Most prevalent theme during Tuesday night's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, after speculation over healing the Clinton-Obama feud: TV journalists worrying about how the Democrats are not adequately aggressive in their attacks against John McCain as reporters, especially on CBS, repeatedly pressed for more “red meat” and wondered if the speakers are being “hard enough” or “tough enough” on McCain?
CBS's Bob Schieffer rued to keynoter Mark Warner that “normally keynote speeches” deliver “a lot of red meat,” but “I didn't hear a lot of that.” Over on NBC, Brian Williams pushed Warner: “You know there's some in the party who feel that this gathering isn't tough enough against a John McCain who, after all, hasn't let up for a day against this party.” Back to CBS, Jeff Greenfield asserted Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton “to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts.” Couric even asked Michael Dukakis “if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?” Clinton's speech left Couric unfulfilled: “We expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight...Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?”
Previewing Ed Rendell early in the evening, CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered: “Let's see if he has some red meat.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was “amazed why they don’t have more fun with the man who calls himself Dick Cheney,” as he lamented: “It seems like they’re pulling their punches.” Analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post yearned:
I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word “torture.” I'm waiting for someone to take the podium, say the word “Iraq.” I'm waiting for someone to take, to take the podium and talk about domestic surveillance...
No, it’s not what you might think. We know that CNN’s Roland Martin "dances" to a liberal tune, but the cameras caught him grooving to the music at the Democratic convention, along with CNN frequent contributors (and Democratic strategists) Paul Begala and Donna Brazille, as featured in a report by correspondent Jeanne Moos on Tuesday’s The Situation Room (video at right).
The CNN camera crews caught these lighter moments involving the trio. Martin sang along to the house band’s rendition of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s hit "September," while Begala and Brazile coupled-up and danced together to a slower tune. Not to be upstaged apparently, Martin stopped a passer-by and danced with her. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they like to let loose when they’re not attacking conservatives and Republicans.
Paying tribute to Hillary Clinton hours before her address to the Democratic National Convention, on Tuesday night CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric delivered a nearly five-minute-long review of Senator Clinton's campaign and why it came up short, though Couric ended on a laudatory note: “She did leave her mark in the history books.” Following a soundbite from former Clinton campaign operative Geoffrey Garin touting how “for the next woman who runs for President, they don't have to wonder what the model looks like. The model looks like Hillary Clinton,” Couric trumpeted: “And the party platform, where for the first time, the issue of sexism in America is raised.”
Over on the NBC Nightly News, sitting with NBC political director Chuck Todd inside the Pepsi Center to preview the upcoming speech, anchor Brian Williams rued:
And I assume she's going to talk about that glass ceiling, i.e., a woman President of these United States, which begs the question as we listen to her tonight, if not her, who and when?
CNN American Morning co-host John Roberts took a gratuitous shot Tuesday at former Democratic Senator Zell Miller, who a lot of liberals haven’t forgiven for delivering the keynote address at the last Republican convention in 2004. After a guest observed that Republican Jim Leach on Monday “did not give a compelling speech compared to say Zell Miller,” Roberts snarkily observed: “Well, Zell set his hair on fire and ran around the room.”
Back in 2004, when Roberts was reporting for the CBS Evening News, he also scoffed at Miller’s decision to speak at the GOP convention: “Call him disillusioned conservative Democrat or turncoat, it’s the sort of remarkable about-face Miller is famous for.”
During Monday’s convention coverage, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin fretted that the Democrats weren’t doing enough Bush-bashing. Tuesday afternoon, CNN aired two segments during the 1:00 hour of CNN’s Newsroom in which they promoted Democrat fears that Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner “won’t go for the jugular” in his speech tonight.
White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux highlighted the split between Hillary Clinton supporters and Barack Obama supporters in the first segment. She stated, “A lot of the Clinton camp want that kind of attack dog, want that red meat to be thrown to the delegates. They're ready -- they're ready for that fight. The Obama folks, a little bit more laid back about it, saying, look, you know, we're reaching across the aisle. We want to reach out to the independents and some of the Republicans. A little less, though, of that red meat style.”
In the second segment congressional correspondent Dana Bash labeled the Democratic former Virginia governor a “moderate” and “more socially conservative” and drew parallels between his keynote address and that of Obama’s in 2004 before she noted “there's a little bit of concern about the fact that he's not going to be -- sort of go for the jugular the way that many Democrats are hoping that they really step up here at this convention here in Denver.”
PBS demonstrated it clearly isn’t afraid to fly the flag of liberalism when it allowed one of its multi-millionaire stars, filmmaker Ken Burns, to not only make a syrupy socialist tribute to Ted Kennedy, but then to appear late Monday night on MSNBC to add his own personal tribute to the star of his film: "He was talking not just about the audacity but the possibility of hope. And that’s a wonderful, wonderful message to be carrying on. He's so committed to health care. He’s so committed to national service. He's committed to an honorable end to this horrific war." He mentioned Teddy’s "martyred brothers," and added: "we endow them with the immortality that they so clearly deserve. And yet here is the youngest brother, the little engine that could that keeps going every single day, adding something to our agenda, adding something to this country."
About ten minutes before midnight, the tributes to this "amazing, amazing man" began. MRC's Colleen Raezler took it down:
During the 11 a.m. EDT hour of Tuesday’s MSNBC “News Live,” host Dan Abrams interviewed Reuters Washington correspondent John Decker about Senator Obama’s campaign seeking a criminal investigation against the American Issues Project over an ad which links Obama to terrorist Bill Ayers.
While none of the American Issues Project ad was shown, MSNBC did help Obama rebut any claims of a connection between Obama and Ayers by airing part of Obama’s response ad: “Why is John McCain talking about the sixties trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers? McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers’ crimes committed when Obama was just 8 years old.”
Just like in the Obama ad, Abrams only referred to Ayers as a “radical,” and never mentioned the bombings Ayers took part in or his September 2001 statement that, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."
"Obama art is not for mere mortals" reads the headline to Financial Times reporter Edward Luce's August 26 Denver Diary item. Luce described a shrine fit for pilgrimage by the likes of Chris Matthews or Lee Cowan, the so-called Manifest Hope gallery in Denver.:
The gallery, a few blocks from the convention centre, asked artists for their take on "unity, hope, patriotism, change and progress" and within two weeks it had received 1,500 submissions.
Among the icons of the Obamessiah one depicts the Illinois senator "bare-chested as he strides out of a rose-strewn ocean."
Luce concluded his squib by offering "[t]wo bits of advice for curators":
admit only the converted and conceal it from the candidate until the end of his second term. No mortal can survive this adulation.
Catching up on a tidbit from Monday night’s coverage, CNN co-anchor Anderson Cooper actually wondered aloud whether the evening’s line-up of Democratic speakers -- Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Jr. -- was “too liberal” to attract independent voters. Usually, the networks never even label Democratic speakers, while constantly berating Republican speakers as extreme or right-wing, so this is either a refreshing change of pace, or a sign that Democrats have gone way over the edge if even CNN is worrying about a “too liberal” convention.
Responding to that suggestion, CNN analyst David Gergen admired how “Jimmy Carter has won a Nobel Peace Prize here recently. He's one of the two Democrats speaking at this convention -- Al Gore being the other -- who won Nobel Peace Prizes. That must be a first in history.” But, previewing Democratic consultant James Carville’s complaint two hours later, Gergen decried how the Democrats “have offered almost no substance” in their convention program: “We’ve had very little that's been compelling thus far.”
During an interview on Monday, "Good Morning America" news anchor Chris Cuomo fawned over liberal icon Jimmy Carter and his support for Barack Obama's candidacy. After Carter touted how much excitement the Illinois senator creates wherever he travels, Cuomo cited his GMA colleague Diane Sawyer and eagerly agreed: "You know, Diane said once on this show that maybe a simple test for who's the right choice for president is somebody who makes the statement, America, wow!" (One wonders if this "simple test" would have been applied to Ronald Reagan and his 49 state landslide.)
Cuomo, who is the son of former Democratic governor of New York Mario Cuomo and the brother of the state's current Democratic attorney general, proceeded to fret about why Barack Obama, "with all the Obamamentum and all of the media attention and all of the charisma that he is said to have, how do you explain this contraction in the polls from 15 points now to a dead heat even in the big states?"
Tuesday’s CBS Early Show praised Michelle Obama for meeting and surpassing high expectations with her Monday night speech at the Democratic convention, as co-host Julie Chen asked co-host Harry Smith: “...do you get the feeling that Michelle Obama accomplished what she set out to do? Because I definitely -- I definitely do, after watching from television -- you know, on television last night.” Smith replied: “Yeah, I think the bar was set pretty high and I think she went over that bar and probably then some.”
At the top of the show, Chen and co-host Maggie Rodriguez fawned over the speech, using the terms “compelling,” “impressive,” and “inspiring.” After Smith established that Obama had exceeded a “high bar,” Rodriguez mentioned Ted Kennedy’s speech as well and concluded that overall, “It was a special night for them. I think the Democrats should be very happy.”
Later, Smith discussed Obama’s speech with political analyst Jeff Greenfield and asked: “Talk about a bar set high for her to get over in terms of reintroducing herself to the American public.” Greenfield gave a glowing review of the speech: “So all of those stories -- this was a speech, that, if it were a painting, Norman Rockwell would have painted it. This is the American dream. This is what the American spirit is all about.”
Is ABC’s love for the Kennedys so blind that they would overlook an unintentional allusion to Senator Ted Kennedy’s most notorious night? On a very soft interview with Senator Kennedy’s son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, Good Morning America anchor Chris Cuomo gushed over the senator’s speech reminding the audience that Patrick Kennedy heard someone label it a "Michael Phelps moment" referencing the Olympic swimmer. Ted Kennedy did have his Michael Phelps moment, but not in Denver 2008, but Chappaquiddick 1969.
Diane Sawyer’s tease and at the end of Chris Cuomo’s interview with Congressman Kennedy both referenced Senator Kennedy’s comparison to Michael Phelps. Diane Sawyer quoted the congressman "Michael Phelps moment" and Patrick Kennedy brought the subject up in his chat with Cuomo. At the end of the interview Cuomo compared Phelps’ Olympic record to Kennedy’s speech editorializing "to a lot of Democrats it meant even more than eight gold medals." [audio excerpt available here]
All week (and apparently next week during the Republican convention), ABC’s Good Morning America will use its liberal prism to evaluate how the candidates’ policy proposals might help families with the last name of Jones, with a segment entitled “Meet the Joneses.” On Monday, as MRC’s Justin McCarthy pointed out, reporter Chris Cuomo hit Barack Obama’s tax proposals from the left, suggesting that even his tax hikes on “the rich” might not leave enough money for the government.
Tuesday, Cuomo found a family that was willing to go on camera and whine about having to spend $160 per month -- yes, just one-hundred sixty dollars and no cents -- on their daughter’s health care without being reimbursed by their evil HMO. After not being reassured that Obama’s “reforms” could guarantee that this specific family would save the average $2,500 per year, Cuomo pressed Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee from the left: “Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?”
Despite the fact that MSNBC has positioned itself as the far-left cable network, regular Democrats continue to prefer CNN in surveys. Has this preference extended to how the party leaders treat CNN?
In today's Washington Post, reporter Howard Kurtz talks about how the Democratic Party is being accused of favoring CNN by giving it a perfect visual shot during Barack Obama's upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention:
On Tuesday's “Today” show, co-host Matt Lauer practically dared John McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace to challenge the narrative created by Michelle Obama in her speech during the previous night of the Democratic National Convention. Lauer cited Mrs. Obama's goal as trying to “put to rest some of the stories that have been going around, and a lot of them being talked about on conservative talk radio, about her lack of patriotism.”
The NBC host then challenged Ms. Wallace, “So, let me ask you on the record, how she did, and does the McCain campaign doubt her love of country?” Of course, Lauer offered no specifics as to what he meant by “some of the stories that have been going around,” nor did he mention the now famous quote of Michelle Obama asserting that “for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country,” thus making it sound as though conservatives were just making things up about the candidate's wife.
"A forceful advocate for families and women" is often left-wing code for a politician who strongly supports abortion rights and opposes any restriction on abortion.
It's also how Fox News Channel's Chris Wallace characterized Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) as she sat down shortly after 12:30 p.m. EDT today to discuss Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech this evening and the role of Clinton supporters, particularly women, in making or breaking Democratic Party unity heading into the general election.
Boxer has a solid 100% approval rating from NARAL Pro Choice America and voted in recent years 30 out of 31 times with liberal feminist group NOW.
To be fair to Wallace, his designation of Boxer as an advocate for women and families followed immediately after colleague Jon Scott noted that August 26 marks the 88th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment which secured in the U.S. Constitution a woman's right to vote.
All the same, Wallace could just as warmly welcomed and thanked Boxer for sitting down for a chat without parroting a left-wing euphemisms for the liberal feminist agenda.
While the national media fret over whether or not there will be unity in the Democratic Party and gush over Monday night’s speeches by Senator Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama, pro-lifers are out in Denver, Colorado, protesting and working hard to get their message across. Of course, it would be easier to get their message out if the national media paid attention to their protests.
None of the big three broadcast network morning shows -- ABC’s "Good Morning America," NBC’s "Today" and CBS’s "Early Show" -- reported on these protests. Of course, this should come as no surprise. The broadcast networks also ignored this year’s March for Life as well as the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling.
In contrast, all three of the network evening news broadcasts reported on the anti-war protests on the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. Moreover, these reports all aired within the first ten minutes of each program.
During MSNBC's convention coverage on Monday night, Bill Maher explained to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann that American politics "seem to be getting worse because, sorry to say it, people get stupider and stupider every election cycle."
Maher's evidence of Americans' stupidity is found in the fact that "they think off-shore drilling is gonna lower the price of gas and they think Obama, the black guy from the single mother, somehow is the elitist."
Matthews and Olbermann didn't blink at Maher's characterization of Americans but simply provided the perfect set-up for Republican mockery by asking him who the Republicans will run as vice-president and who he wanted to win "for just comedic purposes."
All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it “couldn’t have been a more compelling first night” and Chen describing Michelle Obama as “so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak.”
Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first “an incredible night” and then “a night to remember for all ages.” NBC’s David Gregory called Michelle Obama’s speech “moving” and “heartfelt,” but that “the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy” for speaking on Obama’s behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor.
MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley appeared on Fox News Channel's "Fox News Live" this morning.
FNC's Megyn Kelly was the interlocuter.
Mr. Motley was brought on to discuss the media's negative and borderline hostile reaction to Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell's having the audacity to point out their bias over the weekend at a hallowed gathering of journalists.
He also discussed the ongoing biased (the Governor is of course correct) coverage of the Democratic Convention.
Keith Olbermann seems to be suffering from a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease during the Democrat convention coverage. As noted earlier by NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein, Olbermann, after commenting ecstatically about Michelle Obama's speech declared that he was "beginning to sound borderline sycophantic."
Also last night, an open mic caught Olbermann dissing fellow MSNBC team member, Joe Scarborough using profanity to describe his apparent disgust with Scarborough's analysis that Barack Obama has been falling behind in the polls.
"Jesus, Joe, why don't you get a shovel?" Olbermann snorted. Watch the video to the right or read the partial transcript below:
During MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention, on Monday night, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pronounced that Michelle Obama, in her opening night speech, had "dug herself, beautifully and completely, out of the hole she put herself in...when she said her husband's success was the first time she was proud of her country."
Fineman made the following declaration at 12:03am [EDT] on the Monday, August 25 (to Tuesday morning August 26) coverage of the Democratic Convention:
After Michelle Obama's Monday night speech at the Democratic National Convention, ABC and NBC mentioned her “for the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country” previous slap at the United States, but in the context of how she resolved any doubts. ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared:
“Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered.” Noting how “we heard the word 'America' or 'American' or 'Americans' 12 times,” NBC's Chuck Todd decided “this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American.”
CBS didn't touch on the topic during its prime time hour, though during an interview with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Katie Couric described Mrs. Obama not as controversial, but as “slightly controversial.” In a taped session later with Craig Robinson, Michelle's older brother, Couric wondered: “What one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?” When he suggested “sincere,” Couric agreed: “That's a good word.”
On the ideological labeling front, Ted Kennedy's appearance the hour before, highlights of which led all three broadcast networks at 10 PM EDT, failed to prompt a single liberal label on ABC or CBS, but NBC applied the tag three times, two of those to describe Kennedy as a “liberal lion.” (CNN and MSNBC provided scattered liberal labeling.)
On Monday night shortly after Michelle Obama finished speaking, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, as he expressed his disappointment that the Democrats didn’t go negative on the first night of their convention, inserted a barb against the Republicans: "...There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap...." He further explained that "Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight."
How unbalanced was MSNBC's tag team tonight? When Keith Olbermann felt himself getting verklempt over Michelle Obama's speech, he threw it, for some fair-n-balanced commentary, to . . . Chris Matthews. At the conclusion of Mrs. Obama's appearance, Olbermann almost seemed ready to call the election off and just hand the presidency to Obama by acclamation.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Ye-a-h-h-h. Case closed.
Matthews responded with a very guttural "uh-h-h-h."
OLBERMANN: That could not have done better for them. That could not have done better for them. Right to the point of the little girls taking the mikes away and suddenly turning out to be hams. It's wonderful. It really was terrific. And notice, did you notice throughout that, especially as it built towards its conclusion, the woman in that convention hall--the ones we saw at least--we can't say every one--but there were tears throughout among the women. And it was not a maudlin speech, it was not a salesmanship speech. There was just a -- I know, I'm beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this. So I'll stop. You start.
During live PBS coverage in the 8 pm EDT hour, anchorman Jim Lehrer asked former president Jimmy Carter if Obama's election, or just his nomination, "will send positive ripple effects throught the country on the race issue." Carter gave a dramatic answer: he said Obama's election would provide "the transforming grace for the end of racism and prejudice and hatred in our country."
The discussion over race began when pundit David Brooks wondered out loud if Obama's trouble pulling ahead of John McCain is due to race. Carter said it's a factor, but not as large a factor as the fervor of Hillary partisans. Carter declared that when Obama spoke about race in Philadelphia (ahem, to try and defuse the storm over his pastor Jeremiah Wright's vicious sermons),
I wept. I sat in front of the television and cried, because I saw that as the most enlightening and transforming analysis of racism and the potential end of it that I ever saw in my life.
LEHRER: 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.
File this one under "too much information." On Sunday’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer got very personal as he reminisced about attending the 1968 Democratic convention, the first convention he ever attended: “I have to say the first one for me was the most memorable -- not for political but for personal reasons. My first daughter was born nine months to the day after that one. As she later remarked, Chicago in '68 wasn't all fighting in the streets.”
In his 2003 memoir, This Just In, the longtime CBS News correspondent painted a grim picture of the 1968 Democratic convention. Schieffer wasn’t with CBS at the time, but he was able to attend the convention because his wife “had always been active in local Democratic politics and as a member of the state Democratic executive committee, she was invited as a guest.”
Previewing the first night of the Democratic convention on Monday's "Situation Room," host Wolf Blitzer and a network graphic repeatedly identified the announced speakers as liberal. The CNN anchor asserted, "The speaker lineup for tonight, by the way, here at the convention, includes some of the party's most prominent and most liberal members, including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter."
Blitzer then asked guest James Carville if "...highlighting all these liberals tonight, is that the way these Democrats can reach out to moderates, to independents and say, you know what, it's time for a change?" Carville praised the work of cancer-stricken Senator Ted Kennedy and predicted high emotion. Fellow guest, conservative radio host Bill Bennett, replied, "Oh, it's their party and they can be emotional or cry if they want to or be liberal if they want to."
Shortly after the Democrats gaveled to order their 2008 nominating convention at 5 p.m. EDT, CNN's Jack Cafferty did the party of Jimmy Carter a favor by pushing its economic message on his blog and the network's "The Situation Room" program with his question of the hour. Cafferty listed negative-sounding statistic after negative statistic, failing to offset them with even one praiseworthy accomplishment of the Bush administration, before asking CNN viewers if they are "better off" now than eight years ago.
Ronald Reagan had some success with this question a few years ago and things weren’t nearly as crummy then as they are now: Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago? But this time it’s been 8 years.
Live from Denver, Colorado, on Monday, Brian Williams hosted the 1 p.m. hour of MSNBC's "News Live" and featured guests Gwen Ifill of PBS and Michele Norris of NPR to talk about Michelle Obama’s upcoming primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention. The segment turned out to be a love-fest of Michelle Obama and her humble roots.
Williams started off the segment by asking the typical question of "what does Michelle Obama have to do tonight in this hall?" Ifill immediately went into gushing mode, first about Senator Ted Kennedy and then about Obama:
Michelle Obama has to find a way to bemore amazing and more emotional than Ted Kennedy. If it looks like Ted Kennedy actually walks across that stage tonight and appears in some fashion in person and speaks, it’s gonna be an emotional highpoint. Michelle Obama, however, also has to deal with preconceptions about who she is. A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She’s educated, she’s beautiful, she’s tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself.