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?”
Several years ago, the Media Research Center joined with then-Cato economist Stephen Moore (now with the Wall Street Journal) on a book “Dollars and Nonsense” debunking the news media’s top ten economic myths. First on the list was the canard that government spending and deficits stimulate the economy, a premise demolished in an essay written by the Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman.
But as President Obama and the Democrats push a big government spending package that promises to “stimulate” the economy, journalists are once again accepting the idea that such spending can really cause the economy to grow. “How soon will jobs show up? And what kind of jobs?” ABC’s Diane Sawyer eagerly asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday’s Good Morning America.
NBC reporter John Yang also presupposed that the spending plan would boost economic growth. “The recession Mr. Obama inherited is deepening,”Yang intoned on the January 24 Nightly News. “And as the urgency for the stimulus package grows, the president promised the money would be spent carefully.”
As Milton Friedman pointed out, the government can only get the dollars it spends in one of three ways: taxing, borrowing, or creating new money. Taxing and borrowing take from the economy, essentially canceling out the effects of the spending or worse. Creating new money amounts to monetary stimulus, which could boost economic activity whether the new money is spent by government or by the private sector.
CNN's Campbell Brown isn't happy with what Rush Limbaugh said about her colleague Ali Velshi Friday, and has invited the conservative radio host to debate him on her program.
As some background, Velshi was on Brown's "No Bias, No Bull" show Thursday and claimed: "This is not the economy that Ronald Reagan ever saw or anybody with the last name Bush ever saw, or Clinton. We have not seen anything like this in our lifetime."
After the fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product numbers were released Friday showing a much lower-than-expected decline, Limbaugh took issue with what Velshi said the night before:
Mr. Velshi, you are incompetent. You are a disservice to your business, except you fit right in at CNN. Disinformation, character assaults. This economy is nowhere near as bad as it was in 1982.
Brown took issue with this Friday evening (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, file photo):
Two nights after the CBS Evening News commiserated with President Obama over his unrewarded efforts to win Republican House votes for the “stimulus” plan as Chip Reid chafed over how “Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support,” Friday's newscast provided the first broadcast network rundown of the ineffective spending provisions to which GOP Congressmen objected. Fill-in anchor Harry Smith noted: “The Republicans' biggest complaint about the stimulus bill is it just gives Democrats an excuse to make government bigger. Wyatt Andrews says the examples are not hard to find.”
Reporter Wyatt Andrews began: “If you are one of those taxpayers who does not want to spend $25 million to repair ATV trails, or $150 million for agricultural losses like damaged beehives, then you'll understand why no Republican supported the stimulus in the House and why most Republicans are trashing it in the Senate.” Andrews related how “Congressman Eric Cantor says around one-fourth of the stimulus spending will never go away,” such as “$15 billion for Pell grants.” Andrews pointed out “anything that Congress couldn't afford before -- $50 million to support the arts, or $70 million to help people stop smoking -- has found its way into the stimulus now.”
Showing that Barack Obama is fighting for the common man, on Friday’s CBS Early Show correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the President’s reaction to big bonuses on Wall Street: "For a man who prides himself on being cool, this was a rare flash of anger, if planned. A tongue-lashing directly from the Oval Office, which is indicating now they will look to change the rules if Wall Street doesn't itself."
Glor explained: "...firms gave out $18.4 billion in bonuses to New York-based employees last year, the same year the Dow Jones caved in 33%. And yes, a lot of the bonus money came from T.A.R.P. government bailout funds, taxpayer dollars." There was no mention of the fact that then Senator Obama was a strong supporter of the bailout.
At the top of the show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "Target Wall Street. An angry President Obama lashes out at bonuses worth nearly $20 billion." Co-host Harry Smith introduced Glor’s report in a similar fashion: "In our series ‘Red, White, and Greed,’ President Obama chastising Wall Street for paying itself big bonuses while the economy and the banking industry tanked."
The mainstream media hasn't bothered to hide its infatuation with President Obama. They get physical thrills at the sound of his voice. His inauguration caused them to reach for religious imagery. Now that he's in the White House, they want us to know us what a breath of cultural fresh air he is - more informal, healthier and family-centered. Unwittingly, though, they're also showing a man who listens to hateful rap music, scarfs fatty foods and doesn't practice what he preaches on environmental responsibility.
Take for example the fluffy pieces that closed ABC and NBC's Jan. 29 evening news programs. On "Nightly News," Brian Williams gave nearly three minutes to the new White House dress code. "It was an article in this morning's New York Times that told the wider world what folks in Washington were already buzzing about," Williams said, "the change in style surrounding the Obama White House."
Obama has relaxed the "jacket required" policy of President Bush's Oval Office, and has been photographed at his desk in shirtsleeves. The reason? He keeps the Oval Office very warm.
Over on ABC, reporter Jake Tapper also noted the temperature change as part of his larger report on the president's typical day. "America's first Hawaiian-born president keeps the Oval Office warm causing economic advisor Larry Summers to break out in occasional sweat."
After years of agitation over what they saw as President George W. Bush's self-righteous moral certitude, journalists on Thursday night embraced President Barack Obama's vilification of those working for Wall Street firms who got a bonus last year. “Shameful,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased his newscast, “that's how President Obama labels those Wall Street types paying themselves big bonuses while getting billions in tax dollars.” Reporter Chuck Todd referred to how Obama was “channeling his inner populist” as he “got upset about something that the public has been angry about for weeks.”
CBS's Katie Couric led with how “we found out what it takes to get Barack Obama angry,” that “employees of financial companies in New York collected nearly $18.5 billion in bonuses last year” and “the President called it 'shameful.'” Chip Reid related how “the President told advisors the anger rose straight from his gut” before Reid relayed that another liberal politician, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, “said the President's remarks are 'a welcome breath of fresh air.'”
The Radio Equalizer blog just broke the news that “a group of Obamists headed by MoveOn.org are planning an anti-Rush Limbaugh attack radio ad campaign.” The radio spots, “set to begin tomorrow [Friday] on stations nationwide,” are “designed to put pressure on GOP moderates in the U.S. Senate who might be inclined to follow the lead of their House counterparts” who unanimously voted against President Obama's “stimulus” package.
Radio Equalizer's Brian Maloney has the transcript of the attack ad, which ends:
NARRATOR: Now the Obama plan goes to the Senate. And the question is: Will our Senator, (insert name here), side with Rush Limbaugh too?
LIMBAUGH: I HOPE HE FAILS!
NARRATOR: Or, will he reject the partisanship and failed economic policies of the past, and stand up for the people of (state).
Call Senator (insert name here) now at (202) 224-3121. Tell him he represents you, not Rush Limbaugh.
In his daily press briefing earlier today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at a question by conservative-leaning WCBM Radio host Les Kinsolving as "far afield" from a question posed just a moment earlier on the February 17 nationwide conversion to digital television (DTV).
Other reporters could be heard scoffing Kinsolving as well as the embedded video shows. Relevant transcript below (emphasis mine):
LES KINSOLVING, WCBM Radio: Can I follow that up?
ROBERT GIBBS, White House Press Secretary: Yes sir.
KINSOLVING: Thank you, so much. A number of Democrats in Congress want to restore the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which, before it was repealed applied only to electronic media and not to any print media-
GIBBS: Lester, I thought we were talking about DTV.
Brent Bozell and others have asked if the ascent of President Obama will drain the swamp of hip-hop hate. In an interview with our news hounds at CNSNews.com (complete with video), hip-hop mogul and Obama supporter Russell Simmons suggested that hatred of the police and government continues, and he still doesn't see anything wrong with cop-killer anthems:
"Some people still see the suffering and the ignorance in the communities and the lack of opportunity – educational opportunity – lack of funding for health care and these things," said Simmons, "or if they still feel the police are an occupying force, they make a good song. My favorite song is ‘F--- tha Police.’ Right? Listen, I’m old. I like that song."
Simmons told CNSNews.com: "I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anything they said. They are not saying anything that’s not true."
"What’s worse than the liberal media’s sycophantic coverage of President Barack Obama? ABC’s George Stephanopoulos actively helping design and deliver the Administration’s strategy and message - which he is then charged with reporting."
That was MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell's reaction to Tuesday's report by Politico that the "This Week" anchor has daily strategy and message chats with former Clinton administration alumni: Rahm Emanuel -- Obama's White House chief of staff -- and CNN pundits Paul Begala and James Carville.
“For Stephanopoulos, the line between journalist and liberal strategist would be completely obliterated were it not for the fact that it apparently never existed at all. He didn’t fail in his attempt at transformation from liberal operative to journalist – he never made the effort," Bozell concluded.
Moments later, we got our first clue as the conservative talk radio host was interviewed by CNBC's Erin Burnett and Mark Haines.
UPDATE: Better functioning video now embedded; bonus "Fox & Friends" interview video also added at end of post.
Most fascinating, Burnett, who has come across as left of center and pro-Obama, seemed much more interested in Limbaugh's views on this issue than Haines who not only has always struck me as conservative, but has also been quite hostile to Obama's economic positions as well as all the government spending since the financial crisis began last September (video embedded below the fold, full transcript available here):
While discussing Rush Limbaugh’s opposition to the Obama administration’s massive spending bill on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked author Ann Coulter: "But don't you think that right now is not -- it behooves the Republicans to be a little bit more in the middle? I mean, what are -- they're not -- their voices aren't going to be heard anyway, as we saw with this economic stimulus plan...So doesn't it behoove them to be more bipartisan and meet in the middle?" Coulter did not feel "behooved": "I think it's just the reverse. I mean, we just ran John McCain, we are so sick of being in the middle."
The segment actually began with co-host Harry Smith trying to offer a fair assessment of Limbaugh’s comments about wanting President Obama to "fail": "I think if you listen to what Rush Limbaugh has said, 'I want him to fail,' he wants big government to fail...He wants certain things that are especially involved in this stimulus package to fail. I don't think he's sitting there saying 'as an American citizen, I want the presidency and the country to fail.’" Coulter agreed: "That's exactly right. In fact, I put it sort of the reverse way. I said, yes, of course, I want him to succeed, but that means he'll govern as a conservative...I sort of admire Rush's verve for switching it around that way." However, co-host Julie Chen wondered: "Oh, you admire that he put it that way? Don't you think it's a little bit irresponsible for him to put it that way?"
Updated (14:17 p.m. EST): Checking back at the site a few minutes ago, the Obama White House now has a press briefings section with the Briefing Room portion of the site. You can find it here.
This morning I discovered that the Obama administration's WhiteHouse.gov is indeed transcribing and maintaining its daily press briefings featuring Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Of course you pretty much have to know where to find them since there's no link to an archive section from either the main page or the "Briefing Room" page.
By entering "press briefing" in the search field, I got a hit for the first Gibbs press briefing on January 22, 2009. The link is as follows:
Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $825 billion “stimulus” package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republican votes. “Not one Republican voted for it,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News with “Rescue Plan” as the on-screen heading, “turning a cold shoulder to the President's appeal for bipartisan support.” Reporter Jonathan Karl fretted: “So much for the President's charm offensive. Today it was all partisan rancor and name-calling.”
CBS reporter Chip Reid related how “the White House says this is a victory for the President, but certainly there is also some disappointment that he worked so hard to get bipartisan support and couldn't get a single Republican vote.” Reid soon chafed over how “Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support.” Katie Couric noted how “the President went up to the Hill to personally appeal to Republicans already,” so, she pleaded, “what more can he do?”
NewsBusters and the Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham are not the only critics of the Obama administration for its failure to transcribe, publish and archive the daily press briefings held by press secretary Robert Gibbs.
A Web site called WhiteHousePressCorps.org is running a graphic at the top of its main page which reads, "Waiting on the official release of the 1/22/2009 Press Briefing transcript for" followed by a ticker counting up from January 22. You can also track them on Twiter @whpresscorps.
The site, which features archives of White House press gaggle and briefing transcripts dating back to February 2006, describes itself as "an independent media watchdog source providing information and commentary on the relationship between the press and the White House" that is not affiliated with the White House Correspondents' Association.
Here's how the guys at WHPC reacted to a carefully excerpted press briefing posted to the WhiteHouse.gov site on Monday:
It looks like President Obama hasn't gotten acquainted to his White House surroundings. On the way back to the Oval Office Tuesday, the President approached a paned window, instead of the actual door -- located a few feet to his right.
Doors didn't open automatically for Obama’s predecessor either. While making a hasty exit from a 2005 press conference in Beijing, former President George W. Bush tugged on the handles of a door, only to find it locked.
Bush laughed off the blunder, but the pictures still live on as part of Bush's lame duck legacy. However, there was little note taken of Obama's rookie mistake.
Wednesday’s Good Morning America led into an interview with House Republican Leader John Boehner about the massive Democratic “stimulus” package with a deluge of horror stories about the awful economy: an elderly man who froze to death after failing to pay his power bills; a new report declaring the need for $2 trillion in new infrastructure spending; and an unemployed man who killed his family and himself.
“You know this situation -- you don't need me to tell you about it, we hear about job losses being reported every day,” news anchor Chris Cuomo told viewers, “so the pressure is on lawmakers” to “get past the age-old battle over tax cuts versus spending” and pass the massive spending bill. Making it perfectly obvious which side he’s on, Cuomo declared “a promising signal for all of us” that Boehner seemed to come out of a meeting with President Obama “looking to make a deal.”
But the economic horror stories that ABC pushed prior to showing the interview with Boehner (taped Tuesday afternoon) all contain significant omissions. The “unregulated” power company being blamed for the elderly man’s death is owned by the local government, not some greedy capitalist utility. The new report arguing for massive spending on roads and bridges was released two months early to influence the stimulus vote. And the man who tragically killed his family did not lose his job because of cost-cutting or anything related to the economy, but after being investigated for possible fraud.
At the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer declared: "Hubert Humphrey once said the 1964 Civil Rights Act was America's single most effective foreign policy initiative. It had nothing to do with foreign policy, but it told the world who we wereand what we stood for and that our system was about fairness and equal treatment and that it worked. I thought about that when Barack Obama announced that torture would never be part of our national policy."
Schieffer continued to praise Obama as well as the president’s world view: "With a simple declaration, President Obama told the world our system of government is so strong we don't need to torture people to survive. That is the way of those who would destroy us. But that is not us. We have found a better way. That is what our message to the world must be. More importantly, that is what we want our children to know. When we were admired and respected by others, we are far more secure than any weapon can ever make us."
A Minnesotan who voted in November for Barack Obama recently wrote NewsBusters thanking us for our reporting on how the Obama administration has thus far failed to transcribe, publish, and archive on whitehouse.gov its daily press briefings.
Writes Andrea Dvorak of St. Paul:
My politics are certainly left of center; I voted for Obama and couldn't be happier that he's our president now. (Part of why I started reading the press briefings back in 2002 was to keep tabs on some of the less well publicized actions of former president Bush.) But just because I think I'll like most of Obama's policies doesn't mean I'm comfortable letting his Press office decide what I find out about what the US press is asking his administration. I count on the press to investigate ANY administration and ask tough questions. If I don't know what they're asking, I'm significantly less informed about my government.
Did interviewer Hisham Melhem of al-Arabiya TV offer Barack Obama the Arab version of "Hardball with Chris Matthews"? After the interview was finished, Melhem talked to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic and crowed about how superior Obama is to George Bush:
A president named Barack Hussein Obama sees the world differently from a president named George W. Bush, in part because of his biography, in part because of intellect. He senses that maybe America is less Western-centric than it used to be. The world is no longer Europe and North America.
Can you construct a sillier straw man than to suggest George Bush doesn’t realize the West needs to engage the Arab world? Goldberg tried to suggest skepticism, that Obama’s Middle East policy resembles Bush’s in some ways, but Melhem wouldn’t agree, boastfully selling the current Obama line that he’s too progressive and Muslim-friendly to be pushed into a Bush mold:
Marveling on Monday's Late Show about how people were lining up during the inauguration “to buy merchandise with any depiction” of President Barack Obama, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams expressed his pleasure at seeing so many people “that excited about our new chief executive after a line of what the ordinary voter would maybe describe as bad choices or choices of evils, for years, generations.”
All the Presidents going back for “generations” before Obama were “evil”? Williams likely meant to say past presidential victors were seen as the “lesser of two evils,” but a greater percent of voters cast their ballot for Ronald Reagan in 1984 (58.7%) -- when plenty of Americans outside the media were excited about re-electing that President -- and George Bush in 1988 (53.7%) than chose Obama (52.8%).
Williams soon insisted “none” of his personal excitement over Obama's presidency “is about a party” since, he quite seriously maintained, “none of us have a party in my line of work. We all try to call balls and strikes down the center.” Yet, Williams proceeded to trumpet how “we have a dazzling family in the White House. I don't think they take a bad picture” and tout how Obama “has an enormous brain. He's a hugely capable man.” Then, the “down the center” Williams endorsed Obama's “stimulus” plan: “If we can rebuild the United States, which everybody agrees it needs doing, and put these people to work, use that trillion dollars to help fellow citizens who are going to have it rough in these coming months and years...”
If you had any questions remaining about the war liberals have launched to end conservative talk radio they should be answered by a petition the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began "to show Rush Limbaugh and all of the Republicans what they're up against if they start attacking President Obama."
On Monday, the MRC's Brent Bozell warned Americans that Obama's statement to Republican Congressional leaders last Friday advising them to stop listening to Limbaugh was "just an opening salvo from the new administration in the war to stifle conservative talk radio and could soon be followed by a concerted effort to resurrect the so-called Fairness Doctrine."
Bozell was clearly prescient, for hours later the DCCC posted the following at its website (h/t NBer Blazer):