It seems as though NBC is now expanding its bias to include paid supplements. In a print promotional distributed by NBC News, reporter Lee Cowan enthused, "When NBC News first assigned me to the Barack Obama campaign, I must confess my knees quaked a bit." This is the same journalist who in January famously confessed to "Nightly News" host Brian Williams that it's "almost hard to remain objective" when covering the "infectious" energy surrounding the Illinois senator. [Updated below fold with embed video from January]
Cowan's latest quote appeared in a NBC advertising section entitled "The Peacock." The first person article, which recounts Cowan's excitement over covering the Obama campaign, also featured the correspondent bubbling, "The task seemed daunting. Not only would the Illinois senator land me square in the center of rough and tumble presidential politics, but his campaign was truly historic. I wondered if I was up to the job. I wondered if I could do the campaign justice. I wondered if the experience would swallow me whole."
(The eight page spread, which featured several articles on or from NBC News personnel, appeared as a supplement to the March 23-29 edition of American Profile, a magazine distributed with newspapers across the country.) Cowan described Obama as "a whirlwind of activity, and being caught in that tornado is a challenge every day."
In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise. There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.
I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time. But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.
Picking up where the broadcast network evening news shows of last night and yesterday's ABC's Good Morning America left off, Tuesday's "Today" show failed to note the party affiliation of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. NBC News' Natalie Morales had a total of three opportunities to mention that Kilpatrick was a Democrat but failed to do so in two news briefs and one introduction to a Michelle Kosinski story about the mayor's indictment. The show's graphic department also failed to slap a (D) next to Kilpatrick's name simply labeling Kilpatrick as "Detroit Mayor."
The following segment, as it occurred on the March 25 "Today", was typical of the show's Kilpatrick coverage:
NATALIE MORALES: Today Detroit's mayor is facing arraignment on 12 felony charges including perjury. The charges come amid allegations of sex, lies and text messages. More now from NBC's Michelle Kosinski.
[On screen headline: "Indicted, Detroit Mayor Facing Felony Charges"]
MICHELLE KOSINSKI: The mayor in a mug shot. Kwame Kilpatrick was the youngest mayor Detroit ever elected. He once talked about turning the Motor City around. Now the storm of allegations against him of corruption, cover-ups and sexually explicit text-messages has swirled into an indictment.
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page defended Rev. Jeremiah Wright, on "The Chris Matthews Show" over the weekend, as he claimed tapes existed that put Barack Obama's former pastor in a better light than those clips of him damning America, to which Matthews requested of Page: "Would you get those tapes out?...Let's get the good tapes out."
The following exchange occurred on the March 23 edition of "The Chris Matthews Show:"
CHRIS MATTHEWS: We put it to The Matthews Meter, 12 of our regulars. If Obama is the nominee, will he be defined by race in the fall election? Well, it looks like Obama can still be the transformative candidate on that front. Ten to two, the meter says no, Obama would not be defined by race in the fall. Norah and Clarence, you're both with the 10. You're upbeat on this. We're gonna see beyond color here.
The Big Three Networks and Their Plan to Protect Obama (PPO)Why did it take until Thursday March 13, 2008, for the nation to begin to learn about Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The man whose Trinity United Church of Christ Obama has attended and generously funded for seventeen years? Whom he had publicly and repeatedly cited as his mentor and had named as a campaign advisor? Whom he chose to perform his wedding and baptize his two daughters?
Because, until then, we were in the midst of Phase I -- preventative medicine -- of the media's version of campaign health care for the Senator's Presidential bid. Call it the Plan to Protect Obama (PPO).
The Reverend Wright story had been percolating beneath the surface for several years. It finally broke through to widespread dissemination last week. A picture is worth a thousand words -- moving pictures with audio of Wright's anti-American, paranoid rantings from the pulpit have finally inspired many more than that.
"Good Morning America" co-host Chris Cuomo somehow managed to make it through an entire segment on Kwame Kilpatrick, the scandal-ridden Democratic mayor of Detroit, without mentioning his political affiliation (other than a brief, non-verbal video graphic). Cuomo described Kilpatrick as the "beleaguered mayor," a "prominent politician," and, simply, "the mayor."
In contrast, while GMA's report on Kilpatrick was a rather straight forward recitation of the facts, the morning program wondered in August of 2007 if Senator Larry Craig's bathroom scandal could spell doom for the Republican Party. On August 28, 2007, guest co-host Bill Weir gravely wondered, "Is the GOP losing its grip?"
While Chris Matthews was waxing so rhapsodic about Barack Obama over on MSNBC this morning that he made Mika Brzezinksi ask if the Hardball host had endorsed him, Matt Lauer was doing his bit on NBC, wondering whether Hillary would be seen as having stolen the nomination if she managed to get it.
The Today co-anchor interviewed Bill Richardson, who's gotten more media mileage out of his Obama endorsement than a Prius coasting down a New Mexico mountain. Lauer's suggestion came toward the end of the segment.
MATT LAUER: Let's talk about political reality. Right now as we stand, with the delegate count, the popular vote count, the state-by-state count. Do you see any scenario under which Senator Clinton could win this nomination where it will not appear to large numbers of Democrats as if the nomination were stolen?
Richardson wouldn't bite on Lauer's controversial suggestion.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Newsweek editor Jon Meacham hinted that if the Clintons were to execute a "corrupt bargain" which gave Hillary the nomination, it could lead to a split in the Democrat Party akin to what happened in 1824.
In that election, only one Party, the Democratic-Republicans, ran presidential candidates. Although Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes, he didn't receive a majority of either resulting in the House of Representatives controversially giving the nod to John Quincy Adams.
This skirmish led to a division in the Democratic-Republican Party such that four years later, Jackson ran and won the presidency as a member of the newly created Democratic Party defeating Adams who represented the newly created National Republican Party.
With this in mind, here's what Meacham said Sunday:
There's nothing into which Saturday Night Live can't work its liberal politics--even a conventional game-show sketch. NBC aired a re-run of the February 24th SNL last night, and watching it this morning I spotted what you might call a "subliminable" anti-Ann Coulter product placement.
In "What's That Bitch Talking About?" two contestants viewing a succession of women offering bare snippets of dialogue have to guess what they're talking about. The male contestant is consistently clueless. But Tina Fey's character gets it uncannily right every time, down to details that would in reality be impossible to guess. Sample: a woman murmuring "okay" into a phone is indeed getting directions to a margarita party to celebrate her graduation from DeVry, etc.
The male loser is sent packing, but not before he receives a lovely parting gift in the form of the home edition of "What's That Bitch Talking About?" Cut to a quick close-up of the package featuring four women: Whitney Houston, Queen Elizabeth, a beauty queen who's presumably Miss South Carolina of "US Americans" fame, and, most prominently featured . . . Ann Coulter. See screencap.
Next time, maybe Bill Richardson should consider text messaging. Something along these lines, perhaps:
I M not 4 U. Me & BHO: BFF. CUL8R
Of course we can only imagine how Hillary's reply would have read. But Richardson did have the moxie to make one of the world's tougher phone calls: informing Hillary Clinton that despite having been appointed by her husband to two cabinet positions, he was endorsing Barack Obama. Richardson has now let it be known that his conversation with Hillary got "a little bit heated."
Kidding aside, consider what it says about Hillary's personality that so much press attention has focused on the call. Imagine if Richardson had instead decided to endorse Clinton. Not many people would be wondering about the atmospherics of his conversation with Obama. Richardson appeared on this morning's Today, and weekend co-anchor Lester Holt wasted absolutely no time: his very first question to the NM governor was about that dreaded phone call.
The "Big Three" networks’ evening newscasts, marking the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq on Wednesday evening, all chose to air news briefs on the anti-war protests across the United States. The news briefs all aired within the first ten minutes of each program. CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, as part of the first report on her program, used the protests as "evidence" of one of their recent poll results, that "more than half of Americans [59%] believe going to war in Iraq was a bad idea." "There are 155,000 troops in Iraq right now, and today, protesters in Washington and other U.S. cities reflected our poll. Nearly half the respondents [46%] said most U.S. troops should be pulled out within a year."
Five minutes into NBC "Nightly News," anchor Brian Williams chose to focus on the protests in Washington, DC. "There were anti-war protests today in several U.S. cities, including the nation's capital, where police arrested more than 30 people when they tried to block the entrance to the IRS, and they also tied up Connecticut Avenue, a major thoroughfare. There were also protests in New York's Times Square, downtown San Francisco, and in smaller towns as well, in places like Ohio and Vermont."
ABC’s "World News" anchor Charles Gibson, as part of his retrospective on the past five years of the Iraq war, mentioned the anti-war protests as well. "For some Americans, this is the fifth anniversary of a war they do not support. There were marches in California, and in the nation's capital, a dozen people were arrested for blocking the entrances of the Internal Revenue Service. The protesters oppose being taxed to help fund the war."
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.