lead story for evening news programs.
But, citing an economic study from an organization with direct and verifiable ties to Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as simply a "consumer group" while not even mentioning the liberal leaning of the think-tank seemed pretty absurd even for NBC.
Yet, that's what occurred Friday evening as the NBC "Nightly News" began its broadcast:
Videos of these skits began appearing at YouTube almost as soon as they were performed on the East Coast. Apparently for copyright infringement reasons, these unauthorized videos were pulled, sometimes within hours of them being posted.
The media’s tender loving care of and hypersensitivity in protection of Barack Obama is going to put a real crimp in attempts at Obama humor. The latest survey of late-night jokes from the Center for Media and Public Affairs found 18 Obama jokes, about a fourth of Hillary’s (68) and a tenth of President Bush’s (175). Then there’s Saturday Night Live. Chicago Tribune TV critic Maureen Ryan started whining early in the week that Obama should not be impersonated by a white comedian (Fred Armisen). She huffed: "Obama's candidacy gives us solid proof of the progress that African-Americans have made in this country. I guess SNL still has further to go on that front." A reader poll alongside these complaints asked if Obama should be impersonated by an African-American: 74 percent voted for "Doesn’t matter," and a cranky six percent said "no."
But the media elite seems to be in the minority. Friday’s Washington Post carried a story by Paul Farhi further ginning up the "Fauxbama" controversy. He not only carried Ryan’s demand for a black impersonator, but added the radical-left British newspaper The Guardian, which screamed minstrel show:
One year ago, liberal journalists depicted the surge of U.S. troops to Iraq as a certain failure. “A lot of people are going to go to bed tonight terrified,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews opined just minutes after President Bush announced the policy on January 10, 2007. Other journalists were only slightly more subtle. “Many experts warn, it’s too little, too late,” NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski argued on the January 8, 2007 Nightly News. The next morning on NBC’s Today, the network’s graphic describing Iraq was “Lost Cause?”
At the same time, leading Democrats left themselves no wiggle room as they, too, denounced the surge. Senator Barack Obama called it “wrong-headed” and countered with a proposal to pull nearly all U.S. troops out of Iraq by March 2008. Senator Hillary Clinton came back from a quick trip to Iraq to declare: “I am opposed to this escalation,” while another Democratic candidate, Senator Joe Biden, blasted the troop surge as “a tragic mistake.”
During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, NBC’s Tim Russert tried to test the Democratic candidates’ basic knowledge of foreign policy, asking what they knew about the man who will almost certainly be elected president of Russia in Sunday’s elections. After Hillary Clinton gave a general answer that kept referring to “Putin’s handpicked successor,” Russert pounced: “Do you know his name?”
But if the fact that Dmitry Medvedev will assume the Russian presidency is actually important, Russert and his co-moderator, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, have utterly ignored it as journalists. A Nexis search shows just one reference to Medvedev on NBC, an April 14, 2007 story about Russia’s giant energy company, Gazprom, of which Medvedev was chairman of the board. (The story aired on a weekend, when Lester Holt, not Brian Williams, was in the anchor chair.)