Just after CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric noted how there is “some finger-pointing already going on” in the McCain-Palin campaign, CBS's Bob Schieffer did a little finger-pointing of his own as he blamed John McCain's presumed impending loss on his supposed move “to the right.” Schieffer observed Friday night that “with this continuing bad economic news, I think it's going to be very hard for any Republican, even one who says he's a maverick, like John McCain.” The host of Face the Nation then offered his take on “what's going to make it even harder,” that after the primaries:
Instead of moving to the center, he moved to the right. He put Sarah Palin on the ticket which pleased the right but, as we're now seeing in these polls, her appeal does not go much beyond that.
How much of a move “to the right” was it for McCain to refuse to raise Jeremiah Wright's rants? Or to stand by his liberal position on global warming and other policies where he's gone left against the majority on the GOP? You could just as well argue that picking Palin and hitting Obama on taxes are what has given McCain any hope.
Blogger Paul Ibrahim found that CNN isn’t doing its homework when it passes along touching stories of lifelong Republicans voting for Obama. On CNN’s Political Ticker blog, under the headline "Republican drives 600 miles to vote for Obama," reporter Mary Snow wrote from Columbus, Ohio with the story of one Aaron Wheeler:
Lines were the last thing on Aaron Wheeler’s mind as he explained why he drove 600 miles back to his old hometown from Virginia, where he moved this month, to vote in what he called "one of the proudest days" of his life.
"My family has been Republican for three generations," he said, but "I knew I had to change and vote Democrat in the first time almost ever."
Wheeler said he was one of about 16 black Republican delegates at the 2004 GOP convention, and was proud to support George W. Bush.
This time, he said, he did not attend the Republican convention –and decided he would go one step further and vote for Democrat Barack Obama.
Actor Tim Robbins warned fellow left-wingers watching, and in the audience, of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday night that McCain operatives/Republicans will “try to disenfranchise as many voters” as possible by “doing a lot of dirty tricks” and so:
I am very cautious right now. I don't think this thing is over. I do think there is a chance of another stolen election, so don't get too confident, folks. Get out and vote because this could be very close.
When fellow panelist Matthew Dowd, the ex-Bush adviser turned ABC News analyst, predicted an Obama victory by 8 to 10 points, Robbins reiterated: “Don't take anything for granted, folks.”
Renegade Night on Hardball. First up, Bill Weld. The former Republican governor of Massachusetts, who has endorsed Obama, told Chris Matthews he believed the Dem candidate would, as president, reach across the aisle to govern. Weld didn't—couldn't—cite anything to support his assertion out of Obama's hyper-partisan Senate record in which he's toed the Harry Reid line 97% of the time.
But as apostasy goes, that was small potatoes compared to Christopher Hitchens. The God Is Not Great author who, despite his support for the Iraq war, has also recently endorsed Obama, told Matthews he believes McCain is "borderline senile."
Friday's NBC Nightly News carried the third excerpt from Brian Williams' time Wednesday with John McCain and Sarah Palin and, unlike his challenging approach to basic McCain-Palin premises in segments aired Wednesday and Thursday night, Williams kept it light as he asked how she's “liking” the campaign trail, wondered, when she cited “lies” about her, if there's “anything you want to correct the record on?” and raised “the inevitable question about her future in politics?” But he made up for the soft take in advance by prefacing the interview excerpt with a recitation of her “tough week.” Though it was more of a “tough week” for Palin through the media's prism than reality, Williams justified the “tough week” description:
She had told a student questioner the Vice President was quote “in charge” of the U.S. Senate. Then came the story about the RNC ponying up $150,000 for a new high-end wardrobe and other personal items, damaging to the self-described hockey mom.
But the more damaging numbers, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing 55 percent of respondents now believe Palin is not qualified to be President. Then just today Palin and her husband were placed under oath for depositions in the so-called Trooper-gate investigation in Alaska.
On Friday, October 17, news broke that Rep. John Murtha told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Barack Obama might have tough sledding in his home area: "There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area." Trying to add context to his remarks, Murtha later said many in Western Pennsylvania were "rednecks" several years ago. Now he’s in danger of losing his House seat. But have the national media noticed? ABC, CBS, and NBC all brushed past the remarks in stories on other, broader subjects, as did NPR. Time and Newsweek have run nothing. Even the major newspapers – The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today – have each mentioned the remarks only once, in passing.
Among the networks ABC was the worst (but also the first) to raise Murtha on the Sunday morning program This Week on October 19. But they utilized a separate, slightly less insulting interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed a pro-Obama video created by actor/director Ron Howard with fellow co-host Maggie Rodriguez: " You ever look at the -- Will Ferrell's website?...Well, there's some pretty interesting stuff on there from time to time...Look at -- take a look at this." In the video, posted on Will Ferrell’s website Funny or Die, Howard plays some of his past well-known television roles, Opie from the Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham from Happy Days:
RON HOWARD: When I'm a grown-up, I sure would like to vote for somebody as good as Mr. Obama.
ANDY GRIFFITH: Well, if you stay healthy and strong, avoid any felonies and stay away from the butterfly ballot, I bet you'll get a chance.
HENRY WINKLER: And after we vote, you want to double date?
WINKLER: My friend Janet Powcowski she's got this girl friend from Alaska.
HOWARD: You mean the girl who shoots moose?
WINKLER: Wait a minute. Shoots moose? I thought she said she was loose.
After putting it on Thursday's front page, the New York Times was still harping on Gov. Palin's wardrobe and who picked it out in three I.Q. melting stories in Friday's edition: "Wardrobe Mysteries Linger..." by Michael Luo and Eric Wilson, "...And a Whiff of Clarity" by Luo alone, plus a Metro section story.
In "Clarity," Luo tried to nail down the role in this grand conspiracy of one "Lisa A. Kine."
The F.E.C. records showed a "Lisa L. Kine" was reimbursed for more than $2,000 in charges, including those made at Pacifier, as well as others at Macy's, the Gap, Steinlauf & Stoller, a sewing supply store in New York, and Oshman Brothers, for "tailoring supplies." The New York address listed traces to Lisa Kline, not Kine. Could this be the mystery stylist for Ms. Palin?
"Nightline" reporter David Wright on Thursday negatively spun John McCain campaigning in Florida as an "admission of weakness" and knocked the Arizona senator's "angry rant" on the issue of taxes. The liberal journalist gleefully attempted to portray the state as a lost cause for the Republican. He asserted that in the ad war in Florida, "Obama's message is drowning McCain out." He editorialized, "McCain can't seem to catch a break, especially here in Florida."
Wright visited a McCain campaign headquarters and described supporters as "trying to scrounge up more volunteers." He then appeared at the Miami Obama HQ, where "there were a lot more people and they were busier." Despite Wright's scenario of doom and gloom, the Real Clear Politics average for Florida is only a 2.2 percent lead, with an October 21 NBC poll gave the Republican a one point advantage.
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Brand new numbers. A CBS News poll gives Barack Obama a 13-point lead. Can John McCain turn things around?" Co-host Harry Smith later introduced a report on the new poll: "A week and a half until election day and the latest CBS News/New York Times poll shows a commanding lead for Barack Obama over John McCain." Correspondent Jeff Glor then explained: "With Barack Obama now in Hawaii to visit his ill grandmother and John McCain in Colorado to campaign, the men are separated by 3,300 miles on the map and a 13-point gap in this poll."
Glor went on to detail the poll results: "It's unlikely both [McCain and Obama] like the results. Obama's 13-point overall lead is bolstered by a 15-point advantage as the candidate with which voters feel more personally comfortable and a 25-point margin on who has the right temperament to be president. While more do think John McCain is better prepared to be president, that divide has shrunk sharply since September." Glor then worked to discredit McCain’s efforts to gain support: "McCain is trying to leave that link behind and establish another, with his new Joe the Plumber tour...But even some Republicans feel it's tough to energize the every man when $150,000 is being spent to outfit running mate Sarah Palin." Glor then played a clip of former Reagan chief of staff, Kenneth Duberstein: "She's been campaigning as the candidate of Madison, Wisconsin, not Madison Avenue. And what this does is say to everybody out there, all the lower middle class and the middle class, ‘I thought she was one of us?’"
One such liberal was Amy Isaacs of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), a liberal advocacy group. Isaacs downplayed Obama's liberalism while affirming it, saying he was not a "flaming liberal" but would basically "do what every liberal does: keep the needs of ordinary working Americans foremost on his agenda."
But a review of ADA's own congressional ratings for Obama shows his voting record is overwhelmingly in line with the organization.:
Financial Times reporter Edward Luce has found another sign of trouble for the McCain campaign: he's turning up the noses of the "cocktail party circuit" inside Washington, D.C., which is "swelling with disaffected Republicans."
The more trouble John McCain's campaign encounters, the more it highlights the cultural divide between the "real America" the Republican candidate says he represents and the Washington "cocktail party circuit" that largely disdains it.
That circuit is swelling with disaffected Republicans. Some complain about Mr McCain's selection of Sarah Palin, whose appeal to "Joe Six-Pack" may have been dented by revelations this week that she has spent more than $150,000 (€117,000, £93,000) of other people's money on her wardrobe. Others are upset at the negative tone of the campaign.
Rush Limbaugh on Friday called the New York Times "the public relations department for the Barack Obama campaign and the Democrat Party."
Speaking by phone with the folks on "Fox & Friends," the conservative radio talk show host depicted the media's coverage of Obama during this presidential campaign as "the most irresponsible journalistic exhibition I have seen in my life."
Limbaugh also claimed these same biased news outlets do polls today exclusively "to shape opinion, not reflect it."
What follows is a partial, rough transcript of this discussion (video embedded right):
Bozell acknowledges network taking responsibility for misleading viewers to believe conservatives at odds with Gov. Palin
Spreading the Word
As we reported on Tuesday, CNN's Drew Griffin completely mischaracterized the nature of a "quote" from National Review's Byron York during his interview with Alaskan Republican Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
CNN has responded to the Media Research Center's call for CNN to retract the accusation that wrongly accused National Review's Byron York of calling Gov. Sarah Palin "incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above," and have taken full responsibility for the mischaracterization.
Yesterday, the cable network addressed the mistake on both Newsroom and The Situation Room, explaining the circumstances of the badly-worded representation of the statement and clarifying reporter Drew Griffin's intention, which was not to deceive his audience that a well-respected conservative publication was putting itself at odds with Gov. Palin.
CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin appeared on Thursday’s Newsroom and Situation Room programs to explain how "in no way did I intend to misquote" from a recent article by National Review’s Byron York: "This exchange aired just once in the 6 pm hour, and as soon as the National Review brought it to our attention at 7:05, we immediately realized the context could be misconstrued. We cut that portion of the interview. It never aired again." Griffin also mentioned how he had "since called Byron York and his editor Rich Lowry, explained what happened, and told them both that I regret any harm this may have brought."
In an interview excerpt aired on Tuesday's Situation Room (NB post with video), Griffin had told Sarah Palin: “The National Review had a story saying that, you know, 'I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.'” In fact, York was mocking media coverage of Palin: “Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for Vice President, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or -- well, all of the above."
Griffin first appeared seven minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom. Anchor Kyra Phillips asked the correspondent about the criticism he had received over the misquotation. He played a clip of the question, and explained the impression he had of the interview overall. He then played the initial exchange he had with Governor Palin over the "botched" quote, and most of her answer.
Time’s Joe Klein interviewed Barack Obama again for the November 3 print edition, and hailed his utter lack of drama and his steadiness. Left unasked: isn’t it easier to appear calm and steady when your interviewer doesn’t want to upset your no-drama image? Klein went on an extended exploration of how Obama showed great respect for Gen. David Petraeus, but made no mention (and as far as a reader can tell, hurled no question) about his supporters at MoveOn.org taking out an ad skewering the general as "General Betray Us." Likewise, he praised Obama’s deftness in handling the "black-nationalist sermons" of his minister Jeremiah Wright, but never seemed to press the candidate on any of the contradictions in his I can’t dissociate myself/oh yes, I can routine last spring.
In an article helpfully titled "Why Barack Obama is Winning," Klein began by describing Obama as a superior commander-in-chief to President Bush already:
In the second excerpt of his interview with John McCain and Sarah Palin, NBC's Brian Williams continued, for the second night, to challenge the premises of the McCain-Palin campaign as he pushed back at describing William Ayers as a “domestic terrorist” since “it give it a vaguely post-9/11 hint” by associating terrorist with “domestic crimes,” so “is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist?” Instead of prodding McCain about why he hasn't cited Jeremiah Wright when Obama had a long-time close relationship with the fount of anti-American and racial rants, Williams sought assurance Wright will remain off the table: “Are you going to keep your promise not to involve Reverend Wright in the campaign?”
Williams next snidely demanded to learn from Palin “what is an elite? Who is a member of the elite?” before pressing her: “Governor, are you a feminist?” (Last month, CBS's Katie Couric posed the same question: “Do you consider yourself a feminist?”)
Setting up the interview excerpt on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, Williams highlighted how “Sarah Palin's day today was spent prepping for tomorrow when Sarah and Todd Palin will be deposed under oath in that so-called Trooper-gate case” and: “The deposition, along with yesterday's revelation of that new $150,000 wardrobe and her struggle earlier this week to define the job of Vice President, have all brought a lot of unwelcome attention to the Palin side of the campaign.”
Is Chris Matthews so excited to pounce on any perceived Sarah Palin controversy that he can not get his facts straight? As NewsBusters previously reported, Matthews, in mocking Governor Palin’s alleged ignorance on the role of the vice president, stated incorrect facts on the history of the vice presidency. A further investigation finds that Chris Matthews mangled his facts over the HBO miniseries, "John Adams," as well. First his quote to McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer on the October 22 edition of "Hardball."
"Either she’s right about the vice presidency or I’m wrong. I say the role of the vice presidency, under the Constitution, is limited to breaking ties in the U.S. Senate. It has nothing to do with policy making, nothing to do with Senate leadership on either side of the aisle. There is no policy role whatever for the vice president. If you’ve even watch ‘John Adams’ on television a few months ago, you would know that going in to the very beginning of our democracy. The vice president has a formal role only. She believes somehow that the vice president of the United States has some sort of commanding policy development role and can lead the U.S. Senate. Where does she get this from?"
“Voters overwhelmingly believe that the media wants Barack Obama to win the presidential election,” a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey released Wednesday discovered. Specifically: “By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4. Another 8% say journalists don't favor either candidate, and 13% say they don't know which candidate most reporters support.”
The question (PDF of questionnaire): “Who do you think most newspaper reporters and TV journalists want to see win the presidential election -- Barack Obama or John McCain?” Unsurprisingly, 90 percent of Republicans recognized how journalists hope Obama is victorious, yet so did 62 percent of Democrats and independents.
Pew noted how “in recent presidential campaigns, voters repeatedly have said they thought journalists favored the Democratic candidate over the Republican,” but “this year's margin is particularly wide.” By comparison:
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported today that former Republican Governor Arne Carlson (Minn.) has endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid. Carlson heralded himself as a "Republican maverick" and hailed Obama as a potentially "truly great president." Tribune staffer Mike Kaszuba failed to label Carlson's ideology, but suggested in the second paragraph of his October 23 article that Carlson saw himself in the lineage of "the moderate philosophies of past Republican leaders such as Ohio Sen. Robert Taft and President Dwight Eisenhower."
Left unmentioned by the Tribune's Mike Kaszuba was that Carlson -- who was governor from 1991 to 1999 -- had a left-of-center record, particularly early in his tenure when he hiked taxes and pushed government-run health care.
As NewsBusters has been reporting since we were at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has been a strongly outspoken critic of how the mainstream media have covered Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin since she was first announced as John McCain's runningmate.
On Wednesday, appearing on Fox News's "On the Record," Gingrich called recent press reports involving the Republican vice presidential candidate "factually wrong, intellectually dishonest, totally biased, worthy of the Polish state news media attacking Lech Walesa back in the 1980s."
Moments later, he put an exclamation point on his criticism: "This is like watching Pravda. This is a one-sided, vicious, unending and dishonest campaign."
What follows is a partial transcript of this delicious exchange (video embedded right):
When Politico revealed the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 outfitting Sarah Palin and her family after she was picked as John McCain's running mate, one would assume it would be worthy of a brief, snarky story buried on the New York Times's "Caucus" page, filled mostly with anonymous Republicans griping about campaign spending priorities.
But Patrick Healy and Michael Luo's "$150,000 Wardrobe for Palin May Alter Tailor-Made Image" made the front page Thursday morning. (The other major papers had more self-control.) The Times played up what they saw as the hypocritical disconnect between Palin's "Joe-six-pack" appeal and the posh wardrobe from Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
CNN anchor Campbell Brown led her Election Center program on Wednesday with a critique of the “double standard” concerning the recent attention on the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee spent on vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin: “My issue: there is an incredible double standard here, and we're ignoring a very simple reality. Women are judged based on their appearance far, far more than men. This is a statement of fact. There has been plenty of talk and plenty written about Sarah Palin’s jackets, her hair, her looks....Compare that to the attention given to Barack Obama’s $1,500 suits or John McCain’s $520 Ferragamo shoes. There is no comparison.”
Brown spent more than 2 minutes on the matter, in which she related her own experience of how women “get scrutinized based on appearance” much more than men do: “...I speak from experience here. When I wear a bad outfit on the air, I get viewer e-mail complaining about it, a lot of e-mail, seriously. When Wolf Blitzer wears a not-so-great tie, how much e-mail do you think he gets? My point is, for women, unfortunately, appearance is part of the job. If Wolf or Anderson shows up on the air without makeup, do you think you would even notice? I show up on the air without makeup, trust me, you’ll notice.” The CNN anchor then defended the RNC’s efforts to help Palin appear visually good: “All women in the public eye deal with this issue, and it’s for this reason that I think the RNC should help Palin pay for hair, clothes, and makeup. It is part of the job.” She concluded her commentary by labeling the attention on Palin’s clothing a “peripheral issue” in the presidential campaign.
Barack Obama was so pleased with the findings of a CBS News/New York Times poll that he gave it a plug at the October 15 presidential debate: "Two-thirds of the American people think that Senator McCain is running a negative campaign, versus one-third of mine."
That's what the poll showed, but do people believe this because McCain's ads really are more negative, or because the media have spent more time complaining about them? MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas went over all 213 broadcast morning and evening news stories that discussed the candidates' ads from the end of the primaries (June 4) through October 21. The results show the networks aired nearly three times as many stories criticizing McCain's ads (84) as hitting Obama's (32).
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the congressional races with the editor of the liberal New Republic magazine, Michael Crowley, and asked: "Now, if the Democrats get to 60 seats, as they hope to, what would be significant about that?" Crowley replied: "...in the Senate the other -- the opposition can filibuster. And if you have 60 votes you can basically tell them to 'shut up and we're going to pass our bill, sit down.' So 60 votes is the magic number because the opposition, if they have 41, can draw things out and prevent you from passing a bill so 60 is a magic number and it's one Democrats are really hoping they can get..." Rodriguez never identified Crowley’s liberal leanings and Thursday’s segment marks his forth appearance on the Early Show since July, always depicted as a neutral political analyst.
Throughout the segment, Rodriguez highlighted possible seats that Democrats could gain: "In North Carolina, a seat that's been held by -- for 36 years by a Republican, could be in danger of going to a Democrat, right?" Crowley replied: "It's a sign of the kind of year we're in...North Carolina is becoming a more Democratic state. Democratic registration has just really exploded, outpacing Republicans...there's a lot of Democratic energy in that state right now." Rodriguez moved on to Kentucky: "Kentucky, red state through and through. John McCain will probably get it, but not necessarily Mitch McConnell, who's been there for two decades." Crowley responded: "McConnell, I think maybe seen as tied to the Bush Administration, helping them shepard some of their things through. Supported the bailout bill, which his colleague from Kentucky opposed. He's being tied to special interests. So really dramatic race there."
Spreading the WordAs we reported earlier, former Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings drops one rhetorical bomb after another on the media in a new article for GQ magazine. All of them reinforcing what we already knew, best summarized by Hastings himself: the press's "objectivity is a fallacy."
It has been a horrendous year for the media's credibility, and Hastings's statements only make it worse. "If (it) sounds like I had some trouble being ‘objective,' I did. Objectivity is a fallacy. In campaign reporting more than any other kind of press coverage, reporters aren't just covering a story, they're a part of it-influencing outcomes, setting expectations, framing candidates-and despite what they tell themselves, it's impossible to both be a part of the action and report on it objectively."
Hastings is utterly derisive of both former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator and Presidential nominee John McCain, both of whom he covered during the Republican primary. He in fact dreamed repeatedly of doing Giuliani harm as some sort of warped civic duty.
As NewsBusters reported, CNN, in a recent interview with Sarah Palin, misquoted "The National Review’s" Byron York. In response, York appeared on the October 22 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor." Host Bill O’Reilly began the interview in charging CNN told him (or his staff) that they will not issue a correction to their misleading question. In addressing Governor Palin's question over which "National Review" correspondent wrote such a scathing attack on her, Mr. York replied "the answer is nobody wrote that."
"The National Review" correspondent also added that "perhaps this CNN thing was a mistake, but it fits in a much larger pattern of that behavior," alluding to the media’s overwhelmingly pro-Obama bias. York exemplified such a corrupt pattern in quoting "The New York Times" editor Bill Keller claiming he puts the most anti-McCain article on the front page whenever the senator complains about bias. Bill O’Reilly concluded the segment opining "I think ideology has now over ridden any kind of journalistic ethics at all."
In an interview with Barack Obama aired on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith lobbed softballs at the Democratic candidate, spending half the interview on Obama visiting his ailing grandmother: "Lincoln said, 'all I ever hope to be, I owe to her,' in speaking about his mother. Your grandmother was very much like a mother to you. How important is this trip?" Smith later observed: "Some people say there's risk involved in this, with so little time left." Obama replied: "Yeah, well, the -- I think most people understand that if you're not caring for your family, then you're probably not the kind of person who's going to be caring for other people."
Realizing that he is supposed to be a serious journalist, Smith moved on: " I want to talk about some campaign issues..." One of the "issues" Smith asked about near the end of the interview was: "Whoever gets elected president, somehow, has to put their arm around the whole country and say, 'we're in this together.' Can do you that?" That gave Obama the opportunity to call for unity and attack conservatives at the same time: "I can. And I think that's the tone that we've set from the beginning of this campaign. I mean, look. Is Sean Hannity suddenly going to get on the air waves and say 'You know, I was wrong about this Obama guy, he's my man.' No, that's not going to happen. I mean's there's going to be a certain wing of the Republican Party that is, you know, dug in and resistant to the notion that we need to change direction."