During Monday’s convention coverage, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin fretted that the Democrats weren’t doing enough Bush-bashing. Tuesday afternoon, CNN aired two segments during the 1:00 hour of CNN’s Newsroom in which they promoted Democrat fears that Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner “won’t go for the jugular” in his speech tonight.
White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux highlighted the split between Hillary Clinton supporters and Barack Obama supporters in the first segment. She stated, “A lot of the Clinton camp want that kind of attack dog, want that red meat to be thrown to the delegates. They're ready -- they're ready for that fight. The Obama folks, a little bit more laid back about it, saying, look, you know, we're reaching across the aisle. We want to reach out to the independents and some of the Republicans. A little less, though, of that red meat style.”
In the second segment congressional correspondent Dana Bash labeled the Democratic former Virginia governor a “moderate” and “more socially conservative” and drew parallels between his keynote address and that of Obama’s in 2004 before she noted “there's a little bit of concern about the fact that he's not going to be -- sort of go for the jugular the way that many Democrats are hoping that they really step up here at this convention here in Denver.”
Catching up on a tidbit from Monday night’s coverage, CNN co-anchor Anderson Cooper actually wondered aloud whether the evening’s line-up of Democratic speakers -- Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Jr. -- was “too liberal” to attract independent voters. Usually, the networks never even label Democratic speakers, while constantly berating Republican speakers as extreme or right-wing, so this is either a refreshing change of pace, or a sign that Democrats have gone way over the edge if even CNN is worrying about a “too liberal” convention.
Responding to that suggestion, CNN analyst David Gergen admired how “Jimmy Carter has won a Nobel Peace Prize here recently. He's one of the two Democrats speaking at this convention -- Al Gore being the other -- who won Nobel Peace Prizes. That must be a first in history.” But, previewing Democratic consultant James Carville’s complaint two hours later, Gergen decried how the Democrats “have offered almost no substance” in their convention program: “We’ve had very little that's been compelling thus far.”
Despite the fact that MSNBC has positioned itself as the far-left cable network, regular Democrats continue to prefer CNN in surveys. Has this preference extended to how the party leaders treat CNN?
In today's Washington Post, reporter Howard Kurtz talks about how the Democratic Party is being accused of favoring CNN by giving it a perfect visual shot during Barack Obama's upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention:
On Monday night shortly after Michelle Obama finished speaking, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, as he expressed his disappointment that the Democrats didn’t go negative on the first night of their convention, inserted a barb against the Republicans: "...There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap...." He further explained that "Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight."
Previewing the first night of the Democratic convention on Monday's "Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer and a network graphic repeatedly identified the announced speakers as liberal. The CNN anchor asserted, "The speaker lineup for tonight, by the way, here at the convention, includes some of the party's most prominent and most liberal members, including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter."
Blitzer then asked guest James Carville if "...highlighting all these liberals tonight, is that the way these Democrats can reach out to moderates, to independents and say, you know what, it's time for a change?" Carville praised the work of cancer-stricken Senator Ted Kennedy and predicted high emotion. Fellow guest, conservative radio host Bill Bennett, replied, "Oh, it's their party and they can be emotional or cry if they want to or be liberal if they want to."
Shortly after the Democrats gaveled to order their 2008 nominating convention at 5 p.m. EDT, CNN's Jack Cafferty did the party of Jimmy Carter a favor by pushing its economic message on his blog and the network's "The Situation Room" program with his question of the hour. Cafferty listed negative-sounding statistic after negative statistic, failing to offset them with even one praiseworthy accomplishment of the Bush administration, before asking CNN viewers if they are "better off" now than eight years ago.
Ronald Reagan had some success with this question a few years ago and things weren’t nearly as crummy then as they are now: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? But this time it’s been 8 years.
Monday’s "American Morning" featured a segment on CNN political analyst Roland Martin’s recent TV One interview with Michelle Obama which seemingly sought to counter negative assertions about Obama by Republicans and “crazy folks on the right.”
After airing a clip of Obama talking about her blue-collar upbringing, during which she stated that her story was the "quintessential American story," co-host Kiran Chetry asked Martin about how important it would be for Obama to address that in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. In his reply, Martin contended that "crazy folks on the right" are to blame for mischaracterizations of Obama, although he has previously acknowledged that "idiot Democrats" were also to blame for certain rumors:
CHETRY: Roland, how important is it going to be for her to bring that up tonight as she gives the speech?
MARTIN: It’s vital because it lays the foundation that, look, I’m just like you. I’m not, you know, I wasn’t some rich kid who went to Princeton and Harvard where I had a silver spoon in my mouth. She makes the point in the interview on TV One last night that, look, I was born in a two bedroom apartment, grew up with my brother, my dad, my mom. So, when you’re able to tell that story, you’re able to counter this different kind of version that’s been put upon her by frankly a lot of the crazy folks on the right.
CBS’s Early Show and NBC’s Today on Monday morning touted, without offering specifics, what CBS reporter Dean Reynolds called Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden’s “wealth of experience” and “long record of accomplishment” on foreign policy; NBC’s David Gregory asserted that Biden had “deep foreign policy experience.” On Sunday’s Good Morning America, reporter John Berman also declared “Biden’s foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama’s resume.”
But CNN’s American Morning asked their Iraq reporter, Michael Ware, to rate Biden’s major contribution to recent foreign policy debates, his plan to partition Iraq into three separate regions. “Madness,” Ware declared, adding: “No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran.”
Appearing later in the same show, Ware again scoffed at Biden’s proposal: “No one supports it. It ain't going anywhere.”
An astonishing thing happened on CNN Sunday evening: Lou Dobbs told his guests, "My colleagues in the national media are absolutely biased, in the tank supporting the Obama candidacy while claiming the mantle of objectivity," and they agreed.
Joining Dobbs in this extraordinary discussion about liberal bias at America's leading press outlets were syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Diana West, syndicated columnist Miguel Perez, and Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf.
Readers should prepare themselves for an alternate reality (partial transcript follows, h/t NB reader Chris John):
On CNN Newsroom this morning, Capitol Hill correspondent Jennifer Yellin did a piece on how Barack Obama is attempting to exploit John McCain's uncertainty over the houses he and wife Cindy own. From Yellin's report:
YELLIN: And top surrogates are hitting 16 states to mock John McCain for, in the campaign's words, losing track of his houses. Obama supporter and VP short lister Virginia Governor Tim Kaine made the case on CNN.
GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: He couldn't count high enough apparently to even know how many houses he owned.
YELLIN: The Obama campaign believes this line of attack will persuade voters that McCain is out of touch with regular folks and can't fix what he doesn't know is broken. It could also diffuse charges that Obama is elitist. It's as if they're saying, who's the snob now?
OBAMA: And if you're like me and you got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective.
So if a government program has been failing for decades, should you A) Privatize it, B) Get rid of it altogether, or C) Throw millions of dollars at it and hope that Americas somehow feel compelled to reenact scenes from "Some Like it Hot."
The answer is C if you were watching CNN this morning.
"American Morning" pointed out that high gas prices were the reason ridership on Amtrak was up 14 percent and then pushed for more funding for the government-sponsored program through a recent Senate proposal.
"The problem for Amtrak of course though is that they haven't had a single new passenger car since 1990," said personal finance editor Gerri Willis on the August 21 broadcast. "Their cars, even the locomotives are old and aging; they're asking Congress for help. Dick Durbin has introduced legislation into the Senate to try and do something about that. Interestingly he says that Thanksgiving is going to be a wake up call for Americans as we all try to go visit relatives for the holidays."
"What they need is new track, because every Sunday it's like this all the way up," said co-host John Roberts simulating a bumpy train ride with his anchor chair.
Is it "wishful thinking" for Republicans to imagine that Obama will take Hillary as his running mate? CNN's Ed Henry thinks so. He made the comment to anchor Heidi Collins in a report on the veepstakes during CNN's 9 AM EDT hour today.
HEIDI COLLINS: Another name keeps bubbling up: Hillary Clinton. Ed Henry is on the VP watch yet again today. Alright, so what do you think today, Ed? Because I know yesterday it might have been different.
ED HENRY: Well it's interesting. You mentioned Hillary Clinton. This name has been surfacing over the last 24 hours. Some Democrats, but frankly I've also heard it from some Republicans. Because they, strategists in both parties, are saying wait a second. We thought Barack Obama was going to roll this out a couple of days ago, maybe a little sooner. Now it seems to be getting closer to the convention. Is it a surprise? Is it someone with a lot of name ID? Someone he doesn't need to spend a lot of time rolling out and introducing to the American people. Frankly I think some Republicans are spreading this because it's some wishful thinking on their part. Because they know she's also a lightning rod. She did get 18 million votes in the primaries. She brings some real strengths to the table, but she also could really rally conservatives if she was on the ticket and could give conservatives sort of a spark to turn out for John McCain. So there might be some wishful thinking there. We have gotten no new reporting suggesting she's vaulted to the top of the short list.
It’s no secret that Bill Maher, the host of the HBO show "Real Time with Bill Maher," loathes religion. He came under fire earlier this year for slandering Pope Benedict XVI.
On Tuesday night, CNN’s Larry King gave Maher another chance to smack Christianity, which Maher called “detrimental” and “the ultimate hustle.”
Maher was on "Larry King Live" to promote his latest vehicle, the film "Religulous," which is due to open October 3. "Religulous," which reportedly takes aim at all religions, was supposed to be released around Easter of this year. It had been called a documentary previously but Maher is now selling it as a comedy. Larry King opened his interview with Maher by praising the movie but noted that it will offend people.
Were the apparatchiks of CNN asleep at the PC wheel? Not only did the network air a balanced segment on medical care for an illegal immigrant. It surprisingly let slip by the reporter's line contrasting the illegal's use of the American legal system now with his disregard for it when he snuck into the country!
Aired at 6:22 a.m. EDT today, the segment focused on the case of Francisco Pantaleon, an illegal Mexican immigrant who fell into a coma in July and who has since been receiving extensive care from a Chicago hospital--all at the hospital's expense. Now that his condition has been stabilized, the hospital wants to discharge him to an extended-care facility, in Mexico, and has offered to pay for an air ambulance to transport him there. But his family is protesting the move, and has enlisted a lawyer who also serves as general counsel to the Mexican consulate in Chicago.
Introducing the segment, anchor John Roberts referred to Pantaleon as an "illegal immigrant," not an "undocumented worker." Picking up the story, reporter Bill Tucker actually called Pantaleon an "illegal alien." I could hardly believe my ears, but replayed the video a few times to confirm it.
Kate Albright-Hanna, who runs the Obama campaign's online video operations, got the job after she pitched the campaign “a proposal on video strategy” -- while she was still a CNN producer. A Wednesday Washington Post “Style” section feature on the key members of the “Triple O: Obama's online operation,” recounted the how and when of her pitch to Joe Rospars, a Howard Dean campaign veteran in charge of the so-called Triple O:
An Emmy winner, she joined CNN's political unit in 1999 and met Rospars while filming a documentary on Dean. When she heard that Rospars was working for Obama, Albright-Hanna called and said she wanted to produce a doc on Obama. The campaign planned to develop its own video content, Rospars said. Intrigued, Albright-Hanna sent him a proposal on video strategy. Weeks later, she left CNN and moved with her husband and 3-year-old son to Chicago.
The key phrase: “weeks later, she left CNN...” So while working at CNN she was simultaneously developing a plan for Obama which, given their decision to hire her, they liked and she's implementing.
Before CNN, she was an intern in the Clinton White House and, in a Dateline NBC story days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke, she was featured by reporter Dawn Fratangelo as one of a group of former interns who “simply don't find it plausible the President of the United States could have an affair with an intern.” In a soundbite (see slightly snowy screen shot from the MRC's archive), Albright-Hanna asserted: “I can't imagine how that would happen.”
On his CNN program Tuesday night, Larry King had Bill Maher on for the entire hour, and the HBO comedian had some liberal-to-liberal advice for Barack Obama concerning his vice-presidential pick: "At this point, I think they need Hillary Clinton.... I've been thinking this way a long time.... Not just because it's bold and they need to show bold, but you know what? I think they need the Clinton ruthlessness onboard. I really do. I'm beginning to think Bill Clinton is still the only guy in that party who really knows how to do this, as far as talking to the American people, making the counter-argument to the Republican arguments that, again, Obama just seems to be cozying up to their way of thinking." Earlier, Maher leveled a stronger accusation along those lines, that Obama was "moving to the center, moving to be a kind of a lighter version of the Republican candidate."
Perhaps it's the pied piper effect, but when Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama speaks, the media follow right along in lockstep.
The word "disaster" can invoke images of the aftermath of hurricanes, tornados or tsunamis. But, on the campaign trail where there are political points to be scored - it's one quarter of a slight economic contraction followed up by two quarters of shallow economic growth, according to Obama.
"Then he started running ads saying oh, Obama's just going to raise your taxes and he'll lead to an economic disaster," Obama told his campaign audience. "Mr. McCain, let me explain to you, the economic disaster is happening right now. Maybe you haven't noticed."
Remember the good old days? Back during the Dem primaries? When Barack Obama was such an electrifying orator that women were regularly fainting at his rallies? Ah, how times have changed. Instead of knocking them out with his other-worldly aura, Obama's now . . . putting them to sleep.
Check out the woman in the lower-right hand corner of the video to your right, from CNN today during a live broadcast of Obama on the stump in Virginia. No, I didn't catch her in mid-blink.
As you'll see in the video, as Obama expounded on the horrors of the Bush economy, the woman falls into, then struggles out of, the arms of Morpheus. (Watch video full-screen for best viewing.)
[Update, 3:30 pm ET Wednesday: Video added, at right.]
Wednesday’s American Morning program on CNN ran a segment by correspondent Ed Lavandera on the practice of corporal punishment for students, which featured a Texas student speaking out against paddling who wore a red T-shirt -- which featured the communist hammer and sickle symbol, an insignia popular with regimes which presided over the torture and murder of hundreds of millions. Lavandera also ran three sound bites of individuals speaking out against the practice versus one principal who is in favor of it.
Lavandera interviewed student Joe Cancellare, who received "two swats" from a paddle at his Alpine, Texas school after being sent to the principal’s office for flinging rubber bands. Cancellare and his mother Andrea Cancellare, who was also interviewed, both object to this form of punishment. Lavandera stated that Ms. Cancellare "had earlier written a letter to the school expressing her vehement opposition to corporal punishment, and demanding that her son be exempted from the practice."
Don't want to take Rush's word for it? How about Mark Halperin's? The editor of Time's "The Page" thinks the choice by John McCain of a pro-choice running mate would be nothing short of a "disaster." Halperin expressed his view during an appearance today on CNN's American Morning.
KIRAN CHETRY: What about some potential running mates for John McCain? Because there's been a lot of talk all over talk radio. A lot of people are saying if he tries to go with somebody who's pro-choice like a Lieberman, that that would be it for the base: a big deflation for the convention.
MARK HALPERIN: Look, so many of the people who go to the convention in St. Paul are going to be pro-life, and very strongly pro-life. I think it would be a disaster for him to pick someone who was not in agreement with the party platform on abortion.
Wolf Blitzer for one apparently doesn't think Tom Ridge's pro-choice position should disqualify him as John McCain's VP pick. The former Pennsylvania congressman and governor was a guest on this afternoon's Situation Room, and Blitzer began by playing a clip of Rush Limbaugh urging McCain not to pick a pro-choice running mate, saying it would "obliterate all the progress that he experienced" at the Saddleback forum.
Ridge surmised that "Rush and everybody else hopefully can see that there's a clear choice regardless of the vice-presidential candidate. A choice that says that John McCain is needed now as president of the United States in this perilous time."
That's when Wolf made a more muscular case on Ridge's behalf.
WOLF BLITZER: And if he did pick you, he, the president, he'd be calling the shots. You'd be the vice-president. You'd be doing whatever the president asks you to do.
CNN correspondent Mary Snow’s report on Monday’s The Situation Room about Barack Obama’s charge that pro-life "folks are lying" about his abortion record actually just presented both sides of the controversy without getting to the reality of the matter. The report, which was promoted as "checking the facts" by host Wolf Blitzer, also omitted how Obama’s campaign conceded on Sunday that the pro-lifers were actually accurately representing his record.
Before Snow’s report aired just before the top of the 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer read two promos for it. In the first, he announced how "Barack Obama [is] in the middle of an abortion battle. Now, he's pushing back after an extraordinary claim against him. We're going to examine the record." In the second promo, Blitzer played Obama’s "lying" sound bite, and stated, "Senator Obama blasts opponents for distorting his record on abortion-related legislation. We're checking the facts."
On Sunday night’s Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, pressed megachurch leader Rick Warren about Obama campaign charges that John McCain was cheating by not being in a "cone of silence" during Obama’s interview.
"Last night, I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence, and then half-hour into the event, I hear our guys here at our political desk announced that McCain has just arrived at the worship center. And I'm thinking, you know -- hey, if he just arrived at the worship center, he couldn't have been in the cone of silence, right?"
After Warren give his initial answer about McCain being in a "Secret Service motorcade," Sanchez pushed two follow-up questions on the matter. In the first, he asked, "Did you think at the time -- when you said that, did you think he was in the cone of silence -- did you think he was in the building?"
Earlier today, I posted on NewsBusters "CNN's Analysis: At Saddleback, Obama Was 'Thoughtful.'" The piece described how CNN repeatedly described Barack Obama at the Saddleback Church forum as "thoughtful." Other observers saw it differently, thinking Obama appeared evasive and indecisive. His hesitant fumbling especially contrasted with the very specific and resolute responses from John McCain.
The Reverend Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback and the host of the forum, appeared on CNN Newsroom this evening. Questioned by anchor Rick Sanchez, it seems clear Warren got the network memo.
Last night the Reverend Rick Warren questioned Barack Obama and John McCain at California's Saddleback Church. Post forum coverage at CNN was hosted by network chief national correspondent John King.
He began by asking CNN senior political analyst Candy Crowley and network congressional correspondent Dana Bash for their impressions. Crowley found McCain to have been "very direct" while Bash observed the GOP candidate addressed the audience rather than Warren. Both stated that Obama was "nuanced" in his answers.
When King asked Bill Schneider, another CNN senior political analyst, for his take on the event, the word of the day shifted from nuanced to thoughtful:
[Update, 2:25 pm EDT, 8/15: A MRC CyberAlert item from March 18, 1997 reported that Waldman had worked in the Clinton administration promoting AmeriCorps before joining U.S. News and World Report.]
Correspondent David Mattingly’s report on Friday’s Newsroom program on CNN promoted the accusation by Barack Obama supporters that a popular McCain Internet advertisement, known as "The One" ad, drops hints that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee might be the Antichrist. Mattingly used two sound bites from proponents of this idea, and none from people who are opposed to it.
Mattingly introduced his report with two clips from the ad and stated, "When you listen to this John McCain ad, it might sound like Barack Obama has a messiah complex." He then explained that while "[t]he McCain campaign says it's all in good fun... not everyone's laughing. Some Democrats say the ad, which appears only on the Internet, is infused with hidden messages to evangelical Christians -- messages that Barack Obama isn't the messiah at all." [audio clip available here]
The report’s first sound bite featured Steven Waldman, the CEO of Beliefnet.com, who made the following accusation about the ad: "It reenforces things that they've been hearing around the Internet, that maybe Barack Obama is, in fact, the Antichrist." Before Waldman co-founded Beliefnet, he was the National Editor for U.S. News and World Report and was a national correspondent for Newsweek magazine. He is also an occasional blogger on The Huffington Post.
Two days ago I excerpted from an open letter to Rick Warren over at Red State calling on the California pastor to post questions to the presidential candidates, particularly Barack Obama, on pro-life concerns. Today, Red State editor Erick Erickson has given up any hope that tomorrow's "Compassionate Leader" forum will be anything but a CNN-televised sop to the Left (emphasis Erickson's):
Warren says he is going to get "Faith in Public Life" to help him come up with the questions to ask McCain and Obama. Who is "Faith in Public Life"? From the link:
Jim Wallis is America's foremost spokesman for the Religious Left. Bob Edgar, of course, is the former head of the National Council of Churches. Catherine Pinkerton sits on the Obama campaign's Catholic Advisory Council. Anybody see a pattern here? Just to drive the point home, consider the boards of directors and advisors of the FLP, which include such luminaries as:
CNN correspondent Tom Foreman omitted identifying a "foreign policy expert" as a former member of Bill Clinton’s National Security Council during a report on John McCain’s strong position towards Russia on Wednesday’s Election Center program. This expert, Charles Kupchan of the Council of Foreign Relations, accused McCain of becoming a belligerent position towards the country: "Well, over the last few years, McCain's views on Russia seem to be getting more and more confrontational, and I think he's really aligned himself with the far right, not with the centrists within the Republican Party. And, in some ways, it almost appears either if he thinks the Cold War is still on or that he wants it to return."
Kupchan, a professor of international relations at Georgetown University, served as Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council during Clinton’s first term. He also has complimented Barack Obama for his willingness to "engage adversaries," which to him is "a sign not of naiveté or inexperience, but of hard-headed realism." Foreman used two sound bites from the professor during his report. At the beginning of the segment, the CNN correspondent played Ronald Reagan’s famous "tear down this wall" line from 1987 as he introduced McCain’s position on Russia: "In the final years of the Soviet Union, as Ronald Reagan was thundering at the Russians, John McCain was a first-term senator cheering him on, and, 21 years later, he still distrusts Russia."
John Roberts, during an interview of Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of Dwight Eisenhower and a Barack Obama supporter, on Wednesday’s American Morning, asked about the Democratic presidential candidate’s apparent similarities to the World War II hero, as well as how he might be like Ronald Reagan. Later in the interview, the CNN co-anchor also stated that "the McCain campaign has been trying to tear him [Obama] down at every opportunity and they keep on zeroing-in on this idea of celebrity. Let's take a quick look at the latest ad from the McCain campaign that hammers Obama on that point."
Barack Obama’s campaign had announced the formation of "Republicans for Obama" on Tuesday, and Roberts interviewed Eisenhower about why she was among those "crossing party lines" to support the Illinois senator. He asked in his first question to Eisenhower, "We all remember that the ‘I like Ike’ campaign back in 1952. But reading what you've said about Senator Obama, it seems like there are some similarities, that he may be just like Ike. What can you tell me about that?" After she replied, he followed-up with another presidential comparison: "You also see some similarities, you said, between Senator Obama and President Reagan. How so?"
In your news release about the candidate forum, you suggest that you will avoid "gotcha" questions. The topics highlighted in the release are poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate and human rights with a special emphasis on character and leadership rather than programmatic details.
There is much to be said for rising above partisan politics. After all, the church is on a mission from God to all the earth....