On last night's Hardball, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams unintentionally slammed Chris Matthews on his own show. Discussing Walter Cronkite's famous declaration of U.S defeat in Vietnam, Williams claimed it was a watershed moment because the former CBS anchor had earned the "credibility" of his viewers but warned today's anchors can't have the same effect because: "People do Cronkite-esque statements on topics every day now. On, on cable, you can see one an hour." Williams was probably referencing Matthews' competitors but as any regular viewer of Hardball knows the charge is easily applied to his NBC colleague as Matthews is constantly making his own "Cronkite-esqe" declarations of U.S. defeat in Iraq.
Are the "Clinton haters" mellowing? That’s the not-so-benign question NBC reporter David Gregory asked on the subject of whether conservative ire for Hillary Clinton has lessened. (Can you imagine a segment on "Bush haters?")
Fellow NBC alum Chris Matthews, perhaps offering an explanation for the media’s fawning over Barack Obama, explained that the Illinois Senator appeals to the "young at heart."
This week, CNN provided yet another example as to why "fair and balanced" wouldn’t be a good promotional phrase for them. Correspondent Bill Schneider asserted that African Americans don’t vote for the GOP because of a "perception of racism."
As Newsbusters noted, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson made an appearance on NBC’s 30 Rock Thursday night. The episode partially revolved around Jane Krakowski’s character, Jenna Maroney, mistakenly insulting the troops while posing for Maxim. Because the photographer had the music cranked up, Jenna mistook a reporter asking about the “beleaguered troops” for “theater troupes” and hilarity ensued. She then began a diatribe against that scourge of humanity and junior college drama programs everywhere—theater troupes, but the interviewer applied everything she said to our “beleaguered” troops.
Jenna: Ugh, I hate the theater troupes. They think what they do is so important! It’s just a bunch of gay guys that like to get in silly costumes and prance around.
So if campaign staffers for a prominent presidential candidate make hateful and bigoted remarks about Christians that's big news right? Not according to NBC's Meredith Vieira. The Today show co-anchor failed to question John Edwards about his former bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan calling Christianity a "mythology" and depicting Bush supporters as his "wingnut Christofascist base." Instead Vieira focused her questions from the left on Iraq, as first noted here, and his opinion of the dust-up between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The following are all of Vieira's questions to John Edwards on the February 22, Today show:
With Hillary and Barack flailing away at each other, third-man-out John Edwards turned up on this morning's "Today." But while claiming he wanted to stay above the fray, he certainly came close to calling Hillary dishonest, all the while laughing off the notion that he might be.
Norah O'Donnell played a clip of Edwards saying: "We need a leader who will be open and honest with you, and with the American people. Who will tell the truth. Who will tell the truth when they've made a mistake."
Wow. John pulls off a reverse "open and honest" with a double-twisting "tell the truth." Wonder whom he might have had in mind?
When Meredith Vieira interviewed the ex-senator from North Carolina a moment later, she wasted no time in putting the question to him: "in addition to the comments we heard from you criticizing Senator Clinton for not taking responsibility for her vote authorizing the war, you also said yesterday 'we need a leader who is honest, open and decent.' Are you suggesting at all that Senator Clinton is not honest, open or decent?"
Thursday night's edition of "30 Rock" will feature the character of Jenna (played by Jane Krakowski) appearing on an episode of "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. Matthews is no stranger to entertainment. Last year, he appeared in the Robin Williams movie "Man of the Year" and also showed up in another citizen/politician movie, "Dave" with Kevin Kline, in 1993. He's also been around the NBC-TV carousel before, with "The West Wing" and with the short-lived young-senator drama "Mister Sterling." Tucker Carlson will also appear on the sitcom's promotion of MSNBC.
Over at Fox News, "The Half-Hour News Hour" bagged 1.48 million viewers in its Sunday night debut, landing it on the ratings "Winners" list at the Washington Post, which noted "That's about 80 percent more viewers than FNC has averaged in that slot in the first quarter." The Post also noted its competition, "The Daily Show," averaged 1.57 million viewers from last Monday to Thursday.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, NBC’s David Gregory, Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe, and others gathered on Tuesday at the National Press Club to discuss a variety of issues including media reporting of political events (video available here).
As the conversation ensued, Gregory made the following observations:
Because it- it's the Internet, and the blogs, that have really used this White House press conference to somehow support positions out in America- political views- and they- and they- uh- they will clip, and digitize portions of these briefings to fit into their particular argument and I think people try to divine motives of the questioners and- and certainly draw conclusions about, uh, the answers, or- or non-answers, uh, based on their, their, their own political views.
Snow then gave his own rather negative impression of blogs:
You might have thought the sad soap opera that has been the life and death of Anna Nicole Smith would have offered a safe haven for those seeking respite from presidential politics. But Hillary cannot be pleased that echoes of a low point of her husband's presidency managed to work their way into the three-ring circus yesterday and onto this morning's "Today" show.
Lawyer Opri uttered her line outside the courthouse where Judge Larry Seidlin was auditioning for a TV show in the guise of conducting a trial. She was asserting that Howard K. Stern, Smith's companion, could not possibly be the father of her infant daughter.
Al Gore may not have won the presidency (thank God), but over the last two years, he’s been given an enormous consolation prize by his friends on the left. He’s been designated as the Savior of the Planet.
First came the warm wave of supportive publicity surrounding his slide-show documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Katie Couric and Harry Smith and Oprah Winfrey all touted Gore as so warm, so vulnerable and self-effacing, and his predictions so impossibly scary. Last May, Gore and Couric sat together on a sunny day in Central Park and unspooled the doom. Manhattan would be under deep water soon if we don’t take drastic measures, they warned.
Now comes another warm wave of media smooches and applause with the news of his plan for an international set of "Live Earth" concerts to promote massive government action to curb humanity’s excessive reliance on energy. Impending global doom has become such a hip cause it’s now pushed by Cameron Diaz, Jon Bon Jovi, and a flock of other Hollywood astrophysicists, the homelessness issue having become passe.
Wishfully thinking Hillary Clinton may have an easier than expected path to the White House, this morning's Today show asked are: "Conservatives Softening On Hillary?" Clearly lifting generously from David Kirkpatrick’s New York Times story, NBC's David Gregory examined the theory that "Clinton-haters are mellowing." Leading off the piece Gregory portrayed those who opposed the Clintons during the '90s in the kookiest light possible as he cast them as mere, "attention-seekers" and then ran a clip of the infamous Clinton Chronicles video. After the clip, Gregory ran a soundbite from a clearly bored with the topic- Christopher Ruddy, as he asserted that among conservatives: "There's a view now that Bill Clinton was not only not so bad, he was pretty good," and that they "don't have the same level of anger towards her that they once had towards him."
Are you a conservative? Someone who historically has harbored, shall we say, a decided aversion to the former First Lady turned senator and presidential candidate? Do you find that in recent times your feelings toward Hillary have undergone a change? Do you perhaps see her in a more kindly light?
'Today' ran an unusual segment this morning suggesting that, indeed, conservatives may be "softening on Hillary." With David Gregory narrating, we were first treated to the bad old days. Hillary, as shown here, making her infamous "vast right wing conspiracy" accusation to Matt Lauer back in 1998. A clip from The Clinton Chronicles, which spun the darkest theories about the Clintons.
When it came time to pass an anti-war resolution, the Democrats were no better than a bunch of timid pre-teens on Halloween. That was the view Matt Lauer expressed in a colloquy with Tim Russert on this morning's "Today."
Lauer: "The Democrats in the Senate failed to pass this vote so they could even debate this Iraq strategy and there's even some who are talking about possibly bringing up the idea of revoking the 2002 authorization to go to war. If they can't pass a kind of symbolic vote, how do they ever have the kind of strength to do something more serious?"
Russert agreed that "it's going to be very difficult."
Matt wasn't done: "Looking at what happened in the House . . . over the weekend, basically the House did pass this resolution saying they oppose the surge in troops, but put yourself in the position of Joe and Mary Smith, living somewhere across this country right now, and you've watched these politicians for more than a month talk about passing a symbolic vote. Does it amount to little more than them ringing someone's doorbell and running away?"
It didn't have much to do with liberal bias, but I found it interesting in Meredith Vieira's CNBC interview when Michael Eisner asked her in the first few minutes about how hard it was to referee the differing opinions on "The View" on ABC. He even asked about how Vieira would have handled Rosie:
Eisner: "How would you have done it if you had been in that same position and Rosie O'Donnell just came in to replace Star Jones. Could you control her?"
Vieira: (Laughs) "I was gonna say I would have gone out into the alley with a gun –" (Laughs more)
You would think an anchor for a network morning news show would relish the opportunity to tag Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton with hard-hitting questions but that wasn't the case for NBC's Meredith Vieira. On CNBC's Conversations with Michael Eisner, Vieira revealed that before her interview with the former First Lady she was "nervous." The Today co-host said "everybody" warned her she was a "tough" interview, so when Vieira first met Clinton backstage she felt the need to disarm the presidential contender with the following "tough" question: "My son probably will go to Georgetown are you prepared to take care of him when he's down there?"
A look back at the December 18th interview shows Vieira asked mostly softball questions like: "Why wouldn't you run for President? I mean, the polls indicate that if you did run, you're the front runner." However Vieira did manage to overcome her nervousness when it came to challenging Hillary from the left on her Iraq war vote: "You refuse to say it was a mistake. Why?"
What happens when a noted politician announces he’s running for President? Well, in the case of conservative Republican Mitt Romney, CBS’ "Early Show" gives the story a scant ten seconds. But what if that candidate is Democrat Barack Obama? Well, then the same program devotes over nine minutes of coverage! (For those keeping count: A 54: 1 advantage for the Democrat.)
Over on ABC, "Good Morning America’s" Diane Sawyer continued her Dictator ‘07 tour. She portrayed the authoritarian Syria as a pro family, welfare paradise.
Later in the week, Sawyer asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, noted Holocaust denier, how often he cries.
A few moments ago on the February 16 "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," NBC's Natalie Morales shared a story with the late night host of actor Alec Baldwin's attempt to score a lunch date with the "Today" show talent.
I'll update later in the morning with video, but basically, a few years ago, according to Morales, Baldwin called her on the phone and told her he was working on a movie about cable news. Was Morales available for say, lunch sometime to help Baldwin with his, well, research.
Morales wasn't born yesterday, so she kindly told the "30 Rock" star that she's married.
NBC military analyst Ken Allard, a former army colonel, has resigned from the network, citing a general drift to the left at MSM outlet, especially following NBC's inaction over scurrilous remarks made by one of its other analysts, a leftist named Bill Arkin, that implied the military was full of "mercenaries" raking in "obscene amenities."
(This was the same Bill Arkin who has hated the military for years and released a book called "Code Names" in which he exposed classified military codenames to the world. Of course, the same media that has clamored about "treason" and "scandal" in the Valerie Wilson nonsense has no such compunction when it comes to this type of exposure of military secrets.)
After NBC failed to take action against its rogue analyst, Allard decided that he would, detailing why he has resigned in a column for a San Antonio newspaper:
Has anyone else noticed the network's precipitous retreat from journalistic and
ethical standards? Not only were no apologies given and no pink slips
issued for Arkin's outburst, but on his MSNBC show last week, Keith
Olberman went out of his way to defend this "valid criticism" of our
Keith Olbermann's arrival as the lone commentator at NBC Nightly News is the first overt commentator NBC's hired since PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers in 1995. A quick Nexis search shows Olbermann has been very rarely on NBC News airwaves. He actually anchored NBC Nightly News as a weekend substitute on April 12, 1998 (Easter Sunday, see accompanying photo) and May 9, 1998. In recent years, he's surfaced a few times on the Today show. He was interviewed to plug his "Worst Person In the World" book last September 15. He reported on major-league shortstop Alex Rodriguez on February 16, 2004, and co-hosted the Saturday edition of Today with Campbell Brown on August 23, 2003.
In the commentary and prime-time special clauses of Olbermann's new deal, there are obvious parallels with Moyers. They are two fiercely left-wing commentators who oddly deny a liberal bias when asked by the press.
The NBC announcement that they've kept Keith Olbermann as the erratic quarterback of their anti-Bush offense came larded in praise. First, the NBC News press release:
"Keith Olbermann is a tremendous talent and a superb broadcaster," said NBC News President Steve Capus. "He is an asset to NBC News and the timing of this announcement couldn't be better given the momentum Keith's program is enjoying right now."
A compelling hour of nightly news, delivered with Olbermann's particular wit and style, "Countdown" takes a fast paced look at the top five news stories of the day – from politics to pop culture and from the mainstream to the oddball. The program has enjoyed particular success in the past year, finishing the month of January with an average of 283,000 viewers in the adult demographic (25-54) and 715,000 total viewers, up +89% and +85% respectively, over a year ago.
"I've been overwhelmed by the support for this newscast, both inside NBC, and among our remarkable viewers," said Olbermann. "I'm delighted we can continue 'Countdown,' and continue to try to hold politicians and other newsmakers accountable for what they are doing, or not doing."
As reported by the Associated Press, along with a contract extension for “Countdown” through 2011, “Olbermann will also contribute occasional essays to ‘NBC Nightly News’ and there will be two prime-time ‘Countdown’ specials a year on NBC, a division of NBC Universal, said NBC News President Steve Capus.”
Hmmm. So, rather than add another conservative contributor to a staff heavily laden with liberals, NBC News has decided to give more airplay to one of the most partisan and vitriolic personalities on television today.
Of course, this shouldn’t surprise readers given the sentiments expressed by Capus in this article:
When word emerged yesterday that NBC had named Chuck Todd, currently the Editor-in-Chief of National Journal's "The Hotline," as its new political director, my curiosity as to his personal politics was naturally aroused. I found a MediaBistro article that included this intriguing sentence:
"Before coming to the world of political reporting and analysis, Todd earned practical political experience on initiative campaigns in Florida and various national campaigns based in Washington, D.C."
That in turn naturally raised the question: on just whose national campaigns and which Florida initiatives did Todd work? Deciding to go right to the source, I sent an email to Todd that resulted in an interesting exchange.
It goes without saying that we wouldn't want to provoke such a person -- it could harm his self-esteem. Unfortunately, President Bush doesn't seem to have gotten the message. But thank goodness for David Gregory. As luck would have it he turned up at today's White House press conference to convey the message to the president: stop provoking poor Mahmoud!
Gregory began by observing: "A lot of critics say that you are using the same quality of intelligence about Iran that you used to make the case for war in Iraq . . . and that you are doing that to make a case for war against Iran. Is that the case?"
NBC's Matt Lauer opened this morning's Today show with news of the Dixie Chicks' big win at last night's Grammy Awards and used the moment to take a dig at the President's expense. After Lauer teased segments on snow in the Midwest and a skydiver who survived a fall, Lauer took his shot via the big news that an outspoken liberal musical group was awarded a prize from their liberal peers in the music industry:
Lauer: "And Chicks rule! They were shunned after criticizing the President but after a big night at the Grammys the Dixie Chicks are getting the last laugh today, Monday, February 12th, 2007."
Later in the show, in the 9am hour, Natalie Morales declared it was "a big evening for some ladies who've endured some tough times," and West Coast contributor Maria Menenous scored a backstage interview with the Chicks along with Rolling Stone's Joe Levy who asked if the win was a "vindication."
Geoff Dickens noticed that last Thursday's Today show carried a remarkably docile debate between conservative commentator Ann Coulter and left-wing author and academic Michael Eric Dyson. Well, the chumminess even extends to Coulter offering a dust-cover blurb for Dyson's new book Debating Race, officially out today (it's not the first blurb on the actual cover, as it is on Dyson's website):
“I will protect both our reputations by saying Michael Eric Dyson and I often disagree—but one thing we do agree on is the importance of ideas. This book is an absolute delight to read. It contains a font of information, delivered with Dyson’s distinctive eloquence. I screamed or laughed on every page at memorable phrases (such as the comparison of Martin Luther King to Puff Daddy). As always, Dyson is fiercely honest, controversial, engaging, funny, and brimming with arguments and ideas.” -- Ann Coulter
It is a common maxim that sometimes those who most loudly decry a sin are in fact the most guilty of it. The trial of Scooter Libby has become a troubling affirmation of that maxim, at least from my vantage point in the media room at the Prettyman Courthouse.
The Washington press has been giddy since the name Joe Wilson was first thrust into the limelight by the tag-team of the New York Times opinion page and NBC's Meet the Press. This week's court proceedings reminded us how invested Big Media has been in the prosecution of White House staff over Wilson's now-debunked claims. Consider this excerpt provided by Libby's defense from an appearance by NBC's Tim Russert on the Don Imus show:
"It was like Christmas here last night," describing the anticipation of indictments coming down over the leak case. "Santa Claus is coming. Surprises! What's going to be under the tree?"
A week after NBC's Law & Order aired an episode revolving around an Ann Coulter-like character (NewsBusters item with video) whose anti-embryonic stem cell research position so angered a student suffering from Parkinson's disease that he tried to kill her (but his gunshot kills an innocent student), tonight's (Friday) episode is inspired by the Ted Haggard case -- though with the added twist of murder. From TV Guide.com:
“A popular reverend is suspected of a gay actor's murder when it is discovered the victim threatened to out the pastor and expose his hypocritical stance on homosexuality.”
This week, Chris Matthews' anti-Bush bigotry spilled over into a profanity laden rant. The "Hardball" host dropped the F-bomb during a live interview with Don Imus.
Meanwhile, CNN’s Paula Zahn connected opposition of illegal immigration to, you guessed it, the Ku Klux Klan. This is the same network, however, that tried to downplay proven religious bigotry by a blogger for the John Edwards campaign.
Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer spent the week in Syria. She let the despotism of President Bashar Assad go mostly unchallenged.
During other segments, Sawyer chose to ask him about video games and whether he uses an iPod.
On this morning's Today show, viewers were coyly teased of an Ann Coulter versus Michael Eric Dyson debate on race in the 9:30am half-hour. NBC's Natalie Morales tantalized viewers of the upcoming fight with sure to be expected fireworks: "Michael Eric Dyson and conservative commentator Ann Coulter are gonna square off right here. Should be a very good debate." However viewers and perhaps even Today's producers, had to be disappointed as Dyson and Coulter were surprisingly chummy. Morales even remarked: "You're being very civil this morning."
Not surprisingly, Morales did engage in the old habit of one-sided labeling, as she called Coulter a "conservative commentator," but refused to note Dyson's liberal leanings, as he was referred to as merely a "civil rights activist." Morales also called the liberal Dyson's book, Debating Race, "fascinating" and "great," but didn't apply the same superlative adjectives to the conservative Coulter's book, Godless.
After more than a week of ignoring the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request for access to an extravagant plane, the three network morning shows finally covered the subject on Thursday, albeit briefly. CBS and ABC both offered full reports during the 7AM hour of the February 8 shows, while only CBS included a quote from a Republican lawmaker who criticized the possible ethical issues raised by having the opportunity to fly friends home in a posh C-32 jet. NBC’s "Today" show mentioned the story only in a news brief and then co-host Matt Lauer briefly asked correspondent David Gregory about the plane controversy.
All three networks included snarky reports on this "hot controversy." Lauer wondered if the incident would make Pelosi "look bad from a PR standpoint," while Cuomo used the pithy term, "turbulence." One wonders why it took a week for the media to jump on such a "hot controversy." At 7:06am, "Good Morning America’s" Cuomo introduced Jake Tapper with a few quips about "plane envy:"
Chris Cuomo: "We begin with the turbulence over Speaker Nancy Pelosi request for a new plane. A request that has been quickly turned down. Senior national correspondent Jake Tapper has the latest on the controversy from Capitol Hill. Jake, is this about security or ego? Sounds like a case of jet envy."
Message to Nancy Pelosi: when NBC's Matt Lauer and David Gregory agree that your quest for a big plane is turning into a PR mess, and ABC's Chris Cuomo calls it a case of "jet envy," it's time to fold your wings.
Lauer raised the matter with David Gregory on this morning's "Today": "Let's talk about the size of the plane that Nancy Pelosi has requested from the Pentagon. Depending on the spin you want to believe here, either the Speaker says it's to travel efficiently back to her home district; Republicans are saying it's an abuse of power. Either way, does it just look bad from a PR standpoint?"
Gregory agreed: "I think that's the problem. This is a Democratic leader who's promising to clean up Washington. It's worth remembering, post-9/11, the House Speaker gets private air travel by the Air Force to get back to his or her home district. Dennis Hastert went back to Chicago [in the much smaller plane shown here], Nancy Pelosi is going back to San Francisco. She wants the ability to go direct and not have to refuel on the way and have some family members go with her, and none of that is untoward, but the Air Force is saying, the military is saying 'look, we can't guarantee you a 757' which is essentially what she wants, it depends on availability. Republicans are saying 'look, this is more than just efficiency, this is extravagance.'"