Katie Couric teased Wednesday's CBS Evening News by excitingly trumpeting: “Tonight, they've got a deal! Congress reaches agreement on an economic stimulus plan.” She soon shared her enthusiasm in a taped interview with a triumphant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Couric giggled along with Pelosi while asking if she was “surprised how intimately involved” President Obama “is in the whole process?” And, acting like a teenage girl gossiping about a friend's boyfriend, “Can you tell us anything he said to you, like 'get cracking'?” The giggle-filled exchange, which matches the accompanying video:
KATIE COURIC: Are you surprised how intimately involved he is in the whole process?
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Quite frankly, yes. I said, “Mr. President, neither of us has time for this conversation, especially you,” because we really, we understand each other. We know where we need to go.
COURIC: Can you tell us anything he said to you, like “get cracking”?
PELOSI: No, never that. We're always cracking.
Audio: MP3 clip that matches the video (25 secs, 150 Kb)
The Washington Times and New York Daily News, among other news outlets, have reported that, as a member of Congress, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel received rent-free accommodations from Representative Rosa DeLauro for five years, raising the question of whether Emanuel properly complied with gift rules for House members and whether he should have paid taxes on the imputed income of the gift.
Last summer, liberals went after Republican Senator Norm Coleman for paying an allegedly below-market rate for his Capitol Hill apartment, with the George Soros-funded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demanding an ethics committee investigation.
The big media bias question regarding Emanuel is whether his longtime friend, ABC chief Washington correspondent and host of This Week George Stephanopoulos, knew about the arrangement with DeLauro and her husband, pollster Stan Greenberg — who worked alongside Emanuel and Stephanopoulos in the 1992 Clinton campaign.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen spoke with Obama supporter Julio Asegueda, who attended the president’s economic town hall in Florida on Tuesday: "President Obama took his economic stimulus message to Fort Myers, Florida yesterday. And in the crowd of 1,500 he heard real stories of economic struggle and hardship, including from 19-year-old college student Julio Asegueda." By contrast, the Early Show reacted quite differently when Joe the Plumber dared to question Obama during a campaign stop last October.
In his question to Obama, Asegueda complained about being stuck in a job at McDonald’s for the past few years. Chen asked Asegueda: "I want to know what happened after you voiced your problem to the president?" He replied: "When I voiced my problem to the President of the United States, I was so shocked at the answer he gave me. The answer that he gave me was so -- so sincere and so motivational to me that it just -- I had such a surreal feeling that I've never had in my life." In reality, Obama simply offered talking points about tax credits for college students, hardly "motivational." [audio excerpt available here]
In excerpts aired on Tuesday's World News, of Terry Moran's interview with President Barack Obama for Nightline, Moran was as sycophantic toward Obama as he was during the campaign, lamenting Obama “got no honeymoon” and bemoaning the new President had been “too nice” to Republicans. “Mr. President,” Moran rued in overlooking the ongoing honeymoon from the media, “you got no honeymoon. Not a single Republican vote in the House on your first major piece of legislation.” Moran speculated: “I wonder in coming into the presidency, maybe you were too nice? If I'm a Republican Senator or a Republican Congressman, I think you're a very nice guy but maybe I don't have enough reason to fear you.”
Earlier, Moran cued up Obama: “How close do you think the country is to the kind of economic catastrophe that you're warning about?” In the ABCNews.com transcript, which does not include the “honeymoon” lament, the tri-anchor of Nightline suggested the banks should just be nationalized: “There are a lot of economists who look at these banks and they say all that garbage that's in them renders them essentially insolvent. Why not just nationalize the banks?” (That did not air on World News, but was part of what Nightline ran later.)
Audio:MP3 clip which matches the video (45 secs, 275 Kb)
On Monday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid described Barack Obama’s efforts to gain support for the so-called "stimulus" bill: "The president aimed the full power of his office, including Air Force One, at the Heartland today, speaking directly to the people in Elkhart, Indiana...For now, the president appears to have the public on his side. A new Gallup poll out today gives him a 67 percent approval rating for his handling of the stimulus legislation, far higher than either Democrats or Republicans in Congress, and he'll be turning on the pressure of popularity again tonight when he holds his first prime time press conference."
In later coverage, just prior to the presidential press conference, Reid again cited the Gallup poll numbers. However, recent Gallup poll results showed that only 38 percent of Americans supported the actual bill in its current form, with 37 percent wanting major changes, 17 percent rejecting it, and 8 percent having no opinion.
Following Reid’s Evening News report, anchor Katie Couric asked: "And, Chip, after the Senate passes the bill, it goes to conference with the House. What is the outlook for that?" Reid replied: "Well, the Democrats and Republicans admit that it is going to be passed eventually, probably by the end of this week, but there's going to be some serious horse trading. It all goes on behind closed doors, and that's when the real work gets done. It gets done much more quickly than when it’s out in public." Apparently public support is not that important.
Following the Media Research Center's ongoing call for an explanation of George Stephanopoulos's reported strategy conference calls with Democratic operatives Paul Begala and James Carville and White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, the MRC has released a new Profile in Bias for the "This Week" host.
"[I]n his on-air role at ABC, Stephanopoulos has been a reliable mouthpiece for the Democratic spin of the day — using his perch as an analyst and correspondent to add an extra boost to liberals, undermine conservatives and push a liberal policy agenda," the profile notes before listing scores of examples, such this one from March 18, 2008, wherein Stephanopoulos lauded Obama for refusing to castigate his former pastor:
By refusing to renounce Reverend Wright, that was in many ways an act of honor for Senator Obama.
As we at NewsBusters have documented, ABC News executives have refused to directly confront the breach of journalistic ethics first reported in the January 27 Politico:
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen took an unusually critical tone toward President Obama’s first press conference on Monday night: "President Obama takes to prime time to pitch his nearly trillion-dollar rescue plan...But does the president have his facts straight? And what does a trillion dollars really buy you? We'll tell you."
In a later report on the press conference correspondent Bill Plante challenged some of the president’s assertions, including: "Most economists, almost unanimously, recognize government is an important element of introducing some additional demand into the economy." Plante countered: "In fact, several hundred economists argued for more tax cuts, rather than more spending." Plante also questioned Obama’s denial of any earmarks in the so-called "stimulus" bill: "Even so, the bill does call for some specifics that sound a lot like earmarks. $2 billion for a clean coal power plant. $2 billion for hybrid car batteries. $255 million for a Coast Guard icebreaker."
The Obama administration’s decision to have the White House supervise the 2010 Census -- a response to left-wing complaints that the Census was too important to leave under the authority of Republican Judd Gregg, the nominee for Commerce Secretary -- has thus far (as of Tuesday morning) drawn absolutely no attention from the three broadcast networks, with not a single mention on the ABC, CBS or NBC morning or evening newscasts.
This would undoubtedly be a huge story if the White House were still in Republican hands and it was the GOP that was attempting to take over the Census. As the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund reported today: “‘There's only one reason to have that high level of White House involvement,’ a career professional at the Census Bureau tells me. ‘And it's called politics, not science.’”
Blogging at U.S. News & World Report on Monday, Michael Barone -- who knows more about the nuts and bolts of U.S. politics than practically anybody -- suggested the move could even be ruled unconstitutional:
Some quick takes on the very brief presidential press conference wrap-ups on ABC, CBS and NBC before each returned to entertainment shows a bit after 9 PM EST:
- ABC anchor Charles Gibson lauded how President Obama treated “each question almost as a teaching moment with long and expansive answers.”
- CBS anchor Katie Couric cited how Obama talked “about 'ideological blockage'” against the “stimulus” bill and wondered: “Do you think some of his Republican opponents on the Hill got the message with this news conference tonight?”
- On NBC, Brian Williams fretted Obama wasn't as tough sooner, postulating: “It may be said that if the President had used this voice -- some of the forcefulness we saw there at the top -- the result might, might have been different so far leading into this stimulus package vote.”
A little more on the barely minute-long, or less, post-news conference coverage:
"I think it's a weaker deal than he thinks," MRC's Rich Noyes told Fox Business Network's Brian Sullivan, referring to President Obama's hopes for passage of the stimulus package. Noyes appeared on Fox Business Network's "Cavuto on Business" program shortly after 6:30 p.m. EST to discuss President Obama's campaigning for his stimulus package.
While Obama campaigned on the vague notion of "change," now that he's president, the stimulus bills under consideration have "fairly weak public support" compared to his personal approval ratings, Noyes noted. The NewsBusters senior editor cited a CBS News poll -- which went unreported that network's airwaves -- that found as Noyes put it, "a majority for the stimulus, but it's weak majority.":
NOYES: Sixty-two percent think the best thing about it would be the tax cuts. Only 16 percent are in favor of the government spending as being able to be helpful. This is something where the public is against massive spending because they're cutting back everywhere, they see business cutting back everywhere. That's his problem, his next phase in this political program is going to be another big spending program to deal with the banks.
The 51st Annual Grammy Awards was an occasion to celebrate great musicians and … our president. Viewers were treated to more Obama love, as they learned he has received two Grammys for reading his own books on tape.
The president of the Grammys, Neil Portnow, made sure to let viewers know how much he loves the new commander-in-chief by spending his three minutes on stage chanting President Obama’s campaign phrase “Yes we can!” five times and pleading with Obama to create a new cabinet position dedicated to the arts and culture.
“Because of the creative community, it means that he is one of us – he’s an artist,” Portnow gushed. “… So having a Grammy-winner in the White House provides great hope for the future of music and the arts in our country, and for that we say, ‘Thank you Mr. President for the inspiration to loudly shout, ‘yes we can.’’”
During the opening of Friday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric teased upcoming coverage of the so-called "stimulus" bill being debated in Congress: "Tonight, 13 jobs a minute disappearing...Senate moderates race to trim the stimulus package to a passable size." An image of a ticking clock appeared on screen as Couric spoke. A clip was also played of Barack Obama exclaiming: "These numbers demand action." In another clip, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked: "The world is waiting to see what we're going to do in the next 24 hours." [audio excerpt here]
Couric later reported on a possible Senate agreement regarding the legislation, portraying it as a compromise despite a lack of significant Republican support: "The Senate has reached tentative agreement on an economic stimulus package. Price tag: $780 billion, trimmed down from more than 900 billion. The compromise followed more dismal economic news." Correspondent Chip Reid continued to tout the so-called "compromise": "The deal was worked out behind closed doors by a group of about 16 moderate Republicans and Democrats, who plodded slowly through the 700 page bill line by line, looking for projects that won't do much to stimulate the economy." Neither Reid nor Couric explained that only three moderate Republican senators offered support.
Following Reid’s report, Couric asked him: "So, Chip, does today's deal mean the House and Senate will be able to compromise on a final stimulus bill, or once again will everything be back on the table?" Reid raised concerns, but only those of Democrats who wanted to spend more: "Not everything, but a whole lot. Nancy Pelosi and other liberal Democrats in the House do not like these cuts. They didn't even like the idea of trying to cut $100 billion out of this bill, much less 150 billion, and they're vigorously opposed to those cuts in education."
Offering a defense of President Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay within the year, on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent David Martin argued: "During his final years in office, President Bush said repeatedly he wanted to close the prison at Guantanamo, where suspected terrorists were being held indefinitely without trial. Turns out it was his own vice president who stood in the way."
Martin worked to discredit Dick Cheney’s concerns about closing the detention facility: "According to Cheney, 61 of the 530 prisoners released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration have already gone back to terrorism. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, there are 61 suspected cases of former detainees rejoining the fight, but so far only 18 have been confirmed." Martin then admitted: "Most have subsequently been killed or captured; but some, like this suicide bomber in Iraq, lived long enough to kill again."
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid touted a new CBS News poll that portrayed Barack Obama as being more bipartisan on the current "stimulus" spending bill being debated in Congress, than Republicans: "The new CBS News poll shows 81 percent of Americans think the president is trying for bipartisanship, but less than half say congressional Republicans and Democrats are doing the same." The poll, which separated the president from his fellow Democrats in Congress, claimed 49 percent of Americans felt congressional Democrats were being bipartisan, while only 41 percent said the same of congressional Republicans.
However, those poll findings were not reported on Friday’s CBS Early Show. Perhaps because later Thursday night, speaking at a retreat for House Democrats, Obama declared: "Don't come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis...We're not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that, for the last eight years, doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin...We can't embrace the losing formula that says only tax cuts will work for every problem we face, that ignores critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil, or the soaring cost of health care, or failing schools and crumbling bridges and roads and levees."
Appearing on Wednesday’s O’Reilly Factor on FNC, CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft discussed his campaign interviews with Barack Obama that have been spliced together to create a CBS News DVD, ‘Obama: All Access,’: "Well, they were dying to have somebody come out, especially '60 Minutes,' very early on to kind of explain their campaign...we developed a nice rapport."
Host Bill O’Reilly asked Kroft about the documentary: "...what does it say to people other than ‘go, go Obama?’" Kroft replied: "It's an historical document. And I think we'll probably sell a lot of copies to libraries and things like that. Maybe to some -- maybe to some Republican political consultants." O’Reilly followed up: "Is there cheerleading in it?" Kroft responded: "No, I don't think so. It's -- we've taken the interviews and it is a straight narrative of the campaign."
However, during the CBS News documentary aired on Sunday, December 28, 2008 and re-aired this Sunday, Kroft pulled out the pom-poms: "...on the campus of George Mason University in the Virginia suburbs, where Obama held his first campaign rally, just two weeks after establishing an exploratory presidential committee...It was our first exposure to what came to be known as 'Obama-mania.' You sensed immediately that something unusual was going on, something rarely seen in American politics... 5,000 students had turned out to see him...he urged his young audience to cast aside its cynicism of politics and engage the system, evoking the words of Martin Luther King."
Her husband may finally be facing scrutiny, but the media still faint for Michelle.
“Pep rally.” “Rock show.” “Church service.” These were the words a Washington Post staff writer used to describe a brief appearance by the first lady at a government agency on Wednesday. It’s part of the ongoing drumbeat of press adulation for all things Obama.
On Feb. 5, Richard Leiby penned a glowing narrative of Michelle Obama’s political stop at the Department of Housing and Urban Development headquarters in Washington, D.C. to promote her husband’s economic plan. The Obamas may be all about “change,” but the entrenched bureaucracy sure seems to love them.
The crowd of government workers, which Leiby said had waited in line for hours, “raised their cameras aloft to capture her…the most famous woman in the world.” Leiby didn’t say whether he was troubled that the waiting, the “wild adulation” and the shouts of “We love you!” occurred during taxpayer-funded work hours.
“Dressed in a satiny purple blouse, gray jacket and skirt, Mrs. Obama only talked for about eight minutes but spent as much time wading into the crowd as the outro music blared: ‘Ain't No Stopping Us Now.’”
Update: The highlight thus far is the testy exchange between Gibbs and Tapper. Checking the tape again it appears he did answer Tapper's second question, albeit tersely muttering the response, before turning to Chuck Todd of NBC.
Gibbs starting press conference about 10 minutes late, at 2:10. Says was late getting started due to news about Associate Justice Ginsburg's pancreatic cancer surgery.
[N.B.: I'm watching via Fox News ]
14:10, Jennifer Loven, AP: question about stimulus size.
14:13, Loven question about potential conflict of interest for Obama's Labor Sec. designee, Rep. Solis.
14:14, female reporter notes more "combative" tone to Obama's talk on stimulus, asks if he's "given up on bipartisanship"
sorry for the gap, had Internet connection problems for a few minutes.
14:19, Ed Henry: President talked about the trillion dollar deficit, why then if that's a failure does he want to add $8 or $9 billion on top of that?
14:20, Henry: Paid for with a cigarette tax but we're not sure how many are going to buy cigarettes
14:22,Henry: Notes Labor Secretary-designate Hilda Solis's husband's reported tax liens, asks if White House knew about it.
14:24, Jake Tapper, ABC News: Can we get copy of the waivers for former lobbyists given by the OMB. It's not available by email or the Web, can we get them.
Two weeks ago, ABC's Good Morning America featured kids who offered up silly liberal platitudes for President Barack Obama (“I want you to make people stop littering because our Earth is dying”) , but in retrospect they seem downright insightful compared to the collection of letters from children showcased in Wednesday's USA Today -- which embarrassed itself with a headline that characterized the writers as providing “helpful advice” to the new President. Reporter Greg Toppo, in the “Life” section article plugging a new book, 'Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country,' promised “it contains dozens of frank, heartfelt letters to Barack Obama, offering the new President congratulations, praise, reading lists and reams of helpful, bullet-pointed advice.”
Amongst the letters with that “helpful” advice listed next to Toppo's story, this from a 6-year-old:
I would fill the White House with chocolate and gravy (but not together) and mashed potatoes or maybe fill it with root beer. I'd drive through the White House on a boat. We'd make the floor out of mashed potatoes and the house would be filled with mashed potatoes.…I'd have a couch made out of pudding that you could eat with a giant spoon. And I'd have a pizza carpet.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, apparently still bristling over former President George W. Bush's failure to admit mistakes (at least in media interviews), twice in 24 hours felt it newsworthy to contrast Bush's reticence with President Barack Obama's “I screwed up” admission over the Tom Daschle nomination. On Tuesday's Hardball, following his interview with Obama, Williams relayed how the White House staff was “very proud that the President used three words today that we did not hear in that setting on the record over eight years of the last administration.”
Then, at the start of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Williams adopted the White House line as his own: “Yesterday, in the Oval Office, the President told us in the interview that he 'screwed up.' That's not something we're used to hearing from our President in recent years.”
Brian Williams revealed Wednesday afternoon that in a question he didn't get to with President Obama the day before, he wanted to ask Obama if he is “ever tempted” to start over again with the stimulus bill “and give a stemwinder combination fireside chat/speech to the nation,” just as did Michael Douglas on "the crime bill” in The American President movie, “and just say, 'look, here's what we got to do. I went wrong. It got loaded up. Now we're going to do the real thing?'”
In that 1995 film (IMDb page), in which Douglas played Democratic President “Andrew Shepherd,” after compromising with Congress, he returns to his left-wing sensibilities and, in the climatic point of the movie cheered by liberal film-goers, walks to the press room where he delivers an impassioned lecture -- which earns affirmative nods from the journalists -- praising the ACLU, pushing for extreme action on global warming and promises, in the portion Williams admired, “to get the guns.” President Shepherd:
The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today it no longer exists. I’m throwing it. I’m throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security and I will go door-to-door if I have to but I’m going convince Americans that I’m right and I’m going to get the guns.
Appearing on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, Evening News anchor Katie Couric discussed her White House interview with President Obama regarding the withdrawal of recent cabinet nominees: "He is surprisingly relaxed...extremely comfortable, very focused. It’s very different than sort of the buttoned-up Bush White House...he said to every person who interviewed him...that he ‘screwed up,’ he ‘messed up.’ And I think he really is trying to be the anti-Bush because President Bush was so criticized for never saying, you know, ‘I made a mistake.’" On Tuesday’s Evening News, Couric portrayed Obama as a victim.
Early Show co-host Harry Smith agreed with Couric and pointed out another criticism of the Bush administration: "There was also criticism of too much loyalty." Like Couric, Smith then praised Obama for being the "anti-Bush" and throwing Health and Human Services secretary nominee Tom Daschle under the bus: "...and here was Tom Daschle, who had been his mentor all these-" Couric interjected: "And he's been working on health care, by the way...for many, many months...And really focused on it. You know, President Obama reiterated that he thought Tom Daschle was the right man for the job, it was an honest mistake."
Live-blogging the press briefing. Was scheduled to start at 2:30, it's now 2:38.
Watching on Fox News Channel. May also through up some Tweets @KenShepherd
The archive of official White House press briefings can be found here.
14:45: Still waiting for Gibbs to come out. Fox News has gone to split-screen.
14:52, Gibbs finally underway.
14:54, female reporter notes Judd Gregg connection to Abramoff scandal. 2nd question, is president getting tougher in rhetoric on stimulus?
14:56, same reporter he feels the need to ramp up the rhetoric a bit, why is that?
14:58, male reporter asks if there's any concern the executive pay guideline will backfire, with firms not asking for bailout money b/c of the rules. Also asks if Gibbs can give a "flavor" for what to expect from stimulus negotiations.
15:01, same reporter: Are you worried about it backfiring?
15:02, Ed Henry, CNN with question about president's stance on "buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill.
15:03, Henry asks "what balance" does Obama want "to strike" in buying American and honoring trade commitments.
With each passing day, ABC's failure to speak to and about this issue tarnishes further the network's reputation as a legitimate news entity. I've sent a personal letter to Mr. Westin, calling on him now as President of ABC News, to publicly address and resolve this issue. If the charges are false, provide the evidence. We will gladly accept it and consider the matter closed. If the charges are correct, then ABC News must address this publicly and comprehensively.
Time magazine's Jay Carney moved on to do communications work for Vice President Biden. CNN's Sanjay Gupta has been placed on Obama's short list for U.S. Surgeon General. Former ABC reporter Linda Douglass was an advisor on the Obama campaign and was slated to do PR work for Tom Daschle at HHS. [audio excerpt here]
Those are just three examples of the "media wing of the Democratic Party," MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley told viewers of the February 4 "Fox & Friends."
What's more, the revolving door between journalism and the staffs of liberal politicians is nothing new, Motley added that, "[i]n the first two years of the Clinton administration, 33 journalists joined the Clinton administration, so yes, there's a history of this."
All of the broadcast and cable network anchors challenged President Barack Obama in some questions during their Tuesday afternoon Oval Office interview sessions, but CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams also painted Obama as a victim of Washington's culture which forced HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle's withdrawal. “You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here,” Couric noted as she empathized: “Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?”
Williams noted “you lost two nominees, two appointments today,” so, as if Obama were an uninvolved casualty of unfairness: “Did that make you angry, I imagine?” Echoing Couric, Williams fretted: “How do you prevent the lesson from being that, no matter how lofty the goals of the new guy coming in, Washington wins, in the end?” Maybe it was just following the law and paying a penalty for avoiding taxes which won in the end.
It hardly balances all of the airtime given to liberal proponents of President Obama’s plans for massive government spending as “stimulus,” but an actual network news program actually presented a single story outlining the conservative free-market approach to today’s economic problems. On Saturday’s Good Morning America, ABC correspondent John Hendren examined what he termed “a growing movement among economists, who say the best way out of this recession is to do nothing. Nothing at all.”
Hendren gave three soundbites to Cato economist Dan Mitchell, who pointed out that “government spending doesn’t work very well,” how “bad government policies got us into this mess,” and that while letting the free market run its course might be painful, “we can make that transition much quicker and have a faster and stronger recovery.”
Hendren termed the free market economists “do nothings,” but suggested they may be influential enough to at least block a little of the runaway spending. Hendren told co-anchor Bill Weir: “Now, the do-nothings know they’re going to lose this debate. But they’re hoping to hold down the size of the stimulus. As one economist told me, I can see them cutting $100 billion, and that ain’t chump change. Bill?”
New numbers are out about President Obama's performance and they show that, while most Americans favor the majority of actions he has taken, two of his more controversial decisions are highly unpopular. One of the disputed actions, the closing of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has long been a high-profile issue the media can hardly dodge. But the other, reversing the “Mexico City” policy, has gotten little news coverage. It will be interesting to watch whether they finally report on Mexico City, or even note that Obama has made any unpopular moves.
The mainstream media is still head over heels for our new commander in chief, and he still has honeymoon popularity with the public. But according to a Feb. 1 USA Today/Gallup Poll telephone survey of 1,000 adults, only 35 percent of Americans approved of Obama's decision to overturn the Mexico City Policy, a ban on U.S. funding of overseas family planning groups that promote abortion.
Veteran CBS Radio White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports that President Obama is relaxing more than the dress code at the presidential mansion. Pomp is giving way to piano-bar pop:
On Day One of his presidency, everywhere Mr. Obama went they played "Hail to the Chief" for him – but not since. In fact the U.S. Marine Band's duties at the White House over the last 10 days appear to have been dramatically downsized.
Instead of the usual contingent of trumpets, tubas and drums, a single piano player now provides musical interludes before and after the president's appearance.
And the tunes have little connection to the military marching music of John Phillips Souza [sic] that is the usual accompaniment to presidential appearances. These days the pianist's repertoire includes Cole Porter's "Night and Day" and Sting’s "Desert Rose."
Matt Lauer started his live interview with President Barack Obama, from the White House during NBC's Super Bowl pre-game show, on a light note, “So let me ask you the question that's on everyone's mind right now: How's it going living with your mother-in-law?” And he wondered if Obama now gets to read a story to his daughters “at night, tuck them in bed?”
But the member of a press corps which usually showed more concern for the Bush administration's tactics than the terrorist threat they were meant to avert, empathized with the burden of the “pretty sobering stuff” the new President now learns about: “There are millions, tens of millions of people watching this broadcast right now Mr. President, and if they were to have access to the same information you have now on a daily basis, how much less sleep would we all be getting?” Lauer next pressed Obama as to whether “a substantial number” of service men and women in Iraq “will be home in time for next Super Bowl Sunday?”
Lauer asserted that the House passage of the stimulus bill without one Republican vote “disappointed a lot of people” and he painted a dire picture of the economy, treating the President as an expert economist and giving him an excuse for lack of a recovery. Lauer contended that after watching the Super Bowl, for many people “tomorrow morning...the worry's going to start again and they're going to worry about losing their jobs and their homes and putting their kids through school and making ends meet. How much worse is the economy going to get, Mr. President, before it gets better?”