On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell shared President Obama’s bracket picks for the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four: "And it appears March Madness has reached the White House. The fan-in-chief President Obama tells ESPN his NCAA Final Four bracket includes Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina. And he predicts a Tar Heels victory over Louisville in the final. There is the music. You can catch all the action of the NCAA men's tournament right here on CBS, beginning tomorrow afternoon. We all picked North Carolina." On Wednesday’s Evening News, while filling in for anchor Katie Couric, Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez also touted the presidential picks.
However, both Mitchell and Rodriguez failed to mention that thehead coach of Duke University’s men’s basketball team, Mike Krzyzewski, recently criticized the President for being distracted by March Madness: "Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
Liberal "View" co-host Joy Behar appeared on Thursday's edition of "Good Morning America" to promote her new children's book "SheetzuCacaPoopoo," an allegory for Barack Obama's rise to power. According to Behar, the illustrated tale the book is really about the new President. She explained to GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts, "The dog- Max is in trouble. They send him to obedience school, okay? When he's in obedience school is when he becomes Barack. He becomes a community organizer."
As a somewhat incredulous Roberts watched, Behar continued, "And he organizes the big dogs around the little dogs. 'Cause at first, the big dogs, also known as the Republicans, don't like him. See?" With no spoiler alerts, Behar concluded, "And so, he finds ways, pragmatically, to help the big dogs...And so, he becomes popular. And everybody loves each other. " [audio available here]
Former President George W. Bush is a "classy guy" who might "mature into a proper elder statesman" some day.
That's the verdict of NBC and Wonkette contributor Sara K. Smith in her March 18 article about how Bush refused to publicly criticize his successor to the presidency when given the chance at a Q&A session following at a luncheon in Canada. (h/t Twitter tipster @Thatcher):
The one thing he has not been doing, thank goodness, is following Dick Cheney's lead and attempting to inject himself into public affairs again. When asked today to comment on President Obama's performance in office, Bush said, "I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. [...] He deserves my silence."
An Associated Press account noted that President Bush also said, "I love my country a lot more than I love politics.... I think it is essential that he be helped in office." Smith left those lines out of her story.
“Limbaugh’s Favorable Rating: 19 Percent,” shouts the headline at the top of CBSNews.com tonight. A look, however, at the PDF of the full CBS News poll results, posted at 6:30 PM EDT Tuesday, pegs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's favorable rating a point lower at 18 percent -- within the margin of error, but evidence Limbaugh is no less popular than the leader of congressional Democrats. (Friday's CBS Evening News highlighted President Obama's 62 percent approval level and a few other results about the bailouts, but didn't mention the Limbaugh or Pelosi numbers.)
CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli had a news hook with Limbaugh since it was the first time the network asked about Limbaugh (at least in recent years), but his “CBS News Political Hotsheet” post failed to make the contrast with Pelosi, who stood at a mere 10 percent approval a month ago, as he used the Limbaugh finding to expound on the efficacy of the White House attacks on the radio talk show host:
Over the past few weeks, the White House has been casting right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh as the head of the Republican Party, and based on a new CBS News poll, it appears they may be onto something: According to the poll, Limbaugh’s favorable rating stands at just 19 percent, a full 43 points lower than President Obama’s.
The Obama administration is just flummoxed by the burdens of power, ABC's George Stephanopoulos fretted on Monday's World News. Discussing the public backlash over how AIG used bailout funds to pay bonuses, Stephanopoulos related that the White House feels “caught in a bind” between “populist anger” and appeasing the business community which only causes negative public reaction. “It's a tough dilemma,” he concluded.
They feel caught in a bind. When they respond to this populist anger, they feel they get a very negative reaction from the business community and the stock market. When they try to appease the business community and the stock market, the public rises up. It's a tough dilemma.
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "Optimism offensive. An upbeat Ben Bernanke tells '60 Minutes' the economy could turn around within nine months." Chen later introduced the segment on the Obama administration’s new economic optimism: "...from bleak to bright. The Obama administration has switched its tone and is now saying the economy is on the road to recovery."
Correspondent Bill Plante reported: "... the administration's attempt to restore public confidence in the financial system, which is seen as weak both at home and abroad...The response, led by President Obama, is an offense of optimism." Plante focused entirely on the administration’s new tone, providing little substance or criticism. Also lacking, was any mention of John McCain’s efforts to instill economic confidence during the presidential campaign, for which he was derided.
Instead, Plante simply cited the new upbeat message being put out by Obama staffers: "Even though stimulus funds are just beginning to be spent, and the bank rescue details have yet to be announced, the message from administration officials is confidence." A clip was played of economic advisor Lawrence Summers exclaiming: "Don’t panic." That was followed by White House advisor Christina Romer declaring: "The stimulus package, the financial rescue plan, the housing plan, we think it's the right medicine, and we think it will work."
Now for something completely different, or at least something pretty rare on network TV. ABC’s John Stossel has paired up with Drew Carey and the libertarian Reason TV for tonight’s 20/20 special headlined “Bailouts and Bull,” on the limits and unintended consequences of government involvement in the economy and in our lives.
While Stossel is known for his skepticism of big government solutions, most journalists at the big networks have been accepting of the premises of President Obama’s interventionist approach, not challenging his assertions the way President Bush’s economic policies were frequently challenged.
Stossel will tackle the idea that all economists support Obama’s government-spending-as-stimulus policies, liberal claims that the American Dream is now out of reach for most workers, and the idea that a fence along the Mexican border will really stem the tide of illegal immigrants.
Brian Williams certainly has an affinity for FDR. Four months after suggesting the nation could “use a little FDR right about now,” though Rooselvelt's policies failed to end the Depression, on Thursday night he connected the obscure 76th anniversary of Roosevelt's first “fireside chat” in 1933 to President Barack Obama's efforts to fix the economy:
76 years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt summoned radio news microphones to a desk next to a fireplace in the Oval Room of the White House, and the fireside chat was born. He wanted to talk to the nation about the economy and the banks. And here we are 76 years later, in the midst of another deep and wide economic crisis. For President Obama, it remains job one in this different era.
Reporter Savannah Guthrie at the White House touted how before a Business Roundtable gathering Obama “really sought to engage them” as he assured the attendees: “I'm a serious free enterpriser and we'll return the markets to free enterprise once this is over.” Guthrie highlighted what she saw as a “a really interesting moment today where the Chairman of CitiGroup... asked the President, 'hey, you're confidence builder in chief, can you give us some confidence?' Well the President did that...”
New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns, former Johannesburg bureau chief for the Times, is now working hard on the Glorify Michelle Obama beat, pumping out four flattering pieces in the last month.
Her latest entry is a brief in Thursday's edition, "A White House Effort to Aid Women and Girls," celebrating an executive order from President Obama creating a White House Council on Women and Girls. Swarns didn't challenge the liberal myth about women being paid 78 cents for every dollar men make (in that case, why don't companies only hire women and reap the savings?).
Swarns "reporting" could have come straight off a press release:
In what was an otherwise critical story about President Obama signing an earmark-laden spending bill despite promising an end to such pork barrel projects, on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid decided to mention a modest earmark by former Idaho Senator Larry Craig: "And it's not just Democrats, about 40% of the earmarks were inserted by Republicans. Even retired lawmakers. Remember Republican Senator Larry Craig, arrested in a bathroom sting? He retired, but his legacy lives on through a million dollars in earmarks for Idaho." If Reid wanted to cite much more egregious Republican offenders he could have picked Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who had $114 million in pet projects, or Missouri Senator Kit Bond, who had $86 million. Of course, neither of them were recently involved in sex scandals.
Other than the Craig mention, the piece was unusually tough on Obama, as anchor Katie Couric began the broadcast by declaring: "Also tonight, he campaigned against earmarks, but today President Obama signed a bill loaded with them behind closed doors." Reid reported: "The last thing the President wanted was a high-profile ceremony as he signed a bill stuffed with pork barrel spending...behind closed doors, it was, critics say, business as usual, as the President quietly signed a $410 billion domestic spending bill. 1,100 pages loaded with about 8,500 pet projects known as earmarks, inserted by members of Congress without legislative review...Some are the handiwork of former lawmakers who now work for the President. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has $6.5 million in projects for Illinois."
President George W. Bush had a female First Lady and a woman as Secretary of State, but NBC's Brian Williams on Wednesday night hailed, as the fulfillment of President Barack Obama's promise of “change,” how he has a “power duo” in a woman First Lady and a female Secretary of State. Williams cooed, with “Women of Distinction” as the on-screen heading:
President Obama won the presidency promising change. There was more evidence of that in Washington today. His wife, now First Lady, Michelle Obama, and his former rival, now Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, a former First Lady herself, joining arms, joining forces. A study in style, substance and power, really.
Pegging her story to Michelle Obama's visit to the State Department, reporter Andrea Mitchell touted “two strong women coming together of after a tough campaign” and how “two of the world's most powerful women” are now “both role models.”
NBC and ABC on Tuesday night marked President Barack Obama's first 50 days -- not by pointing out all his unfilled executive positions, failed nominations or the long wait for the stimulus spending in the “stimulus” bill -- but by heralding his “whirlwind” of action and “whirling dervish of activity,” though both noted criticism that the administration is trying to do too much. “The President's first seven weeks have been a whirlwind with often dramatic movement in all directions, on all fronts. The economy, health care, two wars and today education reform,” NBC anchor Brian Williams breathlessly announced.
Noting the “accusation that he's taken on too much all at once,” NBC's Savannah Guthrie relayed how Obama “took some time to answer his critics.” Viewers then heard Obama invoking Abraham Lincoln: “You may forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad and passed the Homestead Act and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of civil war.”
On ABC, Jake Tapper contended “you can disagree with what President Obama has done, but you cannot accuse him of dragging his feet. His first 50 days have been marked by presidential action on nearly every issue under the sun. Of course, for his critics, that's precisely the problem.” Tapper soon asserted: “Seven weeks ago, just minutes after taking the oath of office, President Obama formally nominated his cabinet. He's been a whirling dervish of activity ever since.”
During the 8:30AM EST half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell introduced a fawning news brief on Michelle Obama’s first 50 days as First Lady: "In the seven weeks since the new President was inaugurated, the new glamorous First Lady has found her place in a glamorous world. Thalia Assuras has a look at Michelle Obama's successful new life." Assuras began her report: "Everyone wants an invitation to her parties. She's graced several magazine covers. Even Oprah is giving up a slice for the first time. She's the focus of fashionistas, those buff arms igniting commentary, and websites produce constant chatter."
Assuras went on to describe how Michellle Obama had surpassed other First Ladies: "Michelle Obama has created a stir like no other First Lady...Style watchers caution that all new First Ladies cause excitement, but Mrs. Obama is a celebrity who embodies a new generation...That thing, that polls show, produces more positives than recent First Ladies at the outset of past administrations."
Assuras spoke with Washington Post gossip columnist Amy Argetsinger, who exclaimed: "People are sort of reacting to her the way they would to a movie star...She's the youngest First Lady we've had in a while, but she's also got a charisma about her. She's got the height of a fashion model, she looks great in clothes. And, you know, there's kind of that Jackie O thing going on." Following Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal giving the Republican response to Barack Obama’s address to Congress last week, Argetsinger remarked about Jindal: "I found his [pyschotic killer Charles] Manson eyes disturbing."
Four days after Sanjay Gupta, in the wake of Tom Daschle's withdrawal as HHS Secretary-designate, decided to turn down the Obama administration's offer to become Surgeon General, CBS went to the CNN medical correspondent for expert analysis on the benefits of Obama's decision to allow federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells. (Monday afternoon following Obama's announcement, CNN refrained from putting Gupta on the air. Wolf Blitzer, however, brought him aboard the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room to expound on what Gupta described as the “enthusiasm” and “lot of promise” offered by the administration's reversal of the Bush policy.)
CBS anchor Katie Couric fretted Obama's decision didn't do enough. Referring to a law which “prohibits the creation of embryos simply for the purpose of using their stem cells,” Couric worried: “If the ban against using tax dollars for this is not lifted, will it hinder progress?” Gupta assured her there are “plenty of embryos” available. Next, Couric cited how “the only FDA-approved clinical trial for using stem cells involved spinal cord injuries” and wondered: “What other conditions or diseases show the most potential to respond to this kind of therapy?”
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen incorrectly declared: "Reversing course. President Obama lifts the ban on embryonic stem cell research today...But is the President going far enough?" During the later segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez had to offer a correction: "And we should say, this under President Bush was not banned or illegal, except now we're getting federal funding."
The segment began with a report by correspondent Bill Plante: "...for those who believe that stem cells bring healing, there's no debate...Henry Strongin-Goldberg was sick with a rare blood disease that took his life when he was just 7...Henry's parents, Laurie Strongin and Allen Goldberg, believe their son's chance of survival ended when President George W. Bush signed an executive order in August, 2001 banning the federal government from funding embryonic stem cell research." Plante’s over 300-word report only gave only 21 of those words to critics, allowing David Prentice of the Family Research Council to mention: "In terms of scientific advances, I don't think we're going to see anything from this. This is more an ideological move."
Following Plante’s report, Rodriguez spoke with CBS News contributor Dr. Holly Phillips about the President’s decision: "In what kinds of diseases or ailments, specifically, do you think we may see advancements?" Phillips replied: "People are most excited about the neurologic illnesses, things like Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's...hopefully cure spinal cell injuries...hope in treating diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke. So really millions of people could be -- could be affected by this research." Phillips left out a recent case of embryonic stem cells causing cancer in an Israeli teenage boy.
“Demonstrating that not even weekends are safe from Democratic Party-sponsored anti-Rush Limbaugh attacks,” Brian Maloney observed on the Radio Equalizer blog on Saturday, “the talk titan is now under fire for a relatively mundane (and actually quite accurate) reference to the shameless political exploitation of Ted Kennedy's illness.”
CBS anchor Katie Couric on Friday night used the jump in the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent to cheerlead for how the “stimulus” bill is “creating” jobs, an impact her newscast illustrated with two full stories after reporter Anthony Mason declared: “It's the government that's going to have to pull us out of this recession.” (On ABC's World News, Betsy Stark similarly saw salvation in the stimulus spending. Citing predictions of even higher unemployment, she contended: “That's why the stimulus plan is so important. If it's successful, those huge job losses should slow down.”)
Couric teased the CBS Evening News: “The recession has now cost nearly four-and-a-half million Americans their jobs. We'll show you the new jobs his stimulus plan is creating.” She then led by promising: “In a moment we'll be telling you about all the jobs the stimulus plan is creating, but first, why those jobs are so desperately needed.”
At the end of Thursday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid reported important breaking news about President Obama's graying hair: "...the rate at which President Obama is adding salt to his pepper is what’s surprising, even if his inner circle says ‘no big deal.’" Axelrod observed: "The gray seemed to be on him from the moment he took the oath. There was talk during the campaign that maybe he was dying his hair gray to look more seasoned, but his barber says bunk." He later concluded the report by declaring: "If there's any consolation for Mr. Obama, it's that gray equals gravitas, and a president can never have too much of that."
Perhaps a good example of the President’s "gravitas" would be the gift he gave to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown during a diplomatic visit this week: a 25-DVD box set, including such films as E.T., The Wizard of Oz, and Star Wars. So far, neither CBS nor any of the networks or cable channels have covered this Obama gaffe.
President Obama's health care summit at the White House played into receptive television news hands Thursday night as NBC displayed “Fixing Health Care” on screen before reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Senator Ted Kennedy, while ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, who on Sunday had decried as a “national shame” America's lack of universal health care, effused: “I was blown away by President Obama's grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.”
CBS's Chip Reid corroborated Obama's point about soaring costs by citing a business where “in 2005, it cost $75,000 to cover about 25 employees. In 2008, it cost $148,000,” as if more government involvement to expand the number of people covered will lower costs. Reid also hailed Obama's fresh approach: “Instead of doing battle with insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and doctors, this time all those groups are in the room, most agreeing that now is the time for shared sacrifice.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan reported on the Obama administration’s effort to improve relations between the United States and Russia by abandoning a missile defense system proposed under the Bush administration: "It's become one of the most contentious issues dividing the U.S. and Russia. American plans to deploy a missile defense system on Russia's doorstep...The Obama administration's willingness to even open discussions on the issue is a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy under President Bush, who dismissed Russian objections. That dispute helped bring U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the break-up of the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago. Today the President made it clear he's already started to change that."
Rather than offer any criticism, Logan cited Steven Pifer of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, who declared: "It seems to me that when we're looking for issues on which we can signal to the Russians that we're prepared to be more flexible and listen to some of their concerns, missile defense is one." At the top of the broadcast, anchor Katie Couric teased the segment by describing Obama’s proposal as an "intriguing suggestion."
Media Research Center President and NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell today called on all of President Barack Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominees to pledge to preserve the First Amendment freedoms of conservative and Christian talk radio. Bozell asserted that if they do not do so, they should not be confirmed by the Senate.
Denouncing the so-called Fairness Doctrine is not enough. Last Thursday, the Senate passed a rider from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that creates broad new free speech-suppression regulatory powers for the FCC.
The nebulous Durbin Amendment potentially allows for the FCC to prematurely rescind talk radio station licenses and creates many new regulatory avenues by which the FCC can silence talk radio with such vague requirements as "encourag(ing) and promot(ing) diversity" in media ownership and "ensur(ing) that broadcast station licenses are used in the public interest."
Taxpayer-subsidized journalist Bonnie Erbe has some advice for Democrats: use the 2010 Census and subsequent redistricting to your maximum advantage to gerrymander and "gender-mander" the Congress chock full of left-wing constituencies.
Depoliticize the Census? Surely they jest! Taking politics out of the Census is like taking milk out of the cow or coal out of Newcastle or diamonds out of Tiffany. Politics is the lifeblood of the Census—without politics, there is no Census.
The Census is part of the spoils of victory for whichever party controls the White House at the turn of each decade. Gerrymandering—using Census data to create voting districts that artificially lean toward one end of the political spectrum or the other—is as uniquely an American tradition as Thanksgiving. The thought of trying to depoliticize the census is, well, decidedly un-American.
Though there was never any announcement on this side of the Atlantic that there would be a full-blown joint news conference today when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stops by to meet with President Obama, some British journalists are rather cranky this morning about the fact that there won't be one. Some who flew over with Brown last night thought there would be an Obama-Brown newser, and were surprised to hear when they arrived that there wouldn't. They see it as a snub.
"Mr Brown might lament," writes Toby Harnden of The Telegraph, "that despite the so-called 'special relationship' Britain is now getting the same treatment as the president of Uruguay but he need not despair. I'm told there's a chance he might get drinks with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening."
It was news media conventional wisdom during the 2008 presidential campaign: the worse the economy, the better it was for Democrat candidate prospects. But now that they have the legislative and executive branches and the burden of actually governing, that advantage is slowly being chipped away.
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, who first starting connecting that perhaps a Democrat-controlled federal government might not be the best thing for the United States earlier this year, gave something of a downbeat rant on Feb. 2 about Obama's handling of the economy so far.
"Until the Obama administration starts listening, until they start paying attention to what you're watching - to the stock market, until they realize that their agenda is destroying the life savings of millions of Americans - then all I can give you is caution," Cramer said on his March 2 broadcast.
At the taping late Monday afternoon of CBS's Late Show, host David Letterman asked guest Katie Couric about “this bonehead Rush Limbaugh,” prompting Couric to plead: “Dave, don't do this to me, please! Don't do this to me.” But Letterman was just getting rolling with insults as he asserted Limbaugh's attire on Saturday at CPAC made him look “like an Eastern European gangster.” Focusing on Limbaugh's physical appearance, Letterman recited how Limbaugh's “got the black jacket on, the black silk shirt and it's unbuttoned, like, 'oh yeah, when you think Rush Limbaugh, you think ooh let's see a little flesh.'”
CBS posted the exchange as the “Big Show Highlight” preview for Monday's show. It's now the lead video in rotation on the Late Show's home page where it is displayed under the “Rush in the Flesh” heading. You can also view the Flash video clip from this interior page. [Update: video added to this post]
“Ultimately,” President Barack Obama will get his way on “universal” health coverage, because of “just one fact” ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson declared “I want to let everybody hear,” and that is the “national shame” of how “we spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in his country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage.”
Answering a question from World News anchor David Muir on Sunday night about the likelihood health care reform will pass, Johnson predicted:
I think there's going to be an intense, partisan debate. But ultimately, David, there is just one fact I want to let everybody hear: We spend more than twice as much, per person, on health care in his country as the average of all other industrialized countries, yet we're the only one that doesn't have universal coverage. That's a national shame and I think ultimately that's what's going to unite Democrats and Republicans.
NPR's Nina Totenberg revealed Friday, not surprisingly, that she was enchanted by President Barack Obama's address earlier in the week to a joint session of Congress. “It made me feel pretty good. I thought it was a great speech,” she enthused before relaying a contrast with former President George W. Bush: “A friend of mine said, 'oh my God, we have a President again!'” Totenberg added that “in some ways, that's not fair to Bush,” but she insisted: “That's the way you felt. You felt this was a guy who was totally in charge.”
Totenberg quoted her friend immediately after Newsweek's Evan Thomas trumpeted on Inside Washington: “He looked like he belonged there unlike President Bush who sometimes seemed like 'what is this guy doing there?' even if you like him, 'he really doesn't belong.' He showed natural leadership and that alone made a big difference.”