On ABC’s Good Morning America on Saturday, co-anchor Bill Weir bristled with hostility during an interview with a McCain campaign spokesman about the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate, suggesting she was unqualified and too conservative. At one point, Weir even suggested that by running for Vice President, the Governor would be jeopardizing her four-month old daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome.
Weir confronted McCain political director Mike DuHaime: “Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the Senator, and the Governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?” When DuHaime offered a general answer about Palin’s “incredible life story,” an obviously irritated Weir jumped in, exclaiming “She has an infant -- she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?”
Just a few moments later, that line of questioning was quickly criticized by ABC’s Cokie Roberts as sexist. Without mentioning Weir, Roberts said questions “about who’s taking care of the children...traditionally has very much angered women voters when women candidates are asked those questions and male candidates never are.”
Last Saturday night, in multiple stories on all three broadcast network evening shows about Barack Obama's VP pick, Senator Joe Biden was never described as a liberal. Friday night, however, CBS and NBC accurately tagged John McCain's selection, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, as “reliably conservative” or a “solid conservative” -- and that's not counting references to how she will shore up support for McCain amongst conservatives. On ABC's World News, for instance, David Wright reported: “The McCain campaign also hopes Palin can excite conservatives given her life-long support for gun rights and her opposition to abortion rights.” Listing the pros and cons to the pick, CBS's Jeff Greenfield made “delights the right” a plus. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell combined a label with Palin's potential to help McCain: “Palin is a social conservative, against abortion and for gun rights, who could energize the party's base.”
On the CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer dubbed Palin “John McCain Jr.” since she's “somebody who is willing to take on her own party.” Anchor Katie Couric interjected: “But with conservative principles,” to which Schieffer affirmed: “Yeah, with conservative principles.” Two other straight-forward labels applied to Palin on the Friday night, August 29 newscasts:
Chip Reid on CBS: “On most issues, she is reliably conservative, agreeing with McCain on the need to cut taxes and slash spending.” He also described her as “a fierce opponent of abortion.”
John Larson, from Anchorage, on the NBC Nightly News: “Governor Palin is a solid conservative, firmly supporting gun rights and strongly opposing abortion.”
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to former FBI agent and body language expert, Joe Navarro about some of the controversial scenery at the Obama speech: "What did you think about the open stadium? Was it too much? Too over the top? Or was it effective?" Navarro responded: "Absolutely not. You know, months ago they were talking about decisions were going to be made behind closed doors. This was democracy at its best." Rodriguez added: "Because so many people were involved." That prompted Navarro to declare: "Involved. You know, you look at the -- everything, the people, the surroundings, the colors, the imagery. It reminds you of Athenian democracy."
On Wednesday, Navarro was on the show to analyze Michelle Obama’s body language during her convention speech: "I think it was a home run. She's a beautiful woman. You know, her hugs are genuine. She has those beautiful high cheek bones that we see in models. The broad shoulders. Look how wide her stance is. Her gestures are huge. They're very encompassing. These things draw us in."
Rodriguez did raise the controversy surrounding Obama’s backdrop during his nomination acceptance speech: "That was one of the criticisms, though. You said Athenian, that the temples made it look -- I mean, the columns made it look a little bit too much like a temple, like this was meant to worship Barack Obama as a god." Navarro completely dismissed such criticism: "Not at all. This was about that, you know, we use the images of these columns from Athens to tell us about our history of democracy, about openness, about the people. And we have a great example of this where this has been opened up, I think, for the first time and may set a precedent for future conventions. Very powerful."
TIM GRAHAM: Here's one of these times where ABC is actually trying to get a story that's not all puffy happy, and they're getting shoved into the street.
GRAHAM: There were media there the day before. All over that sidewalk, blocking the doors of the hotel. But somehow I think they felt that because there was not 18 reporters there but one reporter that they could be rough on the one guy. I mean you got to give ABC some credit here that they are trying to do some stories here about campaign finances.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson appeared on CNN's "Newsroom" on Friday to discuss the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's vice presidential running. During her interview, "American Morning" co-host John King played a clip of Palin from Glenn Beck's Headline News show from June in which Palin said that she would not accept an offer to be McCain's running mate because she felt she could help Alaska contribute more to America. Roberts then questioned Palin's commitment to her state:
So even back then, you know, speculation wise that she might be chosen as the running mate but she seemed very dedicated to the state of Alaska. The fact that she's leaving it behind after just two years in office, what does that say about her commitment to politics at least on the state level?
However, during his time as Chief White House Correspondent for CBS, Roberts talked up Senator Hillary Clinton as a potential candidate for president in the 2004 election. Roberts filed reports on the possibility of her candidacy on the November 2, 2003, "Evening News" and again on the November 3, 2003, "Early Show," just halfway into her first term as a Senator from New York, and while he did refer to Clinton as "polarizing," he never questioned her commitment to New York:
Over on the magazine's Web site, Time's Jay Newton-Small published a brief phone interview she conducted on August 14 with Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), a full 15 days before being chosen by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as his running mate.
The agenda of questions were overall devoid of a political slant and did include one softball about how her youth and gender affect her approach.
While NBC's Matt Lauer took pains to label John McCain's vice presidential nominee a "staunch" and "stalwart" conservative on Friday, all three network morning shows almost entirely avoided any ideological descriptors for Senators Obama, Biden and the major liberal speakers during the just completed August 25 to 28 Democratic National Convention.
Some of the individuals at the convention included Al Gore, Senator Ted Kennedy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all politicians with an obvious leftward tilt. The only exception to the liberal label blackout included references by NBC's "Today" and CBS's "Early Show" on Tuesday when various reporters affectionately referred to Kennedy as the "liberal lion," of the Senate, a clear term on endearment. (ABC's "Good Morning America" used the word "lion" in regards to Kennedy, but not "liberal.") This foreshadows a Republican National Convention, September 1 to the 4, a period where John McCain and Sarah Palin will very likely be labeled "conservative" many times.
Just minutes after the news arrived that John McCain had selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate on Friday, "Today" host Matt Lauer broke into regular coverage and began labeling her as a "staunch conservative" and a "stalwart conservative." The "Today" show has, thus far, avoided using ideological labels for Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, during this week's Democratic convention.
And although many members of the media have resisted pointing out Obama's inexperience, Lauer immediately seized on the subject for Palin and used Quayle-like "heartbeat away" terminology: "We have a 72 year-old nominee of the Republican Party and the vice presidency...This is a position of a heart beat away and how are people going to feel about Sarah Palin in that situation?" NBC political director Chuck Todd replied by asserting how McCain is "rolling the dice on this. He's absolutely gambling."
After each of the firstthreenights of the Democratic convention, network news reporters have offered enthusiastically positive reviews, and Friday morning’s coverage of Barack Obama’s acceptance address made it a clean sweep. CBS Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, the only morning show host still in Denver, said he felt the earth moving. “This place rumbled....The stadium was just so alive, and the ground was almost quaking,” he told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
Rodriguez voiced pity for John McCain: “Harry, I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday.”
While speculating on John McCain’s upcoming vice presidential running mate, who we now know will be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez explained: "I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday, which is today, and which he will be celebrating in Dayton, Ohio, where he will formally announce his vice president." In a later segment, Rodriguez declared: "John McCain didn't waste anytime trying to steal Barack Obama's thunder. He's decided on a running mate, and he will announce it today."
Later in that segment, Rodriguez talked to McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker and asked: "But he needs to make a splash somehow, especially after last night. 85,000 screaming supporters witnessing an historic nomination. That's significant. How do you top that?" When Hazelbaker responded by pointing out that "what is holding him [Obama] back in this election, is the idea that he does not have the experience or the judgment to lead." Rodriguez interrupted: "But Jill, he answered...I disagree because he [Obama] answered, very directly, every criticism that John McCain has made about him from his readiness to be president, to his celebrity status, and everything in between, he gave very direct answers." Despite such strong defense for Obama, Rodriguez will be anchoring Early Show coverage at the Republican convention next week.
During the 9 a.m. EDT hour of “CNN Newsroom,” “American Morning” co-anchor John Roberts gave an analysis of Governor Sarah Palin during discussion of Senator John McCain's vice presidential choice. Roberts focused on Palin's lack of experience, saying that a prerequisite for the vice presidency should be the ability to step right into the office, especially because of McCain's age. Roberts stated:
• • Chicago reporters covering the Democratic Convention in Denver were stunned to witness WGN-Channel 9's Allison Payne cheering and applauding for speakers Wednesday night while she was seated with the Illinois delegation in the Pepsi Center.
The veteran newswoman has been co-anchoring convention coverage for the Tribune Co.-owned station.
Earlier in the week, Payne was quoted in the Chicago Tribune apologizing to viewers for her bizarre performance on Channel 9's 9 p.m. newscast Aug. 21. "I was not drunk," she said.
She attributed her slurred speech and erratic behavior to a series of ministrokes.
Chicago reporters were probably not taken aback by Payne's enthusiasm for the Democrats, but by her showing it so publicly.
It's supposed to be a secret that the mainstream media are in the tank for Democrats, Allison. Didn't you get the memo?
Chris Matthews is apparently not the only one who gets "inspired" by Barack Obama.
Blogging from the convention floor, a reporter for the Hill, a DC political newspaper observed "dozens of men and women wearing green media floor passes chanted along with the crowd" at Obama's speech last night.
Is it any surprise given how many elite media journalists are registered Democrats or how Obama's speech was almost universally hailed by TV reporters?
We'll be sending several NB bloggers to the RNC next week to keep an eye out for similar applauding. Don't worry, we won't be holding our breaths.
Television journalists were nearly uniformly enthralled with Barack Obama's Thursday night acceptance speech, relieved he showed the toughness to take on John McCain directly, unlike, in their world view, all too-soft past Democratic nominees. Only FNC offered a contrarian view or mentioned the word “liberal” while David Gergen on CNN trumpeted the address as a “symphony” and a “masterpiece” with elements of Lincoln, MLK and Reagan.
ABC's Charles Gibson insisted that “four years ago John Kerry” was “held accountable for not being tough enough on George Bush,” and “Obama was obviously not going to make that mistake.”
On CNN, Gloria Borger decided: “If anybody ever thought that Barack Obama was not tough enough to run against John McCain, this speech should really put an end to that.”
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen gushed over Al Gore’s speech at Invesco Field on Thursday evening during the network’s coverage of the Democratic convention as he urged viewers to go back and read the text:
I think the Gore speech, he -- while it was way too rushed in delivery, had an awful lot to offer, and was one of the first times anybody in this campaign has spoken seriously to the nation about the potential catastrophe coming from global warming.... I think it's really was worth for a lot of people going back and actually reading the text of Al Gore's speech.
He then mentioned Abraham Lincoln’s "brief time in politics before he became President" in an indirect reference to Barack Obama’s short political career.
Chris Matthews has had it with Karl Rove, and he told the Reverend Al Sharpton, during MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, to "beat" Rove in Ohio, "before we have the count." After Sharpton claimed the Democrats were "robbed" in 2000 and 2004, Matthews urged the Reverend not to let it happen again.
MATTHEWS: Well let's hope if you, for the purposes of your cause, Reverend Sharpton, that Karl Rove and Don King and the rest of them don't get together in Ohio again, like they did last time, and use the marriage issue to drum up a divisive vote, to take that state away. So you ought to keep your hands on that situation and beat them before we have the count, instead of joining in the pity thereafter.
Before Matthews interviewed Sharpton he bemoaned the tactics of Rove as he yelled, "People really do hate the politics of Karl Rove!," and "I really do think that hurts our patriotism."
The following rants occurred around 12:03AM [EDT] on MSNBC about an hour after Barack Obama's acceptance speech:
Yesterday in a chat with USA Today reporters, former President Jimmy Carter complained that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was "milking every possible drop of advantage" from his stay in the Hanoi Hilton.
Perhaps picking up on that talking point, Time magazine's Michael Scherer asked in an August 28 article, "Is McCain Overplaying the POW Card?" Yet not once in his did Scherer point to Carter's comments. Instead Scherer resorted to the ever-so-reliable journalistic convention of "some critics":
Chris Matthews shook the proverbial fist at this detractors as he delivered the following praise of Barack Obama's acceptance speech on MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, earning loud applause from the audience gathered by the channel's outdoor location:
KEITH OLBERMANN: For 42 minutes not a sour note and spellbinding throughout in way usually reserved for the creations of fiction. An extraordinary political statement....I'd love to find something to criticize about it. You got anything?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: No. You know I've been criticized for saying he inspires me and to hell with my critics!
Contrasting how Barack Obama won the nomination of the Democratic Party to how Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell achieved their successes, Chris Matthews insulted the aforementioned as "showcase appointments."
The following excerpt from Matthews occurred about 9:30 PM EDT during MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, August 28:
Again he [Barack Obama] carries with him the history of tonight. And it's important to point out, as we have not so far, Barack Obama was not given this nomination, he won it. He was not offered a nice title like Secretary of State, like Condoleezza Rice got from the Republicans. He was not offered the title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as Colin Powell was, or Secretary of State. He won the nomination of a Democratic Party voting together. He defeated all other opponents and took the prize and took the leadership. He is the chosen leader of the Democratic Party.
He is not some popular appointment or a showcase appointment. He is the victor here tonight. That's why he dictates the agenda. That's why he says, personally, what the Democratic Party will do if he's elected President. He is the leader of the party. He may be the leader of the country through a democratic process. It is so vital to understand the history being made here tonight. This is not something cute or wonderful. It is something compelling and powerful. This country has changed its history.
It’s hard to imagine that Barack Obama has ever had to deal with a moment’s bad press from his pals at MSNBC, but you may remember how back on February 19, while anchoring coverage of the Wisconsin primary, Chris Matthews dared to ask a Texas state senator -- who was appearing on MSNBC to plead Obama's case -- to list “any” of his legislative accomplishments. He could not.
As Obama accepts the Democratic nomination tonight and the networks move to Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention, it seems a fair bet that TV’s talking heads will scold the GOP for daring to suggest Obama lacks the necessary experience to be president, so it's worth recalling how Matthews himself raised that point to devastating effect just six months ago.
Here’s the key part of that exchange, which originally aired shortly before 10pm EST on February 19:
As the Democrats begin to wind down their national convention, we at NewsBusters are revving a series of reports under the banner "Quick Study" that take an in-depth and quantitative look at the ways cable news anchors and correspondents use information and perspectives to frame the race to suit their liberal ideology. We especially intend to shine a bright light on pretentions of objectivity that fall short of this standard, such as CNN's new motto, "No bias. No bull."
The dispute between Joe Scarborough and his liberal MSNBC colleage David Shuster ("your party?") brought the issue of party registration among elite media to the forefront of cable news watchers' minds so we figured, why not check up on the actual party registration data of CNN, the self-styled "objective option" for cable viewers?
As it turns out, the idea of CNN's objectivity is difficult to square with the partisan leanings of many of the network's own anchors and correspondents. Many of the men and women covering the Democratic National Convention for CNN, including quite a few of their top tier reporters, are registered Democrats according to voter data.
Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as pro-life Democrats. And yes, there are some in Denver at the party's nominating convention, even if the mainstream media don't interview them.
Christianity Today has found a few and has been covering them at the magazine's CTPolitics blog. But if you are looking for tough questions, you won't find them from staffer Sarah Pulliam in her interview with Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski.
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith set the tone for the show’s coverage of Barack Obama’s upcoming nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic convention: "First, history being made in Denver today." While Obama being the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party is historic, the Early Show went far beyond the other network morning shows, doing three stories on Obama being the first black Democratic nominee, with numerous comparisons to Martin Luther King and the 45th anniversary of King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
Meanwhile, NBC’s Today made no comparisons between Obama and King. On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts made only one brief reference to King’s 1963 speech at the end of a segment on preparations for Obama’s speech at Invesco Field. Speaking to editor-at-large for ‘O’ Magazine, Gayle King, Roberts asked: "And as we stood in the enormous empty stadium I couldn't help but feel the sweeping hand of history. I know my mother said she never thought she'd see this day. How do you feel about being here? We have seen grainy photos of the '60s of historic moments but to now know that we are also going to witness something like this."
In contrast, Thursday’s Early Show included four comparisons of Obama and King. The first reference was in a report by correspondent Bill Plante, the other three references were all by Smith. During a segment in the 7am half hour featuring poet Maya Angelou, he remarked: "Barack Obama was 2 years old when Dr. King shared his dream...Tonight Barack Obama will deliver another speech, loaded with history and promise."
Thursday's "American Morning" featured a segment focused on Senator and Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden's foreign policy experience. During the report, CNN correspondent Mary Snow used Michael O'Hanlon of the liberal Brookings Institution to make the claim that Biden's foreign policy experience is "praised" by the experts. While O'Hanlon has helped write foreign-policy speeches for former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and was thought of as a potential member of Kerry's administration by the National Journal, Snow never mentioned his political leanings:
SNOW: Biden's experience, which includes being the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has won him praise among foreign policy experts.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, Brookings Institution: He's creative. He's willing to put out new ideas and, I guess you could say, he's willing to be wrong at times.
It's Day 4 of the Democratic convention and MSNBC just can't get over the lack of "red meat" thrown to the party faithful. Commentator Pat Buchanan raised the issue during the 7:00 hour of this morning's "Morning Joe" while critiquing Bill Clinton's convention speech, noting that John McCain and the Republicans "skated free for this convention" and calling the current crop of Democrats "a yuppified party" when compared to Democrats in the past. Host Joe Scarborough continued the red meat theme into the 8:00 hour when he stated "We've been critical this week of the Democrats, Buchanan and I, because we're mean-spirited Republicans saying that the Democrats needed to go more aggressively against George Bush's eight years of failure, tying McCain to Bush."
Scarborough provided a deli-menu's worth of meat to any Democrats watching that could be used against Republicans in general and John McCain specifically. He bragged, "in ten seconds I could write a speech and say, what do you say about a party that comes to Washington, takes it over, promises to balance the budget and turns Bill Clinton's $150 billion surplus into a $500 billion debt? What do you say about a party that says they are going to fight for our children when in fact they are bankrupting the American dream?"
"Today" host Matt Lauer scored an interview with "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart for Thursday's show and praised the liberal comic as "one of the most respected and listened to political voices in this country." Continuing his fawning profile, he attributed a rise in the number of young people voting, in part, to the work of Stewart. It was just after that exchange that the comedian jabbed at Republican John McCain.
He asserted the increase in young voters was due to the fact that in this election, "...It helps to have some candidates, you know, who are not necessarily Matlockian," referring to TV character Ben Matlock, played by Andy Griffith and popular with older Americans. Now, it's one thing to say that Stewart's funny, but respected? By liberals, perhaps, but it's obvious that much of his appeal to members of the media derives from his partisan, relentless bashing of conservatives and Republicans. Tom Brokaw, another NBC luminary, wrote a profile on the comic for the April 18, 2005 issue of Time in which he rather ridiculously referred to the Comedy Central host as "our Athenian, a voice for democratic ideals and the noble place of citizenship, helped along by the sound of laughter." [Emphasis added]
Ah the wit and wisdom of Chris Matthews. Did you know that Joe Biden's hometown of Scranton, Pa., is stuck in 1957? Or that Sen. McCain hopes to peel off Michigan from the Democrats due in part to white voters anger at black Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick? Did you know you shouldn't bother to ask a Mormon what he did over the weekend?
Oh, and the media used to love John McCain because they were his base.
ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC all interviewed Obama campaign manager David Plouffe on Thursday morning. The name rhymes with fluff, and fluff consumed most of the interview questions, which focused on convention atmospherics and polls, and not on policy issues. CBS host Harry Smith summarized the trend by saying "Let’s talk about the cosmetics." ABC and CBS competed to see who could be more promotional. Both compared it to a "Super Bowl atmosphere." Smith strangely asked: "Are the Republicans controlling this conversation, the conversation with the American people this week?" NBC’s Matt Lauer, by contrast, threw three comparative hardballs at Plouffe about how the Republicans were mocking the Invesco Field speech and its "Temple of Obama" setting. He said the Republicans say "This is a place where we pay tribute to football stars and rock stars and maybe it shows, once again, this campaign is less about substance and more about the cult of personality." CNN’s John Roberts conducted a brief interview, and corrected Plouffe when he implied more people thought Obama would be a better commander-in-chief.
In the wake of Barack Obama officially becoming the first African-American presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "This day, August 28, is steeped in history. Barack Obama delivers his historic acceptance speech and 45 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his 'I Have A Dream" speech. August 28, 1963, hundreds of thousands of people came to Washington, D.C. They came to march for jobs, and for freedom, and for equality."
Smith went on to describe Obama as the culmination of all of King’s efforts: "Barack Obama was 2 years old when Dr. King shared his dream. In 2004, Obama burst on to the national scene with a speech that paid homage to King and those who came before him...Tonight Barack Obama will deliver another speech, loaded with history and promise. And expectations are high." Smith also got reaction from poet Maya Angelou: "I mean, we all know he's going to, in front of our very eyes, metamorphose into Martin Luther King -- not really, no. He has a different background. He has, I think, pretty much the same dream. I think he had the same dream that any leader has for her people, for his people." Smith responded by adding: "A dream that would become the American dream."
Smith then wondered: "And if Dr. King were alive today?" Angelou speculated: "It'd be a lot of 'I told you so, we could do this.' To America, not to blacks, not to whites, and not to Asians. But to Americans, 'I knew we could do this.' Amazing, these are really historic moments we're in."