Campaign Watch

By Scott Whitlock | October 30, 2008 | 5:45 PM EDT
While interviewing three generations of voters in one Florida family, "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer on Thursday pushed back when the mother of the household assailed Senator Joe Biden's claim that paying higher taxes is patriotic. After Marylee Gizzi described the "great offense" she took at Biden's remarks, Sawyer parroted Obama talking points and retorted, "He argues, you know, he's just going back to the Reagan tax cuts. It's not a penalty."

Continuing to defend the Democratic ticket's economic plan, she haltingly added, "He would argue disproportionately advantaged, the wealthy in this country, who have increased their share, more than the middle class has increased its share." After Gizzi lauded the "incredible" accomplishments of Sarah Palin, Sawyer looked for some kind of negative assessment: "There were a lot of people who brought a lot to the table. You must have a sense of whether you'd like her to be president, should something happen to him [McCain]." At no point did Sawyer attempt to grill the Obama-supporting daughter into saying something negative about her choice for president.

By Justin McCarthy | October 30, 2008 | 5:18 PM EDT

If President Bush is exhibiting dictatorial behaviors, the editor and publisher of The New York Times would be facing criminal prosecution. That hypothesis come from pundit and "U.S. News" columnist Michael Barone. Appearing on the October 30 edition of "Fox and Friends," Barone laughed off outrageous charges of a Bush dictatorship. He then noted that the true anti-civil libertarian measures are coming from the left, particularly Barack Obama and his supporters.Barone exemplified such actions by noting Democratic attorneys calling for libel prosecution of Obama’s critics, but not McCain’s. Barone added "that would represent the first time that we have criminalized political speech since the expiration of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1801-1802." Barone also noted Obama’s co-sponsorship of the Fairness Doctrine, a backdoor way to censor conservative talk radio.Barone of course also alluded to the media’s love affair with Barack Obama and their concern about harming the senator’s "electoral chances."

By Noel Sheppard | October 30, 2008 | 4:51 PM EDT

Obama-supporting actor Alec Baldwin was David Letterman's guest on CBS's "Late Show" Wednesday evening, and actually had nice things to say about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

As Letterman moved the discussion towards Baldwin's cameo appearance with Palin on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" a few weeks ago, the "30 Rock" star said, "She was lovely," and told Dave a delightful story about what she said when they first met:

She said to me, (imitating Palin) "'I've been talking to your (conservative) brother Stephen and we've been chatting, trying to figure out how to knock some sense into you."

Although the interview with Letterman did include some Bush, McCain, and Palin bashing -- what would you expect -- it did have some delightful moments that NewsBusters readers should enjoy (video embedded below the fold):

By Rich Noyes | October 30, 2008 | 2:15 PM EDT

As longtime NewsBusters readers are painfully aware, the supposedly objective news media have showered Barack Obama with fawning press coverage throughout his campaign for the White House. (That, plus a $600 million war chest, will apparently get you pretty far in politics.) The Media Research Center has assembled a special Campaign 2008 edition of our bi-weekly Notable Quotables, chock full of journalists’ most adoring pro-Obama quotes.

By Scott Whitlock | October 30, 2008 | 1:23 PM EDT

ABC reporter Elizabeth Vargas grilled Sarah Palin on Thursday's "Good Morning America" over the issues of competence and whether or not Palin believes that Senator Barack Obama is "un-American" and "dangerous." Vargas chided Palin on her remarks about the Democratic candidate: "But, when you used words like socialism or say he's palling around with terrorists or hanging around with a Palestinian professor...you seem to be saying that he's un-American somehow or might be dangerous somehow."

When Palin assured the journalist that she was not insinuating any such thing, Vargas skeptically followed-up: "Do you think Senator Obama is as patriotic, as American, as honorable as John McCain?" She then proceeded to repeatedly ask, four times in total, questions related to competence and why less women now support Palin. "Today, polls show that 60 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of you. Why do you think you've lost that connection," she wondered. Referring to conservatives such as Peggy Noonan and Republicans like Colin Powell, Vargas insisted that a "a chorus of voices from the Republican Party, stalwart Republicans" don't believe she's qualified.

By Kyle Drennen | October 30, 2008 | 12:30 PM EDT

On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about Obama’s Wednesday night campaign infomercial and Schieffer offered rave reviews: "...this was something we haven't seen the like of in American Politics...It reminded me so much of the commercials that Ronald Reagan ran in 1984, the ‘Morning in America’...What Barack Obama’s message was last night, ‘things are not so good, but take heart, because we can make it okay.’ I thought it was very, very effective...it was a very effective piece of campaign advertising."

Following Rodriguez’s discussion with Schieffer, co-host Harry Smith talked with Washington Post media critic and CNN contributor, Howard Kurtz, about the commercial. Kurtz’s review was a bit more mixed: "This wasn't a 60-second ad. It wasn't a "Morning America" ad by Reagan, it was a show, and as a show it had to draw people in. I think it did a pretty good job of that, but as I said, at times it was a bit over the top." Earlier, Smith asked Kurtz: "What did you not like?" and Kurtz replied: "Well, for example, Maggie mentioned the faux Oval Office at the beginning, a lot of people, I think are going to find that a tad presumptuous-" Smith interrupted: "The Oval Office is not brown. It doesn't -- I don't think the Oval Office is brown, but go ahead." Kurtz pointed out: "Look at that tree in the window, it looks just like the South Lawn, he's got the flag." As Kurtz mentioned, in her discussion with Schieffer, Rodriguez observed: "...it opens with him standing in an office that some people thought looked like the Oval Office."

By NB Staff | October 30, 2008 | 11:23 AM EDT

"I hear that they were originally going to do an hour of just glowing media clips from major talking heads, but they couldn't pare it down to a half hour," MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley quipped to Fox News Channel's Steve Doocy about Sen.

By Tim Graham | October 30, 2008 | 9:13 AM EDT

Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales offered his own endorsement of Obama for President with an oozy review of Obama’s half-hour infomercial, which he called "Obamavision." That certainly was supposed to carry more than one meaning, including a tribute to Obama’s visionary politics. It wasn’t hidden in tiny type on the home page like yesterday’s sleaze-Internet-cash story. It stood out in bold lettering: "An Appeal to the Masses | Poetic and practical, Obama's paid political broadcast was a montage of montages." Shales was more syrupy than that in the full text:

Somehow both poetic and practical, spiritual and sensible, the paid political broadcast, which aired on seven major cable and broadcast networks (on Univision, it was identified as "Historias Americanas"), was a montage of montages, a series of seamlessly blended segments interweaving the stories of embattled Americans with visions of their deliverer, Guess Who.

While there was some rhetoric about the horrid last eight years, Shales later admitted, "Most of the talk was conversational in that laid-back, not-to-worry, calmly passionate, defiantly hopeful Obaman way."

By Tim Graham | October 30, 2008 | 6:37 AM EDT

Republicans should always beware liberal media outlets offering them political advice. In "The GOP's Palin Problem," Newsweek's young Jonathan Darman (the liberal son of the late George H.W. Bush aide Dick Darman), suggests "far right" Sarah Palin could have a future if she focused like Pat Buchanan on the disgruntled white people who don't like foreigners much:

By Brent Baker | October 29, 2008 | 9:43 PM EDT
Chris Matthews came aboard the shortened Countdown after MSNBC, unlike FNC and CNN, aired the Obama campaign's half-hour infomercial on Wednesday night, and oozed over how “it was romance.
By Brent Baker | October 29, 2008 | 8:57 PM EDT
Suggesting Brian Williams and the producers of NBC Nightly News assume a significant portion of their viewership is pretty dumb, the newscast began a story about how, as Williams fretted, “number of rumors and myths and threats that might keep some people away from the polls this year,” by highlighting a flyer, riddled with glaring misspellings and non-words, which made a false announcement about the date to vote. Rehema Ellis, who asserted voter “anxiety is valid,” intoned: “In Virginia, an official-looking flier is on the Internet saying, 'Republicans vote on November 4th and Democrats on November 5th.'” Ellis then decided she had to explain the obvious: “Not true. Tuesday, November 4th, is election day for everyone.”

For expert comment, Ellis turned to Jonah Goldman of Election Protection, a group partnered with a who's who of left-wing groups, including NBC News and MSNBC. (After her story, Williams plugged Election Protection to answer view concerns about “voting problems or problems at the polls.”) Goldman worried: “New voters aren't as familiar with the way that elections run, and because of that, they're more vulnerable to these types of misinformation.” Amongst the “rumors and outright misinformation aimed at holding down voter turnout” which Ellis proceeded to fact check: “Outstanding parking tickets make you ineligible to vote” and: “Can voters dealing with home foreclosure lose the right to vote?”
By Matthew Balan | October 29, 2008 | 5:57 PM EDT

Wolf Blitzer, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgCNN practiced a more subtle form of bias during two reports in October by using its on-screen graphics. On October 14th's Newsroom program, a graphic accompanying a segment on Sarah and Todd Palin's connections to the Alaskan Independence Party proclaimed “The Palins and the Fringe.” On the other hand, a chyron from a report on Tuesday's Situation Room about Barack Obama making campaign stops in bad weather raved, “Braving Rain & Attacks: Obama in PA. and Virginia.”

The Situation Room led its 4 pm Eastern hour on Tuesday with reports on the day's campaign stops by John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Barack Obama. Host Wolf Blitzer introduced these reports by highlighting how “[a]ll three began the day in Pennsylvania, braving some pretty nasty weather and some bitter attacks.” Correspondent Dana Bash then detailed the Republican candidates' push in Pennsylvania, including how McCain had to cancel a rally due to rain. The graphic which accompanied Bash's report made no mention of the weather, but focused instead on the McCain campaign's emphasis on the tax issue: “McCain-Palin One-Two Punch: Hitting Obama On Taxes.”