On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Sunday Morning liberal commentator Nancy Giles about the incoming Obama Administration and Giles could not resist bashing Bush: "Well, Barack Obama's going to have his hands full with a lot of the carnage that was left by the previous administration." Republican strategist Bay Buchanan was seated next to Giles and Giles defended her statement: "I had to put it that way, Bay. It is carnage." Buchanan joked: "I was told it would cease-fire here for two days." Giles replied: "I know, I'm sorry, carnage just slipped out, but I mean, he's going to have his hands full."
Co-host Harry Smith then chimed in, saying to Giles: "I spent the entire afternoon yesterday talking to people, and there were actually very few people who were echoing the sentiments you were echoing...There were some people who were angry and still carrying grudges. But moreover, it was a sense of for the moment, no more Republicans, no more Democrats, we're all on the same page, at least for a moment."
In contrast to her view of Bush’s "carnage," Giles praised Obama: " Barack Obama said something last year that I heard him say about his definition of homeland security and national security. It had to do with making education a real important thing. He felt that educating our young people would make the nation that much more secure. And I love that way of thinking."
In the run-up to Barack Obama's inauguration, the New York Times has run several articles praising the President-elect's "eloquence," the most visible being Monday's front-page story by the paper's lead book critic (and prominent Bush-basher) Michiko Kakutani, "From Books, New President Found Voice," who praised Obama for...reading:
In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama noticed, he has written, "that people had begun to listen to my opinions." Words, the young Mr. Obama realized, had the power "to transform": "with the right words everything could change -- South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world."
Much has been made of Mr. Obama's eloquence -- his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.
Next time someone dismisses the idea that mass media can exert influence on American culture, point to a Jan. 18 New York Times article titled, "How the Movies Made a President." In that piece, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott argue that fictional depictions of black U.S. presidents helped pave the way for a real one.
“The presidencies of James Earl Jones in ‘The Man,’ Morgan Freeman in ‘Deep Impact,”’ Chris Rock in ‘Head of State’ and Dennis Haysbert in ‘24’ helped us imagine Mr. Obama’s transformative breakthrough before it occurred,” the authors wrote. “In a modest way, they also hastened its arrival.”
Furthermore, Dargis and Scott say that a number of black filmmakers and movie stars have “helped write the prehistory of the Obama presidency.”
If the authors are correct and Hollywood did help lessen the role of race in the electoral equation, then it has performed a service to the nation and is to be commended. The mass media clearly holds tremendous power to influence public attitudes, and did so in this case for the better.
On the eve of becoming the nation's 44th President, Barack Obama went to Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, D.C., residence for homeless, runaways, and troubled youth, and actually assisted in painting the walls what appeared to be an aqua blue (video embedded right).
Watching the proceedings on various cable news networks, my heart welled with pride as I realized my new president was a much better painter than Winston Churchill.
For those missing the joke, this is what fictional playwright Franz Liebkind told Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom as they discussed producing his "Springtime for Hitler" in the Mel Brooks classic "The Producers":
Imagine for a moment that Sen. John McCain won the election in November and that John Hagee gave a sermon at Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University the Sunday preceding the inauguration wherein he slammed the "egregious menage a trois of homosexuals, Hollywood, and hell-bound atheists" for destroying the United States.
The coverage would be non-stop and President-elect McCain would be pressed to repudiate the remarks from his stalwart evangelical supporter, even though he's already distanced himself during in the campaign.
Yet it's a vastly different story when it was Rev. Jeremiah Wright at Howard University's chapel and the "egregious menage a trois" was that of "racism, militarism and capitalism."
While his colleague Michelle Boorstein helpfully edited Wright's more embarrassing rhetoric (see more below the fold), Washington Post's Dana Milbank reminded readers just how loopy Rev. Wright is in his page A9 January 19 article, "You Thought the Jeremiad Was Over?" (emphasis mine):
People don't even worship God like they worship Barack Obama.
So said comedian Jackie Mason in his most-recent video blog just posted at YouTube.
But that's not all. According to Mason, "Mao Tse Tung wasn't so venerated and people weren't so fearful of disagreeing with him as the Congress of the United States including the Republicans who are afraid to disagree with anything he says or does because they'll be called a racist."
Mason also deliciously went after "a yenta like Hillary Clinton" for being completely unqualified to be Secretary of State, and Timothy Geithner, "a thief that never paid his income taxes [who's] now going to be in charge to make sure you pay your income tax."
Strap your seatbelts tightly, folks, for the video embedded below the fold addresses inconvenient truths Obama-loving media dare not:
Catching up with something from Saturday I just came across, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pointed out on MSNBC just before 6 PM EST, as the Obama-Biden train arrived at Washington, DC's Union Station, that he was reading “the pool reports that have been filed by reporters on the train and they refer to Barack Obama as PEBO, which is short for 'President-elect Barack Obama.'” Fineman felt that illustrated how “there's an intimacy and a familiarity on that train,” presumably between the journalists and Obama, one shared by Fineman who hailed Obama's “many gifts” and saw “a down-home folksiness that belies the tremendous hopes that not only the country, but the whole world, have for him.”
I've been reading the pool reports that have been filed by reporters on the train and they refer to Barack Obama as PEBO, which is short for “President-elect Barack Obama” and there's an intimacy and a familiarity on that train, a down-home folksiness, that belies the tremendous hopes that not only the country, but the whole world, have for him.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on Barack Obama’s inauguration and made this comparison: "Well, people just want to be a part of it. It's like who wouldn't want to be a part of it if you could have been there when Lincoln gave one of his addresses or something...People really do feel this is a moment in history. And they want to be part of it."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith observed: "And there is an amazing feeling here, especially contrast with the feeling of eight years ago." Schieffer agreed: "Yeah, it really was, because don't forget, you had that really difficult thing down in Florida. People were not convinced. Some people were not convinced that George Bush really was legitimately-" Smith interjected: "Still not convinced." Schieffer continued: "-the president. There was a lot of rancor. People had fun, they came up, and -- but nothing like the spirit that you see here...There is a real spirit here. I've never seen anything quite like it."
Smith later declared: "They're here from Canada, California, Colorado, Ohio. They're from all over the country. Every color of the rainbow. And there really is a sense of togetherness, of unity." He then concluded the segment by exclaiming: "It really is that sort of a sense of E. Pluribus Unum, right?...Out of many, one." Schieffer agreed: "It really is."
Big business, the supposedly right-wing, conservative entity that thwarts "progress" and advocates against left-wing economic policies sure doesn't seem to be acting that way of late.
Of course it never really does but that is beside the point. AP reporter Stephen Manning chronicles how corporate America is trying to cash in on Barack Obama's inauguration in an unprecedented, literal selling of a president:
The guys hawking Barack Obama T-shirts and trinkets on the corners of downtown Washington have some new competition in the selling frenzy building up to the president-elect's inauguration Tuesday - Corporate America.
Companies ranging from global giants like soda and snacks maker PepsiCo to a local grocery chain offering cakes with Obama's face in icing are jumping on the Obama commercial wave. Others, like the Swedish home store Ikea, are hoping consumers take Obama's mantra of "change" to heart so much that they go out and buy furniture to mark the change in the White House.
In a January 18 ABC News exclusive interview, former Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright confessed to, but did not repent of, his inflammatory rhetoric directed at the media. Wright's excuse:
"They were arrogant, they were evil, they were devious and I responded in kind," Wright said. "I just talked to you about a 500-year tradition but you don't ask me one question about that because that's not your interest, your interest is to taint Barack Obama. So no, I'm not going to be conservative, I'm not going to kiss anybody's behind and if I'm standing up straight you can't ride my back.
Yet apparently ABC staffers Tahman Bradley and Ferdous al-Faruque failed to question Wright on whether his demeanor from the pulpit exhibited more the gospel of class and race warfare than the gospel of Jesus Christ. What's more, Bradley and al-Faruque failed to point out that some print journalists such as Newsweek's Eleanor Clift have hailed Wright as a "prophetic" voice, something that cuts against Wright's view that the MSM has had it in for him.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show co-host Smith recounted being a passenger on Barack Obama’s inaugural train on Saturday: "On a freezing cold Saturday, people stood for hours just to get a glimpse. They wanted to be able to say in the years to come, ‘I was there that day when the train went through.’ In his fawning report, Smith used poetic language to describe the train ride from Philadelphia to Washington: "Barack Obama spoke of perfecting the Union, he spoke of common hopes and common dreams, he spoke of recognizing ourselves in one another...This was no mere victory tour, this was something more."
Smith found two particular passengers, Patricia and Ted Stiles, who showed bipartisan support for Obama: "Patricia and her husband, Ted, are lifelong Republicans who supported Obama. What did you see when you looked out the windows today?" Patricia declared: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for this nation. I'm excited, Harry, let me tell you." Ted exclaimed: "I saw large groups of people, I saw small groups of people. They were standing on their cars. It's like watching a regeneration of our country." A Sunday article in The Denver Post quoted Patricia Stiles, a Colorado native, about hugging Obama at the beginning of the trip in Philadelphia: "President-elect Barack Obama, the greatest, most articulate speaker I've known in my lifetime, standing there to my left. I just melted away."
"The president-elect popped into a party at Bobby Van's restaurant, as well as The Washington Post's newsroom, where hard-bitten journalists fumbled for their cellphone cameras and reached for his hand."
So noted Post staffer Paul Schwartzman in his January 18 Metro section front-pager "Mr. Obama's (Giddy) Neighborhood." Yet for a supposedly hard-bitten bunch, the Posties sure are giddy over Obama.
Elsewhere on the Metro front page: "Driven to Obamaville by Something 'Bigger Than Us,'" -- columnist Marc Fisher's look at Obama fans camping out in an RV park north of Washington, D.C. -- and David Fahrenthold's "Visitors Pour Into D.C., Loaded With Luggage, But Lightened by Hope."
Hard-bitten journalists? Only if it's Chris Matthews that's been doing the biting.
I've collated the list of people and groups -- those scheduled to perform, appear at an event or ball or listed on a host committee (many will participate in more than one event) -- from a bunch sources, starting with the AP's Thursday article, “Hollywood on the Potomac: Where the stars will be.” I supplemented that with the WashingtonPost.com's “Party Central” and its The Sleuth blog, USAToday.com's entertainment blog and MSNBC.com's The Scoop blog. Those with an * are taking part in the Lincoln Memorial event, the rights to which HBO paid the inaugural committee $2.5 million.
Jessica Alba Marc Anthony Patricia Arquette Joan Baez Angela Bassett
Last Thursday, Barack Obama's nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, admitted during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that he supported renewing the part of the Patriot Act that allows for the FBI to seek records from businesses, libraries and bookstores as the policing agency investigates suspects in this country. For years we've seen news agencies and opinionists rail against the expanded power of the FBI to search such records. But, now with Obama's AG announcing in his confirmation hearing that he agrees that the FBI should have this power, all anti-Bush administration voices are silent on the matter that had them so exercised for 6 years.
Since 2002 the debate has raged about the efficacy and Constitutionality of the Patriot Act with the power of the FBI to search bookstore and library records coming in for special condemnation. Even as the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the law, right to privacy groups, the media and anti-Bushies have pointed to this particular policy and cried Orwell or worse.
“I'm so happy my children havea real hero to look up to” in “a truly scholarly man” who will make an “intelligent, constitutionally brilliant President” at a time when “people are so ready to rejoice and celebrate what is hopefully the return of the foundation of the United States” so “my eyes well up just thinking about” Barack Obama being sworn in since “I'm calm for the first time in eight years,” knowing “somebody is in charge that has such intelligence and grace and is so thoughtful.”
That's some of the giddy excitement expressed by a few of the many celebrities swarming to Washington, DC this weekend for Obama's inauguration which were collected by USA Today for articles in Thursday's and Friday's “Life” section:
Actress Gloria Reuben (IMDb page), now in TNT's Raising the Bar and formerly on NBC's ER, will be on hand Tuesday “to watch the magic moment happen” since she yearns for an end to the “hell” of the Bush years. (Screen capture is from Reuben on ABC's This Week in 2006 when she was promoting a play in which she played Condoleezza Rice):
It's a once-in-a-lifetime situation. The last eight years have been such hell. We're all so excited about the hope of things to come. I really think that's part of it. People are so ready to rejoice and celebrate what is hopefully the return of the foundation of the United States.
Friday's CBS Evening News delivered a parting shot at outgoing President George W. Bush as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez paired how a just-released CBS News/New York Times survey pegged Bush's approval rating “at just 22 percent” -- which she noted “is the lowest for an outgoing President since the question was first asked more than 70 years ago” -- with how “68 percent said they expect Barack Obama to be a good or very good President.”
Views of Mr. Bush's popularity are highly partisan. Only 6 percent of Democrats approve of the job he has done as president, while 57 percent of Republicans approve. Eighteen percent of independents approve.
The short item from Rodriguez on the Friday, January 16 CBS Evening News:
At a time when the United States is fighting two wars and faces a severe recession and huge budget deficits, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president is estimated to cost $45 million. Bush's 2004 inauguration cost roughly $40 million. But though the figures are similar, there's been a major shift in the tone of coverage at the New York Times.
While the Times spent much of January 2005 making clear its disapproval of Bush extravagantly celebrating his inauguration during wartime, that concerned tone is conspicuously absent from the Times in January 2009, although the country is not only still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in danger of a deep recession. The difference? Perhaps because this time, it's the Times's favored candidate who is readying to assume the highest office.
A January 11, 2005 editorial on Bush's second inauguration, "Victor's Spoils," sniffed:
At the rate President Bush's supporters are giving money, his second inauguration threatens to stand out in the history books like the common folks' muddy boot prints on the White House furniture at Andrew Jackson's gala. The $40 million record for inaugural partying set four years ago for Mr. Bush is expected to be shattered this month....Ordinary citizens might have hoped that the overriding issue in Washington -- the perilous Iraq war, with its drain on the nation's blood and treasure -- would dictate restraint. But plans for the four-day extravaganza roll forward with nine celebratory balls being underwritten by the usual corporate and fat-cat supplicants in the political power mill. There's nothing new in Washington's triumphalist celebrations, festooned with price tags for access, but war usually mutes the singing and dancing. Not this year.
"For the first time in a long time, it's cool to be an American."
No, that's not First Lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama, although it sounds a lot like her infamous comment from the 2008 Democratic primary campaign. It's American expatriate Kit Maloney, as quoted by London-based Washington Post foreign service staffer Mary Jordan at the end of her January 16 article, "Americans, Feeling the Love."
Sharing some credit with a total of nine additional Post contributors based in London and seven other foreign capitals, Jordan's 27-paragraph story relayed the stories of Americans sharing their tales of low-grade persecution by anti-Bush, anti-American Europeans.
Rather than question the incivility or poor etiquette of said snooty Europeans towards Americans working in their countries, Jordan painted Europeans and Americans living abroad as uniformly breathing a welcoming sigh of relief at Barack Obama's inauguration next Tuesday.
PHILLIPS: Well, if anything, I think this just exemplifies how Barack Obama is going to be out of the box on everything, whether it's who he decides to have speak at the inauguration or what covers he decides to go on the front of or who he puts into his administration. It is all going to be about going out of the box and making people talk and bringing everybody together, whether it's gender, race, whatever it is.
Thinking out of the box, that's Obama alright. Mr. Originality's stacked his administration with loads of Clinton administration retreads. In terms of magazine covers, it's doubtful that he decides which periodicals feature him. Did he pose as Superman for Ms.? Not likely. That would have been a step down for his messiahship.
Then there is Phillips's belief that Obama is "bringing everybody together, whether it's gender, race, whatever it is." That's patently unrealistic. The notion that any politician can bring everyone - regardless of life experiences, political views, values, opinions, and traditions - together is a liberal pipe dream. And a selective pipe dream at that. After years of bashing President Bush and other Republicans, it's expected that magically all Americans will suddenly, joyously unify as one big happy family under Obama.
Are you a latte liberal who can't make the pilgrimage to D.C. for the Obama inauguration? Or do you think that if you did, you'd in the January chill without your mid-day brew? Well, MSNBC is looking out for you!
The Obama leg-thrill network has teamed up with Starbucks Coffee to open more than 600 java joint locations in New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco.
Not into coffee? MSNBC also has movie theaters dedicated to the ceremony, although sitting next to Chris Matthews in a dark room watching Obama sounds a little sketchy to me.
A federal judge threw out a spurious lawsuit by serial atheist litigant Michael Newdow. Yet in reporting the story in its January 16 print edition, the Washington Post made it sound like a federal judge has ended the suspsense and permitted prayers to be offered at the inauguration, as though they were seriously in danger in the first place.
"Judge Clears the Way for Prayer at Swearing-In," declared the page B4 headline in the Inauguration Watch digest. Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber echoed the headline's language in his lede:
A federal judge yesterday cleared the way for government officials and ministers to pray and make references to God during the swearing-in.
Wilber explained that "U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton refused to grant an injunction in a lawsuit seeking to block such references." Nowhere in his 3-paragraph-long brief did Wilber mention Newdow by name, nor his history of frivolous litigation such as trying to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.
"Sometimes, Brian, I think we live in a parallel universe, where the media see the world one way when it's a Democrat in power and another way when a Republican is in power," NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell told Fox News Channel's Brian Kilmeade. [audio of segment available here]
The Media Research Center president appeared on the January 16 "Fox & Friends" to discuss an astounding contrast that illustrates the media's liberal biases: the Associated Press scorned the roughly $40 million spent on the 2005 Bush inauguration but is assuring readers that it's okay to glam it up for the 2009 Obama inauguration.:
BRENT BOZELL: Look at these headlines. We found this, this is from AP. Four years ago on the eve of George Bush's second inauguration. This is the lede: "President Bush's second inauguration will cost tens of millions of dollars. Forty million alone in private donations for parties, balls, etc. Then it goes on to say, what else could that money buy..... Now, four years later, same AP news outlet. A story on Barack Obama. According to the Guardian newspaper, he could spend as much as $150 million. That would be three times more than George Bush spent. This is their [AP's] lede: "So you're attending an inaugural ball saluting the historic election of Barack Obama in the worst economic climate in three generations. Can you get away with glitzing it up and still be appropriate not to mention comfortable and finacially viable? To quote the man of the hour, 'Yes, you can.' Veteran ballgoers say you should, and fashionistas say you must."
The news media are giddy with excitement as Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day approaches — CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday’s American Morning touted how "Obama has some big shoes to fill, roughly the size of the ones up on the Lincoln Memorial....Barack Obama’s inaugural address may be more than the speech of his lifetime. Historians and speechwriters say it could be one for the ages."
But it would be a mistake to think reporters are always so worshipful of new presidents. While most presidents do start with a media honeymoon, a review of the past 20 years finds reporters are more celebratory when Democrats are taking over the White House, while coverage of GOP inaugurals has included a fair number of anti-conservative stinkbombs:
Pssst. Eight hundred rooms in Washington, D.C. proper and a total of 15,000 rooms "in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and the District" remain unbooked for the Obama apotheosis inaugural. Pass it on.
"Actually, Hotel Space Remains Available," the Washington Post's Paul Schwartzman quietly reported on page B2 of the January 15 edition's "Inauguration Watch." Staffer Paul Schwartzman cited Washington's "official tourism office, Destination DC" as the source of the stat.
Last Friday, I noted how the Post reported that "Inaugural Renters [Are] Begging For Takers." That 29-paragraph story was given the front page treatment on the paper's January 9 Metro section:
Near the end of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith unveiled the latest painting by artist Peter Max, a mural of 44 portraits of Barack Obama. Max has created numerous paintings for the Early Show set and Smith praised the artist’s latest work: "Okay, wow. That is really, really, really cool...Wow. Well, that is pretty impressive. I hope somebody in the President-elect's transition office is taking a look at this. That is really amazing. Wow."
Smith asked Max: "What is your feeling as an artist as we come up on to this inauguration time and time of change?" Max replied: "Unbelievable, unbelievable. You know that night when he was announced being president and the whole country cried, I was in that same place...I couldn't believe it." Max later remarked on how: "You know, galleries from all over the country have called. I mean, I don't -- wouldn't even know where to start...I just love doing him. Doesn't he -- he just looks great...Young, energetic, fantastic guy." Smith ended the segment by declaring: "Wow...Yeah. Has a good smile, too, right? There you go. Peter, thank you so much...Really, really like it."
Federal spending is already at a record level, but instead of asking President-elect Barack Obama about the effectiveness of his proposed additional deficit spending, in an “exclusive” interview excerpted Wednesday night, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric hit him on the tax cut component:
Forty percent of your stimulus package relies on tax cuts with the hopes that people will invest that money or put it back into the economy. But some critics have said, "hey, that didn't really happen the last time." Why will it this time?
Couric did at least raise how “your nominee for Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, failed to pay some taxes, and did so only after he learned he would be tapped as Treasury Secretary. How embarrassing do you think this is for a future Treasury Secretary who will be overseeing the IRS?” Otherwise, the excerpt covered Couric's inquiries about Osama bin Laden and the situation in Gaza. A longer portion will air Tuesday night during a prime time special, “Change and Challenge: The Inauguration of Barack Obama.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Thalia Assuras reported on a down-trodden family who had their spirits lifted by an invitation to the Obama Inauguration: "...struggling Americans like Telisha and Kenny Brown...Unable to pay their rent, they turned to an interfaith shelter for families, with their boys, Donovan, 12, and Dylan, 9. They had planned to celebrate the inauguration in their tiny apartment...But now the Browns will have a front-row view to history. Here in Washington, D.C."
Assuras went on to explain that: "They'll be part of a glittering fantasy world,thanks to a dream realized by Virginia millionaire, Earl Stafford...Months before the election, Earl had a spiritual inspiration to bring those less fortunate to the inauguration, no matter what the cost." In the report, Stafford exclaimed: "It was providential, I was inspired by the Lord to do this." Assuras described how: "Stafford bought a million dollar hotel package of rooms, food, and an inaugural ball, to accommodate homeless people, wounded veterans, the terminally ill, and others selected by social service organizations, at least 300 rubbing shoulders with dignitaries."
Near the end of the segment, Assuras asked 12-year-old Donovan Brown: "Is it special because it's Barack Obama?" The boy replied: "Yes." Assuras concluded her report by declaring: "For this family, January 20th offers something new...Hope for a brighter future." The camera then focused in on a 2009 Obama calender in the Brown’s apartment.
Four years ago, the Associated Press and others in the press suggested it was in poor taste for Republicans to spend $40 million on President Bush’s inauguration. AP writer Will Lester calculated the impact that kind of money would have on armoring Humvees in Iraq, helping victims of the tsunami, or paying down the deficit. Lester thought the party should be cancelled: “The questions have come from Bush supporters and opponents: Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?”
Fast forward to 2009. The nation is still at war (two wars, in fact), and now also faces the prospect of a severe recession and federal budget deficits topping $1 trillion as far as the eye can see. With Barack Obama’s inauguration estimated to cost $45 million (not counting the millions more that government will have to pay for security), is the Associated Press once again tsk-tsking the high dollar cost?
Nope. “For inaugural balls, go for glitz, forget economy,” a Tuesday AP headline advised. The article by reporter Laurie Kellman argued for extravagance, starting with the lede: