Campaign Watch

By Geoffrey Dickens | November 6, 2008 | 6:26 PM EST

Sounding like a voice-over on a movie trailer for an upcoming action blockbuster starring Barack Obama, Chris Matthews greeted viewers, on Thursday's "Hardball," with this exclamation: "The excitement begins! Barack Obama makes his first major appointments." Matthews then continued his giddiness, a little later in the show, when he raised up an electoral map, published in the New York Times, that featured a "sea of blue" for Obama and hailed: "This is maybe the best map ever seen!"

The following exchanges occurred on the November 6, "Hardball":

CHRIS MATTHEWS OPENING SHOW: The excitement begins! Barack Obama makes his first major appointments. Let's play "Hardball!" Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews, welcome to "Hardball." Leading off tonight, reconstruction. President-Elect Obama -- first time I ever said that -- is moving fast to build his team to rebuild a national consensus for action.

...

MATTHEWS HOLDING UP MAP: Let me show you a map that's one of the, I know we've shown a lot of maps. And Chuck [Todd] and his colleagues have shown a lot of great maps.

HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: That's a good one.

By Justin McCarthy | November 6, 2008 | 5:31 PM EST

ABC is the most objective network. Just ask Barbara Walters. The November 6 edition of "The View" kicked off with a discussion on ABC correspondent Steve Osunsami’s emotional reaction to Obama’s victory. Barbara Walters defended Osunsami and called ABC the most "objective network." Barbara then assured the panel and her audience that it’s not because she is "a part of ABC News." This "objective" ABC network is the same outlet where Terry Moran implied Sarah Palin's rhetoric was endangering Barack Obama's life and David Wright accused McCain of engaging in "fear and loathing."

Later in the segment Barbara Walters offered praise, and the panel agreed (in Joy Behar’s absence), to President Bush’s graciousness in willing to offer a smooth transition for the new president-elect.

Later in the program, the ladies discussed rumors, allegedly leaked by McCain staffers, about Sarah Palin’s unruly behavior and lack of knowledge. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the only co-host who met Governor Palin, assured that the Alaska governor is not a "diva." Barbara Walters was puzzled as to what was wrong that Palin allegedly hinted at 2012 presidential run. Sherri Shepherd chastised the McCain staffers for airing Palin’s dirty laundry after they vetted her. Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed: Leaking incriminating information without identifying one’s self is cowardly.

By Kyle Drennen | November 6, 2008 | 3:58 PM EST

At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, an emotional Harry Smith declared: "I don't know how else to say this -- I grew up in a household that was not racially neutral. I grew up in a household where racial epithets were used commonly and with vigor. To see the difference in this country, in a country that I grew up in, so many people have said this is not something they thought they would ever see in their lifetime, and I wept tears of joy last night." Co-host Julie Chen observed: "You have tears in your eyes right now, Harry." [audio available here]

Prior to that admission, Smith interviewed poet Maya Angelou and asked: "Who were you thinking about last night as you watched the coverage?" Angelou replied: "All of us. All of those who went before, who paid dearly. And all of us today, all of us. I'm so proud, I'm filled -- I can hardly talk without weeping -- I'm so filled with pride for my country. What do you say? We are growing up." Angelou later added: "And he is inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. I know that he knows he is the president of every black person, every white person, he's the president of the bigots and he must remember that." Smith added: "He said in his acceptance speech, ‘for those of you who voted against me, I hear you too.’" Angelou replied: "Yes, exactly. That's what I mean...We will be together. This is what he dreams, he envisions it."

By Brent Baker | November 6, 2008 | 3:54 PM EST
Catching up with Newsweek's Howard Fineman on Wednesday's Countdown, he came across as a parody of an in-the-tank for Barack Obama journalist as he gauzily proclaimed: “Obama's changing everything as he moves. His victory speech last night in Grant Park...was so memorable on so many levels.” Asked by host Keith Olbermann to predict “an overarching theme” for Obama's appointments, such as “competency, bipartisanship, diversity, newness,” Fineman went beyond Olbermann and trumpeted:
Well, it's going to be all of those. But I think, if you had to pick one, it would be excellence. Barack Obama is a guy who appreciates excellence and focus. He's a guy who appreciates results.
Fineman, the magazine's senior Washington correspondent and columnist, as well as senior editor and deputy Washington Bureau Chief, soon hailed Obama's expected team: “It will be naturally diverse and naturally bipartisan.”
By Rich Noyes | November 6, 2008 | 12:30 PM EST
Okay, it’s probably a small thing to quibble about, but does everybody remember the impressive county-by-county election map that the New York Times published after the 2004 election, showing the United States as a sea of Republican red, with a few Democratic blue counties clustered on the coasts and a few urban pockets?

Well, today’s New York Times has a large map of the U.S. showing county-by-county election results as a sea of Democratic blue, with red areas limited to a few southern states, Arizona and Alaska. It looks like a Democratic landslide.
By Scott Whitlock | November 6, 2008 | 12:23 PM EST

According to "Good Morning America" reporter Dan Harris, "No matter how you voted, it's hard to deny that we're having something of a national moment right now" over the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. The ABC correspondent appeared on Thursday's show to explain how the national and international celebration for the Democrat's victory was continuing.

In a tease for the piece at the top of the show, co-host Robin Roberts bubbled that the president-elect "woke up to a chorus of worldwide approval." (At no point did any of the journalists question whether foreign approval over an American president was a good thing or not.) Harris did allow that Obama wouldn't receive a "permanent honeymoon," but co-host Diane Sawyer closed the segment by cooing, "I was saying, my sister in France has people coming up to her and saying, American? Obama!"

By Tim Graham | November 6, 2008 | 8:54 AM EST

Beware the tendency for media liberals to paint the new Team Obama as a surplus of centrists. Just after 8:30 on CNN's American Morning, Frank Sesno declared that Rep. Rahm Emanuel, projected as Obama's chief of staff, is seen as "on the center to center-right." But that's not what his congressional voting records suggest.

By Clay Waters | November 6, 2008 | 7:49 AM EST

Our first Times Watch entry in what promises to be a long list comes from New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns's piece the day after Barack Obama's Election Day victory, "Vaulting the Racial Divide, Obama Persuaded Americans to Follow." Brace yourself for sugar shock: 

By Mark Finkelstein | November 6, 2008 | 6:08 AM EST

Via Drudge. According to a study performed by a Fordham University scholar, the least accurate of the 20 presidential polls were those performed by CBS/New York Times and, in dead last, Newsweek.

In its final poll, CBS/Times forecast an 11-point Obama margin, 52-41.  Newsweek was even more "optimistic", foreseeing a 12-point Obama win, 53-41.  

By Brent Baker | November 6, 2008 | 4:24 AM EST

Examining “what went wrong” with John McCain's campaign, ABC's David Wright charged Wednesday night that by asserting Barack Obama would “be redistributionist in chief” McCain had “distorted Obama's policy positions” (how that was a distortion Wright did not say) and painted McCain as a hypocrite for having “mocked Obama as an empty-headed celebrity” before “he created a celebrity of his own,” Sarah Palin. While “many were impressed” with her, Wright snidely contended “plenty of others came to see Sarah Palin as an empty designer suit.” In castigating McCain from the left, Wright failed to offer any conservative critiques, such as McCain's lack of consistent conservative positions to contrast himself with Obama.

“If Barack Obama was driving the Cadillac of campaigns,” World News anchor Charles Gibson quipped, “John McCain was driving one that seemed in constant need of a tune-up and by the end it simply ran out of gas.” Wright fretted that after McCain won the GOP nomination “he started to change” and cut off media access, as if that led to his defeat: “The free-wheeling exchanges that put the Straight Talk Express on the map didn't last past the maiden voyage of Straight Talk Air.” Wright pointed out how “McCain had always promised to run a clean campaign on the issues,” but soon, Wright scolded, “McCain attacked Obama's associations....Obama's experience....and distorted Obama's policy positions.”

By Brent Baker | November 5, 2008 | 10:11 PM EST
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday night all marked Barack Obama's victory with stories on celebrations around the world, the joy expressed by African-Americans and how newspapers sold out as people cheered in the streets. NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed: “As one columnist put it, America  matured in 2008 by choosing Barack Obama.” CBS, however, aired the most triumphant story. Though Ronald Reagan earned nearly 59 percent of the vote in 1984 and George Bush captured more than 53 percent four years later, an awed Byron Pitts began by proposing about Obama's win with 52 percent: “When was the last time our nation cheered this much?”

Pitts proceeded to cite anecdotes about several people, black and white, who saw vindication in Obama's victory, including two women at “a suburban home in Iowa. Iowa, the state that first bought into Obama's audacious hopes and where a life-long Democrat like Deb Tekippe and a life long Republican like Brenda Myer made a toast with champagne.” He concluded:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.” That's what the Constitution says. Last night, all across America for so many people, that's how it felt. A more perfect union.
By Scott Whitlock | November 5, 2008 | 5:49 PM EST

"Good Morning America" foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto rhapsodized about international reaction to Barack Obama's victory on Wednesday and described the president-elect as "the winner who's capturing the world's heart." Sciutto described much of the foreign response with the phrase "only in America."

Then, taking a shot at President Bush, he then added, "That's what we keep hearing in so many places around the world, a sense that Barack Obama embodies the American dream, a dream that, frankly, has been tarnished overseas in recent years by a very unpopular war in Iraq, a very unpopular president in President Bush."