While reporting on President Obama forcing General Motors CEO Richard Wagoner to resign, on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith happily declared: "It's the end of the road for GM's CEO, Rick Wagoner, ousted by President Obama as the White House demands more from the U.S. auto industry...we saw Bob Schieffer's interview with Barack Obama Sunday Morning and he said we need more from the auto industry. And the more was that Rick Wagoner, whose head went rolling off the guillotine, he is no longer the CEO of General Motors." Little criticism of Obama’s decision was offered during the coverage.
Later, Smith talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about that interview: "Can you remember in your lifetime when a President could reach into a private company and say, ‘you don't have a job anymore’?" Schieffer replied: "Well, we haven't had it in the past where the government owned as much of a company as the government now owns of these auto dealers...This was to let people know that he [Obama] takes seriously their concerns. I mean, he was very clear in the interview, as you heard in the sound bite there, that Bill Plante used, things are going to have to change." Smith observed: "And I've got to imagine if you're sitting in a boardroom in a bank in the United States right now, you're wondering about if you might be next with all of the money that's come your way already."
ABC on Sunday night jumped to beat the other networks with the news that a judge in Spain may issue arrest warrants charging several former Bush administration officials with violating the Convention Against Torture. World News Sunday anchor Dan Harris announced: “Six former high level officials of the Bush administration are being targeted tonight by a court in, of all places, Spain. This court is considering whether to open a criminal investigation into allegations that the six officials gave legal cover for the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.”
Narrating off-camera from London, reporter Hilary Brown began with how “the six officials named in the case include Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General who famously described parts of the Geneva Convention as 'quaint' and 'obsolete.'” She outlined the case: “The Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzon, says he has the right to prosecute American officials because four Spanish citizens formerly held at Guantanamo say they were tortured there. And Garzon says the U.S. officials broke international law, specifically, the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which the U.S. signed.”
Brown conceded it's unlikely any arrest warrant would be enforced by the U.S., but she saw a benefit, nonetheless, as she suggested “this case may end up putting pressure on the Obama administration to open its own investigation, something it has resisted so far.”
Barack Obama promised to elevate the level of political discourse. Some of his apparent admirers didn't get the memo.
Take, for example, this user comment on the Washington Post's 44: The Obama Presidency blog today:
Considering how many people donated small amounts to his campaign, I imagine it would be difficult to find people who couldn't be considered "backers" in some way. I mean one of these guys donated a whopping $250. Yay Matt Drudge! Yay Rush Limbaugh! Way to be more retarded than Palin's down syndrome baby.
CBS's Bob Schieffer devoted about half of his Face the Nation interview, with President Barack Obama, to Pakistan and Afghanistan, but on Iraq he failed to point out Obama's opposition to the surge as he hoped: “Are things going well enough there now that you may consider speeding up the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?”
On violence in Mexico, Schieffer pushed a blame America first line, suggesting more regulations on guns: “It's my understanding that 90 percent of the guns that they're getting down in Mexico are coming from the United States....Do you need any kind of legislative help on that front? Have you, for example, thought about asking Congress to reinstate the ban on assault weapons?”
Schieffer concluded by wondering if, like Thomas Jefferson, Obama is finding the presidency to be a “splendid misery” and quoting Jefferson, who once said “the presidency had brought him nothing but increasing drudgery and a daily loss of friends,” commiserated: “Have you lost any friends yet?” Certainly not in the news media.
It takes courage to be a Catholic educator. In America's culture wars, abortion is the trump card of every moral discussion. Or so the righteous right requires us to believe.
At Notre Dame, the most Catholic of Catholic universities, a national protest is building over the decision by the school's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, to invite President Obama to give the commencement address on May 17.
Marin then goes on to write that Obama's done much more than advancing abortion and embryonic stem cell research. For example, he's "trying to stop the economy from going over a cliff." She approvingly quotes a former Catholic university administrator saying the role of those institutions is to "espouse academic freedom where people are allowed to research, teach and hear many voices on campus . . ." And what would an article mentioning the Catholic Church be without at least one reference to pedophilia? Marin doesn't disappoint in that regard.
You'd think Marin, who prides herself on journalistic professionalism, would at least have started the column with the facts. Obama was not merely invited to give a commencement address. Notre Dame's own Web site acknowledges he will also be "the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree."
But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama's campaign in 2008.
After that come details of the connections between the questioners and His Messiahship.
Reacting to a 12:30PM EST Thursday press conference in which House Republicans unveiled an alternative budget plan to President Obama’s, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer seemed to be annoyed that the GOP interrupted coverage of the President’s virtual town hall meeting: "And moments ago, Republican leaders got together for a news conference. They said they would unveil what they called their alternative to the President's $3.6 trillion budget...I am very frustrated...Because I -- we've been waiting for this, we cut away from the President to hear the big buildup. Republicans have plan. They have ideas. They're not the party of no. And all I heard in that news conference was what they don't like about the President's plan."
Congressional correspondent Mike Viqueira responded to Brewer’s criticism: "It does not have, in the sense of a traditional budget, numbers with estimates, an estimate for how much they would reduce the deficit, things of that nature. That, they say, will come next week when they take this up on the floor. For example, what would they do? They would undo what they call the 'recent, reckless, and wasteful Democratic spending binge,' including the so-called stimulus and omnibus bills they would undo."
Brewer replied: "But Mike...Mike, we've heard that before...We've heard them and today you get us all hyped up. You have our undivided attention. And what happens but you get up and repeat the same criticism we've already heard. I didn't hear ideas. I heard the promise of ideas and 'we're going to have more on x, y and z,' but I didn't hear the ideas."
President Barack Obama doesn't have to do too much to impress ABC News. A little more than five weeks after the fill-in anchor of World News effused over two-week-old photos of Obama “serving cookies” on Super Bowl night while an awed George Stephanopoulos glowed over how “these are just remarkable....we've never really seen anything like this before in real time,” on Thursday night the newscast devoted a full story to “a White House first” of answering questions via the Internet. (NBC Nightly News didn't air a syllable about the stunt and the CBS Evening News allocated 38 seconds centered around Obama's response to whether marijuana should be legalized in order to boost the economy.)
ABC anchor Charles Gibson excitedly announced:
At the White House today, something never done before. As a candidate, Barack Obama was adept at using the Internet to raise money and get his message out. Now, as President, he's using the Internet again in a way that no President ever has before.
“In lieu of boarding carbon-unfriendly Air Force One to hold town hall meetings around the country,” reporter Jake Tapper relayed, “today President Obama brought the mountain to Mohammed.”
Just as the White House attacks on him got underway, Rush Limbaugh's ratings began soaring in February, Brian Maloney revealed this afternoon on his Radio Eqaulizer blog:
A combination of several powerful forces has resulted in explosive talk radio ratings growth, with indications of much more to come in the months ahead. Primary factor driving the upward move? You guessed it: Rush Limbaugh....
With Limbaugh at the top of his game, with a more deeply loyal audience than ever, the numbers were already expected to be strong. The beginning of the Obamist Era, combined with a direct White House campaign targeting the talk titan, however, provided rocket fuel for El Rushbo's ratings.
CNN's Jack Cafferty gave an interview to the Media Bistro's "Media Morning Menu" podcast on Thursday and rhapsodized about the "bright" and "terrific" Barack Obama. Talking to hosts Steve Krakauer and Glynnis MacNicol, the "Situation Room" contributor cheered on the new President. He enthused, "...I'm pulling for the guy. I like him. I think he's terrific."
After being asked by Krakauer if it's too early for journalists to start complaining about Obama's ability to change the country quickly, the host of CNN's "Cafferty File" segment agreed and then acknowledged, "Well, you know, I haven't been critical of the Obama administration." In contrast, Cafferty (see file photo above) was very critical of George W. Bush and his administration. Indeed, he attacked the ex-President during the podcast, claiming America "was badly damaged following the eight years of George W. Bush and that collection of morons that he had around him running this country into a ditch."
Cafferty seemed more interested in praising Obama, however. Asked whether he thought the President could turn things around, the CNN host described himself as "hopeful" and gushed, "I like him a lot. I think he's a bright guy. I like the fact that he's visible and that, you know, he's attempting to bring some transparency and some legitimacy and honesty to the office, which has been missing for a while."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams offered this brief update on Wednesday's newscast: “We learned today there's no more Global War on Terror -- at least it's been renamed by the Obama administration. The Pentagon will now call the ongoing U.S. military effort the 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'” That presumes the war, I mean “effort,” will continue.
But not even the NBC News graphics staff bought the new name , or at least couldn't fit the longer name into a graphic. As Williams spoke, NBC displayed “FIGHTING TERROR.”
The short item from Williams came right after he pointed out “a stunning turn of events in Iraq” as “the level of violence in Iraq has thankfully fallen sharply.”
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News highlighted the downbeat “State of Black America 2009” report, but failed to identify the group behind it, the National Urban League, as liberal nor note the left-wing policy prescriptions recommended in the report. Though NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged Barack Obama's election “was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations,” he warned that “today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound.”
Reporter Ron Mott explained: “Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress.” National Urban League President Marc Morial, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, then charged: “The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed President Obama’s Tuesday night press conference with Republican Senator Richard Shelby and asked: "The President will head to Capitol Hill today to sell his budget and last night he wondered why Republicans who have been critical of it haven't come up with an alternative budget. What's the answer?"
After Shelby explained that Republicans have serious concerns about the President’s budget, Rodriguez quickly ran to Obama’s defense: "Senator, the President said that even if he takes out all this spending from the budget, he'll still have a deficit, as evidenced by the $1.3 trillion deficit that he inherited from the Republicans." Shelby responded by declaring: "...we had a deficit, but nothing like this...This is scary. I believe we've reached the tipping point now, the tipping point, and if we tip over, it's a point of no return. We're looking at inflation and financial and economic destruction. We cannot go down this road."
Perhaps not fully listening to what Shelby was saying, Rodriguez exclaimed: "But it looks like we are, and what good does it do the American people to -- to point that out? Why not work with the President to try to reach a compromise?" Shelby replied: "Well, I don't think we should compromise destruction of our economic system. And this is where we're going here."
The Business and Media Institute's Matt Philbin discussed Obama's constant media appearances resembeling a telethon in his latest column:
It’s official. With Monday’s press conference, the Obama Administration has become the longest running telethon in American history.
Just when you think the president couldn’t possibly go back on stage, there he is again, explaining all the wonderful things he can do with your money. In the best tradition of celebrity philanthropists, he’s giving his time, his face and his teleprompter skills to a cause that means a lot to him.
Oh, the cynics might say it’s what he does instead of governing, but the cynics don’t understand his sincerity. They don’t realize that he knows how blessed he is, and that he’s compelled to compel you to give back.
Mainstream media journalists delighted in joining left-wing bloggers in mocking President George W. Bush over his penchant for verbal miscues, often when speaking off-the-cuff. Of course, President Bush wasn't too prickly on this point and on occasion made self-deprecating jokes about his penchant for mangling the English language.
Yet when it comes to right-of-center bloggers playfully mocking President Barack Obama's dependence on the teleprompter, don't expect most journalists to yuk it up with conservatives.
Put a liberal President together in the same room with a liberal press corps and ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who has gone through the revolving door from liberal political operative to liberal DC journalist, sees a wondrous success for both. “I think both the President and the press hit their marks tonight” at the presidential press conference, Stephanopoulos gushed on Tuesday's Nightline in assigning an “A-minus for the President, A-minus for the press.”
President Barack Obama didn't have to do much to earn the A-minus grade: “He had a very clear strategy and that was to tell the country that he has a strategy. He has an economic strategy, that it's starting to work -- though we're not out of the woods yet by any means, but that with persistence it's going to pay off and we're going to make progress on those four big issues he kept talking about: health care, education, energy and reducing the deficit.”
And the reporters just had to pose questions about the economy: “The press also did do their job tonight, pressing the President on issues that people back home really care about and most of the questions about the economy, about the economic crisis we're facing right now.”
The NBC News team of Brian Williams, Chuck Todd and Keith Olbermann were all enamored with President Barack Obama's explanation that “it took us a couple of days” to express outrage over the AIG bonuses “because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.” But on CNN, Bill Bennett undermined Obama's spin. Just after Obama's news conference ended at 8:57 PM EDT on Tuesday night, MSNBC anchor Olbermann quoted Obama's “I like to know what I talk about before I speak” line and then exclaimed it reflected “a new policy among politicians of every party and throughout American history!”
On the broadcast NBC network, Brian Williams proposed to Chuck Todd at the White House: “Chuck you'll agree the sharpest moment was when asked more than once why did it take you a while to come out and reveal these AIG bonuses? The President said it took a couple of days 'because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.'” Todd agreed: “I'd actually say that was a theme throughout this entire press conference” as Obama wanted to show “that he is making incremental progress. He even said it at the end: Persistence.”
Just under 90 minutes before President Barack Obama's Tuesday night news conference, ABC's World News set out to support his contention that his policies have already led to economic improvement. Picking up on how Obama planned to announce at the start of the session that thanks to his economic policies “we are beginning to see signs of progress,” anchor Charles Gibson asked: “Well, is the President right? And are things turning around? We asked David Muir to look at two key sectors of the economy, jobs and housing.”
Muir decided in Obama's favor: “The report card on the economy does show glimmers of hope.” He pointed to how “last month, 651,000 more jobs were lost, a lot of workers. But just two months earlier, that number was 681,000.” Muir proceeded to highlight how because of the “stimulus,” there “are now signs that money is trickling down.” (I thought the media line was that “trickle down” doesn't work?) Specifically, “the U.S. Forest Service is among the first government agencies to hire. Melina Vasquez is among the 1500 people who will now be restoring the parks.” Plus, “outside Portland, Oregon, one contractor fixing U.S. Highway 26 is bringing back 30 laid off workers and hiring ten more.”
Major media began shielding Barack Obama from criticism early in the presidential primaries. It's no surprise, then, when they continue to do so today. However, the media's collective, instinctive tone-deafness in regard to grassroots activities continues to stun and amaze.
NewsBusters has so far noted several grassroots efforts that have been ignored – despite similar left-leaning efforts getting fantastic coverage. For example, there was Noel Sheppard's initial entry on the Chicago Tea Parties, and the tiny amount of coverage they received. Then, there was Warner Todd Huston, noting the San Francisco Chronicle's preferential treatment of an anti-Wall Street protest. For the magnum opus, however, we turn to the entire mainstream media's blind eye – pointed squarely at the University of Notre Dame.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith talked to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about Monday’s stock market rally and wondered: "What was the reaction at the White House yesterday when the stock market closed?...There's been a lot of heat, though, aimed at the White House, aimed at the Treasury Secretary. Was there some degree of vindication?"
Gibbs claimed that the administration does not pay attention to daily stock numbers, but Smith replied: "You have to admit, it's a pretty good day, though, when the stock market goes up 500 points and the AIG executives, at least more than a dozen of them, say ‘we're going to give our money back.’" After Smith’s pressing, Gibbs admitted: "Well, look, Harry. I'll take 500 points and that kind of news any day of the week."
An earlier report by Bloomberg TV anchor Deirdre Bolton credited the White House banking plan for the stock surge: "...yesterday the Dow soared to 6.5%, that was the biggest gain since October. The Obama administration finally giving some -- Wall Street some details on how the bad banks' assets can be treated. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner put together a plan that some say is the best of both worlds to deal with toxic assets."
On Monday night, Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News by trumpeting how “the stock market soars as the Treasury rolls out a new plan to rescue America's banks,” and then leading: “The Treasury put out the details today of a plan to rescue America's banks and Wall Street responded with two thumbs up and a triple-digit rally.” Six weeks ago, however, when the Dow plunged 382 points in reaction to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's vague plan for banks, Couric didn't mention the stock market in her tease as she instead giddily announced:
COURIC: Tonight, attacking the economic crisis from every angle: The Treasury Secretary rolls out a new bailout plan, the Senate passes the stimulus package and the President gets a little help selling it.
MAN AT FT. MYERS EVENT WITH OBAMA: Oh, it's such a blessing to see you Mr. President! Thank you for taking time out of your day!
In setting up the lead story, on the Tuesday, February 10 newscast, Couric did get to Wall Street's negative reaction to Geithner's plan, but she played it as less important than the Obama administration's efforts to fix the economy:
At the top of the Saturday Early Show, co-host Chris Wragge took a critical look at President Obama's recent media tour: "The Obama blitz, the President’s appearing everywhere but is his media tour taking attention away from his message?" In a later report, correspondent Kimberly Dozier highlighted Obama’s Tonight Show Special Olympics gaffe as evidence: "It can and did go a little bit wrong with what was supposed to be a self-deprecating joke about the President's inability to bowl...The White House has been apologizing ever since...Mr. Obama's critics were not so kind and this gave them another reason to attack in what was arguably one of his toughest weeks in his presidency so far."
Following Dozier’s report, Wragge spoke with Republican strategist Kevin Madden and Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis about the President’s media strategy: "The President likes UNC to win it all, out west on 'The Tonight Show' with Jay Leno, at home, People magazine. Is there a risk of some overexposure here?...when you keep an omnipresent schedule like this, you are bound to make a gaffe here or there. How significant a gaffe was this Special Olympics comment? Because it really got him off message...You know, we've always heard that he's 'the kind of guy I want to have a beer with,' I guess, notion out there. But is that the type of president the nation needs right now, with all of the things that people have, I guess, going against them right now? Is this a wise strategy?"
Neither the NBC’s Saturday Today nor ABC’s Saturday Good Morning America discussed the issue. However, Friday’s GMA did provide extensive coverage of the gaffe, along with Friday’s Early Show. Friday’s Today mentioned it, but only at the very end of a segment on Obama’s late night appearance.
Don't tell them the race is over. Once volunteers for the Obama campaign...a vast grassroots network of supporters is back on the trail. Reactivated. This time, to sell the president's agenda. Michael Lafemina was one of hundreds of volunteers who went door-to-door from New York...to California on behalf of something called Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic Party run by remnants of the Obama campaign.
So in a matter of seconds, Acosta's supposed vast grassroots network was reduced to only hundreds of people. Initial reports in other media suggest the response to Obama's personal call to arms was less than overwhelming.
Since “I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American,” NPR's Nina Totenberg decided to watch President Obama on the Tonight Show “and he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance.”
The eager-to-be-impressed Totenberg made her comment on Inside Washington, a weekly show produced and aired over the weekend by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate and its all-news cable channel, News Channel 8:
When I heard he was going to do this I thought, should a President really do that? Then I actually stayed up and watched it and he calmed me down. I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American I think. And he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance.
Barack Obama's optimistic campaign rhetoric has crashed headlong into the stark reality of governing.
In office two months, he has backpedaled on an array of issues, gingerly shifting positions as circumstances dictate while ducking for political cover to avoid undercutting his credibility and authority. That's happened on the Iraq troop withdrawal timeline, on lobbyists in his administration and on money for lawmakers' pet projects.
But just wait. Although it's true that Obama is breaking promises faster than he made them, we can't hold that against him. Sidoti explains:
This morning, MSNBC’s Alex Witt was in full damage control mode, working whatever apologist explanations she could find into her reluctant coverage of last night's teleprompter-free “Tonight Show” appearance by the president. [audio available here]
Obama was doing quite well at staying on message, when he made the following comment in reaction to Jay Leno's question about his infamous lack of bowling ability:
JAY LENO: I imagine the bowling alley has been burned and closed down.
President BARACK OBAMA: No, I've been practicing.
OBAMA: I bowled a 129. I had –
LENO: Oh, no, that's very good. Yeah. That's very good, Mr. President.
OBAMA: This is sort of like Special Olympics or something.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell had already been scheduled to appear on today's "Fox & Friends" to discuss last night's MRC Gala and Media DisHonors Awards, but President Barack Obama's laid a golden egg with his joke about the Special Olympics last night on NBC's "The Tonight Show." So the latest Obama gaffe and the media's interest in it was the first topic co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade asked the NewsBusters publisher about (audio available here) this morning:
KILMEADE: Brent, that comment. How big a deal?
BOZELL: Well, in the eyes of the regular press, no big deal at all. They're just simply going to overlook it. If past is prologue, they refuse to do any serious kind of journalism work on Obama, candidate or president. But, this is the kind of thing that is beginning to percolate out there. What is becoming evident is when you turn the teleprompter off, this man is capable of making all manner of mistakes, and the more he stays in the public eye, doing this type of thing without a teleprompter, the more mistakes he's going to make.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell shared President Obama’s bracket picks for the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four: "And it appears March Madness has reached the White House. The fan-in-chief President Obama tells ESPN his NCAA Final Four bracket includes Louisville, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina. And he predicts a Tar Heels victory over Louisville in the final. There is the music. You can catch all the action of the NCAA men's tournament right here on CBS, beginning tomorrow afternoon. We all picked North Carolina." On Wednesday’s Evening News, while filling in for anchor Katie Couric, Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez also touted the presidential picks.
However, both Mitchell and Rodriguez failed to mention that thehead coach of Duke University’s men’s basketball team, Mike Krzyzewski, recently criticized the President for being distracted by March Madness: "Somebody said that we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
Liberal "View" co-host Joy Behar appeared on Thursday's edition of "Good Morning America" to promote her new children's book "SheetzuCacaPoopoo," an allegory for Barack Obama's rise to power. According to Behar, the illustrated tale the book is really about the new President. She explained to GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts, "The dog- Max is in trouble. They send him to obedience school, okay? When he's in obedience school is when he becomes Barack. He becomes a community organizer."
As a somewhat incredulous Roberts watched, Behar continued, "And he organizes the big dogs around the little dogs. 'Cause at first, the big dogs, also known as the Republicans, don't like him. See?" With no spoiler alerts, Behar concluded, "And so, he finds ways, pragmatically, to help the big dogs...And so, he becomes popular. And everybody loves each other. " [audio available here]