Just as he did in two earlier interviews with Barack Obama when he held up magazine covers and asked Obama to glow in the moment, in an excerpt from this week's session with Obama aired on Friday's NBC Nightly News, Williams cued up Obama with another visual image -- this time holding up a photograph of Obama in sandals in Honolulu when he went for a walk after visiting his dying grandmother -- to empathize: “The human in you, and the husband and father and grandson must want to just bust out sometimes, or disappear, if you can't go for a walk like that?” Back in January, Williams held up a Newsweek with Obama on the cover and wondered: “How does this feel?” In May, he held up a Time magazine cover with Obama's picture and presented it to him: “Have you yet held this in your hands?”
Showing Obama the picture of him walking in a Honolulu neighborhood, Williams pondered:
I want to ask you about -- it's a press-related question. This picture was so striking to me. And according to the press pool traveling with you, you asked to just take a walk and be alone. You're visiting your grandmother. What may, by all accounts be the last time you see her. How do you react to this, I guess it's part of the contract you make when you run in such an extended campaign, but, the human in you, and the husband and father and grandson must want to just bust out sometimes, or disappear, if you can't go for a walk like that?
On Friday’s American Morning program, CNN correspondent Carol Costello referred to the liberal organization ACORN as merely "a group committed to registering minority voters," and highlighted how it’s "trying to quiet what it calls ‘hysteria,’ coming from conservative circles" who "charge it’s... guilty of voter fraud." The on-screen graphic accompanying her report, which was the last full segment during the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, exclaimed that "ACORN Fight Back: Says Conservatives Creating ‘Hysteria.’"
Despite playing two clips from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who both criticized ACORN, Costello played three clips from two individuals who sympathized with the organization. The first two clips came from former U.S. attorney David Iglesias, who was one of eight U.S. attorneys who were controversially fired by the Justice Department in 2006. He compared the GOP’s focus on the liberal group to the "Red Scare of the 1950s." During the third clip, Michael Waldman, a former speechwriter for President Clinton who now directs the Brennan Center at NYU’s School of Law, emphasized that "voters should know is that when someone registers under a fake name, that doesn’t mean they can vote under a fake name." Costello identified Waldman as merely as an "elections expert," and repeated his talking point twice at the end of her report.
Heard anything about Barack Obama's sleazy online fundraising, where thanks to purposely lax security measures his site is able to receive untraceable donations from obviously fake names? Not if you've been reading the print edition of the New York Times.
Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.
Those two Post stories mark a Woodward-and-Bernstein level of intensity compared to the Times's treatment. A search indicates that the Times has published zero stories in its newspaper on recent revelations concerning the Obama campaign's avoidance of basic security measures to stop illegal contributions.
On Thursday’s Countdown show on MSNBC, New York Times columnist Frank Rich charged that it looks "morally bad" and "idiotic" that Republicans have not elected a black candidate to federal office in six years. The Republican party also seemed to remind Rich of South Africa’s racist Apartheid policy of the past: "The fact is, this isn`t South Africa 25 years ago, this is a major political party that is essentially all white. And the hierarchy of it is definitely white. There hasn`t been a new black Republican elected to federal office, I think, in six years. And so, what does that tell us about the party? And how does that look to voters? I think it looks like it`s the party of the last century. It looks bad. Not only is it morally bad, but politically. I think it`s idiotic because it`s against the whole demographics of this country and where they’re going."
Liberal ABC reporter David Wright derided Joe Wurzelbacher (AKA "Joe the Plumber") as John McCain's "campaign mascot" during Friday's edition of "Good Morning America." Wright, who has developed quite a track record in the 2008 campaign of boosting Barack Obama and bashing Senator McCain, also sneeringly compared Wurzelbacher's appearance with the Republican to Obama's Ohio campaign rally featuring Bill Clinton.
He sniffed, "Barack Obama turned to a celebrity with a bit more history and stature. Former President Bill Clinton hit the stump for Obama right here in Ohio." On the October 23 "Nightline," Wright attacked the "angry rant" McCain delivered during a speech on taxes. During the October 22 GMA, he insisted that Governor Sarah Palin's attacks on Senator Joe Biden might not be that valid because the vice presidential contender lives in a "glass house."
Newsweek editor Jon Meacham brought his professorial tones to National Public Radio on Wednesday and Thursday’s Morning Edition, discussing the Obama and McCain memoirs and what they say about the candidates. The oddest moment came in Wednesday’s chat on Obama, when NPR anchor Steve Inskeep raised Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear, by which FDR meant global arms reductions. Inskeep explained "Obama seems to suggest that while they are all important, that freedom from want and freedom from fear are the things that have to come first."
Meacham agreed that these liberal conceptions of freedoms are more important, but stressing them is a "very conservative" argument coming from Obama: "Yes. If you are hungry, you're not that interested in freedom of the press. If you are impoverished, you are interested in keeping yourself warm against the cold, and it's harder to think in Jeffersonian rights-of-man terms. Once those first two freedoms are secured, the others tend to follow. It's a very conservative argument that without order, nothing else is possible."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows Barack Obama maintains a double digit lead over John McCain, he's now ahead by 11 points, 52% to 41%." However, the current Real Clear Politics average of polls, which includes the CBS/New York Times poll, only gives Obama a 6-point advantage. That is because all other polls range from Obama being up three to being up eight, the CBS/NYT poll is clearly the outlier.
In a report that followed, correspondent Jeff Glor looked at poll numbers on the economy: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll asked if the candidates would raise taxes on people like you. 50% said Obama would, 46% said McCain would. But when asked which candidate will make the economy better, 54% said Obama, 32%, McCain." In contrast to that 22-point gap, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that 48% of voters trust McCain more on the economy, while 47% trust Obama more. In addition, Rasmussen gives Obama only a 4-point lead nationally. Given such great disparity in the results and the fact that most other polls show the race tightening, one wonders about the credibility of the CBS/New York Times poll.
"Fox & Friends" on Friday replayed the videotape of Griff Jenkins chasing down Rashid Khalidi, which was originally aired on Thursday's "Hannity & Colmes." Unsurprisingly, Khalidi was not willing to talk with the Fox News reporter.
Before showing the video, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson explained that Fox News had previously called Khalidi but had been hung up on, which is why Jenkins was deployed to ambush the Columbia professor.
"Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman on Friday asked the author of a new biography on Michelle Obama how the candidate's wife deals with her husband being "lusted after by all of these women out there" on the campaign trail. While talking to "Michelle" author Liz Mundy, Shipman cooed, "And, of course, it's wonderful, but not always easy when your husband becomes a political rock star overnight."
As though the ABC correspondent were reading from a press release, she opened the segment by fawning: "And over the years, Michelle Obama in her personal journey has achieved a remarkable feat. She's carved a role for herself a path that both embraces and transcends race." Later, Shipman insisted, "An incredible journey that even more than her husband's is emblematic of the country's racial transformation." At no point, did Shipman, who once rhapsodized about the "fluid poetry" of the presidential candidate, discuss any of Michelle Obama's gaffes during the 2008 campaign, such as her famous comment in February that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."
The media's abysmal coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign has been the equivalent of a mass press suicide that has signaled the end of journalism.
So wrote National Review contributor and Hoover Institution senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson Friday in a scathing rebuke of all those so-called impartial journalists who sacrificed their souls and whatever was left of their integrity this year to assist Barack Obama win the White House.
Here are some of Hanson's key points (emphasis added):
At least on the CBS Evening News. On Thursday's newscast, reporter Chip Reid explained that John McCain campaigned in northern Ohio towns Reid described as “conservative areas” while CBS colleague Dean Reynolds, with Barack Obama in Sarasota, Florida, marveled at how he's “not just concentrating on Republican states now. He's stumping in their most conservative strongholds.”
Over the past few weeks Reid has referred to how Sarah Palin campaigned “in conservative rural Pennsylvania,” how Obama in Roanoke “drew a crowd of more than 8,000 in this conservative corner of Virginia” and how a McCain rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin put him in a “deeply conservative suburb of Milwaukee.”
From my memory, and a check of Nexis, only once in October did a CBS Evening News story describe any area of the nation as liberal -- and that came in tandem with a conservative tag. In a Friday, October 17 story, Kelly Cobiella described how in Florida “Obama has the southeast and its large number of African-American, Jewish and liberal white voters. McCain is the favorite among military and socially conservative voters in the southwest and north.”
CNN anchor Kiran Chetry referred to John McCain’s warning of Democratic Party rule in both the White House and the Congress if Barack Obama is elected president as "scare tactics" during a preview of a report on Thursday’s American Morning: "Five more days -- the scare tactics continue. Should you be afraid of one party rule?" A clip of McCain naming Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a possible "dangerous threesome" played after Chetry’s line.
During the actual report, correspondent Jim Acosta highlighted such "scare tactics" from both presidential candidates. First, he described how McCain "is telling voters to be afraid, very afraid of Democratic dominance in Washington." He later stated how Obama "has his own boogieman, as in the man who has controlled the White House for the last eight years," meaning President Bush. Note that while Acosta gave examples of both candidates playing the so-called fear card, Chetry’s preview only referred specifically to McCain.
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?”
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.
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":
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:
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.
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."
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):
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. The full collection can be found here, but here are a few of the choicer quotes and along with a memorable video:
Love at First Sight
“I think the real breakout tonight is [Illinois Senate candidate Barack] Obama. I mean, Teresa [Heinz-Kerry] is a fascinating story, but Obama is a rock star!” — NBC’s Andrea Mitchell during MSNBC’s live coverage of the Democratic convention, July 27, 2004.
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.
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."
"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. Barack Obama's Oct. 29 half hour-long paid advertisement that ran on NBC, CBS, and Fox network stations.
"I didn't see anything new that really needed to be told last night.... To see if it's effective, let's see what the 'Pushing Daisies' ratings were," Motley added, referring to the program in the 8 p.m. Wednesday time slot on ABC, the one broadcast network which didn't carry the Obama informercial.
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."
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:
Democrats, having witnessed Palin's wobbly 2008 performance (31 percent of registered voters in the new NEWSWEEK poll say Palin makes them less likely to vote for McCain), will no doubt relish the prospect of Palin lingering on the national stage. They should be careful what they wish for. For all her problems now, Palin has the biography, the ideological sympathies and the charisma to be what the Republican Party lacks: a populist, far-right politician with intense celebrity appeal.
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. It was realism” and “most important, the connection with the average person in the economic turmoil we face right now I thought was fabulous.” Plus, the setting reminiscent of the Oval Office demonstrated “he's comfortable and we should be comfortable and will be with him in such a setting.” Bottom line for Matthews: “I thought everything was just right.”
The initial reaction from Matthews when prompted by Keith Olbermann:
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?”
CNN 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.”
The Media Research Center's Director of Communications and NewsBusters.org Contributing Editor Seton Motley appeared on the Fox News Channel's America's Election HQ with Megyn Kelley to discuss the Los Angeles Times refusing to release a video of Illinois Democratic Senator and Presidential nominee Barack Obama attending the apparently anti-Israel going-away party for anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi in April 2003.
The Times did write a story about it at the time, but recently knowledge of the tape's existence came to light and they have steadfastly refused to release it.
Motley pointed out that this is but the latest in a long list of things potentially damaging to Sen. Obama that the media has obfuscated or outright ignored in their coverage of the Presidential race, including his relationships with Khalidi, remorseless domestic terrorist William Ayers, his anti-American pastor and self-described "mentor" and "spiritual advisor" of two decades Jeremiah Wright and convicted felon Tony Rezko.