Campaign Watch

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."

By Matthew Balan | November 5, 2008 | 3:53 PM EST

The Los Angeles Times and came to different conclusions on Wednesday about the results of the vote in California over Proposition 8, with the Los Angeles Time reporting on Wednesday morning (local time) that "California voters approve Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages," while CNN stated that the "California ban on same-sex marriage undecided." As of late Wednesday morning, 95% of the precincts had reported their vote tallies, and 52% had voted in favor of the proposition, while 48% voted against it.

Staff writers Jessica Garrison, Cara Mia DiMassa, and Nancy Vogel, who wrote the LA Times article, gave a straight-forward outline of the battle over Proposition 8 during the past months, summarizing who had supported and opposed the proposal. On the other hand, the unsigned CNN story devoted only the first three paragraphs to the California proposition, and spent the rest of the article to ballot initiatives in other states.

By Scott Whitlock | November 5, 2008 | 3:48 PM EST

"Good Morning America" reporter Bill Weir gushed on Wednesday morning about the "transcendent" reaction to Senator Barack Obama's presidential victory. Discussing Tuesday night's jubilant crowds in New York City, where the ABC program is produced, Weir described the "melting pot of communal joy."

Weir enthused that the celebration was "the kind not seen on New Year's Eve or championship parades. At the crossroads of the world, voices from around the world shouted of the greatness of America." He added, "When the announcement was made, literal dancing in the streets...And people were locking in embraces, watching the speech there as well."

The journalist even recounted how he attempted to remind an African American mother of America's history with slavery. After this woman and her daughter saw a graphic on a jumbotron of all the presidents, one that included Obama as the nation's 44th commander in chief, Weir went over to the pair and attempted to invoke a negative reaction. He explained, "And I leaned over and said, you know, 12 of those men owned slaves. And the mother turned to me and said, 'That stain is washed.'"

By Justin McCarthy | November 5, 2008 | 3:30 PM EST

Three of "The View" co-hosts are comedians by profession, but they unintentionally provided some comedy to the November 5 edition of "The View." After two segments of basking over Barack Obama’s victory, and the historic nature of the first African-American president, Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg hammered away the need for more affirmative action. [audio excerpt here]

The panel’s two rich black women, whose children do not need a head start over poor white children, expressed disappointment that Nebraska voters approved a ballot initiative banning affirmative action. Sherri Shepherd felt that "there are some people who just need a leg up." Whoopi Goldberg, who just moments before celebrated Obama’s historic victory, opined that "if we lived in the country that we always pray that we’re going to wake up in where everything works and everybody is equal, you wouldn’t need affirmative action."

Earlier in the segment, Joy Behar, giddy over Obama’s victory, proclaimed it as "a triumph over negative campaigning." Did Joy forget the Obama ad mocking McCain’s age and war wounds?

By Ken Shepherd | November 5, 2008 | 3:20 PM EST

Screencap of YahooIf Michelle Obama gets tired of merely entertaining dignitaries as first lady, she might try her hand at editing for the Associated Press. After all, according to the AP, her husband has made it "cool" to be an American again. is giving play to the story by featuring it as a top headline in the "World" section of its news page (see image at right).

From AP writer William J. Kole:

VIENNA, Austria – She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.

It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.

Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop.

Nothing was said, but the message was clear: Today, we are all Americans.

By Rich Noyes | November 5, 2008 | 3:01 PM EST

Before the networks had even declared Barack Obama the winner Tuesday  night, CBS historian Douglas Brinkley announced that the “Age of Ronald Reagan” was “coming to an end tonight.” Shortly before 11pm EST, Brinkley told anchor Katie Couric: “We're looking at a historic victory for the Democrats and Barack Obama. I think you have to go back to 1964 when Lyndon Johnson had such a landslide over Barry Goldwater to see how momentous this is.”

In a Tuesday night piece wrapping up yesterday’s election, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh sought out liberal historian Robert Dallek, who similarly declared that Obama’s win “is probably going to mark the end of the Reagan era — this whole conservative impulse that has dominated the country's politics for the last generation....I think you're going to see a whole new era of federal progressive activism.”

Maybe, maybe not.