CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, during a panel discussion on Monday’s "The Situation Room," reacted sarcastically to John McCain’s recent campaign speech on climate change. "Well, you know, this story illustrates just how low the bar is for Republicans on the environment.You know, the fact that he acknowledges global warming is seen as a big advantage for him, but it's like acknowledging gravity. It is a scientific fact." Toobin then compared McCain to President Bush on the issue, stating that "the real issue is not whether it [global warming] exists. The question is what to do about it, and, in that area, he's not as far as to the right as Bush is, but he's pretty close." [audio available here]
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer tossed mostly softball questions at Senator Barack Obama on Thursday’s "The Situation Room." Besides his attempt to minimize his record as a liberal and as being the Hamas-endorsed candidate, Blitzer, for 22 minutes, skipped the Rev. Wright issue and both began and ended his interview with feel-good topics -- Obama’s appearance on the cover of Time magazine, and asking the Illinois Senator about what his mother would think of him if she was alive today.
As the interview began 10 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the program, Blitzer first asked Obama about Time’s "And the Winner Is" cover story emblazened with a picture of the Senator. The CNN host followed-up by referring to the so-called "Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx:" "It's almost like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Is that what you're -- you're nervous about that?"
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, during a much hyped interview of Barack Obama on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," tried to dismiss facts about the Illinois Senator’s as mere opinions. First, the CNN host made a prediction about the upcoming general election campaign: "You know they're going to paint you -- the McCain camp, Republicans -- as a classic tax and spend liberal Democrat, that you are going to raise the taxes for the American people, and to spend money like there's no tomorrow when it comes to federal government programs. You ready to handle that kind of assault?"
Wolf Blitzer, on Friday’s "The Situation Room," conducted a softball interview of Arianna Huffington, helping her to promote her new book, "Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe," and asking her for her take on the three presidential candidates. He failed to identify her "Huffington Post" website, "one of the most popular websites," as he put it, as a liberal stomping ground, and basically sucked up to her during the entire segment. "I read ‘Huffington Post.’ I read your blog on Huffington Post all the time." Also, "You've really created an enormous success with HuffingtonPost.com, in part because everyone there seems to be blunt, honest. They don't hedge."
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, introducing a panel discussion on Monday’s "The Situation Room," asked concerning Hillary Clinton’s "obliterate Iran" comments, "[I]s Senator Clinton's tough talk against Iran part of a larger move to the right?" The chyron or graphic on the screen that accompanied the discussion seemed to give Blitzer's question an air of certainty: "Inside Her Move to the Right: How Clinton's Redefining Herself."
Each member of the panel, all contributors to CNN, had a slightly different answer to the question. Jack Cafferty quipped "it's another attempt to pander to voters, to, you know, to sound tough on national security." CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger thought "she's really running a classic Republican campaign against Barack Obama" and that Hillary "feels she has a real opportunity here, if she turns Obama into a liberal." And CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin labeled her comments "more populist than right-wing." Blitzer also made an uncharacteristic move by quoting from the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard.
Two segments that aired on two days straight on CNN underscored the network’s alignment with those who stand against a gasoline tax holiday during the summer driving season. First, Carol Costello’s segment on Wednesday’s "Newsroom" program used last year’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis to advance the idea that "things like road construction and bridge repair" would suffer as a result of the lost revenues. The following day, on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer pressed McCain campaign adviser Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, on McCain’s proposal, asking, "So when you say that he would take the money from reserves, in other words, we would go further into debt to pay for this tax break?" During the interview, a chyron or graphic on the screen claimed, "Saving on Gas Could Cost You: Whether to Suspend Fed Gas Taxes."
Monday’s "The Situation Roon" followed-up on Kelli Arena and Wolf Blitzer’s biased reporting on the Supreme Court upholding Indiana’s voter ID law with two segments featuring five talking heads -- four liberals to one conservative. In the first segment, Donna Brazile, who appeared in Arena’s report via sound bite and continued her "voter suppression" argument, faced-off against Republican strategist John Feehery, who effectively countered the liberal argument by bringing up the fact that he had to show ID in order to enter the CNN studio. In the second segment, Jeffrey Toobin, Jack Cafferty, and Gloria Borger picked up on Brazile’s suppression argument and portrayed the Court’s decision as possibly "something sinister" and a "partisan enterprise."
During a segment on Monday’s "The Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer and CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena framed the Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s "strict" voter ID law according to the liberal view (a law so "strict" that it calls for the voter show photo ID before voting). Arena’s report offered three critics of the decision to only one supporter, who happened to be Indiana’s Secretary of State. One of the three critics was a quadriplegic who apparently "had to pay more than $100 to get documentation to prove who she was" before getting an ID in Indiana. After Arena’s report, Blitzer tried to spin this as a decision by Republican-appointed justices, despite the fact it was John Paul Stevens, one of the Court’s most liberal members, who wrote the opinion. [audio available here]
Blitzer introduced Arena’s report by describing the decision as having "an enormous impact," and asked Arena to describe "the enormity of what the U.S. Supreme Court has decided." She then first harkened back to the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000. "The 2000 presidential race raised questions about election integrity. And Democrats say today's Supreme Court ruling may raise even more."
Arena then played three sound bites in a row of critics of the voter ID law. In the first sound bite, Donna Brazile charged that the "voter ID scam is a suppression tactic used by many people to undermine the right to vote in this country." In the second, Melissa Madill, identified as an "Indiana voting rights advocate," stated that it was "infuriating that people who really need to impact the system the most are being denied the right to do so." In the last sound bite, Karen Vaughn, who Arena introduced as "a quadriplegic who doesn't have a driver's license or a passport," and who "had to pay more than $100 to get documentation to prove who she was," accused the supporters of the law of not caring about people like her.
CNN's Carol Costello focused on Nora Ephron's Huffington Post rant against white male voters in Pennsylvania during a report on Tuesday's "The Situation Room." "Ephron uses provocative language to make a point. She says, 'let's not kid ourselves. Try as we might, white men will still decide who gets to be president.'" While Costello used results from previous primaries to cast doubt on Ephron's theory, she and CNN chose to highlight Ephron's words and found voters who apparently agreed with it.
During a report by CNN correspondent Dana Bash on Monday’s "The Situation Room," an on-screen chyron or graphic described John McCain’s campaign stop in Selma, Alabama in the following terms: "McCain: Off the GOP Path -- Courts Blacks, Moderates in Ala." Bash herself described McCain’s campaign "really trying to... choreograph events all week long to create his own brand of Republicanism, show, like you said, in impoverished areas, in heavily black areas, that he's a different kind of Republican." Bash then described how "if you took one look at the kind of people who came out to hear John McCain today, it was very clear he has a huge hill to climb."
It’s odd for the CNN graphic to describe McCain as being "off the GOP path" by courting moderates, since the media itself has consistently emphasized the importance of moderate voters in elections, and how both parties have courted them.
During a panel discussion on the April 9 edition of "The Situation Room," CNN’s Jack Cafferty described the Chinese government as "basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years." In response, according to a report from the Associated Press from April 15, "China demanded an apology from CNN." "‘We are shocked and strongly condemn the vicious remarks by Cafferty,’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. ‘We solemnly request CNN and Cafferty himself take back the malicious remarks and apologize to the Chinese people.’"
Cafferty had also blasted China for the substandard quality of many of the products that it exports from the U.S. "[W]e continue to import their junk with the lead paint on them and the poisoned pet food and export, you know, jobs to places where you can pay workers a dollar a month to turn out the stuff that we're buying from Wal-Mart."
CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, during a discussion on Friday’s "The Situation Room," defended Barack Obama’s comments, that small-town voters are often "bitter" and they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them," and blasted Hillary Clinton for her criticism of the comments. "I think that is so ridiculous.... I mean that is not at all what Barack Obama said.... I mean Hillary Clinton is clearly distorting what Obama said. And, by the way, what Obama said is factually accurate." Jack Cafferty, a regular contributor to "The Situation Room," agree with Toobin, and went further. "Look, Jeff's right. They call it the 'Rust Belt' for a reason.... The people are frustrated. The people have no economic opportunity. What happens to folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like al Qaeda training camps. I mean there's nothing new here."
Kudos to NBC's David Gregory for making a relatively rare declaration of just how fanatically anti-Israel the terrorist group Hamas actually is. On Friday's Race for the White House on MSNBC, Gregory hosted a panel discussion of whether Jimmy Carter's plans to meet with a Hamas leader are a danger to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, during which Gregory described Hamas as "the terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel." After liberal talk radio host Ed Schultz suggested that negotiation with Hamas may some day be necessary, Gregory further clarified his description of Hamas's nature: "But, well, but this is a different matter. I mean, Hamas has made it very clear, Tony Blankley, that it wants Israel destroyed in no uncertain terms." (Transcript follows)
On the Thursday April 10 The Situation Room, CNN's Brian Todd similarly noted that Hamas has "called for Israel's destruction." Todd: "Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. It's called for Israel's destruction."
CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen, reporting live from in front Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ on Thursday’s "The Situation Room," presented a sympathetic view of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his house of worship as being "under siege" -- from the national media. "Beyond what they say is the hurtful glare of the cameras, church leaders also say parishioners are hounded by reporters and they say the church received bomb threats. A church that feels under siege, now getting national support." Nearly the entire three minute segment, outside of Roesgen’s voice-overs and on-camera reporting, consisted of sound bites of the supporters of the church.
Besides featuring nobody but its supporters, Roesgen also painted the church and its congregations as victims of the controversy and of the news media. "I think they feel angry and they feel used. When they have talked about certain reporters, they were basically talking about reporters who were rude enough to go into the pews and hand out their business cards during the services, something of course CNN would never do."
CNN correspondent Dana Bash, during an interview of Senator John McCain which aired on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room," raised the issue of whether the Republican presidential candidate felt voters’ pain on the economy. "[I]n this time of uncertainty, when there are so many people hurting, are you concerned that there are voters out there who hear that who say, John McCain is heartless when it comes to this issue?" The thought that McCain might be "heartless" was reenforced by inclusion of the chyron, "McCain & Voters’ Pain: Against Big Economic Bailouts." [Audio available here.]
Following her "heartless" question on the economy, Bash followed up by asking a particularly blunt question about whether the current economy would hurt him if it continued into the time immediately before the election. "If the headlines that are on the front page of the newspapers today are the same headlines on the front pages in late October, early November, does John McCain lose?"
CNN’s Carol Costello highlighted Pennsylvania Republicans who became registered Democrats on Friday’s "The Situation Room," and brushed aside the possibility that Rush Limbaugh’s "Operation Chaos" strategy to meddle in the Democratic primaries might be a partial explanation for the change. Costello, featuring two former Republicans who are now voting for the Democrats, said of the couple, "[I]f you think either Conrad is switching because they buy into Rush Limbaugh's dark strategy to weaken the Democratic party...."
CNN’s Dan Lothian, during a report on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room," downplayed Hillary Clinton’s "sniper fire" statement on her trip to Tuzla, Bosnia during her time as First Lady, referring to it as a "misstep." Lothian, in his introduction to the report, referenced the "dangerous 1996 visit to Bosnia" and played Clinton’s now-famous false account of her arrival in the war-torn country. As file footage of Clinton’s arrival played, Lothian pointed out how the "video shot that day seemingly contradicts her version of events. No one seems to be running or ducking, and there does appear to be a ceremony." The video, which was first pointed out on NewsBusters by Rich Noyes, flatly proves Clinton’s statement to be false, not just "seemingly contradict" it.
During the roundtable segment on Monday's The Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty compared the racist and anti-American words of Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, to Jerry Falwell's and Pat Robertson's condemnation of the many abortions in America. Cafferty, who in January suggested that abortion is a "crap" issue, asserted: "How is this different than John McCain chasing after Pat Robertson or the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, who talk about how we have a culture of murdering unborn children in this country and that we've turned into Sodom because we coddled the gay community in this country? I mean, to me, that stuff is considerably more offensive than decrying racial violence and intolerance in this country, which members of the black community have some firsthand knowledge of." (Transcript follows)
[Update, 5:39 pm Eastern: The Acton Institute's office in Rome has provided an English translation of Bishop Girotti's interview. In it, the bishop has his own criticism for the media. "[I]t is necessary also to denounce the emphasis given to the media that on a daily basis casts discredit on the Church.]
A supposed list of "new sins" from the Vatican, such as pollution and genetic manipulation, made headlines across the world on Monday. The list actually didn’t come from any official Catholic Church document, but from an interview of a bishop that was published in L'Osservatore Romano, the "semi-official" newspaper in Vatican City, and it exposed the mainstream media’s fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity in general, and the Catholic Church specifically.
L'Osservatore Romano printed the interview of Gianfranco Girotti, a bishop who is a member of the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, in its March 9 edition. In it, Girotti discussed "new forms of social sin," and gave examples such genetic manipulation and drug trafficking. Girotti, who is the number-two official at the Tribunal, is in the mid-level of the Vatican’s bureaucracy, and wouldn’t make any official decisions on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Despite Girotti’s lack of real authority, the mainstream media hyped up the interview as being authoritative. The Daily Telegraph’s website claimed that Girotti’s list of "new forms of social sin" "replaces the list originally drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century, which included envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride." Reuters’ article reported that "the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight." CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, on Monday’s "The Situation Room," even went so far to say that "some Christian teachings say love thy neighbor and don't lie, cheat, or steal? But might would one more virtue be added -- go green? Find out why the pope says polluting the planet is a sin." And Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t even the one who was interviewed by L'Osservatore Romano!
CNN correspondent Carol Costello, in a report on Monday’s "The Situation Room," tried to put the Eliot Spitzer scandal into a better light by focusing entirely on past Republican scandals, and only mentioned two examples of Democrats caught in scandal -- Bill Clinton and Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank -- in passing.
Other than Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Costello brought up Republicans who had been accused of misbehavior by pornographer Larry Flynt. She only mentioned Spitzer at the very beginning of her report, and then immediately went to her first example, Louisiana Senator David Vitter. "Maybe Larry Flynt would say of Eliot Spitzer, there will soon be one less known hypocrite in government. That's how he described Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Flynt accused him of having been a client of the alleged D.C. madam, Deborah Palfrey, after the senator's number was discovered in her phone records."
Costello then turned back the clock ten years, and instead of focusing on Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair, she brought up the Republicans that had been caught by Flynt.
On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty suggested that blame for high oil prices rests not only with Bush administration policies, but also with its "relationship with the oil companies." During a discussion of John McCain and President Bush's recent meeting, Cafferty, who once pushed the liberal conspiracy theory that Big Oil deliberately lowered gas prices before the 2006 elections to help Republicans get elected, once again demonstrated his lack of understanding of the world oil market as he suggested that a "relationship" with oil companies could impact world oil prices: "Oil was $28 a barrel when George Bush was sworn in. It's $104 right now and could go to $120 soon. Now, why do you suppose that is? It wouldn't have to do with the policies of the Bush administration or the relationship they have with the oil companies, would it? Come on." (Transcript follows)
On Thursday's The Situation Room on CNN, Time magazine's managing editor, Richard Stengel, suggested that the 1961 Bay of Pigs attempt to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro should not have been planned, as he assigned some of the blame for the fiasco to President Eisenhower for planning it in the first place. During a discussion of the importance of experience for a new President, Stengel contended: "John Kennedy, when he was first elected, very inexperienced President, got us into the Bay of Pigs. Terrible mistake. But who planned the Bay of Pigs? Dwight Eisenhower." (Transcript follows)
Wednesday’s "The Situation Room" brought on three Democratic operatives to denounce "controversial" remarks made by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show earlier in the day, with only one conservative/Republican, CNSNews.com’s Editor-in-Chief Terry Jeffrey, on to defend the top-rated radio talk show host. Limbaugh’s apparent offense was when he brushed aside talk of a possible joint ticket between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. "Let’s say put Hillary on top, that’s a position she is familiar with. Therefore you’ve got a woman and a black, first time ever on the Democrat ticket. They don’t have a prayer."
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile blasted Limbaugh during a segment about 50 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of the program. "I think that comment is, as far as I can tell, a very un-American conversation.... [A]nd to suggest somehow or another that we are not capable of serving this country in the capacity of Commander-in-Chief is just, in my mind, mind-boggling."
Three CNN talking heads - "The Situation Room’s" Jack Cafferty, senior political analyst Gloria Borger, and chief national correspondent John King - all denied that the mainstream media has a "double standard for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton," as "The Situation Room" host Wolf Blitzer put it. Cafferty was the most adamant denier of the charge. "No, it's a vast left-wing conspiracy, Wolf. We all got together in the media and said okay, let's all decide collectively to beat up on Hillary and be nice to Barack Obama. That's nonsense."
What is it with these Hillary surrogates putting themselves in the limelight? Bill has famously turned the focus on himself, in effect giving Hillary's concession speech on a recent losing night and more recently exhorting people to elect "me."
Today it was Madeleine Albright's turn. Speaking with Wolf Blitzer on this afternoon's Situation Room ostensibly for purposes of promoting Hillary Clinton, Madame Secretary managed to use the "I" word 20 times in under four minutes. Throw in one "my" and another "myself" and that's more than a score of self references.
CNN’s Jon Klein, in an internal memo obtained by the TVNewser blog, bragged about the strong ratings the network won during its recent debates and primary coverage, and spun the reason for this success. "CNN is proving that with innovation, execution, and passion, the sky's the limit. Our deep-seated commitment to independent coverage that is unbiased — without an agenda — is more powerful and popular than the partisan rants that permeate the airwaves." Klein might have had Keith Olbermann in mind when he referred to "partisan rants," but one would only need to look at the past three months to disprove such an outrageous claim by Klein.
Eyeblast has the video: On CNN's The Situation Room on Friday, former NBA star (and current TNT basketball analyst) Charles Barkley trashed conservatives as "fake Christians." You could tell how much CNN was going to enjoy this. At the top of the hour, anchorman Wolf Blitzer promised: "Plus, he's rooting for Barack Obama and he's taking shots at Republicans and the religious right. You're going to find out who NBA great Charles Barkley is calling fake." The screen graphic also read: "Barkley Takes on the Right: Blasts 'Fake' Christians." Blitzer made no attempt to ask the basketball star how a "real" Christian can whole-heartedly support Obama's liberal social agenda.
Ted Turner may no longer own CNN and TNT, but his spirit -- "Christianity is a religion for losers" and pro-lifers were "bozos" and "idiots" -- is still strong in his former properties. Does TNT really want to invite all this political and religious controversy to turn people away from watching their basketball broadcasts?
The Democratic presidential nomination process isn't even over, yet on Tuesday CNN's Wolf Blitzer raised the media's favorite shorthand for vicious Republicans never forgotten from 1988, a name journalists can be counted on to resurrect every election season in order to discredit criticism of a liberal candidate, as he asked a guest how “worried” he was about Republicans energizing “elements of racism” by producing “Willie Horton kind of commercials...potentially against Barack Obama?” This, just a week after possible racism by Democratic voters was suggested by Obama's ten-point loss in California's primary after polls showed him up by 13 points. Columnist Bob Novak observed: “The way Obama lost California raises the specter of the dreaded Bradley Effect.”
On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin bizarrely objected to Rudy Giuliani's choice of words in his speech endorsing John McCain when the former mayor argued that McCain should be the next "Commander-in-Chief of the United States," instead of "Commander-in-Chief of the military," as the CNN analyst called the former mayor's statement "pretty outrageous." Toobin further contended that Giuliani's words were an example of his "militaristic, authoritarian approach that I think is just not right. ... That's not what the President does. He doesn't run the country." (Transcript follows)
At about 6:40 p.m. on the January 30 show, host Wolf Blitzer led Toobin, Gloria Borger and Jack Cafferty in a discussion that included reaction to Giuliani's speech, which had run live earlier that hour. After Borger gave a positive review of the speech, Toobin responded:
You can tell a lot about how the news media feel about conservatives by watching how they talk about Rush Limbaugh. They want his influence curbed. They pine for the day his career hits the skids. They’re constantly looking for a moment where they can declare that conservatives no longer have – that Rush Limbaugh no longer has -- the Grand Old Party in a menacing trance. They don’t want Republican candidates seeking a Limbaugh endorsement.