Over the past few days, the Obama campaign has been claiming — both in ads and in statements by Barack Obama himself — that John McCain would “cut” Medicare benefits by “$882 billion,” a charge that the Associated Press called “shaky” and that FactCheck.org bluntly dismissed as “bogus” and “false.”
Yet of the three broadcast networks, only ABC News has thus far joined the condemnation of Obama’s deceptive ad. NBC on Monday would only go so far as to say “McCain’s advisors say that’s not true...” — implying that it’s merely a partisan difference of opinion — while CBS has thus far refrained from questioning Obama’s truthfulness on this issue.
For weeks now, the networks have complained about the McCain campaign’s supposed nasty and unfair campaign attacks against Obama, so when will NBC and CBS join ABC in punishing this nasty and unfair charge from the Democrats?
As NewsBusters previously reported, the same broadcast networks that two years ago could not get enough of the Mark Foley scandal, are offering little to no coverage of Foley’s successor, Tim Mahoney, now embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. The networks on October 21 completely ignored the news that Congressman Mahoney’s wife is now filing for divorce. Fox News’ "Fox and Friends" only provided a brief news read. After co-host Brian Kilmeade read the brief, Steve Doocy editorialized "I think [the Foley] scandal got more ink, didn’t it?"
In related news, Mark Foley himself recently announced his endorsement for Barack Obama. Though Obama won over another Republican, it’s a safe assumption it will not receive the same news coverage as Colin Powell.
Update: Mark Foley issued a statement denying his support for Obama:
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith teased his interview with John McCain: "Exclusive, McCain one-on-one on Sarah Palin...everything from robocalls to his health." During the later segment, Smith declared: "A lot of Republican pundits in the last couple of weeks have said that yourchoice of a vice presidential candidate of Sarah Palin has been a disaster." He then asked McCain: "If, in fact, you found out that her candidacy cost you the election, would you still say it was the right choice?" McCain replied: "Harry. Look. Come to one of the rallies with me. You'll see the ignition out there and the passion and the incredible intensity out there for Sarah Palin."
Smith followed up by wondering if McCain’s health would prevent him from being president: "Can you reassure the American people right now that your health is what it needs to be in order to take office and not be concerned that it will become a factor, should you become President of the United States?" To that, McCain offered a challenge: "Have you seen me the last two years? 24/7 out there day after day in the grind. Look. I hiked the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim a couple of summers ago with my son. Listen. I'll -- listen, I'll invite any of the people who are reporting on that to come out and stick with me and hang with me on the trail."
Despite featuring the story on its "Political Radar" blog on Monday morning, the ABC network ignored for almost 24 hours the claim by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden that Barack Obama will be tested by a major international crisis in the first (potential) six months of his presidency. Monday's "Good Morning America" skipped the story, as did that evening's "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline."
In fact, "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden actually conducted an interview with Senator Obama after a campaign rally in Florida. Despite the fact that she had nabbed the first joint interview with Obama and Clinton since the Illinois senator won the nomination, she didn't address the issue. Rather than ask what his running mate meant when he said, "Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy," McFadden chose to limit her questions to how the relationship between Obama and Clinton had changed.
ABC Nightline co-host Terry Moran has been supportive of Barack Obama. His syrupy report of November 6, 2006 is legendary for its gush: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon....Everywhere he goes, people want him to run for President, especially in Iowa, cradle of presidential contenders. Around here, they're even naming babies after him."
Now, in the final weeks of the campaign, Moran suggested that Sarah Palin's comments about Obama's friendship with radical-left bomber Bill Ayers could be endangering Obama's life. On the October 13 Nightline, Moran spent a day on the campaign trail with Obama running mate Joe Biden. After running Palin's "pal around with terrorists" line, Moran darkly characterized: "Attacks that stoked the anger at Republican rallies, where there have been reports of attendees yelling things like ‘terrorist' and ‘kill him.'"
Guess who said the following this morning about Joe Biden's latest gaffe—his statement that America would be faced with a major international crisis within the first six months of an Obama administration as foreign forces seek to test the young new president: "certainly if Sarah Palin had said this, it would be above the fold in most newspapers today."
1. Brent Bozell 2. Rush Limbaugh 3. McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer 4. Dan Rather
If you guessed 1, 2 or 3, you'd be a rational NewsBusters reader . . . but wrong. Yes, the answer is 4, Dan Rather. In true man-bites-MSM mode, Rather made the remark on today's Morning Joe.
On Friday night, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota appeared on Hardball and pounded away at Barack Obama’s associations with his long-time minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright and bomber Bill Ayers, suggesting that the media should be investigating these associations with very anti-American voices, and that if John McCain had these associations, the media would be all over it. Chris Matthews couldn’t stand it. But he was nothing compared to others on the left – like the ones who started a Censure Bachmann website. Or raving left-wing talk show host Mike Malloy (the former CNN news writer!), who wildly associated the conservative Republican with Nazis, and death in general:
She represents a district in Minnesota, she's a Republican of course, and she’s a hatemonger. She’s the type of person that would have gladly rounded up the Jews in Germany and shipped them off to death camps. She’s the type of person who would have had no problem sending typhoid smeared blankets to Native American families awaiting deportation to reservations. She’s the type of person that I’m sure believes that the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam was good and the use of depleted uranium in Iraq served a purpose. This is an evil bitch from hell. I mean, just an absolute evil woman.
Not that it's any big surprise given his well-established liberal views and contempt for conservative policies, but in what is an unusually blatant abandonment of basic journalistic pretenses, CNN on Sunday -- and Newsweek in this week's issue -- provided time and space for Fareed Zakaria to outline why he will be voting for the “steady and reasoned” Barack Obama. Along the way, he denigrated Sarah Palin as “a rabble-rousing ultraconservative.” At the end of his Sunday (October 19) CNN program, Fareed Zakaria: GPS, Zakaria told his viewers of his choice, concluding:
John McCain represents the best of America's past, and Barack Obama the hope of the future -- the hope of a country that can make big changes and live out one of its greatest promises, of equal opportunities for all Americans, of every caste, creed and color. And America has always been a country that looks forward. So, I will be voting for Barack Obama on election day this year. (CNN.com video)
The Editor of Newsweek International was more explicitly hostile to McCain and Palin in the October 27 domestic edition of Newsweek where, in a piece titled “The Case for Barack Obama,” he made clear his disagreement with conservative policies and his left-wing view of past campaigns.
Twisting in the knife. While Barack Obama gets gushing coverage (ABC's Jake Tapper marveled on Monday's World News over Obama's “rather unbelievable weekend where he had his largest campaign crowd ever -- 100,00 in St Louis -- he announced record-breaking fundraising, $150 million in September and, of course, he secured the endorsement of that Republican Secretary of State, retired General Colin Powell”), ABC and CBS took gratuitous shots at John McCain and Sarah Palin, twisting upbeat events and a Joe Biden gaffe into negatives for the Republican ticket while NBC skipped over Biden's warning Obama's election will invite “an international crisis.”
ABC reporter Ron Claiborne cited McCain's “concentrated attack on Obama as not just a tax raiser, but someone whose policies are socialist. McCain never utters the S-word himself. That's left to his running mate.” But, he warned, “Palin may be a damaged carrier of the McCain message.” Claiborne then paired her Saturday night success with a negative poll finding as he noted “her appearance this weekend on Saturday Night Live was a boost for the show's ratings, but an ABC News poll finds that 52 percent of voters said McCain's choice of Palin made them less confident of his judgment.”
Sherri Shepherd and Joy Behar agree: Whoopi Goldberg’s "do I have to worry about becoming a slave" question to John McCain was "good." Whoopi, for her part, does not think the question was "tough." On the October 20 edition of "The View," in calling for Sarah Palin and Barack Obama to appear, the discussion evolved into a recap of McCain’s recent appearance.
Whoopi Goldberg denied that they were tough on Senator McCain, but the rest of the panel disagreed. Sherri Shepherd praised Whoopi’s question of a return to slavery after McCain called for a stricter interpretation of the Constitution on behalf of his judicial appointments. Sherri Shepherd, who has demonstrated ignorance on history and geography, seemed to forget that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution forbids slavery, not a product of an activist court. Joy Behar agreed "it was good." [audio clip available here]
Earlier in the segment, upon discussing Sarah Palin’s recent"Saturday Night Live" appearance, Joy Behar blasted the Alaska governor for not appearing on "Meet the Press" or "The View." Behar suggested that Sarah Palin just reads the teleprompter and not appearing on "The View" where she would "actually have to put a sentence together." Joy Behar missed that Palin has been off script in interviews with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. One may counter "that’s just a softball interview." Perhaps, but no softer than a Matt Lauer interview with Barack Obama.
On Monday’s Good Morning America, in a fact check of John McCain’s statement that Barack Obama “gives away your tax dollars to those who don’t pay taxes,” reporter Jake Tapper cited the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of the McCain and Obama tax cuts to stamp McCain’s charge “false.”
“Obama's tax cuts only go to people who work, so by definition, it's not welfare. Some working people eligible for Obama's tax cut make so little, they do not pay income taxes. But they do pay payroll taxes and other taxes,” Tapper summarized.
In other words, McCain would have been accurate if he’d said “gives an income tax cut to those who don’t pay income taxes — and pays for it by raising income taxes on those who are already shouldering more than half of the nation’s income tax burden.”
But Monday’s piece illustrated the liberal media’s penchant for analyzing tax proposals according to a liberal yardstick — who gets how big a check from the government — rather than by analyzing how the rival tax policies will contribute to greater prosperity (by helping or hurting economic growth, rewarding or punishing job creation, etc.).
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer talked to Washington Post reporter Dan Balz about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama and Balz argued: "Well I think it's obviously significant. I don't think endorsements ultimately mean that much, but there are two, I think, important things that happened with his endorsement of Senator Obama...the criticism of McCain for picking Governor Palin as his running mate, he said explicitly he did not think she was ready. This is something that is beginning to become almost a chorus in some parts of the Republican Party."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Schieffer offered almost identical analysis of Powell’s endorsement: "Well, I've never thought endorsements are game-changers but this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately...what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive."
CNN correspondent Carol Costello’s report on Monday’s American Morning program unquestioningly repeated a claim by Democrats in Michigan that Republicans in the state would disqualify voters affected by home foreclosures. She began her report by phrasing the accusation this way: "Lost your house to foreclosure? Democrats in Macomb County, Michigan, say beware -- Republicans, they say, want to make sure you lose your vote, too."
Costello’s report, which began 40 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, is the first in a week-long series of reports by the network called "Count the Vote," which aims at "investigating potential problems in key battleground states" with the voting process, as co-host Kiran Chetry put it in her introduction to Costello’s report. Both Chetry and Costello iterated the Michigan Democrats’ contention in three slightly different ways at the beginning of the report. It’s based on a supposed quote by Macomb County, Michigan Republican chairman James Carabelli in the Michigan Messenger, a liberal website (Costello actually described it as such).
Reciting all the messianic nicknames given to Barack Obama, such as "The One,""The Savior," and "The Messiah," NBC's Matt Lauer, on Monday's "Today" show asked the Democratic presidential nominee, how he will "manage" such great, "expectations." During an interview, aired in two parts in the first hour of "Today," Lauer rarely hit Obama with a tough question, instead choosing to focus on recent campaign highlights such as all the recent endorsements for Obama from Colin Powell to the Washington Post. [audio excerpt here]
In the later portion of the interview Lauer recounted the biblical descriptions of Obama:
People have called you "The Savior," "The Messiah," "The Messenger of Change." The expectations have been raised to such a level. Some people say you're partly responsible because of your confident attitude. If you are, as you just say, lucky enough to be elected the next president are you going to have to consciously manage expectations, during the first several months of your administration?
It is no surprise that Barack Obama receives much better treatment in the media than John McCain, but the non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs actually conducted a study that concluded just that. The Center’s evaluation found that since both candidates were formally nominated "Senator Obama on the network evening news shows have been 65% positive, compared to only 36% positive about John McCain."
While the networks ignored the study, the October 20 edition of "Fox and Friends" interviewed CMPA’s founder Robert Lichter. Lichter noted that Obama fits the media’s template of a "fresh face," "some sort of special dimensions," and "charismatic quality." He did note that the media eventually sours on such candidates, but curiously have not done so for Senator Obama.
The hosannas have already been sung in numerous stories of this variety from earlier in the campaign, but for some reason Babington thought fit to chronicle the cries of adulation from the Illinois senator's faithful followers (emphases mine; h/t e-mail tipster Joe Loiacono):
Only a fraction of the thousands of people who attend Obama's larger rallies manage to touch him. They arrive hours early, stand and cheer during his speech, and then scream, jump and sometimes cry out in joy when he uses both hands to briefly press their arms, hands, fingers.
"Good Morning America" journalists celebrated the endorsement of Senator Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday's program. An ABC graphic for reporter John Berman's segment did not hold back. It asked, "Obama's Best Weekend Ever? Powell and Donors Boost Obama." Co-host Diane Sawyer teased the story by announcing, "This morning, Senator Obama's banner weekend: Record breaking crowds, cash and the endorsement heard around the world." [audio excerpt here]
Introducing Berman, Sawyer called Powell's endorsement, which occurred on Sunday's "Meet the Press," a "booster rocket." Berman also highlighted the fact that Obama's campaign has a "bank account that swelled by a record-shattering $150 million." Of course there was no mention of the influence of money in politics or the Democratic presidential candidate's now broken pledge to take public financing.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: "To hear Colin Powell say that he's not sure John McCain can handle the economy, he's not sure if Sarah Palin is qualified, he doesn't like the nasty tone of this campaign, how significant was that, Bob?" Schieffer replied: "...this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately. Things seem to be breaking his way. This just adds to the momentum."
Rodriguez then followed up by wondering: "What do you think privately the McCain campaign is making of this endorsement?" At that point, Schieffer proclaimed: "Well, I'm sure they don't like it but, you know, this is -- what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive. I think Colin Powell said aloud yesterday what some Republicans, at least, are saying privately." [audio excerpt here]
With Sen. Barack Obama's present lead in the polls, there's been hand-wringing in the media that he could possibly lose the race due to the so-called Bradley Effect, wherein racist white voters lie to pollsters on the telephone about their voting preferences in order to, well, not sound racist.
But as a former Bradley campaign staffer writes in an October 19 op-ed for the New York Times, it was Bradley's liberal policies and an aggressive get-out-the-vote effort by the GOP that put George Deukmejian into the Governor's Mansion. Writes Blair Levin (via Karen Tumulty of Time magazine):
On election night in 1982, with 3,000 supporters celebrating prematurely at a downtown hotel, I was upstairs reviewing early results that suggested Bradley would probably lose.
But he wasn’t losing because of race. He was losing because an unpopular gun control initiative and an aggressive Republican absentee ballot program generated hundreds of thousands of Republican votes no pollster anticipated, giving Mr. Deukmejian a narrow victory.
You can officially add "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart to the list of unabashed Sarah Palin haters, for while speaking in front of a crowd at Northeastern University on Friday, the comedian told the Alaska governor "F**k you!"
Unfortunately, as reported by Mary Katherine Ham at the Weekly Standard Sunday evening, there was more to Stewart's invective-filled rant.
Here are some of the lowlights (video embedded right):
Journalists on TV Sunday heralded the importance and impact of Colin Powell's long-expected endorsement of Barack Obama which he made on Meet the Press. Later in that show, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell touted Powell's endorsement and critique of the McCain campaign as “a very powerful political statement.” On the same panel with Mitchell, Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham declared that “having Colin Powell endorse the Democratic nominee for President is like having the seal of approval from the most important military figure of the age.”
MSNBC was so excited by the news the channel produced a special Sunday Hardball devoted entirely to Powell's news. Chris Matthews teased: “Colin Powell, right in the kisser. Barack Obama gets the endorsement of the year. Let's play Hardball.” Cuing up a Meet the Press re-play at the end of the 5 pm EDT hour, Matthews celebrated: “This is history in the making, on Meet the Press, right now.”
NFL football bumped the EDT/CDT CBS Evening News, but both ABC and NBC made Powell their lead. With “Major Endorsement” as it's on-screen heading, ABC anchor Dan Harris teased, “Tonight on World News: On a roll. Obama wins a major endorsement from a major Republican.” CNN's 10 PM EDT Newsroom, which dedicated its first 30 minutes to Powell, plastered “Big-Time Endorsement” on screen before anchor Don Lemon wondered: “I know it is important, but just how important is this?”
ABC's Sam Donaldson has validated Joe the Plumber's worst fears: socialism has indeed washed over capitalism.
Maybe worse, Donaldson is clearly less unhappy about this than our new campaign spokesman from Ohio.
Such appeared to be the case when the former White House correspondent published a rather ominous commentary at ABCNews.com Tuesday both in written and video form (emphasis added, h/t Extreme Mortman via Glenn Reynolds):
CNN's Senior Political Analyst David Gergen, appearing on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, declared the announced support of Barack Obama by former Secretary of State Colin Powell "the most important endorsement of the campaign so far."
Judging by other media reaction, it is a metaphysical certitude Gergen will not be alone in his Powell-loving assessment.
Is this announcement really the bombshell press members that have been in the tank for the junior senator from Illinois since he first announced his candidacy are making it out to be?
Consider how left-leaning many of the statements Powell made on Sunday's "Meet the Press" were, and how unlikely they will do anything to sway Independent, Conservative, and undecided voters (full transcript available here, file photo):
Whether it's an example of the host's bias or incompetence, potentially one of the most amazing aspects of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama on Sunday's "Meet the Press" was that Tom Brokaw didn't ask the former Secretary of State about the success of the surge in Iraq or the Democrat presidential candidate's opposition to this winning military strategy.
Given Powell's critical position in garnering support for the Iraq War, as well as his involvement in Desert Storm many years ago, it should have been essential to any interview dealing with his endorsement of either candidate how he feels the 2007 increase in troops has worked, and what the Senatorial vote on this strategy by his candidate of choice says about that person's foreign policy acumen.
Despite this logic, a full examination of the transcript and video of this almost 30-minute interview identified absolutely no reference to the surge whatsoever, and no questions posed to the former Secretary of State concerning the wisdom of Sen. Obama's position on it.
The absence of this subject was made even more absurd given the following exchange between Brokaw and Powell (photo courtesy MSNBC.com):
Writing at JustFacts.com, James Agresti has a fascinating article documenting how the media spin the economy during Democratic and Republican administrations and during election years. “With another presidential election upon us and a Republican in the White House, negatively skewed economic reporting is climaxing,” Agresti writes.
After detailing how the media castigated George W. Bush for allegedly “talking down the economy” after his election in 2000, Agresti points out how the press is drenching Americans with a steady deluge of bad economic news: “This is not to deny the nation is in troubled economic times, but given what the press and politicians affirmed about ‘talking down the economy’ less than eight years ago, there can be little doubt that they have played and are playing a major role in damaging it now.”
Among the exhibits Agresti provides is a screen capture of the New York Times web site on August 28 of this year. The main headline: “Obama Speech to Cite Failures of Bush on the Economy.” Far down the page, in much smaller type, this headline: “Economic Growth Revised Higher.”
Before the New York Times published Saturday's 2500-word, front-page hit piece about Cindy McCain, an attorney representing the wife of the Arizona senator sent a letter to executive editor Bill Keller appealing to his "sense of fairness, balance and decency" to not run "another story about her."
In the correspondence, which has been posted in full by Time magazine's Mark Halperin (h/t NBer Bob Mc), attorney John Dowd chastised Keller for: not employing his "investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama;" not trying to "find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father," and; not interviewing Obama's "poor relatives in Kenya and determin[ing] why Barack Obama has not rescued them. Thus, there is a terrific lack of balance here."
FoxNews.com is reporting further anger over this Times article being expressed by the McCain campaign (emphasis added, picture courtesy AP):
With 18 days to go in the presidential race, Friday’s Today show lurched to the far left and actually devoted five minutes (and space on MSNBC.com) to leftist author Naomi Wolf and her theory that under President Bush, America is undergoing a "fascist shift."
Co-host Meredith Vieira treated Wolf with skepticism, questioning her assertions that we’re in danger of a "police state," or a standing army overlooking American citizens, suggesting she might be "fear-mongering" to get Barack Obama elected with theories of a McCain-Palin police state, just as the McCain campaign has been accused of exploiting fear. But if years ago, an author suggested President Clinton was leading us into dictatorship, would NBC offered them five minutes, or simply ignored it as undignified? Vieira offered Wolf a free pass to offer long passages of her argument, and the word "fascist" wasn’t used by either party, as Wolf presented herself as a nonpartisan and non-ideological defender of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers.
Someone should explain to ABC: it ain't "dirty" if it's true. GMA got the collective vapors this morning over the robo-calls the RNC and McCain campaign are making, informing voters of Barack Obama's close association with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.
In GMA's book, there's no real difference between these calls—which Cokie Roberts alluded to as "dirtier" tactics—and the calls made against McCain during the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary.
Except there is a difference. A big, fundamental one: what's said in the current calls is true. Obama did work closely with Ayers. What was said in the 2000 calls against McCain in South Carolina was false: he didn't father a black child out of wedlock. He and wife Cindy adopted a Bangladeshi child.
Friday's NBC Nightly News devoted a story to how around the world “people want to turn a page on the Bush years” and, as if it's relevant, “if the world had a vote, Barack Obama would win in a landslide.” A suggestion to viewers on what they must do to restore America's honor? Reporter Dawna Friesen warned that the next President “faces a grim reality: Much of the world deeply distrusts, even dislikes, the United States” and she rued “much of the sympathy and solidarity that existed after 9/11 evaporated during the Bush years.”
Pointing to Iraq as the primary culprit (“so many believed it was invaded on false pretenses”), Friesen also highlighted “other reasons,” such as how “after Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. is perceived by many as a violator rather than an upholder of human rights” and “America is seen contributing, but not doing much to solve, global warming.” From Istanbul, she concluded:
Here in Turkey, as in much of the world, people want to turn a page on the Bush years. In fact, polls show the image of the U.S. has improved slightly this year simply because President Bush is leaving. And, that if the world had a vote, Barack Obama would win in a landslide. Regardless of who wins, the world is clamoring for a new America in 2009.