Wednesday’s The Situation Room aired an interview of author Ron Suskind, who alleges in his new book that the Bush administration engaged in a "disinformation campaign" by forging documents in the lead-up to the Iraq war. This came a day after host Wolf Blitzer made the allegations in the book lead items on the program.
Blitzer’s interview of Suskind aired in two separate segments in the 5 pm and 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program. In his introduction to the first segment, Blitzer referred to "bombshell allegations against the Bush White House. A new book claiming, among other things, that it ordered -- yes, ordered the CIA to forge a letter drawing connections between Iraq and al Qaeda to justify the 2003 invasion."
In his first question to Suskind, Blitzer referred to the author’s charge that the "the alleged crimes of President Bush and Vice President Cheney are worse than Watergate." Suskind explained that "if, ultimately, in congressional hearings and whatnot -- if they're able to show that the White House directed the CIA -- as I show in the book with lots of testimony -- that the CIA was directed by the White House to do this disinformation campaign on this letter, there will be issues of legality that will be debated in terms of high crimes."
Chicken and egg question: which came first, Obama supporters or pro-Obama media coverage?
Such seems important given a new Rasmussen Reports study that found people who watch CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast network evening news programs largely support Obama for president, while those watching Fox News are more likely to say they're voting for McCain.
Though certainly not surprising, is this a function of the various channels' biases impacting their viewers, or people opting for news sources that are friendly to the candidate they support?
While you ponder, here are the relevant numbers (h/t NBer Schnikeys, photo courtesy MSNBC.com):
Exactly how wide is the gulf between elite media opinion and public opinion on matters of politics?
Let’s put it this way, after Sen. Barack Obama falsely accused Sen. John McCain of saying he (Obama) doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency and has a funny name, Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, called Obama's "Dollar Bill" statement "self-deprecating":
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure –
On Friday's Countdown, during the show's "Worst Person in the World" segment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tried to characterize the ratings of his show as more admirable than than those of FNC's highly watched O'Reilly Factor by narrowly citing viewing figures among younger demographics. Olbermann, who has a history of quoting the viewing figures for those 25-54 years old -- citing their value to advertisers -- to make himself appear more competitive with O'Reilly, on this occasion dismissively referred to older viewers as "65 to dead." Olbermann: "But don't worry, Bill, you're still dominating that important demographic, 65 to dead." Notably, in June 2006, Olbermann gloated that O'Reilly's viewers are "dying off."
And, although Olbermann vaguely claimed that Bill O'Reilly "crows about the ratings and then gets them wrong again," the MSNBC host in no way contradicted O'Reilly's numbers as Olbermann merely cited the statistics for the specific younger demographics, which did not disprove anything the FNC host stated.
TVNewser reported on the July figures: ""The top rated program was again The O'Reilly Factor at 8pmET(2,252,000 viewer average). For MSNBC, the top program was Countdown with Keith Olbermann at 8pmET in 9th place (959,000) and for CNN it was Larry King Live tied for 10th (940,000)." The TVNewser report can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, on Thursday’s The Situation Room, found racist overtones to the recent McCain campaign ad comparing the hype surrounding vapid celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to the hype surrounding Barack Obama: "I think it's very much playing the race card to put a highly educated, articulate, middle-aged black family man into a television commercial with two blonde bimbo airheads with a combined I.Q. of a box of cereal. And if you have any doubts about what I'm talking about, it's the same kind of thing that was done to Harold Ford down in Tennessee in 2006 and it stinks. It's more subtle, but it stinks just the same."
Cafferty was referring to the spot the RNC ran against Harold Ford in the 2006 Tennessee Senate race which made light of how Ford appeared at Super Bowl party thrown by Playboy magazine in 2005. In the ad, an attractive young blonde joked about how she met Ford at the Playboy bash, and asked him to call her. Liberals reacted harshly to the supposed racist insinuation made by the ad. The NAACP condemned it as a "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women."
After several media outlets discovered the Democratic congressman from Florida uses his in-laws' house in a Florida retirement community to meet residency requirements, he has sent out an e-mail (entire text here) asking for campaign donations - alleging it's his "strong and vocal stands in favor of impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney" that has made him a target of "ultra-conservative" media.
"In the eyes of the right wing, I am seen, along with Rep. Kucinich, as one of the symbols of the impeachment fight. They believe that if they defeat me - they defeat our cause," Wexler wrote. "For the last week, I've been relentlessly targeted by ultra-conservative radio and television hosts, as well as my local media. It has taken a toll. Now more than ever, I need your support to help me stay in Congress to represent your voice in Washington."
You might say nothing could be more unsurprising than a panel of political pundits admitting the obvious: that Barack Obama is playing the race card when he accuses John McCain of saying the Dem candidate "doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency."
But what makes the punditry panel's unanimity notable is that no one would accuse them of being McCain backers, and what's more, that they turned up on Hardball. Surely Chris Matthews, were he not on vacation, would have found one diehard to deny reality. But with Mike Barnicle guest-hosting, a consensus of truth-telling broke out.
Barnicle began by playing a clip of McCain, interviewed by CNN's John King, saying that it is legitimate to accuse Obama of having played the race card. The video is worth viewing if only to watch McCain end the interview by shaking a surprised King's hand and walking away. Then the panel commented. Perry Bacon of the Washington Post said he would decline to answer directly, but his answer left no real doubt as to his view.
After Barack Obama’s more-than-enthusiastic greeting by many attendees at the UNITY convention for minority journalists in Chicago on Sunday, some in the media have expressed outrage that some have now questioned their objectivity, despite the appalled reactions from some of their own peers to the display and the live video shown on CNN (at right).
April Yee wrote on Andrew Romano’s blog on Newsweek.com on Monday about the question of whether minority journalists can cover the Illinois senator objectively. She quoted Ernest Suggs of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who objected to this question even coming up in the first place: "That mindset needs to change.... It is offensive that because we have the same color or the same agenda, our journalistic ethics and responsibilities go out the window."
Suggs might have a point, since two of the biggest cheerleaders for Obama in the media are white men: Lee Cowan and Chris Matthews.
Apparently, it must have not been enough for Jack Cafferty on Monday to merely call Barack Obama’s overseas trip "almost flawless" on Monday’s The Situation Room. On Tuesday’s program, Cafferty opined that it was a "mystery" that Obama didn’t have more of a lead in the polls. "It seems like that Obama should be miles ahead of McCain when you consider the political climate. Americans can no longer stand President Bush or the Republican Party or the war in Iraq, and, of course, there's the deteriorating economy." He continued: "...Obama has run a pretty flawless campaign, highlighted by that hugely successful trip overseas last week. John McCain, on the other hand, spent last week making one mistake after another."
Pretty flawless, Jack? How do you so quickly forget issues like the Illinois senator’s church that he attended for two decades and his pastor, Reverend Wright? How about his "bitter" comments about people in Pennsylvania?
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, back from a short vacation, gushed shamelessly about Barack Obama’s week-long trip to the Middle East and Europe on Monday’s The Situation Room: "Barack Obama’s overseas trip -- it was almost flawless." He then heralded the Democrat’s enthusiastic reception internationally and how the past week was a blow to his Republican opponent: "We saw foreign citizens waving American flags instead of burning them, or having the host country’s military holding back angry protesters, and, while Obama was away shoring up his foreign policy credentials, it seems the week turned out to be devastating one for John McCain."
On today's CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, network White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux moderated a discussion with Barack Obama at the UNITY convention of minority journalists. Beforehand, Blitzer asked her about someone who wasn't attending the conference:
BLITZER: Senator McCain, I take it, he was invited to address this conference, as well. Is that right?
MALVEAUX: Yes, he certainly was. His campaign said there was a conflict of interest, that he had a lot of other things that were going on. He wasn't able to attend. This is a conference that has spanned across four days or so here in Chicago. Thousands of people have attended. It happens every four years. And so it really is very important to the journalists here, a lot of writers, a lot of people who represent media throughout the country are going to be paying very close attention. It is a shame that he wasn't able to attend.
McCain begged off because of other commitments. That may well be true, but even if it weren't it would have been a mistake for him to participate. He would not have been received nearly as warmly as Obama and the contrast would have given the mainstream media an opportunity to joyfully focus on the disparity.
When the Israeli government and the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out a prisoner release agreement in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners while Hezbollah released the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who had been killed, there was a substantial contrast in the way the broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story. While ABC’s Charles Gibson and Simon McGregor-Wood reported on World News that one of the prisoners, Samir Kuntar, had been convicted of the "vicious murder" of an Israeli man and his four-year-old daughter, and that upon release he was "greeted in Beirut as a returning hero," NBC and CBS both skipped over any details of Kuntar’s crime, and CBS’s Katie Couric even listed the prisoner exchange as one of several "glimmers of hope" in the conflict between Israelis and Arabs. Couric: "For the first time in years, there are some glimmers of hope in the Arab-Israeli stalemate -- a virtual cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, and the beginning of low-level talks between Israel and Syria."
CNN and FNC further detailed the brutality of Kuntar’s crime, and FNC noted his popularity among many in Lebanon. FNC’s Morton Kondracke: "What’s most disgusting is that the Lebanese performance, tens of thousands of people turning out to welcome home a terrorist who had killed a policeman, a civilian, and then bashed in the head of the civilian's four-year-old daughter. And he's being welcomed home as though he’s a national hero, with the president there, the prime minister there, the speaker of the parliament. This is supposed to be an ally of the United States, Lebanon. What it indicates is that Lebanon, that Lebanese politics is now owned by Hezbollah ... they have veto power over whatever the Lebanese government does, you know. Lebanon is close to being lost." (Transcripts follow)
On Sunday, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz continued his mission of exposing the absurd amount of coverage the media are giving to Barack Obama as compared to John McCain.
On CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz amazingly asked his guests, "Where does journalism get off saying it's OK to give one candidate twice as much coverage -- this week, I would say four times as much coverage -- as the other candidate running for president?"
This followed last Sunday's warning by Kurtz that "there could be a big backlash against news organizations if this trend continues":
CNN has admitted to a serious error in a report filed Thursday concerning a Republican student organization at the University of Southern California.
A segment which originally aired at 6:00 AM on "American Morning," and twice after that, used a person not affiliated with the USC College Republicans to suggest the organization is having a hard time drawing support because of a lack of enthusiasm for John McCain.
According to the Los Angeles Times "Top of the Ticket" blog, CNN has apologized (h/t NBer Tom):
The dilemma of high gas prices might be addressed if congressional leaders would all just get along.
From CNN correspondent Kate Bolduan's perspective, the political differences on energy policy are little more than a "partisan standoff" between Democrats and Republicans.
"Even before the votes were counted on the latest energy proposal, the partisan standoff was clear," Bolduan said on the July 25 "American Morning." "[T]hat bill, a Democratic plan to release oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It failed - one more example of the deadlock over sky-high gas prices and one step closer to Congress going home for the summer without passing anything significant on energy."
According to the report, the primary conflict involved opening federal lands to offshore drilling.
"[Europe] wants to see an [American] president committed to free trade," cautioned CNN Chief International Correspondent from Berlin, Germany, the site of a speech by presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
Amanpour pointed to Obama's wanting to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement as a problem for the Illinois senator. She explained why on the July 24 broadcast during Obama's visit to Europe.
"But let me tell you a word of caution. The European top trade official for instance has said, ‘Listen Barack Obama quit that crowd pleasing rhetoric and get serious for instance on the issue of trade.' You know Barack Obama as a candidate has talked about renegotiating NAFTA. Well, that does not go down well in Europe, which believes in internationalism and globalism, in globalization," said Amanpour on the morning broadcast.
CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, reporting on Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin on Thursday’s “The Situation Room,” expressed her shock that the European crowd didn’t seem to have the same mania for the Democrat that the media has: “I did ask some people as they were leaving what they thought. Everybody said good, good. But I was surprised that there wasn't this sort of euphoria afterwards, given how many people had come to listen and how much it had been anticipated.” She later stated in the segment that one unnamed political analyst talked about how “people [in Europe] want a political redeemer -- I mean, that's very specific language, and he said it's not really based on facts, the -- what they think about Obama, because they don't really know. It's based on expectations.”
During the segment, which began just after the top of the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, host Wolf Blitzer asked Amanpour, “why do they apparently like him so much, not only in Germany, but throughout Western Europe?” She gave the standard media talking point about Obama in general: “They like him, some people say, because he is something new, he is a new generation, he's promising change, and people here are desperate for change.” Amanpour then reported on how Europeans apparently like Obama because “he is not President Bush, and they're slightly traumatized still from the last seven years of this ‘go-it-alone’ policy, which has seen so much war and has created so much division.”
During a report on Tuesday’s “American Morning,” CNN correspondent Randi Kaye detailed how the rejection of an op-ed by John McCain by The New York Times might be part of a wider pattern of media bias for Barack Obama and against John McCain: “Consider this -- network anchors and reporters are following Obama's every move in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the last four months, McCain has gone abroad to Europe, the Middle East, Canada, Colombia, and Mexico -- no anchors tagged along. Some networks didn't even send reporters.... According to a group that follows this stuff, Obama gets more than twice as much coverage as McCain on the broadcast networks weekday evening newscasts, 114 minutes compared to just 48. Same goes for the covers of Time and Newsweek.” She joined her CNN colleagues Jack Cafferty and Howard Kurtz in revealing the lopsided coverage of Barack Obama versus John McCain.
Folks that are actually paying attention to Barack Obama's many flip-flops certainly remember a whopper from early June when he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that Jerusalem must "remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."
As this angered Palestinian groups, the junior senator from Illinois quickly reversed his position the following day.
Last Sunday, Obama appeared on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria: GPS," and instead of being challenged about this flip-flop, the host seemed to aid and abet it (photo courtesy CNN.com).
Two days later, WOR radio's Steve Malzberg exposed Zakaria's complicity by first playing what Obama said to AIPAC on June 4 (15-minute audio available here):
For months, CNN's Howard Kurtz has been one of the loudest mainstream media voices accusing his fellow press members of being disgracefully in the tank for presumptive Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.
On Sunday, Kurtz continued his finger-pointing by accurately stating, as it pertains to the focus on the junior senator's trip to the Middle East, "the media in general, not just the networks, are -- seem to me to be covering Obama as if he were already president."
In fact, this was basically the theme for the first segment of Sunday's "Reliable Sources" on CNN:
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer’s interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday's Situation Room drew some attention as she claimed President Bush was a "total failure." Blitzer’s questions were challenging – Pelosi’s lashing out at Bush came in response to a question about Congress having an approval rating of 14 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll. But Blitzer aired three "CNN i-Reports" questions from the public, and all three came from citizens further left than Pelosi. One dismissed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as useless against the Republicans, one lamented the Democrats’ failure to achieve withdrawal from Iraq, and one complained about taking the impeachment of Bush "off the table."
In the 4 pm hour, Blitzer asked about criticism from Pelosi’s right, from President Bush and from House Minority Leader John Boehner (whose name seems to rarely come up on CNN). But the "public" was on the hard left:
BLITZER: Madam Speaker, we invited viewers to send in their questions for you via our CNN i-Reports. Jordan Klein of Los Angeles is a 16-year-old high school student, and has this question.
A great first day on national television news for Barack Obama as he began his much-hyped overseas trip with a stop in Kuwait before moving on to Afghanistan. CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, seemingly channeling the media's own excitement, on Saturday night hailed it as “a trip that seems to be captivating the rest of the world as much, if not more so, than many in the United States.”
ABC, CBS and CNN showcased video of Obama making a basketball shot at a gym with troops in Kuwait. Over video troops cheering Obama as he walked into the gym, on ABC's World News Jim Sciutto touted: “Though the destinations were new, the greeting was familiar. Senator Barack Obama signing autographs with soldiers on his first stop in Kuwait, even taking time to play some basketball...” Forrest Sawyer, anchoring the CBS Evening News on Saturday night, apparently with a new job after many years with ABC and MSNBC, highlighted how Obama “sank a shot from way outside the paint.” Sawyer announced over matching video:
Now, before Afghanistan Senator Obama stopped off in Kuwait to talk to the troops there. You remember all that grief Obama got for being a terrible bowler? Well, at a local gym someone handed him a basketball and he promptly sank a shot from way outside the paint. He made it look easy. You just have to pick the game.
Greta Van Susteren is quickly becoming one of Fox News's most ardent defenders against attacks from the ultra-left.
Writing about Netroots Nation -- the gathering in Austin, Texas, of the most liberal people in America -- Greta bashed her former network CNN as well as MSNBC, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and all those in attendance.
Fasten those seatbelts tightly, for Greta, in a blog posting Friday morning, wasn't taking prisoners (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser, photo courtesy FNC):
CNN personalities Jack Cafferty and Howard Kurtz made a sudden confession of the mainstream media’s imbalanced coverage of Barack Obama versus John McCain on Thursday’s "The Situation Room." First, in his 5 pm Eastern hour "The Cafferty File," Cafferty labeled the media’s planned coverage of Obama’s first overseas trip since becoming the presumptive nominee an "extravaganza." He then gave some disclosure concerning the breakdown of the coverage between the two presidential candidates: "The three broadcast network newscasts, which have 20 million viewers combined, spent about 114 minutes covering Obama since June, compared to 48 minutes for McCain. Obama's been on the cover of Time and Newsweek 12 times in the last three years -- five for John McCain." Despite this admission, Cafferty gushed as predicted that Obama would be received in Europe "like the Rolling Stones tour coming to town." Later in the hour, Kurtz picked up the same theme and gave some more details about the imbalance in coverage in another report.
[Update, 5:45 pm, by Matthew Balan: In the past year, Cafferty has called for the impeachment of Bush administration officials or criticized Democrats for failing to do so on 3 other occasions: August 21, 2007; January 7, 2008; and just over a month ago on June 12, 2008.]
You might call Jack Cafferty the Dennis Kucinich of the media. Actually, the CNN commentator would go the Dem congressman one better. Not content with mere impeachment, Cafferty has condemned Congress for not pursuing the possible prosecution of President Bush—to whom he sneeringly refers as "King George"—for war crimes.
The CNN commentator put war-crime prosecution on the table during his Cafferty File segment on this afternoon's CNN "Situation Room."
So much of the liberal bias on cable networks is visual. It can impact the casual viwer on the treadmill at the gym watching with the audio off. Case in point is the video embedded at right from the July 15 edition of "The Situation Room" on CNN. [audio available here]
In it, anchor Wolf Blitzer tries to put a substantial wedge between House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) over drilling for oil in ANWR. Notice that while Boehner defends opening up a small patch of the national Arctic wilderness for oil exploration, CNN producers make Boehner share a split-screen with footage of frolicking wildlife. The caption on screen reads, "Republicans at Odds Over Oil: McCain Against ANWR Drilling."
The message is clear: the GOP is the party that wants to shed [animal] blood for oil.
During a segment on CNN’s "Newsroom" program on Monday afternoon, anchor Kyra Phillips voiced her clear objections to The New Yorker’s satirical depiction of Michelle Obama as a radical leftist and Barack Obama as a Muslim. "If I see this magazine cover, okay? And I mean, this is pretty racial. I mean, let's look at it again. You've got Michelle Obama in an Afro. You know, you've got, you know, her husband, Barack Obama, in a turban. We're talking about racism and terrorism. I mean, these are -- and burning of the flag. These are the most sensitive issues in our country right now. If I see that, I'm going to think, oh my God, is this who we want in the White House?" She later asked the question, "Do you think in any way that this cover sets us back, that it's more divisive than anything else and only proves that we're still pretty racially insensitive?"
With “WORST. WEEK. EVER?” on screen above the promise of “NO BIAS, NO BULL,” Friday's CNN Election Center show devoted a story to John McCain's bad week, but afterward, Mark Halperin, the former ABC News political director now with Time magazine, declared that McCain's challenge are less his supposed gaffes than “his problem is stopping the press and the Democrats from making this what the election is about.” Specifically, “I think the problem is that the press right now and the Democrats are trying to seize on every mistake, the Democrats are being very adept at creating the story of the day when John McCain misspeaks.”
Before Halperin, the 8 PM EDT CNN show anchored by Campbell Bran ran a set up piece by Dana Bash who ran through a series of events in McCain's campaign, such as Phil Gramm's America is in a “mental recession,” but also McCain's “politically perilous” decision to express in Michigan his pro-free trade position. Halperin scolded her:
I have great respect for Dana Bash, but I'd say that some of the examples in her piece, I don't think were particularly bad. John McCain is a free trader. We've had free traders as Presidents who've been elected almost every election in modern times. So I don't think everything that the press is picking on is necessarily a gaffe or a problem.
Thursday’s "Newsroom" program on CNN, in a report promoted to be about how "controversial comments are nothing new to Jesse Jackson," was actually a retrospective from two years ago that largely glowed about Jackson’s affiliation with Martin Luther King, Jr., and giving the man a platform to answer his critics. "Newsroom" co-anchor Don Lemon, who interviewed Jackson in the report, remarked of his career, "‘How far soon we forget’ could be theme of Jesse Jackson's last decade or so. After all, it was him, marching or sitting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in all those civil rights photographs." Lemon did mention the leader’s extramarital affair in which he sired a child, but omitted the former Democratic presidential candidate’s bigoted "Hymietown" comments from 1984.
On this afternoon's CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon interviewed Carolyn Lochhead, the San Francisco Chronicle's Washington correspondent. The topic was "Obamacans," conservative Republicans who support Barack Obama for president.
Lochhead wrote a recent article on the phenomenon and was brought on to discuss the mythical beast: