[Update, 8:55 pm EST: Below link added for the video of the segment.]
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Jon Meacham shared a bizarre Obama love-fest session with Charlie Rose on the PBS host’s program on Wednesday. Meacham stated that he was "very struck watching the stagecraft" of Obama and pointed out how Obama gave his victory speech by himself: "...[H]ave you ever seen a victory speech where there was no one else on stage? No adoring wife, no cute kid -- he is the message." Thomas went one step further in this vein: "There is a slightly creepy cult of personality about all of this." Rose confronted him on his use of this phrase, and he explained that it made him "a little uneasy that he's so singular. He's clearly managing his own spectacle. He knows how to do it. He's a -- I think, a deeply manipulative guy..." Later, all three marveled about how it was "amazing" that Obama "watches us watching him."
Thomas and Meacham appeared during the second segment of Rose’s program on Wednesday night. The host first asked Thomas about how Obama seemed to be "always in charge of this campaign." After giving an anecdote about a meeting in which Obama discussed his vice presidential pick with his advisers, Thomas commented that Obama is very inclusive, yet very self-contained. It's an unusual leadership style."
NBC anchor Brian Williams appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Monday night and trashed Joe the Plumber's anti-tax cause as a silly issue, not a serious question about the redistribution of wealth: "Look at how our attention was able to get pulled into pigs and lipstick and plumbers. We got a plumber who's the third member of the GOP ticket, in effect, and that's - it's all of our fault, yes, and there will be time to bloody our own backs with chains, but it's also the sorry state of our discourse as if, Tavis, we don't have enough serious issues to concentrate on." Williams added: "I think we may find out it was a movement year, we may find out we all had to step aside and just let it happen, and we may decide we went down too many rat holes of distractions on our way there."
Williams also complained once again about the delay in his Sarah Palin interview, given his network’s leading stature. "I went more than third -- I went fifth or sixth," even as he added: "I think she's a professional at her job, I try to be at mine, and we kind of quickly got over it." Sounds like he hasn’t.
In a Thursday night appearance on the PBS show Charlie Rose, it was revealed that the Democratic ticket could have been Obama-Brokaw. Rose reported: "I think it was Caroline Kennedy who said that when they have the short [running mate] list for Barack Obama, there was a name down there somewhere?" Tom Brokaw replied: "My name was on it." Rose pestered Brokaw to go into public service after his latest NBC stint ends: "There comes a time, you are reminding me of a conceited anchorman who once said to raise your right hand to enlist." Brokaw didn’t utterly reject the idea of serving a new administration: "I understand the need to step up from time to time, and if the right opportunity came along, I would certainly be willing to take a good, hard look at that."
Rose also curiously worried that a President Obama might end up being a very cautious centrist: "What do you make of him? Tell me what you see there. Because I was talking to a friend of mine, and he said, I see someone who is clearly aspirational, someone who is clearly bright, someone who is clearly ambitious in the best sense of that, but who is clearly cautious, and in the end, he may very well be a man of the center."
Jeanne Cummings, a former political reporter for the Wall Street Journal who now works at the Politico, displayed an obvious double standard in her appearance on Friday night’s Washington Week show on PBS. Joe Biden’s prediction that a President Obama would be tested quickly with an international crisis was worth dismissing, since it came so late in the campaign, after Obama had already convinced many voters he was a capable leader. But the RNC buying "pricey togs" for Sarah Palin was a political disaster that completely undermined her just-folks appeal. It showed "a huge disconnect. And it has the risk of robbing her of the real strength that she had brought to the campaign."
There’s a professional reason Cummings was so invested in the damage that story did: it was her story. But at what point does another journalist like Ifill ask: so, are you happy that you damaged her strength? Here’s how the exchange happened:
CUMMINGS: It does seem like that Biden at some point was going to do this. He was going to go off message.
It's got to be incredibly frustrating for Republican voters to see that PBS, the taxpayer-funded television network, is so completely incapable of finding a balanced panel of analysts after a presidential debate. After the third debate, Jim Lehrer lined up this anti-McCain crew:
-- David Brooks, the increasingly fraudulent "conservative," who effusively praised Obama for being grand and calm "like a redwood forest," a "source of comfort," while McCain "seemed tight" and "hard to live with for four years," and who ended up the night announcing McCain would lose. (UPDATE: On Charlie Rose later, Brooks decided Obama was so cool he was "a mountain.")
-- Mark Shields, the liberal former Bobby Kennedy campaign aide, who obviously agreed about Obama's "eerie coolness."
-- Historian Michael Beschloss, a liberal who's written books with Clinton Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who trashed McCain for saying anything about Bill Ayers, which caused Lehrer to at least suggest that Bob Schieffer raised the subject.
On Monday, NewsBusters wondered how much coverage the sex scandal involving Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fl.) -- the Democrat Congressman who in 2006 won the seat previously held by the disgraced Mark Foley -- would get.
Early indications suggest that as far as the television news outlets are concerned, the answer is "not much."
In fact, though all three broadcast network evening news programs covered the Foley sex scandal when it was first revealed on September 29, 2006, not one of them felt that the man who replaced him admitting to having an affair with a former campaign staffer was at all newsworthy.
On his PBS talk show after the debate Tuesday night, Charlie Rose devoted most of the first 20 minutes of the show to top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. He claimed "We also invited a representative from the McCain campaign, but they were unable to do so this evening." Neither Rose nor the McCain campaign could find a person to match 20 minutes for Obama?
As for the pundits, New Yorker magazine editor (and former Washington Post reporter) David Remnick blasted Sarah Palin for going "negative in the lowest way possible," and said her slection "really is turning out to be a great misery." He said the race is turning strongly to Obama, "and deservedly so."
Remnick pulled no punches:
McCain began the debate in a sarcastic and frustrated mood. He used the phrase ‘he and his cronies,’ ‘that guy over there’ – you can tell there was a real antipathy there that lasted from beginning to end. Obama was collected. He was eloquent. He was clear. He was unfazed by attacks. He gave the message that he wouldn’t brook attacks that would go personal. So I think he won this debate in dramatic fashion.
One candidate for Biggest Biden Spinner on Thursday night was John F. Harris, the editor-in-chief of Politico.com and a former political reporter for The Washington Post. In Jim Lehrer’s half-hour of post-debate analysis on PBS, Harris declared that "just as a neutral observer," it was obvious: on "whose answers were more substantive, who was more detailed, who responded to the question that was asked, there’s really no reason to assert a false equivalence -- Senator Biden won this debate." Historian Michael Beschloss agreed they weren’t equals, and insisted Biden "was a lot more human."
Harris also insisted that the reporters around him found Biden won: "I don’t think there’s any question that Senator Biden had the more substantive night, the crisper, at least to my ear more spontaneous night – because so many of Governor Palin’s answers were clearly points she was going to make irrespective of whatever good questions Gwen asked....If seemed to me and a number of us coming out of the filing center here that an awful lot of those questions, she got through the evening, but was hanging on for dear life."
Of the three morning shows on Wednesday, only "Good Morning America" highlighted the growing controversy regarding the disclosure that PBS reporter Gwen Ifill, the moderator of Thursday's vice presidential debate, has authored a supportive book about Barack Obama and other African American politicians. CBS's "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" both skipped the subject.
GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo mentioned the book during the 7am hour and actually observed that it "has some conservatives claiming she will be biased tomorrow night." The ABC journalist added, "Ifill has said, though, she's only concerned about getting straight answers from the candidates." And although Cuomo did not repeat the story during the 8am news brief, at least ABC brought the issue up.
[UPDATE, by Brent Baker: Wednesday evening, of the broadcast network evening newscasts, only the NBC Nightly News mentioned Ifill. Andrea Mitchell ended a story by citing an unidentified "one conservative critic" and how colleagues and McCain say she's not biased:
As the stage is set for tomorrow night, one conservative critic challenged the moderator, Gwen Ifill of PBS because Ifill is writing a history of a generation of black politicians titled Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Palin said tonight that's motivating her to work harder. Ifill's colleagues and the McCain campaign say she is a respected professional.]
There's one good reason Gwen Ifill, the host of the PBS show Washington Week, is moderating the vice-presidential debate: she has a forthcoming book about Barack Obama (and other black Democrats) called The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Ifill talks about the book project on YouTube here.
In addition to her portrait of Obama, Ifill will also investigate Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a close friend of Obama's; Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who Ifill describes as "very charismatic" in the video; and Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama. "They all chose to get into politics for the most upstanding of reasons, and they all have achieved much more than their parents could have hoped." It doesn't hurt that it's made Obama a mega-best-selling multi-millionaire author.
Long-time PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, the first host of the 2008 fall presidential debates, is dead serious about his utter lack of bias. Appearing November 27, 2006 on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Lehrer insisted with a very straight face that “I am bias-free....Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story, not what the journalist brings to the reporting.” When Colbert insisted Lehrer must add some flavor, straight-faced Lehrer declared his contribution was “the flavor of neutrality.”
Lehrer can offer a different flavor. During live coverage of the Democratic convention on August 25, he gauzily reacted to Jimmy Carter’s florid praise of Barack Obama’s race speech in March: “If it happens that he is elected, or even his just being nominated, will send positive ripple effects throughout the country on the race issue.”
At the same time, he defended a poll on NOW on PBS's home page. NewsBuster Jacob S. Lybbert noted the poll was comprised of a single question: "Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?" Some viewers thought the question inherently unfair; after all, PBS never ran a poll asking if Barack Obama or Joe Biden are qualified for the positions they're seeking.
On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?
TRUMP: I really don't know Senator Biden but I know one thing. He's run a number of times for president. He's gotten less than 1 percent of the vote each time. And that's a pretty tough thing. You know, he's also been involved in pretty big controversy like plagiarism in college and various other things. That's a pretty big statement. So perhaps you change over a period of time. But when you plagiarize, that's a very bad statement. That hasn't been brought up yet, but I'm sure at some point it will. I'm sure that Sarah Palin will bring it up in a debate or somebody's going to bring it up.
BLITZER: Are you talking about plagiarism when he was running for president?
TRUMP: No, I'm talking about when he was a college student as I understand it, and this was a big issue originally but he supposedly plagiarized as a college student. That's a pretty serious charge.
BLITZER: I don't remember that. We'll check it out. But maybe you obviously have a better memory about that.
As Culture and Media Institute Director Robert Knight has noted, the media are still presenting Obama campaign spin on the McCain sex ed ad as hard facts.
Last week the McCain campaign released an ad charging Senator Obama with supporting sex education for kindergarten children when he was an Illinois state senator.
According to the Obama campaign and the media the legislation in question "was written to protect young children from sexual predators."
That's a line that Obama himself used during last year's CNN/YouTube debate:
I've got a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old daughter. And I want them to know if somebody is doing something wrong to them, encroaching on their privacy, that they should come talk to me or my wife. And we've had that conversation, but not every parent is going to have that conversation with their child, and I think it's important that every child does, to make sure that they're not subject to the sexual predators (emphasis mine).
The only problem is that the goal of the bill wasn't to stop sexual predators, but to revamp the Illinois sex ed curriculum.
In yet another case of Palin Derangement Syndrom from liberal feminists in the media, PBS "To the Contrary" host Bonnie Erbe leveled a low blow by comparing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to the radical Islamic regime that harbored al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
When asked if she believed she was "sending [her] son on a task that is from God," Palin said:
I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie. What I know is that my son has made a decision. I am so proud of his independent and strong decision he has made, what he decided to do and serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
New York Times columnist David Brooks is supposed to be the house conservative of PBS’s NewsHour and convention coverage, but he dripped contempt for conservatives from Mitt Romney to Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday’s night live coverage. He decried Romney’s speech as extreme "He drifted so far right, I’m sort of, my mind is boggling." But he said the rhetoric wasn’t genuine, just a "strategic choice" in case McCain loses. When one panelist said the Sarah Palin speech would be "a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans," Brooks insisted Palin’s humor was light with a common touch, not "biting, belittling" Limbaugh humor. Earlier, he lamented the presidential choices didn’t include someone who hated tax cuts: "There might be a candidate who says ‘Actually, at this time in our country we can’t afford these massive tax cuts anyway,’ but that candidate is not running for president."
UPDATE: On the Charlie Rose show, Brooks grew even wilder, saying of Romney's speech: "I thought it was borderline insane," and proclaiming Palin was "not ideological in a Rush Limbaugh sense."
Pardon a little housekeeping, but this line is too good to ignore. In the midst of an hour of exhilarated salutes to Barack Obama's convention speech on Thursday night's Charlie Rose show on PBS, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham successfully scaled to the top of Mount Suckup by claiming Obama is so eloquent, he "can't write an ineloquent check."
He had to do two things. He had to be tough and he had to be detailed. We know he is eloquent. He can't write an ineloquent check, this man, but he was both detailed and tough. Interestingly, he referred to John McCain either by name or as the Senator 20 times, two-oh. I might have missed one. We have had concerns, a lot of people have looked at this clinically, saying well, this is Obambi, this is a man who is too effete, who's too lofty to really connect with the kinds of voters that Jodi [Kantor of the New York Times] was just talking about. I would imagine that this speech puts a lot of those concerns to rest.
PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler is pleased as punch in his "Ombudsman's Mailbag" to note that PBS was the only place on broadcast TV for people to enjoy three hours of prime time devoted to the Democratic convention. But even though many PBS fans naturally loved that, some remained in a highly agitated left-wing state that too many white males were ruining the stew. It's one thing to complain about the need for more minorities, but some of these letters to Getler were simply...bigoted:
There it was, again. A herd of bulls and Gwen giving feedback relevant to the speech of Senator Hillary Clinton. Feedback??? Nope. As usual, when men take center stage subsequent to a brilliant speech by a woman, what the viewing audience observes is stark criticism. There they were, utilizing the infamous one-sided brain response of all males. There they were, trying to hold more than one thought (sometimes referred to as multi-tasking) and failing miserably. WHY???
Liberal attitudes emerged on the PBS convention set in the runup to Obama's acceptance speech on Thursday night. When right-leaning pundit David Brooks suggested after Al Gore's remarks that it was too bad Gore ruined his chance to be president in 2000 by listening too much to consultants, Mark Shields snippily suggested Gore really won: "Al Gore is a remarkable figure. I'm not sure why he blew his chance. He did get half a million more votes, of course, in a popular election than the man who eventually became president by the Supreme Court decision."
A while later, the PBS historians panel discussed convention history, and Peniel Joseph suggested the Hillary delegates had decided to come to the Messiah: "What we saw last night was Hillary Clinton herself putting Obama over the top and many of these delegates who vowed never to vote for Obama publicly came to Jesus, so to speak, and said they were going to vote for Obama now."
On Tuesday night, PBS anchor Judy Woodruff offered Michelle Obama the kind of cozy interview she has typically offered to Democratic wives at convention time. Her sharpest question dealt with her unfavorables in the polls, and Mrs. Obama strongly asserted that she wouldn't lose sleep over conservatives mischaracterizing her, and knows that the Obama family narratives are deeply compelling to voters:
WOODRUFF: Now your speech was also view by some as an effort to repair what some polls I guess had shown were negative impressions that had accumulated about you – your values, your view of the country. How concerned were you about that going in and do you have any concerns about that now?
MICHELLE OBAMA: You know, this is politics. And I’ve always felt that when people hear my story and they hear the truth of my story, then they’ll understand who I am. You know, I try not to lose sleep over how Barack’s opponents have mischaracterized who I am.
Barack Obama’s overseas trip has garnered an incredibly large amount of media attention, especially with the three broadcast network anchors going along for the ride. But lately, some are beginning to recognize the “Obamania” present within the mainstream media, including members of the media themselves.
On the July 25 edition of “News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” PBS joined in on the acknowledgement that media coverage of Obama has been unprecedented and overwhelming as Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff discussed the media coverage of John McCain and Barack Obama with Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the Tyndall Report, and Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Before the guests appeared, Woodruff recounted the media attention given to Obama’s overseas trip, noting that the press corps following Obama was “larger than usual” and that late night comics had even poked fun at the adoration members of the media have shown for Obama.
Liberals often insist on the separation of church and state, but they’d really like to go further to separating the church from everything. That principle oozes into PBS, where a forthcoming Nova documentary insists the Bible is full of fables, not history. Orlando Sentinel TV critic Hal Boedeker reported from a PBS publicity session for TV critics:
Abraham didn't exist? The Exodus didn't happen?
The Bible's Buried Secrets, a new PBS documentary, is likely to cause a furor.
"It challenges the Bible's stories if you want to read them literally, and that will disturb many people," says archaeologist William Dever, who specializes in Israel's history. "But it explains how and why these stories ever came to be told in the first place, and how and why they were written down."
As NewsBusters has been reporting for a number of weeks, some key figures at the Washington Post have been breaking from the Obama-loving pack and actually pointing out the absence of substance behind all the junior senator from Illinois' flash.
Add Jim Hoagland to the list who clearly wasn't as impressed with the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee's speech in Berlin as most of his colleagues in the press.
Here's what he told PBS's Charlie Rose Thursday (video embedded right):
That's it. NPR has declared Ohio a disaster area. Things are so bad. NPR gravely warns, that folks in the Buckeye state can't even afford to buy meat for their dinner tables anymore. It's the end of civilization as we know it. Doom and gloom. Oh the humanity. It's the end of the world as we know it... at least for one Ohio family that NPR found to act as stand in for the rest of the state. To NPR all of Ohio is the Nunez family. And what is NPR' solution? Government aid, of course.
In a segment of All Things Considered (well, all things but common sense, anyway), NPR gives us Gloria Nunez whose family, we are told, was "built on cars." NPR gives us all sorts of sobbing, rending of clothes, wearing of sackcloth and gnashing of teeth for the Nunez', of course. But even NPR can't hide some of the glaring problems that Gloria and her family have surely brought upon themselves.
In the past rocker Neil Young has been about as consistent with his political opinions as Barack Obama has been on the his relationship with Rev. Wright. The mercurial Young was on the top of his game yesterday during the “Charlie Rose Show”. At one point during the interview Young appeared to regret past remarks that castigated President Bush:
Criticizing the President and doing this and that and talking about things in the first person and getting right in there. It is like I got sucked into it. I was part of the turmoil myself. Which I wasn't happy about, and I am not happy about it now. But it happened.
Although the collapse of Bear Stearns happened back in March, the debate still rages as to what led to the failure of the 85-year old investment bank that had survived years of previous turmoil, including the Great Depression.
"Well, you know, he [Dimon] said one thing that I'm just - listen, I didn't watch it," CNBC's Charlie Gasparino said, "I'm just going by what appears to be a transcript here: ‘Where there's smoke, there's fire.' Oh really? Sometimes where there's smoke, there's no fire, Jamie. I've got news for you."
Conservative media critics know New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse as an overtly liberal reporter who has marched in pro-abortion protests and gives speeches about her crying at rock concerts about how conservatives have ruined the country and mangled the promise of the baby-boomer generation. But at the end of the PBS chat show Washington Week on June 27, NBC's Pete Williams praised her as a clarinet virtuoso of a reporter, the best the Supreme Court has ever seen.
GWEN IFILL, host: Before we go tonight, we want you to join us in saying congratulations and farewell to Washington Week's longest serving panelist. Linda Greenhouse has been covering the Supreme Court for the New York Times for 30 years. That's more than 2,800 bylined stories.... She's leaving the Times, among other things, to teach at Yale - what Chief Justice John Roberts, a Harvard man, recently called one of the best law schools in New Haven. I have to ask, though, what is it like to compete against Linda, Pete?