Three years ago, then-CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric fawned over Barack Obama: “You’re so confident, Mr. President, and so focused. Is your confidence ever shaken?” On ABC’s World News, Diane Sawyer often softens her interviews with the President by tossing in questions about college basketball, asking, at the start of the U.S. military operation against Libya last year, “How much do you think Kentucky will win by?”
But of the three evening news anchors, by far the most admiring of Obama is NBC’s Brian Williams who has — no big surprise — been rewarded with exclusive access to the White House Situation Room for what promises to be a prime time Obama campaign infomercial (on Wednesday’s Rock Center) on how the brave President monitored the mission as Navy SEALs raided Osama bin Laden’s compound and killed the terrorist mastermind exactly one year ago. (Round-up of Williams' most fawning Obama moments, with video, below the jump).
The Telegraph (UK) notes that President Obama made an "uncharacteristic" gaffe the other day by calling the Falklands Islands -- known as the Malvinas in Argentina -- the "Maldives." And it did so by pointing out ... that George W. Bush was more prone to such blunders, "Barack Obama made an uncharacteristic error, more akin to those of his predecessor George W. Bush, by referring to the Falkland Islands as the Maldives."
While President George W. Bush certainly made his fair share of gaffes, one can certainly wonder if the former chief exec was indeed more apt to make such errors, or whether it was the media -- in this case the foreign press -- that highlighted them more often than it does those of our current president.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- Here, where Titanic, the massive White Star Line luxury liner, was built -- the joke for years has been, "It was fine when it left here." This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship "Not even God himself could sink...." and the centenary is being observed in diverse ways.
There are solemn remembrances. A "Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic" is scheduled for St. Anne's Cathedral and there's a Titanic Commemoration Service and Unveiling of the Titanic Memorial Gardens at City Hall.
Younger political junkies may not remember it, but watchers of the 1992 Clinton campaign can recall "The War Room," a documentary filmed inside the Clinton campaign. There's a new DVD of the film, out so National Public Radio just had to praise it.
On the program "Fresh Air" Wednesday, film critic John Powers described George Stephanopoulos as "a sweet but overbearing altar boy" while James Carville is "a flat out movie-star" like...a wisecracking snake in a Pixar movie."
"The American Conservative Union just came out" with their latest congressional scorecard and what do you know, retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has "the lowest lifetime conservative record [48.59, just left of center] of any Republican. In Diane Sawyer's book, that makes her the principled voice of reason," NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell told Sean Hannity on last night's "Media Mash" segment on Hannity.
The liberal media, of course, have been using the left-leaning senator's departure from the Senate as a club to rebuke the Republican Party as in danger of losing its appeal to moderates and becoming a far-right political party with limited appeal. Also discussed on the popular media bias segment was how the media are skewing their coverage of Rick Santorum to present him as obsessed with social issues and bordering on foisting a "Christian" brand of "Sharia law." [video follows page break]
Following an NBC Nightly News preview Wednesday evening of the Rock Center promotion for a book by Mimi Alford, in which she recounts how the 45-year-old President Kennedy seduced and carried on a sexual relationship with her when she was a 19-year-old White House intern, anchor Brian Williams conveyed the distress of JFK sycophants in his audience – and admitted his family was amongst them.
Talking with Meredith Vieira, Williams cited “a lot of e-mails” from people, who “sounds like a lot of us,” had a “picture of John F. Kennedy in the house when we were kids” and who are now “wondering, why do this now? Why tell her story now?”
People at National Public Radio boast about themselves as a network for the smart people. So why must they try to tell smart people that a man who writes a book called “Rules for Radicals” offered “nothing terribly ideological” in his activism?
In an attempt to "correct" Newt Gingrich on Monday night’s All Things Considered newscast, NPR correspondent Ina Jaffe became merely the latest in a line of liberal-media specialists in selling the Opposite of Reality: that Alinsky wasn’t a leftist, and that besides, the conservatives are the ones using Alinsky’s radical rules:
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante hyped an upcoming speech by President Obama: "The President is going to Osawatomie, Kansas....where former President Teddy Roosevelt made a famous speech more than a century ago...it was a call for economic fairness, not unlike the President's own argument for taxing millionaires to extend the payroll tax cuts." [Audio available here]
As Plante quoted Roosevelt's call for a "square deal" in 1910, the headline on screen read: "Channeling Teddy: Obama To Echo Historic Roosevelt Speech." A sound bite was included from liberal historian Douglas Brinkley declaring: "[Obama's] trying to paint the Republicans as sort of being anti-American, of being Grinch-like, being misers....He's got to reclaim the great American center right now, and the figure who speaks for the center is Theodore Roosevelt." [View video after the jump]
Seventy years ago this month, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and brought America into a war that had begun in Europe in 1939.
In his masterful new book "December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World," Craig Shirley takes readers back to a very different America. Through hundreds of stories and advertisements culled from newspapers, Shirley not only transports us back to that tumultuous time, but reminds this generation that denial about an enemy's intentions can have grave consequences.
Kevin Boyle reviewed two new books on the Ku Klux Klan for the Sunday Times Book Review under the heading “The Not-So-Invisible Empire.” Boyle, an Ohio State University history professor and frequent contributor to the Times Book Review, compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan. Boyle's review started and ended offensively:
Nearly a half century after John F. Kennedy was gunned down in Dallas, many liberals now grudgingly accept that it was a left winger who killed him. But it was the harsh right-wing rhetoric of early '60s Texas that compelled the assassin to pull the trigger, liberals also insist.
The latest iteration of this transparent exercise in ideological face-saving comes from Frank Rich in a New York magazine piece dishonestly titled, "What Killed JFK -- The Hate That Ended His Presidency is Eerily Familiar."
Tonight (Sunday at 10 PM EDT/PDT, 9 PM CDT), ABC’s new Mad Men-inspired (though much shallower) drama set in 1963, Pan Am, about New York City-based flight crews for Pan Am airlines, will have a plot revolving around President John Kennedy’s visit to Berlin.
In the promo, run at the end of last week’s episode, a stewardess character excitedly exclaims: “Kennedy loves stewardesses!” Sound like a safe bet. Video below of the promo.
Fact: The man who wrote so eloquently about basic human liberty in the Declaration of Independence was himself a slave owner. Unproven theory: That man had a sexual relationship with one of those slaves and fathered at least one of her children.
If you’re a liberal journalist, the fact makes you inclined to believe the theory, and ideology and political necessity take you the rest of the way. At least, that has been the case in reporting on the Jefferson-Hemings historical controversy over the last decade and more.
It will be interesting to see if a new book that goes a long way toward exonerating Thomas Jefferson receives the same kind of breathless coverage as evidence the media cited to condemn him. Or if CBS produces a miniseries to correct the one it made exploiting that evidence.
Taking advantage of the east coast hurricane displacing all political news this weekend, a chance for me to catch up with something from July 4 when, as part of the Ronald Reagan Centennial celebrations, a ten-foot tall bronze statue of Reagan was unveiled in London.
Only CBS’s Early Show aired a full story on the event, and video of that is below, in which reporter Elizabeth Palmer concluded that in Britain he’ll be remembered “for a rare combination of skill, luck and courage that gave him a giant’s role in modern history.”
Two eastern European nations last week debuted commemorations to thank former President Ronald Reagan for playing an instrumental role in freeing them from communism. I only found sparse television coverage of the two “Reagan Centennial” events in Hungary and the Czech Republic, but thought I’d share what I located since the events didn’t earn much air time.
The accompanying video first shows a brief item on Wednesday’s Special Report where FNC played some video of a life-size statue of Reagan being unveiled in Freedom Square in front of the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. Second in the video, a short item from MSNBC on Saturday morning about a block of a street in Prague getting named for Ronald Wilson Reagan.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams seemed to take smug delight Friday night in pointing out how Sarah Palin’s off-the-cuff recounting of Paul Revere’s ride was at odds with the correct history, smirking that Palin’s version “already has tongues wagging.”
Williams interest was unique — neither the CBS Evening News, anchored by Harry Smith, nor ABC’s World News, with ex-Democratic spin doctor George Stephanopoulos filling in for Diane Sawyer, thought Palin’s error was worth even mentioning. And Williams himself — even though he generally works with a pre-written script, in contrast to Palin’s impromptu remarks in Boston — has had his own problems with historical accuracy over the years (details below the fold).
Williams attention to Palin’s mistake is also in contrast to how his newscast never reported the bizarre gaffe made by then-candidate Barack Obama in 2007, when on March 4 of that year Obama, in a speech saluting the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, claimed his parents “got together” because of “what happened in Selma.”
Yet another case study in how the liberal media never stop pushing their own interpretation of events: In a May 22 This Week roundtable about the arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for the alleged sexual assault of a female hotel worker, two journalists endorsed it as France’s “Anita Hill moment,” referring to the last-minute claims raised against conservative Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas nearly 20 years ago.
But Hill never alleged that Thomas did anything either violent or criminal — and polls taken at the time (USA Today, October 14, 1991) showed the public sided with Clarence Thomas over Hill by a nearly two-to-one margin (47% to 24%). Despite the public’s verdict, journalists have never cast the Hill case as that of a politically-motivated accuser engaged in a high-profile act of character assassination.
Tomorrow marks Katie Couric’s last night at the anchor desk of the CBS Evening News. Five years ago, CBS executives were so excited about the Today show star taking over, her September 5, 2006 debut was preceded by a massive publicity campaign. Outgoing interim anchor Bob Schieffer vouched for his replacement: “She’s tough, she’s fair, she’s a straight shooter....Just watch.” Long-retired anchorman Walter Cronkite even lent his voice to a new opening segment, announcing: “This is the CBS Evening News, with Katie Couric.”
Intrigued by the publicity, more than 13 million Americans tuned into that first night, according to Nielsen research, but Couric’s honeymoon was brief. CBS had been in third place for years under Dan Rather and Schieffer, but the slide worsened after Couric took over. By August 2010, the CBS Evening News was recording its lowest ratings ever — fewer than 5 million viewers. (A review of Couric's worst bias, with video, after the jump.)
Reporters are eagerly anticipating President Obama’s budget speech this afternoon, with NBC’s Chuck Todd assuring viewers of Wednesday’s Today show that now, finally, “the President’s going to add his voice to this, debate, essentially, over what to do about the ever-growing deficit and debt.”
But over and over again over the past two years, the media have painted Obama as a leader committed to “slashing” the deficit, only to have the absurdity of such spin later revealed by the administration’s actual policies.
Let’s start the trip down memory lane with coverage of President Obama’s first budget speech in February 2009, which reporters claimed would include steps to aggressively reduce the deficit. ABC’s David Muir began the February 21, 2009 World News by pitching how the President was “slashing the deficit by at least 50 percent by raising taxes on the wealthy, people making $250,000 and above, and cutting war spending by bringing troops home from Iraq.”
In the Sunday New York Times obituary for liberal Democrat 1984 vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro, Douglas Martin presented her as "hounded" by sexist anti-abortion conservatives who would metaphorically persecute her to death:
The abortion issue, magnified because she was Roman Catholic and a woman, plagued her campaign. Though she opposed the procedure personally, she said, others had the right to choose for themselves. Abortion opponents hounded her at almost every stop with an intensity seldom experienced by male politicians.
Writing in The Washington Post in September 1984, the columnist Mary McGrory quoted an unnamed Roman Catholic priest as saying, “When the nuns in the fifth grade told Geraldine she would have to die for her faith, she didn’t know it would be this way.”
Conservatives agree that public broadcasting no longer needs federal funding. But McCain Republicans are hunting for strange compromises. Former McCain 2000/2008 adviser Kevin Hassett wrote for Bloomberg that NPR and PBS news is wrong-headed, but not its arts and education initiatives (like Big Bird): "Public radio and television, then, are defensible to the extent that they serve the public good by enriching the arts. NPR and PBS, however, wandered far from this mission, providing news content that is mostly indistinguishable from that provided by left-leaning for-profit enterprises."
Let's not assume that taxpayer-supported arts and culture aren't often twisted to support the statist agenda. NPR's "arts" reporting on Monday night's All Things Considered celebrated folk singer Barbara Dane, "a versatile voice with a political purpose." (Have you heard her songs, such as "I Hate the Capitalist System"?) Anchor Robert Siegel announced Dane passed "significant signposts," such as "She was the first white woman profiled by Ebony magazine. And she was the first U.S. performer to break the U.S. travel ban to Cuba."
Something unusual happened on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show the other night -- a guest expressed an opinion that didn't dovetail with Maddow's. This doesn't occur often, presumably not by accident.
Here is an exchange on Monday between Maddow and former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, now the director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, over political upheaval in Egypt and the extent to which Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak is an American puppet --
Late last week, CNN announced its plan to team up with the Tea Party Express to co-sponsor a Republican presidential debate in September. While this creates the possibility that Republican candidates will actually face questions of interest to Republican primary voters (as opposed to the typical liberal media agenda), it’s also probably the first time a media organization will partner with a group that its on-air correspondents and commentators have trashed over the past two years.
CNN’s liberal commentators have been savage to the Tea Party. Back in 2009, longtime CNN house liberal Paul Begala slammed the Tea Party as “a bunch of wimpy, whiny, weasels who don’t love their country.” A couple of weeks before this year’s election, CNN’s 8pm ET co-host Eliot Spitzer said the Tea Party was “vapid” and leading America “down a dangerous road....They’re going to destroy our country.”
But CNN’s supposedly objective correspondents and anchors have showcased a similar hostility to the Tea Party, attacking them as racist, extremist, pawns of Fox News, or using the vulgar “tea-bagging” nickname favored by left-wing activists to disparage the group. A few of the choicer examples from the MRC’s archive (including video):
With all but one of the House races now resolved, Republicans have picked up at least 63 seats, the most in a midterm election since 1938. So, it might be fun on this Thanksgiving Day to recall how, just 18 months ago, Time's Michael Grunwald was arguing in a big cover story that demography and its "extremely conservative" philosophy meant the Republican Party could be on the verge of extinction.
Back in May 2009, Newsbusters Brent Baker picked up on Grunwald's piece for the ridiculous way he painted the GOP as extremist:
They are extremely conservative ideas tarred by association with the extremely unpopular George W. Bush, who helped downsize the party to its extremely conservative base.
But re-reading the piece today, it's even more striking how Grunwald's "analysis" was based on liberal wishful thinking that small government conservative policies were like political arsenic, and how Republicans had to drop tax cuts and cultural conservatism if they ever hoped to come back from the wilderness.
In other words, move left. But the GOP instead moved right, and was rewarded by voters. Which is why conservatives should probably not take strategic advice from their ideological adversaries in the media.
Thanksgiving afternoon at 3 PM EST, with another re-run overnight at 2 AM EST Thursday night/Friday morning, the Fox News Channel is re-running the first three hours of the six-part Fox News Reporting: The Right, All Along: The Rise, Fall & Future of Conservatism, the documentary series hosted by Brit Hume.
> At 3 PM EST/12 noon PST (and 2 AM EST/11 PM PST): “Right from the Start”
> At 4 PM EST/1 PM PST (and 3 AM EST/12 AM PST): “A Time for Choosing”
> At 5 PM EST/2 PM PST (and 4 AM EST/1 AM PST): “Path to Power”
While the broadcast networks have generally empathized with the distress of airline passengers over the TSA’s new and intrusive airport searches, they have not — thus far, at least — gone so far as to impugn the Obama administration as launching a war against Americans’ civil liberties.
Indeed, NBC’s Matt Lauer on Monday even sympathized with TSA Administrator John Pistole: “I hate to even think of what happens if the government caves in on this, and relaxes these procedures, and someone manages to get something on board a plane and causes harm. Imagine the questions you'll be asked at that point.”
But that’s not the approach those networks took when it was the Bush administration taking steps to protect citizens against potential attack. Instead, as a 2006 analysis by the Media Research Center documented, the networks firmly aligned themselves with those who saw the Patriot Act and the electronic surveillance of international phone calls as a dire threat to civil liberties.
In the November 22 issue of Newsweek magazine, Daniel Stone defended the Obama administration by blaming the institution of the presidency for failures rather than the chief executive himself: "The issue is not Obama, it’s the office....Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency?" The same argument was used to excuse an overwhelmed Jimmy Carter 30 years earlier.
The sub-headline for the piece read: "The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world." At one point, Stone explained: "Among a handful of presidential historians Newsweek contacted for this story, there was a general consensus that the modern presidency may have become too bloated." A January 13, 1980 Washington Post article made a similar conclusion about the beleaguered Carter administration: "Voters have lowered their expectations of what any president can accomplish; they have accepted the notion that this country may never again have heroic, larger-than-life leadership in the White House."
Seeming to resurrect a favorite paranoid conspiracy of the 1980s, Shawn Carter, who goes by the stage name “Jay-Z” and is out with an autobiography, Decoded, about the origins of rap music, suggested on Tuesday's Late Show that “Reaganomics” and “Iran-Contra” put crack into urban neighborhoods.
The actual voting results are just part of what makes for an Election Night in today’s mass media world. Perhaps as important — in some years, more important — are journalists’ first stab at interpreting the results, telling audiences what they voted for (and against).
If history is a reliable guide, listen for: smug journalists slamming “angry” or stupid voters; claims that there’s no mandate for conservative policies; slams that the Republican winners are “extremist” or “radical;” and arguments that the Democrats failed to follow through on their liberal agenda. Oh, and don’t forget the racism.
Sixteen years ago, the Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of that chamber for the first time since the 1950s. So how good were the media’s predictions back then? Trolling through the MRC’s archives, I came across these quotes from coverage just before the 1994 vote: