During the 3PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie for reaction to President Obama’s surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to discuss the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter: "Savannah, let me just start with you, the shock factor. I mean, you've got that seat right there by where the President walked out. Were you surprised?" Guthrie replied: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting." [audio for download here]
Guthrie went on to explain: "I had kind of been giving Gibbs a little bit of a hard time, saying, 'look, why does everyone in Washington know this and you're telling us there's been no communication between Justice Souter, the Supreme Court, and the White House?' And sure enough, the President walks in and said ‘I just got off the phone with Justice Souter.’" O’Donnell asked: "Are you suggesting, Savannah, it was your questions that were the reason the President walked out? Because that sounds like where you're going with this." Guthrie humbly replied: "Well, I'm not quite that self-centered. But all I'm saying is I'm very happy to have my question answered, and certainly, personally by the President."
CBS's Katie Couric and ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson tried to provide cover Thursday night for Vice President Biden's gaffe about the swine flu threat, which forced two cabinet secretaries and the White House spokesman to correct his advice to avoid planes and subways, as Couric asked an expert to confirm “that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” and Johnson spun it into a positive, proposing: “In an ironic way, the reaction -- the information that has come out in reaction -- has been very informative.”
Talking with Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Couric pointed out how “the Vice President created a bit of a brouhaha when he said he would tell his family to avoid confined public spaces, but that's not terrible advice in certain situations, is it?” Ashton supported Couric's premise, suggesting “common sense precautions apply here,” so “people who have weakened immune systems, who have cancer, are HIV-positive,” if they would avoid people “a week ago, they should do it today.” But Biden was not warning just those with such vulnerabilities.
This wasn't the first time Couric helped Biden. Last year, when candidate Biden declared in a taped interview with Couric that “when the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television,” she ran the soundbite in which he had cited FDR to denounce Bush's handling of the economy, but failed to point out his historical error: FDR was not in office at the time of the 1929 crash and his “fireside chats” were on the radio.
This budget builds on the steps we’ve taken over the last 100 days to move this economy from recession to recovery and ultimately to prosperity. We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs and provided a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families.Source
This would be wonderful news, if it were true. Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to figure out where he got these numbers from. They just don't seem to add up to the facts.
So where do they get away with a number like that?
While most of the mainstream media yawned at news that former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon was refusing Notre Dame's Laetare award due to the university honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama, USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman sure hasn't.
The religion reporter/blogger found her own unique, passive-aggressive way to slam Glendon's stand on principle by suggesting she's a self-righteous hypocrite.
In her April 30 post, "Who's a good enough Catholic for Notre Dame's top honor?", Grossman delighted in excerpting a satirical open letter by Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin, who penned a blog post for America magazine making light of the university's pressing need to find a new person to honor with the coveted Laetare Award (emphasis mine):
Rather than provide objective analysis of President Obama’s performance at Wednesday’s White House press conference, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Plante issued what amounted to a press release and brushed aside criticism of Obama’s expansion of government during the first 100 days: "The President laughed off charges that he's intent on making the government bigger...And said the 100-day mark was just the beginning."
Plante offered no facts about the massive spending and growth of government under the Obama administration, but instead concluded his report: "Anyway, they [the White House] think that the public is well disposed to give the President some more time. How much, is the question."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "A lot of people watching President Obama last night. How do you celebrate 100 days in office? Speak to the news media." Based on reporting from Plante and New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny’s "enchanting" question to Obama, that would be a party with close friends for the President.
The morning after the media's "enchanted" evening with President Obama's 100-day press conference, Media Research Center Director of Research Rich Noyes appeared on the April 30 "America's Newsroom" to do a post-mortem of the media's fawning over the nation's 44th president. [audio excerpt here]
The segment began with a discussion of New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny's fawning question about what enchanted Obama the most in his first 100 days.:
MEGYN KELLY, Fox News anchor: So, you know, it's prime real estate when you get to ask one of these questions as a reporter at these White House press conferences. He doesn't call on all the reporters. Every question counts, and the White House press corps sort of relies on one another to get to the heart of the matter so that all the most important things are asked. Does this qualify? How enchanted he was in his first 100 days?!
RICH NOYES, Media Research Center: I'm not sure if it really does. You're right. I cannot imagine the press asking George W. Bush what enchanted him the most about his time in the White House. I believe their mantra kept asking him to define all his mistakes and apologize for them, was sort of the routine question they'd bring up to him.
CNN's on-staff political analysts and reporters -- not just the left-wing political operatives (Paul Begala and Donna Brazile) were in awe of President Barack Obama's press conference performance. Just after it ended Wednesday night, senior political analyst David Gergen hailed how “in terms of mastery of the issues, we have rarely had a President who is as well briefed and speaks in as articulate a way as this President does.” Gergen enthused: “He's nuanced. He's very complete. He's up to speed on the issues” and “he's taken it to a whole different level in the way he speaks about issues.” So, “I thought he was an A in terms of material, but given” Obama's inaccurate assurance he's opposed to bigger government, “I gave him an A-minus.”
Former CBS News reporter Gloria Borger, now also a senior political analyst for CNN, endorsed Gergen's grade, “I'm totally with him on that,” before recalling how Obama “reminded the American people that he's accomplished a lot, but he has a lot still left to do” and, she reverentially asserted: “That's because he has so much more that he's got to do than Presidents in recent memory.”
Up next, Roland Martin, the fill-in for Campbell Brown as anchor of CNN's 8 PM EDT hour, awarded Obama an A and then Washington correspondent Jessica Yellin declared Obama “is tackling so many issues at once and in such a capable way that it leaves the Republicans unable to target any one issue.”
White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel made the rounds of the TV anchors Wednesday. Though President Obama has exploited the economic problems to push his big spending plans, ABC’s Charles Gibson empathized with how he inherited a bad economy as he ran Emanuel’s explanation about “how the President handles the severe problems he's inherited” and then cued up Emanuel to agree it’s “fair to say though that he ran for one job and got another given the condition of the economy as he takes office?”
Turning to George Stephanopoulos for an assessment of Obama’s first 100 days, Stephanopoulos trumpeted how “his number one accomplishment has been to inspire a sense of confidence in the country,” as evidenced by how the “right direction” polling number as now at “the highest level in six years,” and so that confidence “not only gives President Obama a political cushion, but it could have a real world economic impact.” That spin nearly exactly matched what Emanuel told CBS’s Katie Couric, as both forwarded the “sense of confidence” phrase, when she asked him to name the administration’s “greatest accomplishment?” Emanuel answered:
A renewed sense of hope in America and a sense that we can actually meet these challenges. They weren't so big that we couldn't do 'em. And we've helped give America that sense of confidence again, that we can meet these challenges and this country is headed, finally, in the right direction.
So, did Emanuel channel Stephanopoulos’ advice on how best to tout Obama’s achievements or did Stephanopoulos just repeat Emanuel’s talking point he heard in one of their regular phone conversations? Or is it just a coincidence the press corps and the Obama White House think alike?
Out: Former President Bush and his cocky, self-assured cowboy-like "swagger," often dismissed as a negative quality for the 43rd president.
In: President Barack Obama's "swagga," which is a sign of how suave and sophisticated the 44rd president is.
At least that's according to CNN, which shortly after 1 p.m. EDT today re-aired an interview that originally aired on April 25 on "Saturday Morning News." In that interview, reporter T.J. Holmes sat down with a panel of African-American gentlemen to praise how they see Obama as another "brotha" who has "swagga" as Holmes put it. [audio available here]
The re-broadcast of the interview gave occasion for anchor Kyra Phillips to gush over the president as well, but unfortunately our DVR system failed to tape the 1 p.m. hour today. Luckily our DVRs did catch the original interview, an excerpt of which you can find embedded above at right:
Yesterday Media Research Center President Brent Bozell sat down for a chat via Skype with Breitbart.tv "B-cast" anchors Scott Baker and Liz Stephans. You can watch the video here or in the embed below the page break.
The topic: preliminary findings in an MRC study on the media's treatment of President Obama's first 100 days.
In honor of President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith decided to take an uncritical look at the President’s performance with liberal commentators Tavis Smiley of PBS and Fareed Zakaria of CNN and Newsweek. Smith asked Zakaria: "Using your book as a template, 'The Post-American World,' in which America is seen not necessarily as the center of this universe anymore, how is this President working against the template of your book?"
Zakaria explained: "If you look at that template, Obama has actually seemed to really understand it, made overtures to the world...even overtures to Iran, to Syria, engaging in the Middle East peace process, even Venezuela. This is, I think, been a great overture. The first movement of the symphony is yet to come." Smith added: "The first 100 days, perhaps, is the overture." Zakaria continued: "But I think as an overture goes, you know, no -- I don't think any president has had as much success as Obama has...this guy gets this new world, this post-American world that I talk about, and he's acting in a way that will secure America's interests."
A terse one-paragraph mea culpa by a White House staffer now qualifies as a "profuse apology" at least when it's the Obama White House, and the paper reporting the story is the Washington Post.
That's how the paper's Tomoeh Murakami Tse and Michael D. Shear characterized an apology by White House Military Office director Louis Caldera for Monday's low altitude flyover photo-op of New York Harbor. Here's same 54-word apology in its entirety:
Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.
“President Obama is getting more coverage, and more positive coverage, from the media than his two predecessors,” FNC's Bret Baier related during Monday's “Grapevine” segment in summarizing the hardly-surprising findings from “a new study of his first 50 days in office” completed by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). The analysis of the network evening newscasts, Baier recounted, “was judged 58 percent positive for President Obama. That compares to 33 percent for Mr. Bush and 44 percent for Mr. Clinton. NBC was most positive at 61 percent. CBS was 58 percent, ABC 57 percent.”
By comparison, CMPA's press release, “Study Finds President Fares Best in New York Times, Worst on Fox News,” reported that in relation to ABC, CBS and NBC, “he fared far better” in front page New York Times stories, “where nearly three out of four evaluative comments (73%) by sources and reporters were favorable. And he fared far worse on Fox News, where only one out of eight such comments (13%) were favorable.”
Monday's NBC Nightly News, unlike the ABC and CBS newscasts, made time for a short item about how a Harvard law professor, scheduled to receive an award from Notre Dame the same day President Obama is to receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement address, announced she will not attend because she disagrees with the Catholic university honoring someone who goes against the church's position on unborn life. The full item from anchor Brian Williams:
More fallout tonight from Notre Dame's decision to have President Obama deliver the commencement address. Mary Ann Glendon, who was Barack Obama's law professor at Harvard and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, now says she will not accept the university's highest award because the school is honoring a President whose position on abortion starkly differs from that of the Catholic church.
No bias here, just some fun at White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's expense.
"White House Press Secretary began his daily briefing, even though Pres. Obama was speaking at the U.Conn event. Considered a no-no," CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller noted via his Twitter account just shortly after 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Education journalist Dakarai I. Aarons asked Knoller:
@markknoller any precedent for holding a briefing while the president is speaking elsewhere?
To which the veteran journalist answered:
@d_aarons In 30 years of covering the White House - it's just not done. the press secretary waits till the Pres is done, before starting...
"The liberal media deserve the Tammy Wynette Award for their coverage of Obama’s radical agenda, as they continue to devotedly stand by their man," quipped Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell in an April 27 statement.[see bottom of post for full press release]
"For the pro-Obama liberal media, the Obama honeymoon is nowhere near over," Bozell argued, reacting to the results of a study in which MRC analysts looked at 852 stories on the Obama administration from January 20 through April 15 on ABC's World News, the CBS Evening News and the NBC Nightly News.
Among the key findings thus far, MRC analysts noticed that the media have actively worked to:
Remember how the media told us throughout 2008 that then-candidate Barack Obama had the most "tech-savvy" presidential campaign in U.S. history? And who can forget all the buzz during the transition period about how the president might have to part company with his Blackberry due to Secret Service security worries. To the media, Obama was light years ahead of any Republican when it came to the Web.
Well, with the 100-day mark right around the corner, it seems new media experts are only giving the 44th president a gentleman's C when it come to his communications shop's take on the WhiteHouse.gov Web site and the Obama administration's signature Recovery.gov Web site.
Reports the National Journal's David Herbert, the chief complaints seem to be that the Obama team sees the Web as a propaganda tool, not a way to genuinely engage citizens with their government and its elected chief executive (emphasis mine):
Asked by George Stephanopoulos to name the “most important thing we've learned” about President Barack Obama during his first one hundred days in office (which is still three days away), David Sanger, a Washington correspondent for the New York Times, asserted: “I think we've learned that he's more moderate than we had expected.” That says a lot about the mindset of New York Times reporters and prompted George Will to retort, during the roundtable segment on ABC's This Week: “He's less moderate than I thought. He's going to design our cars. He's going to design our light bulbs. He's going to tell us where our house shall be built. This is supervisory liberalism in the most nagging, annoying sort.”
Bob Schieffer brought aboard CBS's Face the Nation the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast site, to assess Obama. Brown could barely contain herself, trumpeting “what a force-multiplier Michelle Obama has turned out to be” as she and her husband work in “flawless concert,” so while “the world is talking about torture and the Bush administration, then we have Michelle with her vegetable garden. Talk about Spring time in America!”
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton pointed out that, contrary to the impression given by the mainstream media, President Barack Obama’s approval rating, as measured by Gallup, is relatively low compared to his recent predecessors for the 100-day mark, and is even below where President George W. Bush was after his first 100 days. Pinkerton observed: "Judith Klnghoffer, writing for the History News Network, made the point that Obama actually ranks seventh of the last nine presidents in Gallup poll opinion ratings. So seventh out of nine isn't so good."
Appearing on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, Randy Cohen, the “The Ethicist” columnist for the New York Times Magazine, blurted: “I'm a huge Obama fan. I think it's such an unbelievably great thing to have a President who's competent and not insane.”
Cohen's praise for President Barack Obama, combined with the cheap insult of former President George Bush, came just before a “but” as he expressed disappointment with Obama's pledge to not prosecute CIA operatives who “tortured” terrorists.
Cohen, who also helms the “Moral of the Story” blog for NYTimes.com, has long had disdain for Bush. In 2003 he questioned if Bush could “honorably” continue to serve in office and in late 2005 he was disgusted with Bush compared to Bill Clinton: “We've got a guy now who lied the country into a war.”
During his first 100 days as president of the United States, Barack Obama revealed how different he is from all the white men who preceded him in the Oval Office, and the differences run deeper — in substance and style — than the color of his skin.
Barack Hussein Obama is the nation’s first hip president.
This, of course, is subject to debate. But watch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.
To buttress his assertion of Obama's hipness, the author quotes John Leland of The New York Times, longtime Democratic operative Roger Wilkins, and Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics. Wilkins and Tannen are themselves apparently hip, both having contributed money to Obama's campaign. That hip fact didn't merit reporting.
In other words, this image that's being projected of Sebelius as some radical defender of the abortion industry is very much overstated. She's a pragmatic executive and it's ludicrous that her confirmation process has become so politicized.
Sebelius is, of course, Barack Obama's health secretary nominee. In that capacity, she'll wield considerable influence over governmental policies concerning abortion. Shelly argues:
I'll say this again: Sebelius is a moderate governor in a state that happens to be home to one of the few doctors willing to perform late-term abortions. Just like many other Kansans, that doctor, George Tiller, has exercised his constitutional right to contribute to political campaigns. Some of his money went to Sebelius.
Shelly doesn't detail how much of Tiller's money went to Sebelius. Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that the nominee "got nearly three times as much political money" from the abortionist than she had reported to the Senate Finance Committee.
CNN's Lou Dobbs on Thursday night highlighted how a new poll discovered Vice President Joe Biden is presently “less popular than Vice President Cheney was in July of 2001.” Indeed, a survey of 1,500 conducted for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press to assess where President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Biden stand with the public as the administration's 100-day mark approaches, determined: “Only about half of Americans (51%) say they have a favorable impression of Joe Biden -- comparable to the 55% who felt favorably toward Al Gore in April 1993 and lower than the 58% favorability rating Dick Cheney received in July 2001.”
Dobbs also pointed out how President Barack Obama, at 63 percent approval, is at “the same percentage as President Carter at this stage of his presidency. But President Reagan was even more popular than either of them: 67 percent.”
Instead of providing any suggestion President Barack Obama's hectoring of credit card company executives, with the not-so-subtle threat of further regulation, is an improper strong-arm tactic, the network evening newscasts on Thursday night hailed Obama's efforts to “protect consumers” -- in stories each complete with a sympathetic victim of jacked-up interest rates, but barely any time, if any, for a view contrary to Obama's.
ABC's Charles Gibson teased: “Tonight, tough talk. A stern warning from the President to credit card executives. If you don't protect the consumers, the government will.” CBS's Katie Couric fretted about the impact of “the credit card fees, penalties, and rising interest rates” which led the President to tell “the credit card companies: enough.” Reporter Anthony Mason began: “Clean up your act. That was President Obama's message to credit card issuers today.” NBC anchor Brian Williams trumpeted how Obama has come to the rescue: “Today the President admonished the credit card companies and came down on the side of consumers.”
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen made an important news announcement: "Well, the latest Obama paper dolls are out and we have got them right here to check them out." Chen went on to explain that the collectible books of paper cut outs of Barack and Michelle Obama: "...came out when -- during the whole campaign...And then now this is the inaugural."
Chen later asked: "Do we think that this looks like Barack and Michelle?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez responded: "Absolutely not. Not even a little bit." Early Show medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton was also on set, and chimed in: "No, he [Obama] looks so much better in person." Rodriguez then added: "Not even a little bit, it's not their faces. Those are not their faces." Chen explained: "It's more Michelle than -- it's not Barack's face, but it's more Michelle. Because I think they have her eyebrows down."
After a detailed discussion of the dolls’ likeness to the Obamas, co-host Harry Smith proudly exclaimed: "Well, I'm very excited to get my collectible campaign edition, so."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday night mentioned how the “Obama administration's own Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, wrote his employees last week” about how, what NBC described as “harsh” interrogation techniques, “produced 'high-value information,'” a view from an Obama insider left out of stories on ABC and CBS. But Mitchell described Blair's assessment as conveying “controversial comments.” Not controversial to Mitchell? The hook for her story, liberal Democratic Senator Carl Levin's charge that “there were very strong warnings against the use of these techniques and...they attempted to destroy the warning.”
According to the Senate report, the harsh techniques used at Guantanamo and other prisons were ordered by top Bush cabinet-level officials and launched months before they were approved by lawyers. Today's Armed Services Committee report also says abuses at the notorious Abu Ghraib Prison, including 'stress positions, removal of clothing, use of phobias such as fear of dogs,' were systematic, not just the work of a few rogue soldiers, as the Pentagon claimed at the time.
So who died and made Time's Joe Klein the head of Mossad? Because clearly he is a better military intelligence expert than anyone in Israel, judging by his April 22 blog post on "Israel's Iran Game" at the magazine's Swampland blog (emphasis mine):
I have no doubt that Israel is--legitimately--freaked out by Iran, although not so much by the prospect of an Iranian bomb as by Iran's support for Hezbollah and Hamas. (The only plausible use of an Iranian bomb would be as a deterrent against Israel's own nuclear weapons.) But it seems clear that the Netanyahu government's wild overstatement of the Iranian threat, and its linkage to progress on the Palestinian issue, is a subterfuge to allow the continued illegal Israeli settlement of Palestinian areas on the West Bank, which will ultimately subvert a two-state solution.
Whatever should Obama do? Klein would be glad you asked, and even if you hadn't, he'd probably tell you anyway (emphasis mine):
Is there something in the tea over there, or do British movie critics imagine commentary on American politics is actually part of their job description?
Two years ago I noted how at least two British reviewers, James Christopher and Leo Lewis, panned "Spider-Man 3." Christopher lamented the "Sunday School morality" and "the inevitable flash of the American flag" while Lewis labeled as "disappointing... the inability of the director, Sam Raimi, to end the romp without a fleeting shot of the American flag."
Today, Times Online reviewer Debra Craine decided to timidly go where other hacks have gone before. From the penultimate paragraph from Craine's April 21 review of the upcoming "Star Trek" prequel (h/t separate e-mail tips from NB readers Jake Mathon and Charles Lovell):
Update at end: NBC5's Bob Sirott responds to this post
Persuading Americans that Barack Obama is an effective president won't be easy. So local news outlets are lending a hand when they can. This was obvious last night on Chicago's NBC5 News at 10. Anchor Bob Sirott reported:
And now to a sign the president's economic stimulus is working. Bank of American today announced a $2.8 billion profit for the first quarter. That report was much better than expected and followed positive results from other banks. It also comes after a loss of more than $2 billion for the last three months of 2008. Bank of America received $45 billion as part of the financial rescue package.
Sirott's positive assessment of Obama's plan isn't justified. The big profits he touted are largely illusionary. Andrew Ross Sorkin explained why in "Bank Profits Appear Out of Thin Air," which appeared in yesterday's New York Times: