If it's Sunday, it must be worship time at the Temple of Obama, at least at the Chicago Tribune. Today the top of the front page has a picture of Barack and Michelle embracing. The headline is: "White House romances: Obamas' affection is notable among presidential pairs." Page 4 carries the story, also shown on the Trib's Web site with the headline "Scenes from Obamas' love story." We learn:
Over the last two years the future first couple has made a practice of sharing such small, intimate moments on the grandest of stages, whether trading fist bumps, whispering "I love you" or stealing quick kisses on the campaign trail.
The Obamas' unabashed affection for each other suggests they could become the one of the most engaging sets of lovebirds in White House history. Though the home has known many deeply committed couples (as well as some infamously uncommitted), few were as young, attractive or willing to put their passion on public display.
Working on the day after Thanksgiving, Brian Williams used Friday's NBC Nightly News to promote a new book from FDR's grandson, providing Williams with an opportunity to propose: “In your estimation, could we use a little FDR right about now?” Though Franklin Delano Roosevelt's policies failed to end the Depression, Williams hailed him as “the man who led this nation out of financial disaster.” Conceding “we can no longer talk to him,” as if we'd benefit from doing so, Williams trumpeted how “tonight we think we have about the next best thing” in FDR's grandson, Curtis, who “lives in the south of France after a career with the UN.”
Williams cued up Roosevelt, “I know you've been asked for comment along these lines lately: In your estimation, could we use a little FDR right about now?” Roosevelt naturally agreed as he recalled “FDR is credited with a fantastic list of legislative achievements,” but “to me, his achievement in conveying confidence and hope to the American people was far more important” and so “I hope Obama picks it up” and will “convey to the American public that they have to join him in coping with this recession.”
In the interview for Wednesday’s Barbara Walters Special on ABC with Barack and Michelle Obama, excerpts of which were also shown on Wednesday’s World News with Charles Gibson, there was an obvious contrast with Walters’s interview with then-President-elect Bush in January 2001. After having pressed Bush with complaints from liberals about his choice of John Ashcroft as Attorney General, as she claimed that Ashcroft was "not considered a friend to civil rights," Walters this time not only failed to challenge Obama from the right in any of her questions, but she actually pressed him from the left as well as she seemed to fret about how long America has to wait for him to raise taxes on the rich. Walters: "During the campaign, there was a central and consistent theme of yours to raise taxes on people earning over $250,000 a year. Now, it seems there’s a little waffling on that. When are you going to do it?"
While introducing Michelle Obama for the second half hour of the special, Walters invoked President Kennedy’s family as she effused: "The Obamas harken back to another First Family, with their youthful embodiment of style, substance, and hope." But earlier, at the top of the program, she had taken a shot President Bush as "one of the most unpopular Presidents in modern history" and suggested that it is not "an exaggeration to say that the fate of the nation is riding on [Obama’s] shoulders." Walters: "In only 55 days, Barack Obama will replace one of the most unpopular Presidents in modern history. He will inherit two wars and an economic crisis not seen since the Great Depression. Tonight, as families across our country gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, there is a sense of unease and a hope that someone can restore confidence and leadership. Although Barack Obama insists we have only one President at a time, some say that fear and financial uncertainty have forced him into the unprecedented role of a shadow President, even before he has taken the oath of office. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that the fate of the nation is riding on his shoulders."
The Censorship Fairness Doctrine has been something near and dear to the hearts of the far left for a long time. With talk radio and the web being the main pillars of the center-right media landscape, effectively neutralizing conservative radio is a fantasy scenario for Bill Moyers and others like him.
That being said, it is becoming more likely that instead of going the congressional route to squelch conservative radio speech, the incoming Obama administration will try an alternate approach through regulatory bodies and the bureaucracy.
Like clockwork Barbara Walters successfully landed an interview with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Channeling Lee Cowan, Walters claimed on the November 26 edition of “The View” she is “supposed to be neutral” then heaped praise on the Obamas. Barbara painted the soon to be first couple as “so smart” and “the most appealing couple” and then passed on a White House invite to all of “The View” co-hosts.
Joy Behar could not resist avoiding a swipe at the outgoing Bush administration wondering if Obama is “worried that Bush would cause more damage in the next 60 days” and felt “worried about that.”
The major broadcast networks have so far lavished praise on President-elect Barack Obama for his Cabinet choices, in contrast to the airing of complaints from liberals over President Bush’s choice of John Ashcroft as Attorney General eight years ago. But an exception came on Sunday as the CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell informed viewers that "not everyone is happy about some of Mr. Obama’s picks." But rather than examining whether conservatives will be unhappy with the liberal views of Obama’s Cabinet members, CBS’s Randall Pinkston instead focused on liberals who believe the President-elect is not delivering on his campaign promise of "change," even playing a clip of political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson claiming that Obama had chosen a number of "Clintonesque, moderate, centrist Democrats."
In an effort to explain Barack Obama’s call for a $500 billion stimulus package on Monday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith patronized viewers as he turned to Fast Draw artists Josh Landis and Mitch Butler, who created an animated cartoon on the subject, promoting Obama’s public works program. Butler explained: "When the economy slows down, people look for a pick-me-up." Landis added: "And a stimulus check from government is like money falling from the sky." Butler then asked: "But what's better? Giving money away-" Landis interjected: "-or using it to build bridges, highways, schools, things like that."
Butler and Landis used economist Peter Morici to further explain: "The construction workers get salaries. The steel workers and concrete makers get salaries. They spend that money on goods and services and the money -- and that creates additional jobs, and the money keeps cycling through the economy." Butler added: "And when they're finished working, there's a new bridge that businesses can use to ship more products." Later, Landis observed: "And even though the government has to carry more debt to get the project done-" Morici explained: "It employs more people immediately, boosts GNP by a larger amount and leaves the legacy of investments in our economy, which will improve productivity into the future." Landis concluded: "...spending the money on bridges, schools and other projects gives us a better shot of prosperity down the road."
On Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Dean Reynolds reported on Barack Obama's announcement of an economic team, but instead of getting reaction from Republicans or financial experts, Reynolds decided to stick with the president-elect himself: "Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, as Treasury secretary. Obama said Geithner has an 'unparalleled understanding of our current economic crisis.'And Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary himself, to chair the National Economic Council. Obama called him 'one of the great economic minds of our time.'
The only mention of Republicans in the story was about how cooperative they will be if Obama backs off tax increases: "As a candidate, he favored raising taxes on the rich, but as president-elect he now says he's inclined to wait on that, a concession that could bring congressional Republicans to his side."
Following the report by Reynolds, Smith played a clip of an interview with former Clinton Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, Arthur Levitt. At one point, Smith asked Levitt: "Barack Obama puts his economic team in place today. It's two months until he takes office. Is this audacious or is this good management on his part?" Levitt replied: "This is smart. I mean, we have an administration that is virtually powerless. Certainly a president who nobody listens to. What we've seen now with the new administration is we have a shadow administration in power, in place, acting in a constructive and in a cooperative way...We cannot afford a lost two-month period where public confidence would disappear. We cannot afford that."
Less than 12 hours after George Stephanopoulos, on Good Morning America, glowed that “we have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes,” he popped up on World News to hail how Barack Obama's team recognized the Bush administration's “vacuum” and so decided to “step in and fill” it by showing “the President-elect taking action on the economy” day after day.
Anchor Charles Gibson set up Stephanopoulos by marveling: “George, I don't think I've ever seen a President-elect getting so involved in policy so early. It does seem like we've got, at the moment, two Presidents.” Stephanopoulos admired Obama's take charge actions:
I think what the Obama team saw -- starting last week with all of that uncertainty in the markets, in the dropping stock markets -- is they had to step in and fill a political vacuum. It began with that leak of Tim Geithner's name as Treasury Secretary on Friday, an announcement of a jobs plan on Saturday, carrying through to today, and there will be announcements both tomorrow and Wednesday to show the President-elect taking action on the economy.
On the Saturday Early Show on CBS, President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet picks were presented positively as correspondent Kimberly Dozier referred to a "superstar Cabinet," and its members as "bold" and "inspired," while co-anchor Erica Hill called the Cabinet "star-studded." The terminology was similar to that employed by NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the previous night's Nightly News, as she referred to Obama's "all-star Cabinet."
During the 8:00 a.m. hour of the Saturday Early Show, as she filed a story regarding Obama’s choices of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State and Timothy Geithner, also from the Clinton administration, for Treasury Secretary, Dozier introduced her report: "Well, Obama’s Cabinet picks are coming one by one, and they’re calling it, in some cases, a ‘superstar Cabinet.’" After informing viewers that Obama may ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay on, Dozier repeated the "superstar" label as she passed on praise from former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein. Dozier: "Ronald Reagan’s former chief of staff says Obama’s taking a page from his boss’s book, choosing a superstar team for their skills, not their political persuasion."
"This is a death-bed confession," Seton Motley quipped of Time magazine's Mark Halperin admitting that the mainstream media was biased towards Sen. Barack Obama. The MRC Communications Director made the remark on the November 24 "Fox & Friends" program
"As the mainstream media dies, they're trying to rectify their reputations and their relationships with their audience by saying, 'oh, you know, we were in the tank.' Clearly, this would have been a lot more useful in June or July," Motley added. "It does us no good now at the end of November."
But don't hold your breath for balance, the NewsBusters contributor told co-host Steve Doocy:
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus package: "What about the $500 billion economic stimulus plan that President-elect Obama is planning? Do you think it's realistic to get that done in two years?" Not only was Krugman in favor of the plan, but he argued: "I'm actually worried that this plan may be too small... I'm still worrying that they're going to be a little bit short, because you just have to put all your notions of what is prudent aside. Being cautious is actually a very foolish thing right now."
Rodriguez’s discussion with Krugman was preceded by a fawning report by correspondent Dean Reynolds on Obama’s economic plan: "Well, the incoming administration is making it abundantly clear that it plans an active multi-billion dollar approach to kick-starting the economy. As one top economic adviser to Barack Obama put it, the era of dithering is over." Reynolds continued by declaring: "...with the actions taken so far to stem the tide proving to be totally ineffective, the incoming administration is setting the table for a long struggle to make things right."
Appearing on the November 24 "Fox & Friends," MRC Director of Communications Seton Motley reacted to left-wing bloggers critical of President-elect Obama for choosing center-left, rather than far-left staffers for his presidential transition team. [audio available here]:
GRETCHEN CARLSON, co-host, "Fox & Friends": Alright, Seton, so a lot of these people on the Left say, "Oh, wait a minute, Barack! You were supposed to choose people who feel exactly like we do on the issues." And in essence, he's chosen a lot of centrists. Will we now see the blogosphere really light up now with the ultra-left viewpoints?
Various "Good Morning America" anchors and guests on Monday gushed at the sheer brilliance of Barack Obama's incoming cabinet, including his "team of economic gladiators." Former top Bill Clinton aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos rhapsodized, "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." (What does that say about Stephanopoulos' friends in the Clinton administration?) [audio clip available here]
Co-host Robin Roberts was equally enthusiastic. Speaking with Stephanopoulos, she cooed, "Some would say it's a team of rivals, a la President Lincoln, or is a better comparison a team of geniuses as FDR did?" Continuing the fawning, Stephanopoulos readily agreed: "Well, one Obama advisor told me what they like is a combination of 'Team of Rivals' and 'the Best and the Brightest,' which was the David Halberstam book about the incoming Kennedy administration. I think there are parallels to all three." (This is somewhat of an odd comparison. Halberstam's 1972 book explores the origins of the Vietnam War and the mistakes made leading up to it.)
Media sources seemed to be thrilled that Obama is promising to save or create millions of new jobs. The only problem is they seem to purposefully fail to mention that these will primarily be government jobs. From Libertarian Republican:
A check of all the major mainstream media sources this morning, finds that not a single one of them are using either the phase "Government Jobs," or "Public Sector," in their reporting on Obama's 2.5 million Jobs Program.
Both of Chicago's major dailies have sold out editions containing special "commemorative" sections devoted to Barack Obama. Judging by today's Chicago Tribune, perhaps the strategy is to push out an Obama commemorative issue every day.
The top half of the front page includes a huge color photo of a smiling Obama in a Chicago deli yesterday, a color picture of Obama with one of his daughters, and a color shot of a Chicago crowd watching Obama's motorcade speed by. "At home: A brief taste of normalcy" is the accompanying story and it notes:
On Friday, he made time to leave the office briefly to pick up a corned beef sandwich and cherry pie from Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli, a favorite spot for Chicago politicians.
"I'm just glad to be out," Obama said amid applause and shouts of congratulations from surprised diners.
Yet the roughly 15-minute stop seemed more designed to provide a media photo opportunity—the first in nearly a week—than to let the president-elect step out for some fresh air.
President-elect Barack Obama and his wife have chosen Sidwell Friends School for their two daughters, opting for a private institution that another White House child, Chelsea Clinton, attended a decade ago.
"A number of great schools were considered," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."
The AP further noted:
Michelle Obama went to public schools on Chicago's South Side, and understands the importance of strong public schools, Lelyveld said, and the administration plans to work hard on that issue.
While ABC, CBS and NBC on Friday night all touted how news that New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner will be nominated for Secretary of the Treasury fueled a market rebound, NBC was the most excited with Andrea Mitchell, sounding completely in the tank, hailing President-elect Obama's “all-star cabinet” as she maintained “Obama is determined to pick the strongest, smartest people he can find, knowing that he is facing an economic crisis of historic proportions.” A Nexis search turned up no references on NBC, in December 2000-January 2001, to President-elect Bush's “all-star cabinet” though it featured some stars, such as Colin Powell.
NBC Nightly News put “OBAMA MOVES THE MARKET” on screen as anchor Brian Williams teased: “On our broadcast here tonight, Obama moves the market. Stocks go on a huge rally with first word of the President-elect's choice of a Treasury Secretary.” As he set up Mitchell, viewers saw “TAKING ACTION” beneath a picture of Obama.
Is Chris Matthews having more thrills about Obama? The "Hardball" anchor appeared on the November 21 edition of "Today" sounding more enthused about the incoming Obama administration than Obama’s own spinmeisters. With the news of Hillary Clinton as the incoming secretary of State, Matthews called it "an astounding gesture of magnanimity."
Taking a swipe at the outgoing Bush administration, Matthews claimed the world is "waiting to see us back in that family of nations" and touted Bill Clinton’s alleged popularity around the world. Matthews even opined that despite past primary rivalries, "the relationship is going by swimmingly."
Meredith Vieira then questioned Matthews why Obama has not urgently named a Treasury secretary with the financial crisis. Matthews defended the Obama transition team again opining "I think he’s got to wait to do what’s right," so he can look like "a Roman phalanx."
In an odd, non-sequitur of a segment, co-host Diane Sawyer kicked off the 8:30 hour of Friday's "Good Morning America" by reading aloud from an essay that President-elect Barack Obama wrote about Abraham Lincoln for a 2005 issue of Time magazine. Stopping the show cold for a minute and 22 seconds, she solemnly began, "...There was something that made us all stop and think. And you know, it's 60 days now. 60 days until the inauguration of a new president." [audio available here]
Then, Sawyer gravely announced that Obama had, in fact, written an essay: "And we saw that President-elect Obama has a favorite photograph, which he looks at. And here are the words that he wrote in Time magazine. An essay." To music that seemed reminiscent of the Ken Burns "Civil War" documentary, with images of Lincoln appearing on screen, the GMA host recited the words of the President-elect's Time article.
Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?
Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?
After much mocking by Ellen Degeneres about Chris Matthews' dancing abilities on his last appearance on her syndicated show, the "Hardball" host chatted with Degeneres, on Thursday's show, about the election of Barack Obama and actually grabbed a shot glass to toast his win with Ellen (audio excerpt here):
ELLEN DEGENERES: Amazing! And you must be thrilled? I mean what, what a moment.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well I am thrilled!
MATTHEWS, picking up shot glass: To Barack Obama!
DEGENERES, toasting: Yeah. To Barack Obama!
A little later in his interview segment, Matthews also took a different kind of shot, the verbal kind, against the outgoing administration:
The Chicago Tribune is so enamored with President-elect and hometown hero Barack Obama that it's featuring a photo gallery devoted to "White House romance" directly below its Web page masthead (see screencap at right).
The 28-image gallery features four photographs of the first couple-to-be including Barack and Michelle "shar[ing] a tender moment at the Election Night rally" and another of them leaving "Spaggia restaurant after dinner, the day after winning the election."
To be fair, Tribune editors did include photos of other first couples going all the way back to the Trumans. Even so, Trib editors sought fit to include two photos from the 2000 Democratic Convention of Al and Tipper Gore, including the infamous on-stage kiss between the then-vice president and his wife.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Jeff Glor discussed Barack Obama’s latest cabinet picks with New York Times editor Marcus Mabry: "We'll start with Tom Daschle, potentially, secretary of Health and Human Services." Mabry approved of the choice: "...he's going to be the czar for over -- for overhauling the American health care system. That is a huge job and incredibly important. He knows how to get it done. He knows the Senate. He's going to help President Obama actually get it through." Mabry made no mention of a Wednesday New York Times article that highlighted Daschle’s numerous potential conflicts-of-interest in the position. In addition, no liberal label was applied to Daschle or any of Obama’s picks.
Glor then briefly mentioned Obama’s attorney general pick, but did not ask Mabry to comment: "Eric Holder, we know about. We've been talking about him for a couple days. He seems to be Barack Obama's pick for Attorney General." Holder, who was deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, helped approve the pardon for convicted tax evader Marc Rich. Glor then discussed the possibility of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano being named Homeland Security secretary. Mabry provided little evidence of Napolitano’s qualifications: "Well, she's a real tough one when it comes to border security. Governor Napolitano, will be a woman in an incredibly important job."
Finding Michelle Obama to be the "First Lady of Fashion," ABCNews.com's Luchina Fisher wondered if the president-elect's wife could save the fashion industry.:
Michelle Obama will soon be the nation's first lady and mom in chief, but others are expecting even grander things from her, like saving the fashion industry.
And who in their right mind would think that?:
"We're all obviously trying to look at the silver lining," designer Norma Kamali told ABCNews.com. "Where do we look for hope, an opportunity to create good feelings for the customer? There is real hope with Michelle Obama. I think she can keep women interested in purchasing."
With “Any Regrets?” as the on-screen heading, Katie Couric pressed “independent Democratic” Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to atone for campaigning with unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate John McCain and criticizing eventual winner Barack Obama. Couric's first question in the interview excerpt aired on Wednesday's CBS Evening News: “Do you feel as if you owe President-elect Obama one?” Couric next pushed Lieberman to take back an attack: “You said, on whether Senator Obama is a Marxist, you said quote: 'It's a good question to ask.' Are you sorry you said that?” Couric proceeded to relay another Democratic complaint/aspersion against Lieberman:
What really irritated -- even enraged -- some Democrats was your speech at the Republican National Convention. Did you understand at the time how nervy that might seem to some Democrats? How inappropriate?
"It's one thing to cover the honeymoon and it's another to be in bed with the honeymooners," NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell quipped of the Obama-fawning mainstream media while on the November 19 "Fox & Friends."
"It is a sheer embarassment," the Media Research Center president continued, noting that a network executive he talked to said "there are seasoned professionals, who may be liberals, who are just shocked at what's happened to their industry." [audio available here]
In another segment on the same program, Bozell talked about the media's double standard in reporting on crimes involving immigrants.
Sarah Palin is an airhead proclaims the very dim Joy Behar. The same "View" co-host who blames earthquakes on global warming and just the previous day could not define the term "suffrage," snidely said of Sarah Palin "we all know that the woman is an airhead." Behar then continued to label those Obama critics "unpatriotic" (this of course after she considered dissent in the Bush years "patriotic") [audio excerpt here]
Joy Behar’s comments were sparked by a discussion on recent "Newsweek" and "Time" covers comparing President-elect Obama to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt respectively. Elisabeth Hasselbeck felt it was premature to judge the Obama presidency before he is even inaugurated. Hasselbeck declared it was another example of the media "coddling" Barack Obama has they have done throughout the entire campaign.
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "...it may be the hottest ticket in the country right now, a ticket to Barack Obama's inauguration in January. Millions are expected to try and watch the swearing in. But we're going to show you why tickets are almost impossible to get." The 2008 April Fool’s edition of the Media Research Center’s Media Reality Check featured a fictional quote from Early Show co-host Harry Smith: "CBS's Harry Smith sounded like a teenage groupie on the April 1 Early Show: ‘Obama's rock star status is reaching historic levels. His rallies attract more fans than a Hannah Montana concert and seats are impossible to get. Believe me I've tried.’"
Chen later introduced a report on the Obama inauguration by proclaiming: "Inauguration fever is sweeping Washington. The city's mayor believes 3-5 million people may turn out to witness President-elect Obama's swearing-in." However, in the report, correspondent Thalia Assuras talked to Howard Gantman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Inauguration, who predicted a much smaller turnout: "We've printed 240,000 tickets. So that's a minimum, we expect at least that many people. For this event, we could see half a million, some projections have come in for a million or more."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who conceded the obvious to Jay Leno that “I'm partial” to the “remarkable political reality” of Barack Obama, on Tuesday's Tonight Show regretted Obama cannot be inaugurated sooner than on January 20. “The President looks like he's already in the locker room with a towel around his neck. It looks like he's taken off,” Matthews complained before insisting “we need a President pretty soon.” The host of Hardball fretted about the long wait to get Obama into office, warning:
I'm getting worried because it's about another couple of months before we get a President and I'm worried about this country falling between the cracks because we've got one President who's sort of already retired and we got another President who's politely tip-toeing around the job. Who's leading us right now? It scares me.
After a quip from fellow guest “Larry the Cable Guy,” Matthews reiterated his point: “I think we've got too much time between elections and taking over.”