Watching Saturday’s network morning shows, the talking heads seemed to agree that Friday night’s debate did not produce “a clear winner” or any “knockout punch,” and that it was unlikely that any “needle was moved” among undecided voters. Yet those same networks tried to also argue that Obama had really won the debate, superficially suggesting that McCain’s “disdainful” body language poorly contrasted with the “warm” and “deferential” Obama.
On style, “Barack Obama did a much better job,” ABC contributor Matthew Dowd asserted. NBC’s Chuck Todd insisted that “McCain barely could look at Obama, was disdainful at times, almost annoyed that he was having to share the same stage....Here was Obama being deferential, and here is McCain being disdainful.”
Awarding Barack Obama two grades of A-minus and one B-minus while presenting John McCain with two grades of B-plus and one B-minus, at the end of his “Nightline Report Card” segment on Friday night, ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared Obama the “winner” -- with a big illustrative check mark on screen:
Bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change. His number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage. He was a credible commander-in-chief, that he could hold his own on national security. He did that tonight. He gets the win.
The grades from the ex-Democratic operative: On “Strategy,” Obama an A-minus, John McCain a B-plus; for “Style,” Obama another A-minus, McCain another B-plus; and on “Accuracy,” Obama got his lowest grade, a B-minus, McCain a B.
In the 20 minutes of post-debate analysis before the broadcast networks ended coverage and the cable channels moved on to other shows Friday night, on MSNBC Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell fretted that Barack Obama wasn't tough enough in attacking John McCain on the economy as Mitchell also hailed Obama -- “But, boy, he did show a command of foreign policy in terms of the nuts and bolts of it” -- and regretted Obama didn't do more to tie McCain to George Bush, a theme echoed on NBC by Tom Brokaw who “was surprised he didn't work harder at pinning John McCain to the eight years of the Bush administration.”
CBS featured only one citizen reaction, a man who touted Obama and compared McCain to Nixon, before ending with a quickie poll (neither ABC or NBC had one) that found twice as many “uncommitted voters” thought Obama won (40 percent) than McCain (22 percent).
Interviewing ABC News reporter turned Obama operative Linda Douglass, Matthews pleaded: “Why did your candidate agree so much -- openly and relentlessly -- with his opponent tonight?” He followed up with an impassioned lecture about Obama's missed opportunities to pound McCain:
Why didn't he talk more about the terrible state of the economy, the jobless rate, unemployment, the degree of deficit we're in right now, the degree of national debt, all of those issues out there that effect the average person, the number of foreclosures? He let his opponent talk about taxes and earmarking, his specialties. He seemed to lose control of the economic topic.
CNN’s Iranian-born chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, during the network’s post-debate coverage, made fun of John McCain’s stumble during the debate concerning the pronunciation of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s name [see video at right]: "On sort of a cosmetic level, I was quite -- I sort of giggled a little bit when I saw John McCain stumble over Ahmadinejad's name." Almost simultaneously, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann brought up the very same issue with his liberal counterpart Rachel Maddow, who went on to state that the flub "probably does hurt him [McCain] pretty badly."
Amanpour made her statement as she was giving her analysis of the debate during a round table discussion involving most of CNN’s regular political team. Co-host Anderson Cooper stopped her before she could continue on her "cosmetic" note and replied, "Yeah, it's not really fair though. I mean, people make mistakes all the time." Correspondent Michael Ware tried to interject, but Amanpour shot back and replied, "If it's fair for anybody, why not? I mean, if I stumbled, it would be [a] fair comment."
[For audio of the exchange between Amanpour and Cooper, click here.]
During late night coverage of Friday's presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, “Hardball” host Chris Matthews attacked the Republican for showing both “contempt” and an “inferiority complex” towards his Democratic opponent. The MSNBC host asked liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, “What do you make of what I take as contempt? And I’m not sure contempt is an admirable trait when you’re up against an opponent who has every right to be there against you, in fact has equal footing.”
Before Robinson could answer, Matthews revised the question, asking if this indicated some sort of “inferiority complex” on McCain’s part: “He never looked at his opponent. What is that about? Is that an inferiority complex? Is that embarrassment? Is that guilt? Or is it contempt? What is it? It’s something.” Robinson eagerly agreed, asserting that “this is part of John McCain’s style that he, he has to make an opponent into an enemy” and adding that the GOP candidate “almost has to demonize the enemy in order to get into that, that, that fighting stance.”
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty has full-blown Palin Derangement Syndrome. In his latest slam of Republican vice-presidential candidate on Friday’s The Situation Room, Cafferty labeled Palin’s interview with CBS’s Katie Couric "one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen from someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country," after he played a clip of the Alaska governor making an awkward reply to a question. He then asked, "Is Governor Sarah Palin qualified to be president?" When host Wolf Blitzer replied to this comment by stating that "she's cramming a lot of information," Cafferty blasted back, "There's no excuse for that! She's supposed to know a little bit of this....You know, don't make excuses for her! That's pathetic." Of course, the CNN commentator only read negative replies to his question near the end of the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program.
Long-time PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, the first host of the 2008 fall presidential debates, is dead serious about his utter lack of bias. Appearing November 27, 2006 on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Lehrer insisted with a very straight face that “I am bias-free....Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story, not what the journalist brings to the reporting.” When Colbert insisted Lehrer must add some flavor, straight-faced Lehrer declared his contribution was “the flavor of neutrality.”
Lehrer can offer a different flavor. During live coverage of the Democratic convention on August 25, he gauzily reacted to Jimmy Carter’s florid praise of Barack Obama’s race speech in March: “If it happens that he is elected, or even his just being nominated, will send positive ripple effects throughout the country on the race issue.”
The Late Show's “Top Ten” list on Thursday's show was read by ten citizens of Wasilla standing on the shore of Lake Lucille. Of the ten, only one really made fun of Palin (#2). To watch Flash video of the presentation, click on the video-camera icon at the top of the list on this page.
"Good Morning America" reporter David Muir on Friday reported live from Mississippi and somehow managed to not feature a single supporter of Senator John McCain, despite the fact that a Research 2000 poll found the Republican candidate maintaining an 18 point lead in the state. In the only allusion to that, Muir began, "In a state considered deeply red, John McCain has family roots here." He then highlighted an Obama supporter: "But those ties aren't enough for Heidi Burell, whose own son is in the Navy. She wants the war to end." In a clip, Ms. Burell hoped that America will regain "respect in the world community."
Muir featured Mississippi resident Todd Molino who stated, "You see it everywhere you look, health care has become unaffordable." The reporter also described an elderly couple: "And it's health care that worries Buddy and Marilyn Hardy who can't afford to buy their prescription drugs." However, despite asserting that the individuals he spoke to were "divided on their pick for president," no enthusiastic McCain backers were featured.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts" the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, once said. Apparently, the ladies of "The View" disagree. Debating which presidential nominee has better judgment, Whoopi Goldberg once again forwarded the myth that the Bush administration completely ignored Afghanistan and focused instead on Iraq.
"President Bush came over here to New York City and said we’re going to go get the people who did this to us. He did not go get the people who did this to us. He went to Iraq. Now that’s not where the people were. They were in Afghanistan. [applause] Now how do you miss that? So none of this has worked."
To repeat the same history lesson to Whoopi, the Bush administration began military operations in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, less than a month after the attacks of September 11. The invasion of Iraq did not commence until March 19, 2003, and even then and to this day, a sizeable military force remains in Afghanistan.
Wednesday morning, ABC News and the Washington Post released a new poll showing Barack Obama leading John McCain by 9 points, 52% to 43%. The next day, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll showing a much tighter race — 48% for Obama, 46% for McCain.
Any guesses as to which poll excited the press more? And which poll has come under fire for over-sampling Democrats?
ABC, naturally, reported its own poll on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, with Diane Sawyer touting at the top of the broadcast: “Breaking news this morning: Barack Obama gains ground in a new ABC News poll, a nine-point lead over John McCain.” The on-screen graphic exclaimed: "Obama Surges Ahead"
The Associated Press's Charles Babington, the journalist Keith Olbermann attacked in August for having the nerve to criticize Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention, wrote a McCain-bashing article Thursday evening that should get a standing ovation from the "Countdown" host.
The piece entitled "Dems, Some in GOP Question McCain's Intervention" probably evoked so much applause from the Obama campaign and Congressional Democrats Thursday night that they must have wondered if their operatives wrote it.
In fact, when you look at the first eight paragraphs of this article, you'll also likely think someone in either the Obama campaign or Howard Dean's office was responsible (emphasis added, photo courtesy AP):
On Thursday night, CBS anchor Katie Couric began a short news update on Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska by immediately highlighting his party affiliation: “The senior Republican in the U.S. Senate went on trial today for corruption...” Stevens was appointed to his seat in 1968. But the night before, in an item on ethical questions surrounding Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, a House veteran elected in 1970 who is Chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, Couric failed to inform viewers he's a Democrat. Though, as his bio recites, he's “Chairman of the Board of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” sans any party ID Couric announced on Wednesday's CBS Evening News:
The House also plans to investigate one of its own: New York Congressman Charles Rangel. He's come under fire for, among other things, failure to pay taxes on a luxury villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. Rangel has rejected calls that he step down as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The two mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae — seized by the government September 7 before they went completely bankrupt, at a potential cost to taxpayers of more than $25 billion — have been in obvious trouble for much of the past five years — with criminal investigations, accounting scandals, firings, resignations, huge losses and warnings from the Federal Reserve that their huge portfolio of mortgage securities posed a risk to the overall financial system.
But prior to this year, the watchdogs at ABC, CBS and NBC found time for only 10 stories on the financial health and management of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A review of the three networks’ morning and evening news programs from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2007 found nine anchor-read items or brief references to the companies troubles, plus one in-depth report by CBS’s Anthony Mason on the May 23, 2006 Evening News, after Fannie Mae was fined $400 million for accounting fraud.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck finally called out some of "The View"co-hosts on the Sarah Palin bashing she finally proclaimed September 25 as "Hate Sarah Palin Day." Immediately the other co-hosts defensively swarmed over the comment denying there is any hate for Governor Palin. Joy Behar claimed "it’s not personal. It’s my country that I’m worried about."
Hasselbeck’s remark was sparked by a discussion over a new YouTube video displaying a Kenyan preacher praying to protect a woman, who resembles Gov. Palin, from witchcraft. Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck explained to the other two theologically challenged co-hosts that this is simply a prayer to protect this woman, possibly Sarah Palin, from evil.
Whoopi also defended playing and discussing the video stating "if Barack Obama had been in that church and somebody was praying over him to keep him free from witchcraft, we’d be having this discussion, okay?" However, the previous day, Whoopi sang a different tune responding to Elisabeth’s mention of Joe Biden’s many gaffes.
When I was a kid there was a song we sang in Sunday School called, "Everybody Ought to Go to Sunday School." If I could find something to rhyme with "Associated Press reporters," I could probably write a new verse.
Reporting yet another story involving Gov. Sarah Palin's former church, the AP continued its attempts to paint Palin as a closet Pentecostal, as well as to hint that Pentecostals are wacky, far afield from the mainstream of Christian theology.
Anchorage-based AP reporter Garance Burke devoted a September 25 article to a newly surfaced YouTube video purportedly showing Palin being prayed over by a Kenyan preacher who asked God to protect Palin from all manner of evil, including witchcraft.
Burke went on to characterize the Pentecostal church Palin used to attend as simultaneously "conservative" in biblical teaching and yet outside orthodox Christian belief:
Keith Olbermann, who was hardly reticent during the conventions to express his far-left opinions, told David Letterman on Wednesday that he's pleased about being relieved by MSNBC of anchor duties for upcoming debates and on election night since it will enable him “to be on more than I was previously and I can say what I think.” On Wednesday's Late Show, where he filled in at last-minute for his nemesis John McCain, Letterman asked about his removal from the anchor slot along with Chris Matthews. Olbermann expounded:
We're not the anchors any more. We're just going to be commentators...I'm actually going to be on more than I was previously and I can say what I think rather than sit there going “now here's more from such and such over there.”...Basically, I can just sit there between appearances and eat ice cream for 20 minutes at a time and then come back and go “that's the crappiest answer I've ever heard in a debate.”
Interviewing John McCain on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric informed him and viewers that, during an interview of Sarah Palin she conducted earlier in the day, Palin warned of a “Great Depression” if the bail out is not passed, leading Couric to scold Palin to McCain: “But isn't so much of this, Senator McCain, about consumer confidence and using rhetoric like the 'Great Depression,' is that the kind of language Americans need to hear right now?” Quite a bit of chutzpah for Couric, chutzpah CBS didn't even hide from viewers since in the subsequent excerpts from the Palin interview which viewers saw it was Couric herself who raised the ominous phrase.
Palin had not used the term when Couric asked Palin: “If this doesn't pass, do you think there's a risk of another Great Depression?” Palin's reaction, in full:
Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it's been proposed, has to pass or we're going to find ourselves in another Great Depression. But, there has got to be action taken, bipartisan effort, Congress not pointing fingers at this point at one another, but finding the solution to this, taking action, and being serious about the reforms on Wall Street that are needed.
And Couric was not the only network news star on Wednesday to raise the spectre of a “Great Depression” -- or worse. NBC's Tom Brokaw: “Do you worry about a cataclysmic event coming out of all of this, that we go into a Great Depression?”
Video/audio: Click above for Flash video of Couric's question to McCain followed by what she proposed to Palin. Matching MP3 audio (25 seconds, 150 Kb).
In suspending his campaign to deal with the bail out bill before the House and Senate, John McCain canceled his appearance on tonight's Late Show with David Letterman, a program to be recorded today in New York City. The show is normally produced at 5:30 PM EDT, but MSNBC reported it was to be taped at 4 PM today.
Minutes ago, the Late Show Web site replaced John McCain in the “Tonight's Guests” list with the far-left ranter/McCain-basher Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.
Wednesday’s American Morning program ran a report by correspondent Abbie Boudreau that desperately tried to criticize vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin for a "Road to Nowhere" that was part of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" project. Boudreau interviewed Bob Weinstein, the Democratic mayor of Ketchikan, Alaska, who claimed that the Alaska governor "spent $26 million out of a federal earmark for the Gravina access, a.k.a. 'Bridge to Nowhere' project, on this road that will not go to a bridge." Boudreau also interviewed a toll booth operator and a former Palin campaign coordinator to agree it was a regrettable boondoggle. Throughout the report, the on-screen graphic proclaimed, "Road to Nowhere: Another Sarah Palin Project." CNN was implying to its viewers that both the infamous Bridge and the road from it were "Palin projects," as if she originated them, instead of appearing on the scene halfway into the story.
New York Times media reporter Jacques Steinberg watched the popular ABC morning chat fest "The View" and actually found a liberal slant. His Tuesday Arts section lead story, "'The View' Has Its Eye on Politics This Year," basically contradicts what the paper claimed on September 13, when it said the show was "generally friendly territory for politicians." As a bonus, veteran journalist Barbara Walters claimed that "I don't think anyone knows my political opinions." Really now?
In a reversal from usual media denials of liberal media bias, the Times's Steinberg actually noticed a pro-Obama slant on the part of the show's co-hosts.
Barbara Walters said she left the set of "The View" on Sept. 12 believing that she and her fellow panelists had conducted a fair on-the-couch interview with Senator John McCain, and later in the episode one with him and his wife, Cindy. That was the live conversation in which Whoopi Goldberg asked Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, if she should fear "being returned to slavery" if he won, and Joy Behar complained to him about the untruths she saw in his campaign advertisements.
But soon after it was broadcast, Ms. Walters recalled in an interview at her ABC office on a recent afternoon, she received an e-mail message from Rosie O'Donnell, a former "View" co-host whose on-air monologues were often far left of center.
"Good Morning America" weekend anchor Kate Snow complained on Wednesday's show about a lack of access to Sarah Palin during the vice presidential candidate's trip to the United Nations in New York. The ABC journalist snidely commented on the Republican's meetings with world leaders: "But aside from a few photo ops, New Yorkers aren't getting much more than a glimpse of Sarah Palin." She added, "New York City is a pretty easy place to get lost in the crowd, even, it turns out, if you're a potential vice president."
Regarding the exits and entrances of Palin, Snow remarked, "Outside, a clear shot of her exit. Until, a patrol car and Secret Service SUV just happened to pull up right in front of our cameras." While discussing camera footage of Palin talking to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, she fretted, "The pool camera got 15 seconds. With Henry Kissinger, even less."
Kate Snow hasn't always had to complain about a lack of access. She has repeatedly received exclusive interviews with Bill Clinton, in particular. And in return, provided fawning coverage to the ex-president. During the August 4 edition of GMA, the journalist actually prefaced a question by telling Clinton he didn't need to answer: "Pretty simple question. And maybe you don't want to answer it right now and I respect that fully. But, if you want to answer it, do you personally have any regrets about what you did campaigning for your wife?"
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to former Hillary Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn and former Bush advisor Karen Hughes and asked about Sarah Palin’s effect on the presidential race: "Well, give us some perspective, Karen Hughes, first, on Sarah Palin, turned the world on its ear when her nomination was announced. It now seems, would you agree or disagree. Is it -- is it still a positive? Or is it beginning to be a drag on the Republican nominee?"
Smith went on to cite a new ABC News poll that gives Barack Obama a nine point lead over John McCain and asked Penn: "How do you explain it?" Penn replied: "Well, Sarah Palin's not going to help in an economic crisis. I think what the people are seeing is that there -- there is a 3:00 A.M. call here, and it's an economic crisis. They think -- they see Obama answering that. He's the kind of person who can be a president in a complex situation like this economic crisis, a manager. And I think that's changing the polls." Rather than challenge Penn’s assertions, Smith wanted to move on, but not Hughes:
HUGHES: Also, even the New York Times conceded, though, that he has no record on these kind of issues-
Rocky Mountain News staffer Ed Sealover offered readers a 12-paragraph article on how Planned Parenthood is making a killing off of John McCain's choice of running mate. Too bad he downplayed that they're literal killings.
In his September 23 article, "Planned Parenthood gains from Palin e-mail campaign," Sealover noted that the "staunch abortion-rights opponent" is inspiring pro-choice women to give donations to the organization in Palin's name, meaning that John McCain's campaign headquarters will soon be "receiving tens of thousands of thank-you notes."
Sealover briefly noted that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, although he failed to mention that, although technically a not-for-profit entity, it earns windfall profits by selling abortion services. Reported Penny Starr of CNSNews.com* earlier this year:
CNN anchor Campbell Brown, famous for her repeatedclashes with the McCain-Palin campaign, went off on a "short rant" last night against GOP staffers for putting "chauvinistic chains" around vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Brown's lecture during the first minutes of her "Election Center" show came on the heels of extended complaints from American news media about how the McCain camp is acting wrongly by not allowing reporters to be present during a series of meetings Palin is having with European leaders.
Excluding the media is not only wrong, Brown argued, it is further proof that the McCain campaign is treating Palin like a "delicate flower that will wilt at any moment."
Noting that the National Rifle Association has begun a "Push to Tarnish Obama on Guns," CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli noted, and rightly so, that Sen. John McCain has not been the strongest advocate of gun rights issues. But while Montopoli brought up McCain's 2004 mushy "C+" grade in his September 23 article, neither Obama's nor Biden's "F" grades by the gun rights group were mentioned in the article.
What's more, Montopoli cited Biden's defense of his running mate, on gun rights issues, yet failed in the article to bring up the NRA's disdain for the gun control-pushing Delaware senator:
Obama's running mate Joe Biden, meanwhile, suggested recently that Republicans will use the issue to scare voters away from the Obama-Biden ticket.
"I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey," Biden said in Southern Virginia. "Don't buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you. I got two, if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem."
The Delaware senator may well own guns, but that doesn't mean he doesn't think bitter Americans in the hinterlands should be able to cling to theirs. Although Montopoli quoted from the NRA in his article, he conveniently left out anything about the civil right's groups concerns about Biden. From an August 29 statement by the NRA:
Newsweek’s loathing of Sarah Palin comes through loud and clear in the September 29 issue, which awards most of four pages to atheist author Sam Harris to attack her religious "ignorance" and dismiss her as "a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history." (Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson defended Palin’s background in a sidebar.) Newsweek’s headline was blunt: "When Atheists Attack: A noted provocateur rips Sarah Palin—and defends elitism." The highlighted quote is "The joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance – it’s what’s so unnerving about this pick." That shortens the actual quote, in which Harris claims Palin supporters "celebrate" her ignorance.
It’s hard to escape the idea that Harris is speaking for the vast majority of the Newsweek editorial staff as he ripped Palin as the McCain campaign’s "Rapture-ready extremist" being led around like a "pet pony." (People who think the media were sexist toward Hillary probably can't find her described as a "pet pony.") Picking up where the passage starts that Newsweek liked best, Harris mocks Palin with an imaginary Charlie Gibson interview:
"I don't believe that the Times is pulling for Barack Obama." Jack Shafer, Slate, 9-23-08
There's actually much to agree with in Jack Shafer's column today regarding McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's criticism of the New York Times. Consider this observation by Shafer, for example:
The press corps does adore Barack Obama. They like his story. They like writing about him. They like the way he gives speeches. They like the way he makes them feel. And they don't mind cutting him slack whenever he acts like a regular politician—which he is.
But Shafer, Slate's resident media critic, also expresses the to-me mind-boggling belief cited at the top of this item, that the Times isn't pulling for Obama. So stunned was I by Shafer's claim that I wrote him, seeking clarification. He was nice enough to reply, and I'm setting forth our exchange here: