Daring to go where only cable has gone so far, Wednesday's NBC Nightly News waded into the rampant claims that President Barack Obama -- though he was born in a U.S. state and to a mother who was a U.S. citizen, so even if he were born in Kenya he'd still be a U.S. citizen -- is somehow really not one. Anchor Brian Williams didn't hide his disdain, teasing the newscast: “Spreading lies about President Obama's birthplace and about his U.S. citizenship. Who's doing it and why?”
(Too bad Williams didn't show such concern for wild allegations in late 2004 and into 2005 that President Bush was illegitimate when colleague Keith Olbermann spent months using his MSNBC show to hype claims Ohio voting machines were manipulated to deny John Kerry's win which would have given him the presidency.)
After video of a woman in Delaware shouting at a Congressman over Obama's citizenship, Williams fretted: “A lot of us live with this issue; we get e-mails, we get asked about it.” Exaggerating the extent of the attention the issue gets on the right, reporter Pete Williams declared: “It hasn't gone away, becoming a staple of blogs and conservative talk radio.” He soon asserted that “legal scholars -- liberal and conservative alike -- are in widespread agreement that Barack Obama is fully qualified.”
The PBS "To the Contrary" host and U.S. News & World Report contributing editor slammed the idea floating in Congress of adding a surtax on "the rich" to pay for health care:
Perhaps Democrats are developing some sensitivity on their "tax the rich" theme. I can't see NOT taxing the rich. It's just that I disagree with the Democrats' definition of rich. The only way to fairly assess all Americans for the ridiculously expensive programs Democrats are pushing is to enact a flat income tax. Then upper-income persons necessarily pay more in taxes, as 10 percent of $100,000 is a lot more than 10 percent of $20,000. But that'll never happen, so tax-hungry Democrats are going the route of class wars.
Fortunately for us, and you, our cranial pressure reduced when we came across the requisite Bush-bashing packed deeper in her blog post:
During an interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on Tuesday, President Obama defended the administration’s handling of the economy: "nobody...anticipated that in the first three months, we would lose 700,000 jobs per month...the severity and the depth of the recession was something that, you know, really exceeded everybody's expectations."
However, on the February 6 Evening News, prior to the passage of the Obama stimulus package, correspondent Anthony Mason told Couric: "The size of the job losses last month surprised even most economists. And even if we begin to get a recovery later this year, many say the unemployment rate will continue to rise into next year, topping out somewhere north of 9 percent."
Obama made his claim after Couric asked about the current 9.5% unemployment rate: "Your administration projected that with the stimulus package, as you know, unemployment could be kept under 8%. Well, that was then, this is now." After Obama argued that the job loss "exceeded everybody’s expectations" Couric failed to point out the fact that she had reported on such expectations earlier in the year.
President Obama and other liberals have frequently criticized the previous administration for a lack of transparency. But now it seems the Obama White House is practicing the same things liberals criticized President Bush and Vice President Cheney for.
So on the July 22 edition of “Fox and Friends,” anchor Brian Kilmeade brought to viewer’s attention the Obama administration’s hypocrisy on their usage of the “Presidential Communication Privilege.”
Kilmeade recalled the “outrage” that erupted during the two terms of President Bush when energy executives met in secret with Vice President Dick Cheney and the public questioned their influence on the President’s energy plan. The administration claimed “Presidential Communication Privilege,” and never released the names. Subsequently, “Bush was vilified because of that.”
Hypocritically, President Obama has done the exact same thing with his health care plan. Fourteen different executives involved with the drug, medical, and hospital industries, have gone to the White House to advise the President on the health care reform bill.
In her Tuesday interview with President Obama, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric wondered: "You're so confident, Mr. President, and so focused. Is your confidence ever shaken? Do you ever wake up and say, ‘Damn, this is hard. Damn, I'm not going to get the things done I want to get done and it’s just too politicized to really get accomplished the big things I want to accomplish’?" [audio available here]
In her last interview with Obama, during the debate over the stimulus package in February, Couric also portrayed Obama as a victim of Washington: "You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here. Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?"
Most of Couric’s latest presidential interview was aired on Tuesday’s Evening News, however, the question about Obama’s confidence was saved for Wednesday’s Early Show. At the top of the CBS morning show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez informed viewers about the President’s press conference scheduled for Wednesday night: "President Obama goes prime time tonight, taking the battle for health care reform directly to the American people."
A night after CBS slammed as “incendiary” Senator Jim DeMint's observation that if Republicans are able to block Obama's health care push, “it will be his Waterloo, it will break him,” CBS anchor Katie Couric adopted the same assumption as she expressed worry to the President: “Are you concerned at all that if health care reform fails it will be a huge and devastating setback to your presidency?”
Couric framed her Tuesday newscast through the prism of a “threat” to Obama's quest, teasing: “Tonight, the latest threat to health care reform: Squabbling among Democrats on Capitol Hill, and the stakes could not be higher for the Democrat in the White House.”
During her session at the White House with Obama excerpted on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Couric pressed Obama to extend his deadline (“Is there any flexibility on this August deadline?” and “You'll have some flexibility on this deadline?), but she also hit him with mildly challenging questions, such as: “Do you think any illegal immigrant should be eligible for health care under the new plan?” And, though Obama made clear his disagreement with her premise: “If the stimulus plan isn't really working -- at least for now -- why should Americans sign off on spending billions of dollars on health care reform?”
Just six months into his presidency, President Barack Obama's administration is the target of a federal lawsuit, and that by a civil servant who alleges he was dismissed from his post in violation of the requirements of a law that Barack Obama himself once sponsored in the Senate.
Yet despite all this, the July 21 Washington Post print edition failed to carry the story, directing readers with this 39-word teaser atop page A15 (The Fed Page) to a Post blog:
Former Inspector General Files Suit: Gerald Walpin, an inspector general who was fired last month by the Obama administration, has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington, arguing that his removal was unlawful. Read more at washingtonpost.com/federaleye.
While President Obama’s health care plan seemed to be floundering, Tuesday’s CBS Early Show spun it as an opportunity for him to fight back, as co-host Julie Chen declared: "President Obama pushes back hard against critics of his health care plan as hopes fade it could be passed by August."
Co-host Harry Smith kept up the theme of Obama fighting back in the later segment: "First, though, the fight over health care is becoming a very bitter pill. President Obama goes on the offensive today, not only against Republicans, but also some members of his own party."
Following Smith’s introduction, correspondent Bill Plante reported: "It's game on in the effort to find health care reform. The President has been six months on the job and he now faces his first major battle with Congress. And as you said, not just with Republicans, he's calling in some Democrats today on the House committee to do a little arm twisting, or persuading I think they'd call it."
For the second weekday in a row, Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News on Monday night by delivering President Obama's aggressive retorts to critics of his health plan as reporter Chip Reid pitched in to help, discrediting critics by disparaging their perspectives as “harsh” and “incendiary” attacks -- all before Couric caught up with ABC and NBC from the night before and promoted Ted Kennedy's “We're Almost There” Newsweek cover story.
Couric teased: “The President takes on critics of his health care reform plan. He vows to move forward and says trying to fix a system that's breaking American families.” (Friday night she touted “a warning from the President,” leading into Obama's claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.”)
Reid declared that “in some of his harshest comments yet, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said the President's plan for a public insurance option is socialism.” But this is all Steele said in the clip Reid played: “This reckless approach is an ill-conceived attempt to push through an experiment and all of us should be scared to death.” Reid continued: “In one of the most incendiary comments, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, in a conference call with conservative activists, recently said:” Viewers then heard audio of DeMint making a tactical political point: “If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
Minority broadcasters are asking tax-cheat Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for financial assistance. Sounds like the financial and auto industries, and it is. These broadcasters, including the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, the Inner City Broadcasting Coalition, the Spanish Broadcasting System, and others say they can bounce back because “unlike the auto business, broadcasting has been healthy for many years.” Has it now?
Ad revenues for broadcasters started declining severely in late 2007 and throughout 2008 were down up to 40% in some cases. The ad decline not only impacted broadcasters, it impacted newspaper groups and many such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and others have gone out of business. Stock prices of some radio groups have fallen to absolutely nothing. So, minority broadcasters have a rosy picture ahead?
"The more these things are made public, the more the American people run like hell from them," Media Research Center President Brent Bozell told the hosts of "Fox & Friends", referring to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that shows Democratic health care proposals will balloon in costs over their implementation. [audio available here]
Indeed, as the Washington Post reported this morning, the latest polling data from Washington Post/ABC News shows that President Obama's approval rating on the health care issue "has dropped below the 50 percent threshold for the first time."
"Here's something else that isn't being reported. The entire health care debate is predicated on the premise that we're having a crisis," Bozell added, referring to new polling data by Zogby International showing that "84 percent of Americans are satisfied or very satisfied with their present health care." What's more, "46 percent without insurance are satisfied, they don't want it, for whatever reason. So there is no crisis."
In addition to media coverage of the health care debate, the NewsBusters publisher also appeared in a second segment of the July 20 "Fox & Friends" to discuss the labor union card check issue, as well as to announce the MRC's new tongue-in-cheek request for a federal bailout:
Spreading the Word Media Research Center President and NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell today responded to a poll conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Zogby International that finds that 84 percent of Americans, including 46 percent of Americans without health insurance, are "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the health care they currently receive.
Released on Wednesday, the poll was glaringly absent from most news reports late last week and over the weekend.
Bozell today called on the media to stop reporting on the American health care system as a "crisis" situation, as the facts simply belie the claim.
Newsweek engaged itself deeper in the battle for nationalized health care by turning over its cover story -- “We're Almost There” -- to Senator Ted Kennedy for his lengthy personal recitation of “the cause of my life.” ABC and NBC on Sunday night dutifully championed his cause as World News anchor Dan Harris highlighted how “Kennedy is using his own battle against brain cancer to make an emotional pitch for health care reform” and NBC reporter Mike Viqueira touted:
Today, another dramatic push, this time from an ailing Ted Kennedy, absent from Washington but appearing on the cover of Newsweek and writing: “This is the cause of my life. We will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege.”
This wasn't the first time NBC has enlisted Kennedy to trumpet Obama's quest. Back in early March when the White House held a summit on health care, reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting on NBC Nightly News how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Kennedy.
A night after CBS and NBC skipped the assessment from the chief of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the Senate and House health plans won't meet President Obama's pledge to not increase deficit spending, the two networks caught up only when Obama, reacting to “anxiety” even from Democrats, addressed the setback to his quest late Friday. CBS anchor Katie Couric spun the bad news for Obama into “a warning” from him about the ominous fate which awaits Americans if he does not succeed.
“Also tonight, a warning from the President,” she teased Friday's CBS Evening News before a clip of Obama with a very suspect claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.” Couric introduced the story by portraying Obama as the hero trying to reach a noble goal: “President Obama today continued his hard sell for health care reform, but he also had to do a little doctoring, treating a case of sticker shock over the latest proposals for insuring nearly every American.” Chip Reid related that “with anxiety surging over the cost of health care reform, the President today sought to reassure the public and nervous members of Congress” a day after the CBO director “sent shock waves through Capitol Hill.”
The vision of the first black president speaking before the NAACP clearly mesmerized liberal reporters. But their ardor began to sound racially touchy when they suggested Obama has more "credibility" than pale presidents. On Thursday Night’s Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper oozed over the president: "He had a lot more to say in a way that no other president has ever been able to before." But the message itself hardly seemed any different than what President Bush would say, as Cooper summarized it: "tremendous advances have been made in race relations in America, but there's still a lot of work to do."
Cooper passed the baton to CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux, who sounded the same touchy note: "When we saw President Bush go before this group in 2006, a lot of tension, he ignored this group for five years or so. But his message was similar. He talked about the need for accountability, responsibility. He did not have the same kind of credibility that President Obama does."
Turn that around. Can you imagine anyone at CNN suggesting last year that Hillary Clinton or John McCain had "more credibility" with white audiences than Obama because of their skin color?
The House Ways and Means committee approved a half-trillion dollar tax increase overnight, but the ABC and NBC morning news shows offered only a single sentence to the development, while CBS’s Early Show skipped it entirely.
Neither NBC’s Today nor ABC’s Good Morning America mentioned the tax increases $544 billion price tag, as each newscast folded the development into larger pieces on President Obama’s push for health care “reform.”
ABC’s Deborah Roberts first gave a mere two sentences to the CBO report that contradicts White House claims that Obama’s plan would save money. She then mentioned the big tax increase: “Meantime, a House committee approved billions in new taxes on the wealthy to pay for the reforms.”
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Randall Pinkston described President Obama’s Thursday address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: "The crowd responded to his soaring, almost sermon-like rhetoric."
Obama’s speech was part of the NAACP’s annual convention and marked the 100th anniversary of the organization’s founding. Fill-in co-host Jeff Glor introduced Pinkston’s report by declaring: "The NAACP has spent a century trying to break down racial barriers...last night's anniversary party in New York featured the man who broke the ultimate barrier."
In contrast to the two news briefs the Early Show dedicated to the President’s speech, both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today offered only single-sentence reports. [audio available here]
Summing up Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's performance during four days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg on Thursday night asserted “Republicans argued her views on issues like abortion and gun rights, and her controversial speeches, proved Sotomayor was a liberal activist who would rely on empathy.”
But, Greenburg countered, “Sotomayor -- calmly, persistently, repeatedly -- described herself differently, sounding almost conservative.” To illustrate, Greenburg played this soundbite from Sotomayor: “The great beauty of this nation: that we do leave those law-making to our elected branches, and that we expect our courts to understand its limited role.” Greenburg at least noted “Republicans complained of a confirmation conversion.”
Earlier in her story, Greenburg, who admired how “she really kept her cool throughout,” touted how “Sotomayor finally showed anger” as “she was steely when asked if she ignored the claims of white and Hispanic firefighters who sued for discrimination.”
The New York Times was less than truthful in an editorial yesterday on ACORN's involvement in the 2010 census and implied that Republicans and Obama administration critics were paranoid.
After pontificating that Republicans' fears were overblown about Robert M. Groves, the statistical voodoo practitioner who was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as census director, the Old Gray Lady opined
“Congress's chief budget analyst delivered a devastating assessment yesterday of the health care proposals drafted by congressional Democrats,” the Washington Post reported Friday, but of the broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday only ABC's World News related how, as Jake Tapper put it, “the President's case was dealt a blow today” when CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf warned the health plans will require massive additional spending.
Noting “House Democrats would impose a surtax of up to 5.4 percent on top wage earners,” Tapper relayed how the Tax Foundation determined it “would push top tax rates to over 50 percent in most of the country. That has moderate House Democrats concerned.” Tapper pointed out that “if the President signed the House bill into law, which he has not ruled out, he would be breaking this campaign promise.” Viewers then saw a clip of Obama from last September: “Everyone in America, everyone, will pay lower taxes than they paid in the 1990s under Bill Clinton.”
Setting up Tapper's piece, ABC anchor Charles Gibson had led with good news for President Obama: “President Obama is a man on a mission. Everywhere he goes these days, he's pushing health care reform. He got a boost today. The American Medical Association said it supports it -- supports the House Democratic bill, that is. The AMA says that version of health care reform expands coverage but still gives patients a choice of plans.”
NBC, ABC and CBS all aired exclusive interviews with President Barack Obama last night discussing his sweeping plans to assume government control over the nation's health care industry. But none of the networks seemed aware of the bombshell easily discovered by Investor's Business Daily and confirmed by the House Ways and Means Committee: a provision in the bill that severely limits private health insurance choice.
Page 16 of the House bill, IBD reported, appears to make it illegal to "enroll any individual in such [private health insurance] coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell called on anyone reporting on the bill read it before making the same mistake:
The White House's decision to offer interviews with the President to the medical doctors who are correspondents for ABC, CBS and NBC paid off Wednesday night with stories that embraced the assumption health care must be reformed; and interviews on CBS and NBC which put Obama's efforts in the best light. Ironically, ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, a long-time advocate for government-directed universal coverage, didn't presume Obama's prescription is benign.
Anchor Katie Couric led the CBS Evening News by making the underlining case for Obama's view that government intervention is needed:
They've been talking about it for decades. President Obama says he wants it done now, as in this summer -- universal health care. As he put it today, it's time for us to buck up. And there are a lot of bucks at stake. Since 1999, health insurance premiums have increased 120 percent -- four times as much as wages. And about one and a half million American families lose their homes to foreclosure every year because of sky high medical bills. A number of proposals are making their way through the House and Senate this week.
In the subsequent story, Chip Reid did spend some time on the burden the new health care requirements would place on small businesses, before CBS played an excerpt from Dr. Jon LaPook's Obama interview in which LaPook empathized: “Mr. President, when people hear you talk about a national insurance plan, there are fears of socialized medicine, rationed care, limited choice. How do you handle this?”
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell described President Obama’s lackluster first pitch at Tuesday night’s All-Star game in St. Louis: "And it appears President Obama has a wicked sinker." Mitchell referred to his colleagues in studio: "Somebody’s laughing over there, I’m not going to mention any names."
At the top of the show, even Obama fan co-host Harry Smith acknowledged the President’s poor performance: "Oh, golly. Talk about a pitch that’s going to be repeated over and over and over again." Smith did try to defend Obama, sounding a little like the father of an uncoordinated little league player: "He got it there. That's what counts."
Two months ago, as President Obama was contemplating a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, many in the media elite — particularly NBC News reporters and anchors — sycophantically touted Obama’s credentials as a constitutional law professor as evidence of his deep experience when it came to the judiciary.
Yesterday, however, Obama’s pick for the Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, explicitly repudiated Obama’s belief that judging should be based on “empathy” or “the heart.” Sotomayor told senators: “I don’t, wouldn’t, approach the issue of judging in the way the President does.”
None of the broadcast networks juxtaposed Sotomayor’s slap at Obama with the President’s supposed brilliance as a constitutional scholar, or explored whether it was credible that Obama’s nominee really disagrees on the role of empathy, what the President previously declared the “essential ingredient” of a good judge.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer late Tuesday afternoon characterized it as “an incredibly important exchange” and a “very, very dramatic moment” when Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor “concurred” with Senator Lindsey Graham that he would have paid a heavy price if he had ever maintained “a wise white man would make better decisions than a Latina,” yet neither ABC nor NBC mentioned in their evening newscasts Sotomayor's acknowledgment about the impact of her assertion “a wise Latina woman” would “reach a better conclusion than a white male” if reversed.
ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg, who described the hearing as “grueling,” NBC's Pete Williams and CBS's Wyatt Andrews all highlighted Sotomayor's defense of her “wise Latina” reasoning, but none cited the exchange with Graham. CBS's Jeff Greenfield, however, noted Graham's point, if not Sotomayor's acceptance of it: “We saw Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- very pointedly and conversationally -- saying to her, 'you know, if I'd said such things about the superiority of a Caucasian male I'd have had my head handed to me.'”
Steven Rattner, a former New York Times reporter whose short tenure as Obama's so-called car czar "came under a cloud in April when details of alleged influence-peddling surfaced," announced his resignation yesterday, the Washington Post's Peter Whoriskey and Tomoeh Murakami Tse reported today.
Yet despite President Obama's penchant for naming numerous policy czars, news of the resignation was shuffled off to page A11 rather than trumpeted on the front page. Curiously, the Post did find space below the fold on page A1 for a story that basically boils down to how the stress of being U.S. Attorney General is wearing on Eric Holder.
What's more, the Rattner story itself is front-loaded with praise for Rattner from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Obama-approved GM chief Fritz Henderson, while less savory details about the influence-peddling investigation were buried towards the end of the 18-paragraph article.
On the first day of Senate hearings, CBS's Wyatt Andrews on Monday night again insisted Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor cannot be categorized ideologically and highlighted how “the hearing marked the first spotlight moment for former comedian, now Senator, Al Franken who cast himself as new but ready,” all before anchor KatieCouric fretted “some Republicans didn't really treat her with kid gloves.”Couric and Bob Schieffer squeezed in just a few seconds for how a new CBS News poll discovered “President Obama's overall job approval rating is down six points since June.”
Back in May, Andrews insisted Sotomayor had “no clear ideology on discrimination, gay rights, or abortion and who can't be easily defined by political labels.” Monday evening, he spotlighted vindication in a month-old report (PDF) from the Congressional Research Service, which he stressed is “non-partisan,” that Sotomayor “defies categorization along ideological lines.”
Though the only critical comment CBS showed from a Republican Senator was a pretty mild one -- Lindsey Graham advising “I think your experience can add a lot to the court, but I don't think it makes you better than anyone else” -- Couric wondered: “As we saw, some Republicans didn't really treat her with kid gloves. If she's heading for confirmation, what do you think their objective was?”
One has to wonder if working for the Washington Post fits the Obama definition of a "shovel-ready" job given the paper's penchant for burying the lede.
Deep within his July 9-filed story "Protesters Clash With Police in Iran," Washington Post Foreign Service correspondent Thomas Erdbrink noted a very interesting development bearing implications on the Obama administration's foreign policy regarding Iran and handling of the global war on terror.
The last six paragraphs of Erdbrink's 18-paragraph story -- which ran in the July 10 print edition on page A12 -- note how the theocratic regime in Tehran praised the Obama administration for its relative silence on the Iranian election aftermath just one day before the U.S. government released Iranian detainees captured two years ago in Iraq (emphasis mine):
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid described the relief of world leaders at the G-8 Summit that Barack Obama was representing the United States: "...the President showed yet again he's the most popular leader here...And some leaders said they're relieved that President Obama is here instead of President Bush."
Reid’s report focused on Obama’s efforts to get world leaders to agree on policies to combat global warming and the difficulty the President encountered: "Being well liked, though, doesn't necessarily translate into influence. The President came here hoping to forge consensus on an aggressive response to global warming... But in the end, there was disappointment, as the gap between rich and poor nations proved impossible to bridge, just as it has for years."
The report failed to mention any criticism of Obama’s efforts, other than a brief explanation of why nation’s like China were not on board with the plan: "While the eight major economies agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, the nine developing nations, including China, refused to adopt specific limits, fearful that cutting emissions too much will hurt their growing economy." No time was given to global warming critics in the United States who share that concern.