Obama Watch

By Ken Shepherd | June 4, 2014 | 8:50 PM EDT

It's the latest viral video burning up the Internet, the talk of watercooler conversation all over the country today: President Obama looking positively goofy strenuously working out with a set of dumbbells. [I'll pause to let you write your own punchline]

It was video too good to ignore for both ABC's World News and CBS's Evening News, while NBC Nightly News decided to take a pass. Of course, both networks worked in a relatively positive spin for the president, with ABC worrying about and subsequently dismissing the notion of the video being a "security breach" while CBS's Maurice DuBois hailed the president as an disciplined athlete who sleepily hit the gym while on a grueling overseas trip. [See the relevant transcripts below the page break; Listen to MP3 audio here; Video follows page break]

By Tom Blumer | June 3, 2014 | 11:46 PM EDT

For evidence that no one looking for objective reporting should seriously consider reading output from the Politico, look no further than the 5,900-word puff piece propagated by Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein on Sunday.

Their "Special Report: The Obama Paradox" told readers what that President Obama supposedly "recognizes that he is less in control of the Washington agenda than ever in his presidency — a reality that has left him deeply frustrated at times." Meanwhile, the EPA is going wild with carbon regs in the name of the "climate change" hoax, federal regulators are harassing banks and their customers who operating legal businesses in Operation Choke Point, and immigration policy has been unilaterally hijacked. And in a final irony, as the Politico pair were putting their handiwork to bed, Obama was conducting a prisoner swap — one soldier whose loyalties are questionable for five hardened terrorists — while violating a law requiring him to notify Congress of what he was going. "Less in control" my foot. Instead, we are seeing ever-expanding usurpation of authority by Obama and his executive branch.

By NB Staff | June 3, 2014 | 9:55 PM EDT

"NBC's Richard Engel said U.S. relations have not improved with any country during the Obama presidency. Engel then was pulled into a van and hasn't been seen or heard from since."

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By Ken Shepherd | June 3, 2014 | 9:13 PM EDT

It's not scientific, of course, but a reader poll at the bottom of an MSNBC.com piece headlined "Is Bowe Bergdahl the GOP’s new Benghazi?" seems to indicate that not even fans of the Lean Forward network are falling for the network's absurd pro-Obama spin on the prisoner swap.

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin (65 percent), readers answered "no" to the poll question, "Do you support Obama’s decision to release 5 Taliban prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl?" You can see the screen capture taken at 9:09 p.m. Eastern below the page break

By Ken Shepherd | June 3, 2014 | 8:20 PM EDT

On his June 3 Hardball program, MSNBC's Chris Matthews expressed his disapproval of the president having broken federal law in the process of securing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release in exchange for transferring five high-level Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Qatari government custody.

Of course, it took a liberal Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) complaining about the matter to register with Matthews as a problem for the president, but all the same, the Hardball host seemed angry that President Obama violated a law which he signed into effect. The relevant transcript appears below the page break [emphasis mine; Listen to the MP3 audio here or watch the video below the page break]:

By Ken Shepherd | June 3, 2014 | 5:15 PM EDT

In order to press through with the five-for-one POW exchange to return Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, "the White House overrode an existing interagency process charged with debating the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners and dismissed long-standing Pentagon and intelligence community concerns based on Top Secret intelligence about the dangers of releasing" the five high-level Taliban detainees, Time magazine's Massimo Calabresi reported this afternoon at Time.com.

Indeed, "Obama’s move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should 'suck it up and salute,' says the official familiar with the debate," Calabresi reported. Appropriately, Time editors ripped that "suck it up and salute" line and made it the teaser headline on the Time.com front page [see screen capture below page break]. Aside from delving into the internal debate in the intelligence community and the administration over the release, Calabresi also reported how Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was given a heads up, even as it seems everyone else in Congress on both sides of the aisle were kept in the dark [emphasis mine]:

By Tom Blumer | May 30, 2014 | 11:08 PM EDT

In a report at CNBC on Thursday, Dan Mangan covered a "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll" which appears to have been pre-cooked for an administration which would love to have the press give Obamacare even less than the disproportionately low coverage that it has received since a few weeks after HealthCare.gov's diastrous initial rollout.

Mangan eagerly took the bait. His opening sentence: "And the winner by a nose is...shut up about Obamacare!" Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Connor Williams | May 30, 2014 | 4:55 PM EDT

When you’ve lost Chris Matthews, have you lost liberal America? The Hardball host stopped by for a visit on the May 30 edition of MSNBC’s NewsNation for an analysis of the resignation of VA Secretary Shinseki and the VA scandal overall.

The former Tip O’Neill staffer didn’t hold back, repeatedly hitting Obama and Shinseki for a lack of alertness regarding the scandal. Matthews was aghast at the utter lack of awareness the president has shown–not just on the VA –but on his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. He even insinuated that a lack of cognizance was a part of the president’s habitual behavior, proclaiming [audio here; video below]:

By Ken Shepherd | May 28, 2014 | 12:55 PM EDT

A group of prominent journalists -- including former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie -- met yesterday with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder but walked away from the meeting disappointed that the Obama administration's top cop won't amend vague Justice Department guidelines which, they argue, make it far too easy for the administration to hound a reporter with the threat of criminal prosecution for protecting his or her sources in a leak investigation.

Yet in covering the story, Post editors shoved Paul Farhi's reporting on the matter to the front page of Style, rather than the A-section, and slapped on a yawn-inducing headline guaranteed to entice only the wonkiest of readers: "Media group, Holder meet on leak cases." "U.S. rules on warrants and subpoenas targeting reporters are challenged," noted the subheader. According to Farhi, the group of journalists want to see DOJ policy amended so that the attorney general must personally get involved in a subpoena request for a journalist's records (emphasis mine):

By Tom Blumer | May 26, 2014 | 11:49 PM EDT

The Associated Press's Charles Babington went so far over the top in his Monday morning dispatch on Republicans, the Obama administration's scandals, and the fall electoral landscape that it's hard to know where to begin.

The fingerprints of Obama administration operatives appear to be all over Babington's report, both in what's included and what's left out. Most notoriously, there is no mention whatsoever of the Veterans Administration scandal. Ah, but there's a specific reference to Democrats who complain that the Benghazi and IRS scandals have been "fading from national headlines" except at the specifically named Fox News. Excerpts from Babington's babbling follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | May 26, 2014 | 9:04 PM EDT

With about 4-1/2 months remaining before early voting begins in the the 2014 elections, three sets of Obamacare-related campaigns are in full gear. The first is seen in electoral contests around the country. The second is a campaign of disinformation and no information being conducted by the Obama administration and its Department of Health and Human Services. The third is a concerted establishment press effort to give cover to Democratic Party candidates no matter what position they take on Obamacare, and to minimize the exposure the administration's deliberate acts of non-transparency receive.

All three campaigns came together in a Monday morning Associated Press report by Bill Barrow and Josh "Lapdog" Lederman. The two reporters avoided any mention of the fact that the administration has decided to "halt" monthly Obamacare enrollment reporting, while giving cover to Democratic Senate candidates around the country who haven't yet figured out how much distance to put between themselves, Obamacare, and President Barack Obama himself (bolds are mine throughout this post):

By Tom Blumer | May 24, 2014 | 12:51 AM EDT

The press continues its disinterested fiddling while the royal mess known as Obamacare burns through money and exhausts the patience of those attempting any kind of oversight.

One of the more obvious examples of this is how the Washington Post's May 17 story on errors in calculating Obamacare subsidies has gone absolutely nowhere. About one-third of the 20 results returned in a Google News search on "healthcare subsidies" (not in quotes) at 11 p.m. ET Friday evening were partial reprints or rewrites of the original story by WaPo reporters Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar. Most of the remaining results were from center-right outlets, while a few came from medical sites. The results didn't change much when searching on "health care" instead of "healthcare." What the WaPo pair reported is a breathtaking cacophony of incompetence which, as Heritage noted last year, won't even "solve" itself when Obamacare enrollees file their 2014 tax returns. Goldstein and Somashekhar also missed an opportunity to make a fundamental point, which is that everyone who has enrolled has some exposure.