Here’s a quick informal poll:Who has heard news of Russia’s recent troop buildup in the South Ossetia region of Georgia?
Most of our readers would immediately think of the Russian invasion of that region last summer, during the presidential contest, but the Russians are arguably saber rattling again with a fresh buildup of boots on-the-ground ahead of planned NATO exercises.
Last August, the media coverage immediately took the angle of breathless anticipation on how each presidential candidate would react to such a situation.John McCain’s position was easily established from his record over many years in the Senate.Then-Senator Obama’s position was much more difficult to ascertain – but the media gave him ample time to figure it out, helping the candidate defer those questions to the September 26 debate.In fact, a good example of such activism was shown in the Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland, who in his August 31 op-ed insisted:
As Tea Parties ensued from coast to coast last week, the Obama administration and their media minions depicted attendees as not understanding that the new president has decreed taxes will be going down for 95 percent of Americans.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein let the cat out of the bag: Tea Partiers are right. Taxes are going up.
This revelation occurred after host David Gregory said to the Post's Pulitzer Prize winner, "There may be doubts about President Obama, but he is cutting taxes."
Despite all the criticisms of the Fox News Channel broadcasted on MSNBC for promoting tea party coverage, one thing hasn't been pointed out - how the NBC networks, including CNBC and MSNBC are given a pass for their shameless promotion of their Green Week and Green is Universal network events.
Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large for National Review and author of "Liberal Fascism," appeared on Fox News Channel's April 18 "Fox News Watch" and commented on FNC's promotion of the tea parties, but the double standard of MSNBC's criticism of Fox News.
"I think that there's a perfectly legitimate criticism against Fox for not so much the coverage, but the commercials, you know - promoting the coverage, which was in effect advertisements for these things," Goldberg explained. "But, this was all transparent, people knew that's Fox was doing. But let's flashback to what GE, to pick up a point that Jim [Pinkerton] made - that GE basically issued a fatwa to NBC for Green Week, where they did hundreds of hours of environmental messaging in all of their dramas, news coverage, "Today" show - throughout the network and it was all hailed as a wonderful progressive thing. That is a much more pernicious promotion than anything Fox did."
"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer interviewed Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday and skipped any mention of a controversial report by the agency warning of right-wing extremist activity and disgruntled returning war veterans. In separate interviews, both the CBS "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" discussed the hot-topic issue with the top government official. Instead, Sawyer pressed Napolitano with incorrect numbers about gun violence and Mexico. "95 percent of the guns used were out of the United States. What is the U.S. going to do to stop the guns from getting there," she asked.
In fact, the number of guns traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent. (MRC intern Mike Sargent wrote about this on April 2.) Even the Homeland Security secretary seemed to be uncomfortable with the statistic. Before answering the question, Napolitano prefaced, "And I won't quibble about numbers. That's not the point." On the issue of terrorism, the GMA host posed this not-exactly pressing question: "Do you see, in your reports that you're now reading in great detail, do you see an increase in the threat to the U.S. homeland? Or do you have them on the run?"
NBC's Matt Lauer and Andrea Mitchell, on Thursday's "Today" show, pressed their guests (Lauer with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mitchell with Mexican President Felipe Calderon) about reinstituting the assault weapons ban. First up, Mitchell – who pushed Hillary Clinton last month to bring back the ban -- offered Calderon an open to blame Mexican drug cartel violence on guns imported from the U.S.:
ANDREA MITCHELL: President Obama will not deliver long-promised Blackhawk helicopters, nor a ban on assault weapons smuggled south. He campaigned as a candidate against the assault weapons. Now that he's in office, he's had to back off.
FELIPE CALDERON: But most of the weapons, almost 16,000 are assault weapons and 90 percent of those were sold in United States.
Then Lauer, in his segment with Napolitano, repeated Calderon's inaccurate line that 90 percent of drug cartel weapons came from the U.S.:
MATT LAUER: You know President Calderon wants a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban that was, that expired during the Bush administration. When you look at the numbers, that 90 percent of the 12,000 weapons Mexican officials recovered from these drug cartels in the last year or so were made and sold in the United States, and many of those, as we just heard from President Calderon, are assault weapons, how can President Obama, who ran on an issue against assault weapons, how can he not deliver on that?
The 41-year-old Oscar winner Jamie Foxx dished out some disgusting advice for Disney teen sensation Miley Cyrus, telling her to, among other things, “make a sex tape and grow up.” This tasteless “advice” coming from the father of a teen to a sixteen year-old girl didn’t seem to outrage anyone at ABC, CBS, or NBC.
“The Foxxhole,” Jamie Foxx’s weekend radio show was the forum for a discussion of what makes an artist respectable. Foxx and his co hosts suggested that famous pop idol Miley Cyrus could gain respect as an artist if she would “make a sex tape and grow up... get like Britney Spears and do some heroin... do like Lindsay Lohan and get some crack in your pipe... catch Chlamydia on a bicycle seat.”
As if the “advice” wasn’t enough, Foxx also made fun of Cyrus’ appearance. To assure himself that he had identified the correct Cyrus, Foxx asked his co host, “The one with all the gums? She gotta get a gum transplant… s**t. Uh, uh, let me get an order of mouth, light on teeth, uh heavy on the gum.”
NBC - one of the networks that has virtually ignored the Tax Day Tea Party protests against taxation and government spending - finally mentioned it on "Today" April 15.
The network's chief White House correspondent, Chuck Todd tacked his criticism on to the end of a glowing report about President Obama's economic speech from April 14. He cited "White House aides" who called Obama's speech "a modern-day fireside chat," but Todd said "it also had the feel of an economics class."
After such positive remarks about Obama, Todd dismissed the grassroots movement as "so-called tea parties."
I could of course be commenting on the poor quality of the alleged journalism. But in this case I'm talking about their ratings, which is of course largely caused by said poor journalism.
Three weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the Big 3 networks' evening newscasts' combined ratings had dropped about 17% since the collective high they achieved during the week of January 26, the first full week after Barack Obama's nomination.
Make that 21%. In the 25-54 demographic, the drop has been 30%. And it's not just a seasonality thing. The collective drop compared to last year is over 4%, continuing a long-term decline the nets surely hoped they might prevent if they could just get their guy elected to the White House. No dice, guys.
Here is an updated week-by-week graph for each network since the first of the year, followed by some demographic and overall info (based on info found at the Evening News Ratings Category at Media Bistro's TV Newser):
The announcement that Goldman-Sachs may be able to pay back its bailout loan, sooner rather than later, was met with a grim assessment by NBC's Matt Lauer, on Tuesday's "Today" show as the co-anchor fretted to the Obama administration's Christina Romer: "I'm worried if you think if that's a good thing.Are they doing this because of financial stability or might they be talking about that, simply to get out from under the thumb of the federal government and be allowed to go back to running the business the way they want to run it as opposed to the way the government wants them to run it?"
Lauer invited on Romer, the chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers to preview the President's speech on the economy and pressed her about companies going back to "business as usual" but Romer assured Lauer that, "We are going to be working on financial regulatory reform."
The following is a complete transcript of the interview as it was aired on the April 14, "Today" show:
Chris Matthews, on Monday's "Hardball," showcased "Saturday Night Live" skewering Joe Biden but he conspicuously ignored the "Weekend Update" clip, from the same show, making fun of his fondness for Obama in which he was depicted as daydreaming about Obama in a "loin cloth." The MRC's Brent Baker caught the clip from this past Saturday's show making fun of Matthews. However Matthews -- who in the past has enjoyed SNL's Darrell Hammond's impersonations of him so much that he invited the impressionist on his MSNBC show -- ignored the most recent quip made at his expense.
The following moment was aired during the "Sideshow" segment on the April 13 edition of "Hardball":
The "Today" show devoted much of last week's coverage of Obama's European trip to obsessing over such frivolous matters as what Michelle Obama was wearing and what kind of gift the Obamas gave the Queen, so when Laura Ingraham was invited on Wednesday's "Today" show, the conservative radio talk show host couldn't resist knocking the silly coverage, as seen in the following exchange with NBC's Matt Lauer (audio available here):
MATT LAUER: So let's be fair and say that he didn't come away accomplishing what he went there to accomplish, but is it possible to say, look at it slightly differently, Laura, and say some of these things take a while to bear fruit and that perhaps some of these leaders, other leaders were reluctant to come forward with some of these things under the glare of the summit spotlight and they may be more forthcoming in the coming weeks and months?
LAURA INGRAHAM: Well I don't know, I guess that's possible. But look we, we know that Europe loves President Obama. He had adoring crowds. The press loves Obama.The question is how will this date end? Okay? The question is, to what end? Why do they love President Obama? They love his personal story, they love his wife. North Korea, China and Russia don't really care about Michelle's arms and, you know, whether they gave an iPod to the Queen, okay? They care about whether America is still going to lead, exhibit strength and doesn't just talk about these vague concepts, Matt, of global cooperation.
On Tuesday's "Today" show NBC's Michael Okwu declared hugging is all the rage now that President Obama, AKA "The Hugger-in-Chief," has replaced handshakes with hugs. Al Roker introduced the Okwu story as he pondered: "With the uncertain economy and shrinking 401(k)s we could all use a little hug, even President Obama, "The Hugger-in-Chief." Early in the piece Okwu threw it to NBC News presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who analyzed: "I would rank him, way at the top, in the pantheon of presidential huggers."
The following are teasers and then the relevant portion of the Okwu story as it was aired on the April 7, "Today" show:
NBC's Matt Lauer invited on former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, on Monday's "Today" show, to help restore his reputation after he lost his governorship due to solicitation of prostitute and while the former governor expressed regret for hurting his family, it was Lauer who suggested the greatest loss was that Spitzer missed a chance to regulate Wall Street. Lauer also failed to mention the disgraced governor's Democratic party affiliation, something that has become a bit of a tradition over at "Today."
The following are just some of the pro-regulatory questions Lauer tossed to Spitzer:
LAUER: You said something to the effect, and I'm paraphrasing here. You said that the regulations were there but the will to regulate was not there...So, so now that we've had, that the economy is story number one, two and three in this country, right now, and there's been so much public outrage, is the will to regulate there now?....And, and finally do you ever ask yourself, "What if?" I mean you were a person with the knowledge and the position to perhaps do something about this? First as attorney general, and then governor of New York, until you were brought down by this scandal? Do you ever shake your head and say, "I missed a golden opportunity?"
The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the April 6 "Today" show:
For both the Binghamton, New York, shooting spree, and the Pittsburgh case, Saturday's NBC Nightly News made a point of relaying word that the gunman either had a love of guns or was "passionate" about supporting gun rights. During a report on Jiverly Voong, who attacked the immigration center in Binghamton, correspondent Ron Allen referred to "some reports" that Voong "loved guns and hated America." Allen: "Some reports described him as an angry loner who loved guns and hated America. He had no criminal record, and police say they had no clue he was so dangerous."
In a report on Richard Poplawski, who murdered three police officers in Pittsburgh, correspondent Jeff Rossen related: "While the motive is unclear, friends say the gunman was upset after getting laid off from a local factory and became passionate about gun rights."
Then came a soundbite of Edward Perkovic, a friend of Poplawski: "He always said that if anybody ever tried to take his firearms, he was going to stand by what his forefathers told him to do and defend themselves."
If the recession has been as hard on Madison Avenue as on other sectors, a lot of marketing types are probably free to watch daytime TV. And if marketing’s your game, that’s time well-spent. You can surf the kiddy shows and learn from the true masters of your art: environmentalists.
Their latest coup? Elmo, the most popular character on PBS’ “Sesame Street,” has gone “green.” Literally.
The environmental left has accomplished what marketers dream of: hooking consumers from a young age and creating customers-for-life.
What’s more, they’ve done it on the cheap. As CMI has documented, Nickelodeon’s “Big Green Help” gives valuable web resources, ad time and talent resources to getting kids to “pledge” to take carbon-reducing actions and to annoy their parents into taking them too. Just last week, Nick used valuable airtime during its “Kid’s Choice Awards” to bestow the “Big Green Help Award” on actor Leonardo DiCaprio (who’s probably as relevant to today’s 10-year-olds as Clark Gable).
Having already conquered the preteen market, and emboldened by evidence that it’s made important inroads with adolescents, the Gaia Conglomerate has scored the ultimate product placement victory – for free! The traditionally red Elmo was literally “turned green,” in a new “Sesame Street” DVD called “Being Green” to teach preschoolers about all environmental pieties.
Sure, PBS and the Sesame Workshop are likely candidates for environmental marketing. If you want to sell beer and salty snacks, go to ESPN. If you want to sell environmental awareness, you go to the one-worldy network with an audience of future community organizers. But getting Elmo on board is no less genius for all that.
Media outlets rightly treated the recent Montana plane crash that killed seven adults and seven children as such.
But correctly reporting the deaths of fourteen people as a tragedy doesn't mean the media necessarily did their job. If they feel compelled to note that victims were "ultrarich," they should also note the business that made them that way. Particularly if it's as controversial as abortion.
As pointed out by Tom Blumer in a March 24 Newsbusters post, Associated Press reporters were compelled to report on the victim's socioeconomic status. The AP's Matthew Brown wrote on March 23, "Three California families headed to a retreat for the ultrarich were among the 14 victims of a plane crash in Montana." Later that same day, the AP's Matt Gouras and Joan Lowy referred to the intended destination as "the ritzy Yellowstone Club resort."
NBC's Dawna Friesen, reporting from London on Thursday' "Today" show relayed how "Michelle's Magic," has "dazzled everyone," in the United Kingdom and co-anchor Matt Lauer joined in, as he loved the tacky gift of an iPod to the Queen: "I like this idea. I think it's a, it's a very creative idea to bring her the iPod." Friesen also played down Michelle Obama's gaffe of contact with the Queen, "There was no curtsy, but plenty of easy charm, and it seems Mrs. Obama made another new friend, never mind that royal protocol forbids touching the Queen." This despite the fact that just yesterday, her colleague Keith Miller made a big deal out of past presidential gaffes with the Queen like when George W. Bush winked at Her Royal Highness.
The following is a complete transcript of the full segment as it was aired on the April 2, "Today" show:
In recent weeks, both the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson repeated charges that Israeli troops had witnessed the deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians by fellow troops during the Gaza War. In recent days, the New York Times has informed its readers that, after investigation, the Israeli military concluded that the incendiary claims were untrue and that the soldiers in question had actually been repeating rumors rather than describing events they had witnessed. But so far, neither NBC nor ABC has updated their viewers on the story. And in the case of ABC, even though some of the allegations had already been debunked, as reported in the conservative Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, March 24, the original inaccurate accounts were still repeated two days later on the Thursday, March 26, World News.
Anchor Charles Gibson introduced the March 26 story: "There is a debate under way right now throughout Israel about soldiers, war and morality. Two months after the war in Gaza, Israeli soldiers are providing the accounts of what they saw and did on the battlefield. And some of those accounts are deeply disturbing."
After recounting that Palestinians had previously made accusations of war crimes against the Israeli military, ABC’s Simon McGregor-Wood continued: "The army denied it. And the public accepted the denial. But now, for the first time, disturbing evidence from Israeli soldiers themselves. Personal accounts from the front line, published word for word in the newspapers. From Aviv, a squad leader. "One of our officers saw someone walking on a road, an old woman. He sent people up onto the roof, and, using machine guns, they took her down."
On the March 19 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher had similarly charged: "The Israeli army insisted during the war they were extra careful to avoid unnecessary damage and to protect Palestinian civilians. But today Israelis were shocked by reports of soldiers speaking out, saying they intentionally destroyed Palestinian property and killed civilians." (Complete transcripts follow)
"Good Morning America" reporter Yunji de Nies on Tuesday touted supposed gaffes of past Republican presidents in a segment on Barack Obama's trip abroad. De Nies intoned, "But one unlucky misstep and everyone remembers." As she said this, video of George W. Bush's 2005 trip to Beijing appeared onscreen. (In the footage, the then-President can be seen trying to go out the wrong door.) More Republican footage followed.
First, 1992 video of George H.W. Bush throwing up in Japan was highlighted and then a 2006 picture of George W. Bush rubbing the neck of German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared. De Nies described these two events as "the upset stomach of a President" and an "awkward moment between two world leaders." Introducing a clip of veteran ABC correspondent Sam Donaldson, she continued, "Sam Donaldson remembers watching Ronald Reagan fight to stay awake at the G7 summit in Venice."
As the song "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," played over slow-motion video of Michelle Obama, NBC's Dawna Friesen, on Tuesday's "Today" show, eagerly awaited the arrival of the Obamas in London, for the G20 summit, as she gushed: "Yes, her husband is, of course, the big star of the show, but this is Michelle Obama's first foray on to the global stage as First Lady. And you can bet that her every move, her every fashion decision will be dissected and analyzed, especially when the couple go to meet the Queen. But she's got a lot of good will on her side." (audio available here)
Friesen then played soundbites from random British fans cheering Michelle:
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh I think she's really cool. She's got a lot of really good styles. It makes a change from politicians' wives to look good.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She looks supportive and that's what a man needs in life.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN#2: I have been totally stunned at the awesome nature of Michelle Obama.
File this one in the "When I Need a Laugh" folder:
David Gregory, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," told this week's Parade Magazine, "I don't accept the proposition that I have an ideological point of view that comes through. I work very hard to avoid that."
Gregory must have adopted a new attitude toward his work after taking over "Meet the Press" following the death of his colleague, Tim Russert.
As Newsbusters has documented, Gregory indeed has a habit of letting his bias "come through."
NBC climastrologer and all-around nice guy George Lewis said on Sunday's "Today" show that global warming is at least partly the fault of mankind. More disturbing, however, is the fact that exactly zero consideration was given to actual scientific criticism of such a viewpoint.
CARTER ROBERTS, World Wildlife Fund: We're definitely asking people to do a couple things. To turn off the lights, but also to cast a light on one of the greatest problems in the 21st century.
GEORGE LEWIS, NBC News correspondent: That problem, global climate change and the role that humans play in it. [Picture of industrial site, complete with smokestacks]
NBC's resident Queen of Green, Ann Curry, welcomed actor Ed Norton and Carter Roberts of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to come on Friday's "Today" show to champion their cause to combat "global climate change" by getting everyone to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic move that actor Norton compared to the march on Selma, Alabama. Co-anchor Curry called Norton's cause, "really cool," and prompted the Incredible Hulk star to offer up the following historical comparison:
ED NORTON: I think it's, it's a call to action. It's, it's, it's-, turning off the lights won't solve the problem, obviously. But in the same way that the, the march on Selma, Alabama was a symbolic gesture for the civil rights movement I think those who care about climal [sic] change, climate change and carbon mitigation - which is a global movement - are, are trying to find ways to symbolically demonstrate the, the unity of purpose around the planet and, and really get our leadership to take action.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, in a taped interview from Mexico with Hillary Clinton on Thursday's "Today" show, partially blamed the Bush administration for Mexico's current drug cartel violence as she charged that "90 percent of the guns used by gangs," were available because the Bush White House and Congress let the assault weapons ban lapse. Mitchell even went as far to push the Secretary of State to "challenge the gun lobby," and "reinstitute," the ban.
ANDREA MITCHELL: And 90 percent of the guns used by the gangs come from the U.S., including the powerful assault weapons that were banned until Congress and the Bush White House let the ban expire.
MITCHELL TO HILLARY CLINTON: Why not take that on? It would be tough but why doesn't the administration challenge the gun lobby and take on the assault weapons ban and reinstitute it?
CLINTON: I'm, I'm not gonna, you know sugar coat it. It's a very heavy lift. I think that's a mistake. I think these assault weapons, these military style weapons don't belong on any one's street.
The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the March 26, "Today" show:
If you thought MSNBC could not possibly tilt any further to the left, you may — sadly — be wrong. According to the New York Observer, the cable network may be about to give liberal radio host Ed Schultz his own program. Schultz has already filled in three times this month as anchor of the 6pm ET 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the one-time venue of Meet the Press moderator David Gregory.
“Schultz, with his rustic delivery, blue-collar bona fides and copious hunting references, would presumably add some heartland credibility to MSNBC's wonky cosmopolitan lineup without disrupting the lefty story line,” The Observer’s Felix Gillette noted on Tuesday.
Schultz has been a favorite with the NBC/MSNBC crowd since his national radio show debuted in January 2004. NBC’s Today show quickly brought him on as a pundit during the Democratic primaries, and treated him to a gooey profile in March of that year. Katie Couric touted Schultz as a liberal version of radio mega-star Rush Limbaugh, though at the time Schultz’s affiliates consisted only of stations in North Dakota, Montana, and Needles, California.
All that cheerleading for Obama-Biden, and all they got was a continuation of their lousy long-term ratings drop.
Perhaps one reason why Big 3 network coverage of the 2008 presidential election was so heavy on fawning favoritism towards Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined with all-out attacks on John McCain and Sarah Palin was that the belief that an Obama presidency might revive interest in their declining evening newscasts.
If so, that strategy has spectacularly failed. Nine weeks into Obama's presidency, it's clear that after a short-lived revival, the audiences for NBC's Brian Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson, and especially CBS's Katie Couric are smaller than ever, and that (with the exception of NBC's Williams) the remainder who are still tuning in are older than ever.
After a significant post-election rise that peaked during the first full week after Obama's inauguration, the viewership drop at all three networks has been steep, to the point where all three have fewer people tuning in than they did a year ago at this time (source: the Evening News Ratings page at Media Bistro):
The NBC News team of Brian Williams, Chuck Todd and Keith Olbermann were all enamored with President Barack Obama's explanation that “it took us a couple of days” to express outrage over the AIG bonuses “because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.” But on CNN, Bill Bennett undermined Obama's spin. Just after Obama's news conference ended at 8:57 PM EDT on Tuesday night, MSNBC anchor Olbermann quoted Obama's “I like to know what I talk about before I speak” line and then exclaimed it reflected “a new policy among politicians of every party and throughout American history!”
On the broadcast NBC network, Brian Williams proposed to Chuck Todd at the White House: “Chuck you'll agree the sharpest moment was when asked more than once why did it take you a while to come out and reveal these AIG bonuses? The President said it took a couple of days 'because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.'” Todd agreed: “I'd actually say that was a theme throughout this entire press conference” as Obama wanted to show “that he is making incremental progress. He even said it at the end: Persistence.”
At the top of the Saturday Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge took a critical look at President Obama's recent media tour: "The Obama blitz, the President’s appearing everywhere but is his media tour taking attention away from his message?" In a later report, correspondent Kimberly Dozier highlighted Obama’s Tonight Show Special Olympics gaffe as evidence: "It can and did go a little bit wrong with what was supposed to be a self-deprecating joke about the President's inability to bowl...The White House has been apologizing ever since...Mr. Obama's critics were not so kind and this gave them another reason to attack in what was arguably one of his toughest weeks in his presidency so far."
Following Dozier’s report, Wragge spoke with Republican strategist Kevin Madden and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis about the President’s media strategy: "The President likes UNC to win it all, out west on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno, at home, People magazine. Is there a risk of some overexposure here?...when you keep an omnipresent schedule like this, you are bound to make a gaffe here or there. How significant a gaffe was this Special Olympics comment? Because it really got him off message...You know, we've always heard that he's 'the kind of guy I want to have a beer with,' I guess, notion out there. But is that the type of president the nation needs right now, with all of the things that people have, I guess, going against them right now? Is this a wise strategy?"
Neither the NBC’s Saturday Today nor ABC’s Saturday Good Morning America discussed the issue. However, Friday’s GMA did provide extensive coverage of the gaffe, along with Friday’s Early Show. Friday’s Today mentioned it, but only at the very end of a segment on Obama’s late night appearance.
All day Friday the newspapers, TV stations, radio, and the Internet were abuzz with Barack Obama's failed joke about the Special Olympics Thursday night on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. In shades of John Kerry's failed joke about the unschooled being "stuck in Iraq," the president's apologists said he was merely joking and didn't mean to say anything disparaging about people with developmental challenges. Still, the incident stirred passionate discussion all day Friday. At least it did for everyone but The New York Times's Helene Cooper. Cooper seemed not to even realize it happened if her review of the show is any indication.
One has to wonder, with the entire country talking about Obama's Special Olympics quip, how did Cooper miss that part of the story? Why would she not even make a passing notation of the controversy the joke caused?