Once again I'm going to live-blog the daily press briefing. I'll be focused on the reporters' questions, not so much Gibbs's answers. I also caution this is a rough transcript and may contain errors. I hope to render as accurate a depiction as possible of the questions asked and who's asking them.
As a little twist, I'll also try Twittering some comments on my Twitter page, @KenShepherd.
The presser was scheduled for 3:45 p.m. ET, but is late getting off the ground. Gibbs entering room at 3:53 p.m. ET
15:54 Gibbs gives announcements including week-ahead schedule "better late than never" he adds.
15:54, female reporter: Did the president come away with any specific reason to think Republicans will support the stimulus? Was there anything he agreed to put in the bill to get Republican support?
15:58, same reporter with followup, says way Gibbs describes it makes it sound like Obama is arguing for the status quo stimulus bill, not getting changes to it.
15:59, Bill Plante: It seems more aspirational. Public comments we hear are more predictable. Republicans accuse Dems of it being too larded up, Democrats say there's too much tax cuts... I don't hear enough from either side that there's compromise in the works.
Catching up on an item from Friday night, the three broadcast evening newscasts aired virtually nothing on January 23 about President Obama’s executive order permitting federal funding of abortions, overturning orders signed by President Bush in his first week in office back in 2001. Both CBS and NBC’s White House reporters squeezed in a single sentence about Obama’s action during stories about the economic stimulus bill, while ABC’s World News said nothing about the orders on Friday.
But on Sunday’s World News, ABC’s Dan Harris highlighted conservative criticism of Obama’s abortion decision, arguing that it showed how “despite his desire to reach out to people who disagree with him, the new President may find that on some issues, it may be impossible to find common ground.” Correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi also painted the President -- whom she said hoped “not to provoke” conservatives by banning photographs of the signing -- the victim of a “brutal” reaction from conservatives:
Checking out the official Web page for the Obama administration today, I noticed that the White House has removed the "pool reports" entry from the "Briefing Room" lineup roughly six days after the White House press corps made clear it would not fork over the pool reports to the White House. The page itself, which of course lacks any pool reports, is still accessible here.
As of noon this 27th day of January -- the 7th of the brilliant glory of the Obama era -- the daily press briefings are still lacking on whitehouse.gov. See my January 23 blog post about that here.
Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham added her thoughts in a post to her magazine's blog yesterday, noting that the absence of press briefings is a continuation of the Obama's online communication strategy which was "built for message control, not openness" (emphasis mine):
For 8 years, life was good and easy for the liberal political cartoon community--they had George W. Bush & Dick Cheney to kick around. With hardly a care in the world, they boldly spoke truth to power, at immense personal risk to themselves, and quietly stacked their Pulitzers for being so bold and courageous and funny.
Then along came Barack Obama--the cool, handsome, African-American incarnation of JFK & Abraham Lincoln (no less). What were the professional sketch satirists to do?
"I had all my villains in place for eight years and they've been taken away," lamented Pulitzer Prize winner Pat Oliphant, one of the most widely syndicated cartoonists. "I don't know that I've ever had this experience before, of a president I maybe like. This is an antagonistic art. We're supposed to concentrate on finding things wrong. There's no point in drawing a cartoon that's favorable."
Less than a week after suggesting Republicans had "lost their cojones" after confirming Hillary Clinton for secretary of state, on Monday, MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell wondered: "Does President Barack Obama finally have the cojones, that some Democrats haven't had in the past, in saying to other Republicans ‘you don't have to listen to Rush Limbaugh?’" Democratic strategist Penny Lee agreed with O’Donnell and replied: "Enough with this politics of personal destruction. Let us get back to business and you don't have to listen to the extremes on either side."
O’Donnell also spoke with Republican strategist Phil Musser and asked: "...what out does it give the Republican Party to have Rush Limbaugh out there saying, who is the voice of many conservatives, that he hopes the president fails. I mean, that's kind of lame, isn't it?" Musser responded: "He is raising some legitimate issues in the context of what some would characterize as maybe impolitic language, but that's his business." However, he later attacked Limbaugh: "...the Republican Party is now the minority party and in a lot of ways, we're back to throwing the bombs from the sidelines... And that's one of the things that I think Rush Limbaugh is stepping up to try to capitalize on."
Later in segment, O’Donnell attempted to portray Obama’s comments about Limbaugh as political savvy:
O’DONNELL: But isn't this exactly the kind of fight that Obama wants to have? Don't fight with the Republicans in the House, don't fight with the Republicans in the Senate, because you have to work with them. But find somebody like a Rush Limbaugh, who they can argue is on the fringe, and fight with him, score points with your base and not lose out with the Republicans that you need?
At the end of Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, commentator Andy Rooney did some of his usual thinking out loud, praising Barack Obama: "I've lived through the election of a lot of American presidents -- more than ten, I think -- and about half the people I knew at the time hated one or the other of the two candidates...Maybe I'm reading the wrong newspapers and listening to the wrong people, but I'm not hearing anyone who hates Barack Obama." Perhaps Rooney should stop listening to his own network’s fawning Obama coverage and consult the 46% of the country that did not vote for the Democratic president.
Rooney touted some of the president’s early decisions: "I think we've got ourselves a really good president with a funny name...Obama has frozen the salaries of people in the White House who are making more than $100,000...Obama has put limits on lobbyists who infest Washington. He reversed Bush's policy of making it hard to get information out of our government through the Freedom of Information Act." Rooney concluded his fawning by declaring: "Obama just looks good every time he does anything."
Update/Closing thoughts (14:34): Hearst columnist Helen Thomas continues to make a cartoon of herself in her using her perch to parrot ultra-left-wing talking points. Her question today was on why President Obama wants to send troops into Afghanistan to "kill more people."Without doubt it was the loopiest left-wing question posed today. Oddly enough, given her history of bias, one of the best queries today came from April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, who questioned the wisdom of pegging hopes of economic recovery on so-called "green jobs."
About to live-blog the White House daily press briefing. I'm focusing chiefly on the questions from the journalists. I'm watching via Fox News.
13:42: Gibbs: our e-mail system isn't working so well, apologizes for that to press corps.
Questions from reporters follow:
13:44, female reporter: Can you describe a little more fully about Amb. Rice's comments on mid-east diplomacy
13:45, female reporter: So you can't say when the diplomacy [with Iran] will begin or how?
13:46, Chuck Todd, NBC News: When are you guys going to announce a housing plan? Where is the money? Is it part of TARP?
13:47,Todd's followup: Does that mean it will not be part of the $350 billion?
13:48, Todd: Going to encourage banks to lend more?
Bill Steigerwald of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the first interview with author and former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg about his brand new book. You'll love the title: "A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media."
The book goes on sale Monday, and Goldberg named two journalists as the most embarrassing pro-Obama partisans in the media: MSNBC's eternally thrilled Chris Matthews, and The Washington Post's "chiseled pectorals" correspondent, Eli Saslow.
Here's how Goldberg summed the book up: "This is not a book about the same old media bias. This time journalists cross a very bright line. This time they stopped being witnesses to history and they were intent on helping to shape history. They moved from media bias to media activism. In my whole life I have never seen the media get on board for one candidate the way they did this time around and -- this is very important -- they did it without even a hint of embarrassment."
The George Soros-fundedClinton front-groupThink Progress expressed disappointment Sunday that conservative journalists who attended a dinner party with Barack Obama a few weeks ago haven't abandoned their political principles and become bleeding-heart liberals.
I kid you not.
Readers are forewarned to remove all food and fluids from their computer's proximity, for this is some truly hilarious stuff:
But I'm being coy here. We all know what people mean when they say Obama is a "literary" president—and, sadly, it has less to do with our widely beloved new leader than it does with the apparently unloved man he replaced: George W. Bush. Bush became the poster president for the non-literary set, for people who not only don't read, but also seem to be rather proud of not reading. Reading, to certain people, is classified as a sort of prissy, fussy, sissified activity, equivalent to daydreaming or lollygagging. It's a sign of elitism. Of having too much leisure time and too little drive.
Yet shortly before Bush left office, his closest adviser—Karl Rove, now a columnist for the Wall Street Journal—made a shocking revelation: Bush, it turns out, reads. He reads a lot. Two books a week, in fact. That, anyway, is the claim.
That George W. Bush reads would be a "shocking revelation" only to someone whose bias is so pervasive that he - or in this instance, she - spent little time researching the question.
In his first few days as President, Barack Obama issued decrees concerning a terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, abortion, and apparently told Congressional Republicans who they should and shouldn't listen to.
Yet, according to the Associated Press, "he mostly avoided divisive partisan and ideological stands."
It only took a few hours for President Barack Obama to go back on his executive order concerning the imposition of stricter limits on lobbyists that wish to work for the White House, and CNN's Campbell Brown is quite displeased.
Not only did she begin Friday's "No Bias, No Bull" voicing her disgust about "the Obama administration now [wanting] a waiver to its own rule," but she also wrote a commentary about the matter which was published at CNN.com later that evening.
For what it's worth Campbell, I'm impressed (video and transcript below the fold, h/t NB reader Patrick, file photo):
While most mainstream media outlets continue to ignore racist statements made by Obama economic adviser Robert Reich two weeks ago, CNN's Lou Dobbs not only played them for his viewers Friday, but also pointed out the absurdity of the comments as well as the shameful way the press boycotted them.
Despite Reich's January 7 remarks about stimulus spending and "white male construction workers" having been revealed Thursday morning by a number of conservative websites including NewsBusters, Dobbs was one of the few "journalists" who seemed offended enough about what was said to shed some light on the subject (video embedded below the fold courtesy our dear friend MsUnderestimated):
Sean Hannity debuted his “Media Mash” segment Friday night on his FNC show with NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham as the guest expert to comment on a series of clips, most familiar to NB readers, of the most sycophantic inaugural coverage. Under the “Morning Bias” heading, Hannity ran a bunch of sappy pro-Obama clips from Tuesday coverage, all of which NewsBusters has showcased:
ABC and CBS on Friday night delivered glowing assessments of President Barack Obama's first three days in office, with ABC's George Stephanopoulos declaring “this first week was disciplined and strategic” enabling “sweeping change.” Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer pronounced: “Change the tone and change it at warp speed.” CBS's Bob Schieffer relayed how “I think he's off to a very good start” and marveled at how -- given “the severity of the problems” -- any “human” could “live up to the expectations,” yet Obama “has laid out an ambitious program” and by closing Guantanamo and deciding to “outlaw torture” he “has told the world that we will practice what we preach.”
Admiring how Obama's discipline is meant to demonstrate he's “moving on all fronts to bring change,” Stephanopoulos trumpeted how on day one and day two he's used executive orders to bring “sweeping change to open government,” “sweeping change in foreign policy” and “then day three, today, two promises kept.”
In a rare instance of critical coverage of the Obama administration on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman about Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay: "I'm not sure if you've seen the New York Times this morning. On the front page there is an article that reveals that a terror suspect released from Guantanamo a few months ago...is now heading up Al Qaeda in Yemen. I'm wondering if this makes you less inclined Representative Harman, to support closing down the prison?"
Harman actually doubted the credibility of the usually left-wing newspaper: "Not at all. Obviously,if that allegation is true and if this fellow has now become a key Al Qaeda operative, that's shocking and disappointing." Harman went on to argue: "But there is really no justification, and there was no justification, for disappearing people in a place that was located offshore America so it was outside the reach of U.S. law. As President Obama said two days ago, there's a false choice between our safety and our values." Rodriguez then turned to Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra: "It all sounds great, but Representative Hoekstra you said yesterday that's placing 'hope ahead of reality,' right?"
"So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause."
Such was ominously stated by the fictional character Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) in "Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith" as she watched Emperor Palpatine tell a cheering Senate that he had taken all power away from them to form a Galactic Empire (h/t NBer bradbenj5952).
As the film was released in May 2005 shortly after George W. Bush's second inauguration, there were many in the media who saw a parallel between the events depicted and what was going on in our nation.
Yet, if you watch this scene now, given what transpired during the presidential campaign last year and the cheering masses at Tuesday's inauguration, mightn't this have been a rather prescient foreshadowing of events in the future (video embedded below the fold):
As a search of whitehouse.gov caches through the site archive.org shows, the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations often featured transcripts of their daily press briefings easily accessible on the Web site. In the case of the Bush administration, this writer can attest that transcripts of daily briefings often appeared within a few hours after having concluded.
But, as the Obama White House page declares, "Change Has Come to America," with the new administration failing to have a place on the White House Web page for daily press briefings.
The redesigned Web home for the Obama administration went live at noon on Tuesday, and contains a "Briefing Room" page that contains seven sections, including a blog, a weekly video address archive, and an archive for press pool reports, but no section for the daily press briefings.
What's more, the press pool reports section as of Friday at 10:45 a.m. ET remains empty and may ultimately end up being scrapped. As Washington Post's Anne Kornblut reported yesterday on the paper's Web site, the White House press corps is rather possessive of its pool reports and won't make them available to the White House for publication:
Conservative author Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity's former liberal co-host Alan Colmes were Dr. Phil's guests Thursday, and an astounding thing happened: the crowd seemed to like Coulter more than Colmes.
I kid you not.
The topics up for discussion were Barack Obama, the presidential campaign, and the media, and whenever Coulter said anything, the crowd applauded loudly.
Maybe even more delicious when Dr. Phil introduced former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan the audience booed (video embedded below the fold courtesy our dear friend MsUnderestimated, file photo):
CNN's Campbell Brown on Thursday night framed a panel segment around Rush Limbaugh's comment that he wishes President Obama will fail if success means implementing socialist policies, a remark she characterized as matching his usual “outrageous” outbursts and which “has a lot of people crying foul out there.” Guest Mark Halperin, editor-at-large and senior political analyst for Time magazine and the former political director at ABC News, then denounced Limbaugh as “off-key” from the “mainstream media” and “congressional Republicans” -- as it that's a bad thing -- and thus declared expressing the view “a big mistake.”
Brown played a clip of Rush Limbaugh telling FNC's Sean Hannity that he wants President Obama to fail, as Limbaugh wondered: “If his agenda is a far-left, collectivism -- some people say socialism -- as a conservative...why would I want socialism to succeed?” As if that were some sort of over the line concept, Brown asserted “outrageous [is] Limbaugh's stock and trade, but this has a lot of people crying foul out there.”
A lot of people in what Limbaugh dubs the “drive-by” media, apparently, as Halperin scolded Limbaugh for straying from the establishment's party line:
Thursday’s CBS Early Show focused on an important aspect of the Obama Administration as co-host Julie Chen declared: "...in a meeting yesterday with senior White House staffers, President Obama showed a lot of love. That's right. The president is a man hugger. We counted nine man-to-man hugs." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez added: "Nothing wrong with that."
Chen then asked co-host Harry Smith: "Man of the show, Harry, how do you feel about the man hug?" Smith replied: "I think it's real." Rodriguez asked Smith: "Did he [Obama] ever man hug you?" Smith then recounted: "You know, I got one about a year ago in Wilmington, North Carolina. We were waiting for an interview, we had, you know, really great access. And he came in -- I have never told this story on the air before -- he came in, and he gives me one of these [Smith grasped Rodriguez’s hand and place his other hand on top]...and he says, ‘Harry Smith, how you doing, my brother?’" Rodriguez was touched: "Awww...He had you."
The New York Times celebrated Obama's presidency Inauguration Night at a hip location in the already painfully hip Lower East Side of Manhattan. Reid Pillifant, blogging for the New York Observer, filed the day after Tuesday night's NYT party at the New Museum on the Bowery, a Twitter-ific shindig co-sponsored by Facebook:
Last night at the New Museum on the Bowery, a crowd of left-behind New Yorkers gathered to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama. The party, sponsored by The New York Times, attracted not the hoped-for celebrities (it was rumored that Moby, Dave Matthews, andIsaac Mizrahi would be attending), but rather the crowd of young Internet scenesters who seem to show up, like moths to a flame, at every media open bar party in town (who knows how long that gravy train will last?)
Pillifant noticed the Times had its own take on Obama's famous "O" emblem:
On Wednesday, part one of Sean Hannity's interview with Rush Limbaugh was aired on the Fox News Channel, and amongst other things, they discussed a term the conservative talk radio host coined years ago:
The Drive-By Media. It's a like a drive-by shooter except the microphones are the guns, and they drive into groups of people they report a bunch of totally wrong libelous stuff about people. They create a giant mess. Sometimes people get really harmed. They go out and try to destroy people's careers. Then they get in the convertible, head on down the road and do it all over again, while people like you and me are left to clean up the mess with the truth. So I call them the Drive-By Media.
As Hannity chuckled, Limbaugh elaborated (partial video embedded below the fold, full transcript and video available here):
A rather astounding statement was made a few weeks ago by an economic adviser to Barack Obama that went completely ignored by America's press: "I am concerned, as I'm sure many of you are, that these jobs [hopefully being created by government spending] not simply go to high skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers."
Such was uttered by Robert Reich, the former Clinton Administration Secretary of Labor, during a January 7 House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee meeting attended by high-ranking Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Despite huge attention given this hearing from a wide range of press outlets not one mentioned Reich's racist comments (video and partial transcript below the fold):
ABC's World News on Wednesday night used limited news time to feature a silly piece with soundbites from naive kids around the world sputtering beauty pageant-like simplicities about how President Barack Obama will bring “world peace” and inspires them to say “yes, we can!” Reporter Jim Sciutto touted how “we heard children around the world expressing hope and fascination with the new American President.” Viewers heard a boy in Russia yearn for “peace, democracy and friendship” and a girl in the United Arab Emirates assert “he's interested in giving peace to the world and stopping wars,” all before a boy from Indonesia promised: “He's going to change the world and make world peace.” From Gaza, a kid hoped Obama will “prevent Israel from attacking us.”
From Pakistan, Sciutto relayed, “hope for an American President with a Muslim father.” A boy then wished “he can make the citizens of the U.S. recognize that we, not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims.” And what story on foreign reaction would be complete without input from France? A French girl: “I think that he may stop the war in Iraq. At least I hope he will.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith aired an interview he did with photojournalist Scout Tufankjian, who has followed Barack Obama since 2006: "Two years and some one million photographs later, Tufankjian's first book, 'Yes We Can.' She was the only independent photojournalist to cover the Obama campaign from start to finish."
Smith asked Tufankjian: "And had you ever met anybody like him before?" Tufankjian responded: "No.You can be so sick of him, and, you know, having heard the same speech and you're tired, you haven't slept, and I haven't seen my boyfriend in six weeks, and I haven't had a decent meal in ages, and I'm crabby and I'm angry and he smiles at you and it just kind of knocks you over."
Tufankjian also explained her motivation for the book: "For people, years from now, I want them to see this is -- this is what this moment in history was like this is how it felt. This is how I saw it...[Obama supporters] thought this guy's going to be president, he's going to change my life, he's going to change my kids' life, he is going to change the country."