Campaign Watch

By Brent Baker | October 30, 2008 | 9:40 PM EDT
A week after NBC's Brian Williams spent his time with John McCain and Sarah Palin in Ohio discrediting the accuracy of their claims and pushing for assurance their campaign wouldn't mention Jeremiah Wright, Williams on Thursday night in Florida returned to the same cozy approach with Barack Obama, though without the memories of mom, he employed in earlier interviews with the Democratic candidate. After declaring Obama's campaign is “fueled by the urgent fight to fix the economy,” Williams cited fresh bad economic news before cuing up Obama: “How do you tailor your message to this crowd? Is there more pain before there's a gain?”

His other three questions in the first excerpt run on Thursday's NBC Nightly News (with more to come Friday night) also didn't challenge any of Obama's claims or attacks, nor raise any detracting information: “Why did it take so long for Bill Clinton to join you for a rally like the one we saw here in Florida last night?” Then two questions which seemed to presume Obama will soon take office: “Does America need American car companies? Is three too many? Two too few? And on top of the billions already spent, what's it worth to you, if the answer is yes?” And lastly, a long question about litmus tests for Supreme Court nominees and if you don't apply one “how then do you also avoid surprises?”
By Matthew Balan | October 30, 2008 | 6:56 PM EDT

CNN’s "Magic Wall" map on Thursday’s Situation Room displayed an error regarding the results of the 2000 presidential election. Instead of indicating that President George W. Bush won in the state of Florida by shading it red, the map showed that Florida was a blue state. Of course, the Sunshine State was the center of a furious battle over recounting votes, and in the certified count, only 537 votes separated Bush from Democrat Al Gore.

Correspondent John King, the Magic Wall’s "maestro" according The Economist, used the touch screen map just after the bottom of the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program to demonstrate a new feature of his map, which displays the locations of CNN’s "Best Political Team on Television" throughout the country as they follow the presidential campaign. While King didn’t directly state that the map he was working with was for the 2000 presidential election results, a caption in the upper left-hand corner read "United States of America: General Election," and in the upper right hand corner, there were graphics that had Gore’s name in blue and Bush’s in red.

By Geoffrey Dickens | October 30, 2008 | 6:26 PM EDT

Last night Chris Matthews' beloved Phillies won the World Series, and perhaps more importantly to Matthews, Bill Clinton "passed the torch," to Barack Obama. Decked out in his Phillies red, the giddy Matthews found the whole thing, well, overwhelming, as he exclaimed over video of Obama with Clinton:

That is a sight for the ages! That, I am overwhelmed by it. It is something to watch! Look at 'em! They are, look at the two winners there together. Bill Clinton said, "He's the future," Barack Obama last night. He, he passed the torch like Kennedy did to him once, figuratively speaking.

It was all a bit too much for former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari, as she couldn't help but make fun of Matthews' excitement, as she sarcastically quipped, "It's bringing tears to my eyes."

The following exchange occurred on the October 30, edition of "Hardball":

By Geoffrey Dickens | October 30, 2008 | 5:52 PM EDT

NBC's "Today" show, on Thursday, aired an "Access Hollywood," clip of Cher wearing a "Barack the Vote," t-shirt as she actually bashed George W. Bush, to his first cousin's face. The President's first cousin, and "Access Hollywood," host Billy Bush conducted the interview in which Cher declared: "I've been alive for 11 presidents and I feel that this is the worst time I've ever seen," and called the current President, "The Big Divider." Cher also claimed the only way she would be seen at a Sarah Palin rally would be "in my nightmares."

The following exchange was aired on the October 30, "Today" show:

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."