Government & Press

By Ken Shepherd | July 9, 2014 | 5:30 PM EDT

Yesterday 39 representatives from various journalist trade groups, coordinated by the Society of Professional Journalists, shot off an open letter to President Obama criticizing the "politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies" that has occurred on his watch. [h/t Washington Examiner]

"The stifling of free expression is happening despite your pledge on your first day in office to bring 'a new era of openness' to federal government – and the subsequent executive orders and directives which were supposed to bring such openness about," the missive lamented, going on to detail a few examples before "ask[ing] that you issue a clear directive telling federal employees they’re not only free to answer questions from reporters and the public, but actually encouraged to do so" and, moreover to:

By Curtis Houck | July 9, 2014 | 2:50 PM EDT

During the barely two minutes of coverage they allotted to a House hearing on VA scandal whistle-blowers, ABC, CBS, and NBC on Wednesday morning refused to report that the VA officials who tried to silence their colleagues for reporting wrongdoing within the agency received over $100,000 in bonuses in 2013.

Coverage of the House of Veterans Affairs Committee hearing from Tuesday night totaled 2 minutes and 24 seconds with only 44 seconds of that from NBC’s Today and a scant 26 seconds from ABC’s Good Morning America. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

By Ken Shepherd | July 8, 2014 | 8:50 PM EDT

As my colleague Clay Waters noted, the New York Times finally caught up with the Washington Free Beacon's month-old scoop about an audiotape recording of Hillary Clinton chuckling as she recalled her successful 1975 defense of a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Perhaps because there was no longer any plausible deniability about the existence of the story, MSNBC's Chris Matthews tonight devoted a segment to the controversy, bringing on Bernard Center founder Michelle Bernard and Salon's Joan Walsh to discuss the matter. While all three agreed that the controversy would in no way sink Mrs. Clinton's 2016 prospects, Walsh was particularly vociferous in her defense of Clinton, while Matthews and Bernard were critical of the former first lady. At one point, a testy Walsh charged Bernard with twisting the facts of the story.

"Look, Chris, it's not a fun tape to listen to, I'm not going to try to sugarcoat it," Walsh began, but this was simply a case of Mrs. Clinton doing her job. The accused rapist was simply fortunate to have in Mrs. Clinton a "good" defense attorney. But, "[i]s it laughable that you got a rapist off for raping a 12-year-old? Why is she laughing?" Matthews demanded of Walsh, who countered (emphasis mine):

By Ken Shepherd | July 7, 2014 | 8:52 PM EDT

The economy is going gangbusters but Americans are not psyched about it like they should be because President Obama isn't doing a great sales job. That and Republican businessmen are sitting around in their boardrooms conspiring how they can "talk down" the economy and make us all think it sucks.

That, in a nutshell, is how Hardball host Chris Matthews explained away President Obama's poor approval on the economy with the public on his July 7 program. After hailing the sunny optimism of Democratic presidents past like FDR and JFK and noting that Republican President Ronald Reagan evinced the same optimism with his 1984 reelection campaign's "Morning in America" TV spots, Matthews asked guest and former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) [listen to MP3 audio here; video follows page break]:

By Tim Graham | July 6, 2014 | 11:08 PM EDT

Jay Carney is doing a round of interviews fresh out of the White House. In The New York Times Magazine, Jim Rutenberg threw briefing-room softballs like this: “Do people in the first row like to showboat?”

Carney said yes: “If you look at the difference in tenor between the on-camera briefings and the on-the-record-but-off-camera gaggles, it’s night and day.” That’s not just due to the TV audience, it’s due to the idea that gaggles are more designed to set up the briefing and the day’s coverage. In this and other interviews, Carney tries sneakily to dismiss the idea that Obama didn’t live up to hise pledge to be transparent.

By Brent Bozell | and By Tim Graham | July 1, 2014 | 10:00 PM EDT

Barack Obama treats the press like a spoiled child treats his parents. Despite the pampering, he just keeps complaining about them until he gets his way. As America tires of his inflated sense of self-importance while the economy limps and his foreign policy crumbles, Obama travels around the country complaining that the mean old media isn’t complimentary enough.

At an event with big donors in May in Chicago, Obama lamented that he – the very essence of reason and nonpartisanship -- is lumped in with a fanatical Congress in a tale of gridlocked Washington.

By Brent Bozell | and By Tim Graham | July 1, 2014 | 10:00 PM EDT

Barack Obama treats the press like a spoiled child treats his parents. Despite the pampering, he just keeps complaining about them until he gets his way. As America tires of his inflated sense of self-importance while the economy limps and his foreign policy crumbles, Obama travels around the country complaining that the mean old media isn’t complimentary enough.

At an event with big donors in May in Chicago, Obama lamented that he – the very essence of reason and nonpartisanship -- is lumped in with a fanatical Congress in a tale of gridlocked Washington.

By Cal Thomas | July 1, 2014 | 8:53 PM EDT

President Obama appears to have forgotten -- or ignored -- why we have elections. One reason is to stop, or slow down, an agenda the public doesn't like.

When polls began reflecting buyer's remorse about Mr. Obama in 2010, voters elected a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and might well have done the same in the Senate in 2012 were it not for some weak GOP candidates, especially in Nevada and Delaware.

By Ken Shepherd | July 1, 2014 | 8:46 PM EDT

You may recall how, on Monday's Hardball, guest Michelle Bernard held forth with her view that the Hobby Lobby ruling would help Democrats rope in massive numbers of women voters in the 2016 presidential cycle. 

Well, tonight, perhaps to build on that theme, guest host Steve Kornacki moderated a discussion segment featuring Democratic pollster Margie Onero and McCain presidential campaign alumnus Steve Schmidt centered on how both political parties were reacting to the case to build up energy with their respective bases and, of course, improve their fundraising hauls. For his part, Schmidt both failed to push back against any of Onero's misleading talking points -- he protested there wasn't any time for that --  and, predictably added his own lament that the GOP was at risk of being too socially conservative to appeal to female voters in the next presidential election year (emphases mine):

By Ken Shepherd | July 1, 2014 | 6:42 PM EDT

Reporting on the outcome of Harris v. Quinn on the front page of Tuesday's Washington Post, staff writers Jerry Markon and Robert Barnes buried the perspective of the successful party in the case, non-unionized home health care worker Pam Harris, in the 21st paragraph of the 29-paragraph article, "Ruling on union dues a blow to organized labor."

But right out of the gate, Markon and Barnes choreographed a melodrama pitting a narrow conservative majority on the Court versus the nation's labor unions and their valiant liberal defenders on the Court. An excerpt is reproduced below (emphasis mine):

By Curtis Houck | July 1, 2014 | 4:00 PM EDT

The broadcast network morning newscasts came and went on Tuesday with NBC’s Today and ABC’s Good Morning America ignoring President Obama’s latest rant against Republicans. This was despite the fact that both broke their regular scheduling on Monday to cover remarks in full.

For it’s part, CBS This Morning devoted a full 2 minutes and 45 seconds to Obama’s rant against House Republicans for refusing to accept his parameters for immigration reform and bucking their own Speaker on his willingness to take up the matter. In his report, CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante cast Obama in a heroic light, heralding how he: [MP3 audio here; Video and quote below the jump]

By Ken Shepherd | June 30, 2014 | 9:35 PM EDT

The Hobby Lobby ruling will be a blessing in disguise for Democrats, possibly this November but most certainly for 2016. That's the argument put forward by two MSNBC contributors on Hardball this evening, Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger and Michelle Bernard of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, & Public Policy.

"I see this ruling as, definitely on the political front, being a good thing for the Democrats, because people are furious and thinking, I think it goes further than it does," Henneberger argued to guest host Steve Kornacki. Minutes later, Bernard saw a big problem for Republicans with women in 2016, if not 2014, insisting that Mitt Romney's "binders full of women" line and "corporate personhood" would be instrumental in locking down droves of female voters for Democrats in 2016: