On Friday, the CBS Early Show promoted President Obama’s stronger anti-terror language as correspondent Chip Reid proclaimed: “The President accepted responsibility for the attack. He said the buck stops with him. He also adopted his toughest tone yet, stressing that the United States is at war with Al Qaeda.”
Reid later cited security improvements made under the Bush administration to minimize the failures of the Obama administration: “Security expert Edward Alden says despite the Christmas day attack, U.S. intelligence has improved dramatically over the past decade.” Alden explained: “This is a difficult job and I think that we are much better placed now, by a long shot, than we were before 9/11.”
Reid concluded his report by describing Obama’s relief at being able to move on to other topics: “After two weeks of dealing with terrorism, almost around the clock, today, the President hopes to shift the focus, he’ll be giving a statement on what he’s doing to create jobs.”
The failures that allowed the unsuccessful Christmas Day terrorist attack have marred President Barack Obama’s relaxation schedule in Hawaii, CBS’s Jeff Glor and Chip Reid regretted Thursday night as Reid fretted Obama had “hoped to spend this vacation recharging his batteries, but now he appears to be spending most of it working” and assured viewers Obama is moving fast to protect Americans: “The President has immersed himself in the details of the review and that individuals will be held accountable, but the top priority now is to make sure it doesn't happen again.”
Fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor reported Obama “received the first report on the security failures leading up to the Christmas day attack,” and though for days after the incident Obama played golf and on Thursday went to see the Avatar movie with his daughters, Glor suggested to Reid the workload means “this is not the vacation the President planned, is it?” Reid agreed, seeing a burden on Obama:
It is not, Jeff. He had hoped to spend this vacation recharging his batteries, but now he appears to be spending most of it working. For New Year's Eve, he'll be reviewing nearly a dozen new reports from homeland security agencies, all part of a massive effort to figure out what went wrong.
On Sunday’s Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz brought up the scarcity of media attention paid to the revelation that high-profile Democratic Senator Max Baucus nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. attorney for his home state of Montana, as the CNN host even took to task CNN for ignoring the scandal, calling it a "stunning lapse in judgment," and recounted that he had monitored the news channel on Saturday and did not see Baucus mentioned. Kurtz: "Washington Post has it on page three, New York Times has it on page 33. I watched CNN all day yesterday. I didn’t see any mention of this story, which I thought was a stunning lapse in judgment."
When Kurtz questioned why there was so little media attention, guest Chip Reid of CBS News asserted there was "no scandal" in the story. Reid: "I don’t think it has legs because there’s no sex scandal, and it’s not like Vitter. It’s not like Ensign. There’s no scandal here."
Long after conservatives and the American people figured it out, CBS on Monday night came to the realization President Barack Obama has a “credibility” problem fueled by the “disconnect” between Obama's promise to reduce the deficit as he pushes for massive new spending. Back in August, the CBS Evening News denigrated the town hall questioners as “unruly protests,” but on Monday reporter Chip Reid warned:
The American people are increasingly questioning the President's credibility. He says the stimulus has saved or created 640,000 jobs, but only seven percent of Americans believe it has created any. And he's repeatedly promised health care reform will not increase the deficit, but a mere 19 percent believe him.
Reid proceeded to relay how CBS News analyst John Dickerson “says for many Americans there's a basic disconnect -- a President who promises to trim the budget but only seems to want to spend and spend.” More amazing for CBS, Reid noted how “highly respected foreign policy analyst Leslie Gelb” called Obama's just-completed Asia trip “'amateur hour' for failing to get deals locked in before the President left home.”
NBC's Chuck Todd and CBS's Chip Reid both concluded their interviews with President Obama conducted in Beijing by worrying about the “stress” of his job. “He laughed off the speculation about his reported weight loss,” Todd relayed on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, “but admitted the burden of the office does weigh on him.” The MSNBC.com online video of the entire interview disclosed Todd's obsequious inquiry:
I've had a couple people ask me this at NBC, are you losing weight, do you feel the stress? Where is this coming from? Or at the one-year point, do you feel like, “Oh my God, I look in the mirror, boy, they're right, this job does age you?”
Echoing the same concern, on the CBS Evening News Chip Reid related: “Asked about the stress of the job, the President denied reports that he's skipping meals and losing weight, but he admitted it's taking a toll.” As viewers heard Obama's reply -- “You have a convergence of factors that have made this a difficult year not so much for me but for the American people. Absolutely that weighs on me” -- CBS displayed a photo of a solemn Obama, head bowed, gazing out of an Oval Office window.
Citing an interview the President gave to White House correspondent Chip Reid, at the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: “An outraged President Obama says heads may roll when he returns from Asia, telling CBS News he’s furious over leaks about Afghanistan.” The leaks in question have highlighted the administration’s inaction on the war.
Rather than press the President on why he has failed to make a decision on Afghanistan, in the taped interview, Reid explained: “I asked the President if he’s as angry as Defense Secretary Robert Gates about all of the leaks coming out of his administration about the Afghanistan deployment decision.” Obama replied: “I think I’m probably angrier than Bob Gates about it....For people to be releasing information during the course of deliberations, where we haven’t made final decisions yet, I think, is not appropriate.” Reid followed up: “Is it a firing offense?” Obama responded: “Absolutely.”
After the interview clip, co-host Maggie Rodriguez was glad to see the President putting his foot down: “Good to hear that he has a zero tolerance policy on the leaks. That is no joke.”
The latest CBS News poll shows that Obama only has a 38 percent approval rating on his handling of Afghanistan, perhaps that is why the network is running defense for him.
At the top of Monday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric teased a story on the President’s trip to China by casting him as Reaganesque: “Mr. Hu, tear down that firewall. President Obama challenges China’s government to allow unfettered access to the internet.”
Couric introduced the segment that followed by continuing to play up the idea that Obama took a hard line on Chinese censorship: “In China today, he challenged leaders of the communist government to give people greater access to the internet.” Correspondent Chip Reid reported that the President’s actual statement on the matter was hardly so dramatic: “It’s one of the touchiest topics in China and the President’s long answer took on the tone of a polite lecture.”
A clip was played of Obama declaring: “I have always been a strong supporter of open internet use. I’m a big supporter of non-censorship....I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me. I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger...” Reid described those comments as a “rebuke” that “was aimed at China’s leaders.” However, He went on to admit: “...if they were watching it on TV, most Chinese were not, because the government allowed it to run on only one local channel in Shanghai. In the rest of China, they aired a soap opera.”
News that President Barack Obama is demanding new Afghanistan options and answers, after months and eight meetings with top officials on General Stanley McChrystal's request for more troops, led ABC anchor Charles Gibson to express exasperation Thursday night: “What new questions are there to be asked after all this time?”
CBS and NBC, however, weren't so dubious. Though Katie Couric painted “a long, drawn out process,” Chip Reid assigned gravitas to Obama as he asserted Obama “has been agonizing over this decision” and “recently immersed himself in the agony of war.” Reid touted: “That the President is so thoroughly researching such a critical decision is a good thing, according to CBS News national security consultant Juan Zarate.” Reid acknowledged that “there's great danger, he [Zarate] says, if it looks like uncertainty.”
Journalists, though, are making Obama look more deliberative than uncertain. ABC's Martha Raddatz assured Gibson that Obama “has four options in front of him” and “he wants to combine those options...to find the best option.”
Despite the mass shooting at Fort Hood, the ABC, CBS and NBC newscasts Thursday night squeezed in full stories pegged to a “kill the bill” anti-Pelosi/ObamaCare rally outside the U.S. Capitol attended by “angry protesters” as all the stories also stressed how President Obama got a “boost” from “big,” “powerful” “key” and “major” endorsements from the AARP and AMA.
NBC's Brian Williams contrasted “big endorsements by two influential groups” with “a big, noisy rally urging lawmakers to just say no,” while reporter Kelly O'Donnell minimized the conservative event as “a few thousand protesters.” ABC's Jonathan Karl, however, recognized how “the hastily-planned protest drew one of the largest crowds in memory for a congressional event. The crowd extends all the way up around to the House side of the building, across to the Senate side, literally surrounding the western front of the Capitol.”
NBC's Kelly recounted how the House bill would “expand health coverage to 96 percent of Americans, and create government-backed insurance called a public option. Today that plan won a powerful endorsement. AARP, the lobby group for Americans over 50, signed on and showed off boxes of supportive petitions” and that was “followed by another boost, the doctors' lobby, the American Medical Association.”
When Katie Couric and the folks at CBS start doubting what the Administration says about how effective February's economic stimulus package was, you know President Obama is in trouble.
Consider that on Thursday's CBS "Evening News," Chip Reid began a segment with the following startling statement about a jobs report card to be released by the White House Friday:
Well, Katie, that report is going to claim that the stimulus has already created or saved hundreds of thousands of jobs, but if the administration`s first effort at counting stimulus jobs is any guide, tomorrow`s numbers could be hard to believe.
Readers are advised to make sure youngsters are out of the room, for watching Katie and the Gang say the White House might be fudging numbers could be way too frightening for minors (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Terri Green, file photo):
All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday informed viewers of President Obama’s trip to New Orleans – including criticism he received for only staying a few hours. But correspondent Chip Reid of the CBS Evening News uniquely played up the fact that, even though President Obama had complained about President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, the Obama administration is receiving some of the same complaints -- including from one man wearing a Barack Obama T-shirt. On the down side, Reid passed on Obama’s attempt to blame the Bush administration without including anyone to advocate on former President Bush’s behalf.
After a clip of a man in the audience of the day's townhall meeting complaining to Obama about FEMA making payments too slowly – a clip which was also shown on the NBC Nightly News – with the man demanding, "I expected as much from the Bush administration, but why are we still being nickel and dimed in our recovery?" CBS’s Reid continued:
ABC, CBS and NBC all led Friday night with the “surprise” pick of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace Prize after less than a year in office and acknowledged the choice was meant as a slap at former President George W. Bush, but that didn't prevent the network journalists from touting the honor of the selection and, in one case, worrying about how critics will use the award against him.
“He has been in office nine months,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson observed as ABC plastered glowing praise on screen: “The Nobel committee citation seemed to take note of that, saying, 'only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope.'” Katie Couric exclaimed: “Talk about an October surprise!”
Despite the obvious politicization of the award, NBC's Brian Williams championed how it's “one of the last remaining towering honors on Earth.” Williams also fretted over how Obama's advisers will deal with “knowing that critics of the White House will use this, oddly, as a tool against him.” On CBS, Jeff Greenfield saw vindication for Obama after losing the Olympic bid:
In a somewhat schizophrenic report on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, White House correspondent Chip Reid proclaimed President Obama is: "still the darling of the international community. Warmly welcomed by a world that grew weary of President Bush’s brash go-it-alone style." But also admitted: "But with scant progress on a long his of issues, the question now is what does he have to show for it?"
Anchor Katie Couric opened the segment by asking Reid: "Can the President be anything other than the center of attention? Can he do more with that?" Reid replied: "He sure would like to be, Katie. You know, at every international summit he has attended he has been the most popular person in the room. But now many people are asking what good is popularity if it doesn’t lead to concrete results?" After denouncing President Bush’s "brash style," Reid praised Obama for his "sharp departure" which " has recommitted the United States to working with the U.N. and engaging the world."
A lover's quarrel emerged Tuesday night in the media's love affair with President Barack Obama. He disappointed NBC by failing, at the UN's “Summit on Climate Change,” to go far enough on global warming. “President Obama's being accused of falling short on the environment today with the whole world watching,” Brian Williams teased NBC Nightly News. Williams framed his lead story through the prism of the left as he fretted that, “in the eyes of a lot of environmentalists,” Obama “fell short.” Worse, while other nations are “ready to change, ready to get cleaner, President Obama's speech left a lot of people wanting more.”
Reporter Anne Thompson wistfully recalled that “when Barack Obama became President, many in the world hoped the U.S. would take a leadership role in stopping climate change” and so “that led to big expectations for today's speech -- expectations that were quickly dashed.” Thompson asserted “the world wanted to hear President Obama make a commitment to specific cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of action, it got talk” and, in the ultimate insult a journalist can deliver, she rued how Obama had “one line that sounded a lot like his predecessor, George W. Bush, who refused to agree to emission cuts without similar actions from India and China.”
Television network journalists on Friday night marveled at President Barack Obama's planned “media blitz” for health care reform even as they, the enablers, reveled in it as they made the very “blitz” and clips from the interviews (conducted Friday afternoon for airing on Sunday morning) their top story of the day. Based on those excerpts, the Sunday hosts were most interested in getting Obama's take on the “tone” of the health care debate (Obama blamed cable TV and blogs) and whether opposition is driven by racism. The teases:
♦ ABC's Charles Gibson at the top of World News: “Tonight, mass media. The President launches another media blitz on health care, and addresses whether race might be behind some of the criticisms of his plan.” (Gibson led by admiring: “On five, count them, five Sunday morning talk shows the guest will be Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama and Obama. That's never been done before...”)
♦ CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric: “Tonight, from Sunday morning to Monday night, the President's TV blitz for health care reform.”
♦ Brian Williams at the start of the NBC Nightly News: “On our broadcast tonight, an extraordinary media blitz by the President and now the First Lady steps in and tonight our own David Gregory asks the President directly about race and President Carter's charges.”
President Obama's address before a joint session of Congress “to rescue health care reform” caused “a 12-point improvement from last week” so “52 percent now approve of the way he's handling health care,” Katie Couric announced at the top of Friday's CBS Evening News in touting how a new CBS News poll discovered that “among those who say they watched the speech” -- a group she failed to point out was predisposed to Obama's policies -- “support is even greater, 58 percent.”
On NBC, anchor Brian Williams introduced a story on fallout from “Congressman Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican whose heckling of the President from the House floor continues to reverberate.” Reporter Kelly O'Donnell, who noted support for him in his district, observed what neither ABC nor CBS reported Friday night, that he made Democrats uncomfortable enough to acknowledge the current bills would let illegal immigrants get benefits: “As a result of this controversy, Senate Democrats said today they discussed options, like requiring Social Security numbers to make clear illegal immigrants will not get coverage.”
Reporting on the First Family vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, CBS reporter Chip Reid excitedly exclaimed: "One thing that’s going to give a huge boost to the economy is all the Obama paraphernalia...t-shirts, it’s baseball caps and magnets and coffee mugs and glasses. And restaurants are selling the ‘Baracko Taco.’ Bars are selling ‘Ale to the Chief.’ And all of it is selling like crazy."
Reporting for Monday’s CBS Early Show, Reid actually held up a number of Obama t-shirts while reciting the litany of presidential souvenirs for sale on the Massachusetts resort island. He concluded his report by declaring: "So if the President wanted to find someplace where he would be welcomed with open arms, he sure found it here in Martha’s Vineyard." Early Show co-host Russ Mitchell remarked: "Part of the Martha’s Vineyard stimulus plan, I guess." Reid agreed: "Exactly."
On Friday’s broadcast network evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News uniquely noted that Democrats in Montana had "orchestrated" a friendly environment for President Obama at a Montana town hall event as many Democrats arrived early to secure tickets. After CBS correspondent Chip Reid filed a report in which he relayed that "this crowd was on [Obama's] side," and that "the questions were mostly softballs," Reid brought up "orchestration" as one of the reasons for a friendly crowd: "So why wasn't there more anger in here? For one thing, after accusing Republicans of orchestrating their protests, Democrats did some orchestrating of their own, getting in line early in large numbers and snatching up most of the tickets."
On the NBC Nightly News, substitute anchor Ann Curry led with Obama's town hall appearance:
The President was to squarely take on the anger we’ve seen in recent weeks over health care reform, flying to a town hall in a conservative part of Montana. The audience, we were told, was not pre-screened. But the meeting was more like a campaign rally than a debate over health care. The President even getting a standing ovation.
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts in near-unison on Friday night disparaged the anti-ObamaCare protests at town meetings held by Members of Congress as “unruly,” “nasty” and “getting ugly,” while CBS and NBC targeted Rush Limbaugh -- NBC's Kelly O'Donnell charged “some anger...gets stoked by the provocative megaphone of Rush Limbaugh, who went so far as accusing Democrats of wanting the socialized medicine of Nazi Germany” -- without bothering to acknowledge Limbaugh was reacting to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who first put Nazi comparisons into play by accusing the opponents of “carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”
Following O'Donnell, NBC's Chuck Todd checked in from a parallel universe at the White House where, except for the pesky health care opponents, Obama's staff achieved great things during the week:
They look back at this week, and they see that they've rescued two Americans from North Korea, that they broke a barrier at the Supreme Court with the confirmation of soon-to-be Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that a major terrorist was killed in, of the Taliban, a figure that is believed, that is somebody that might be able to break up the Taliban in such a way, that the cash for clunkers turned out to be a success, those good unemployment news. So they sit here and say, hey, it's pretty good, but then this health care debate and this town halls that Kelly was reporting on....
ABC anchor Charles Gibson saw “a pattern of disruption -- opponents of change shouting at members of Congress so loud that at times police are called in.” He then pointed to the Obama administration as an authority on civility, highlighting how “White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today: 'We can discuss these issues without being uncivilized. It's the same thing I tell my six-year-old.'”
CBS and NBC released new polls Wednesday night which illustrated how the public is moving against President Barack Obama on health care as his overall approval, at least in the NBC survey, fell to its lowest-ever level. But while both networks conveyed the bad news for Obama, NBC's Chuck Todd failed to point out how more now disapprove than approve of Obama's handling of health care, a devastating judgment for Obama, and CBS took time to elaborate on how “the poll also has some good news” for Obama.
“Less than half approve of the way President Obama is handling health care,” Katie Couric announced Wednesday night in reporting on the CBS News/New York Times poll,” but she saw a potential rebound ahead: “So he has some convincing to do. And that took him today to the Tar Heel State.” Chip Reid soon ran through bad news for Obama -- “69 percent of Americans say they're concerned quality of care will diminish...77 percent that their medical costs will rise” -- but then delivered some “good news for the President: 82 percent of Americans agree with him that the health care system is in need of a major overhaul” and “if there's no reform, 75 percent are concerned their costs will go up.” And “66 percent support the public option.”
On NBC, Todd damned with faint praise: “If there is one piece of good news that the White House can take from this is that he's still the most popular politician in the country. But that's part of the problem, he is now viewed as just another politician” as “this campaign for health care...has taken a serious toll.” With a matching graphic on screen, Todd recounted how the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll determined that “for the third straight month, the President's job approval rating has dropped -- from 61 percent in April, to 56 percent in June, to 53 percent now.”
For the second weekday in a row, Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News on Monday night by delivering President Obama's aggressive retorts to critics of his health plan as reporter Chip Reid pitched in to help, discrediting critics by disparaging their perspectives as “harsh” and “incendiary” attacks -- all before Couric caught up with ABC and NBC from the night before and promoted Ted Kennedy's “We're Almost There” Newsweek cover story.
Couric teased: “The President takes on critics of his health care reform plan. He vows to move forward and says trying to fix a system that's breaking American families.” (Friday night she touted “a warning from the President,” leading into Obama's claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.”)
Reid declared that “in some of his harshest comments yet, Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele said the President's plan for a public insurance option is socialism.” But this is all Steele said in the clip Reid played: “This reckless approach is an ill-conceived attempt to push through an experiment and all of us should be scared to death.” Reid continued: “In one of the most incendiary comments, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, in a conference call with conservative activists, recently said:” Viewers then heard audio of DeMint making a tactical political point: “If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”
A night after CBS and NBC skipped the assessment from the chief of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the Senate and House health plans won't meet President Obama's pledge to not increase deficit spending, the two networks caught up only when Obama, reacting to “anxiety” even from Democrats, addressed the setback to his quest late Friday. CBS anchor Katie Couric spun the bad news for Obama into “a warning” from him about the ominous fate which awaits Americans if he does not succeed.
“Also tonight, a warning from the President,” she teased Friday's CBS Evening News before a clip of Obama with a very suspect claim: “If we don't get health care reform done now, then no one's health insurance is going to be secure.” Couric introduced the story by portraying Obama as the hero trying to reach a noble goal: “President Obama today continued his hard sell for health care reform, but he also had to do a little doctoring, treating a case of sticker shock over the latest proposals for insuring nearly every American.” Chip Reid related that “with anxiety surging over the cost of health care reform, the President today sought to reassure the public and nervous members of Congress” a day after the CBO director “sent shock waves through Capitol Hill.”
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid described the relief of world leaders at the G-8 Summit that Barack Obama was representing the United States: "...the President showed yet again he's the most popular leader here...And some leaders said they're relieved that President Obama is here instead of President Bush."
Reid’s report focused on Obama’s efforts to get world leaders to agree on policies to combat global warming and the difficulty the President encountered: "Being well liked, though, doesn't necessarily translate into influence. The President came here hoping to forge consensus on an aggressive response to global warming... But in the end, there was disappointment, as the gap between rich and poor nations proved impossible to bridge, just as it has for years."
The report failed to mention any criticism of Obama’s efforts, other than a brief explanation of why nation’s like China were not on board with the plan: "While the eight major economies agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, the nine developing nations, including China, refused to adopt specific limits, fearful that cutting emissions too much will hurt their growing economy." No time was given to global warming critics in the United States who share that concern.
By this time, the NewsBusters connoisseur will have surely heard about yesterday’s unofficial celebration in the White House press briefing. Like many parties, it was somewhat louder than normal, a bit tense at points, and the press – specifically Chip Reid and Helen Thomas – topped off the early Independence Day festivities by roasting (figuratively, of course) Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
That, incidentally, does not normally happen at parties – even at the White House.
The Robert Roast was, of course, in reference to the recent spate of staged White House press events. The White House press corps, apparently, do not enjoy heavily produced events, such as the “town hall” meeting with DNC volunteers and union members. However, Carl Bernstein, appearing on the July 2 Morning Joe, did not take kindly to the gentle press-corps broiling:
“Nixon didn’t try to do that,” Thomas said. “They couldn’t control (the media). They didn’t try. “What the hell do they think we are, puppets?” Thomas said. “They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them.” Thomas said she was especially concerned about the arrangement between the Obama Administration and a writer from the liberal Huffington Post Web site. The writer was invited by the White House to President Obama’s press conference last week on the understanding that he would ask Obama a question about Iran from among questions that had been sent to him by people in Iran. “When you call the reporter the night before you know damn well what they are going to ask to control you,” Thomas said.
Is the press corps starting to tire of the Obama Administration?
At a press conference today, Helen Thomas and CBS’s Chip Reid got into it with Robert Gibbs over how the administration has been prepackaging media events.
First Reid asked why the questions for Wednesday’s town hall on healthcare were being preselected. After Gibbs tried to dodge that question a few times, Thomas became involved, saying, “We have never had that in the White House. I’m amazed that you people … call for openness and transparency.”
On Sunday, White House correspondent Chip Reid gave a glowing review of President Obama’s overseas trip: "A trip laden with symbolism and elegant words, asking the world to look beyond old hatreds and wounds. In doing so, he hopes to create a world where there never has to be another D-Day." [audio available here]
During CBS Sunday Morning, Reid reported on Obama’s trip to the Middle East and Europe, highlighting the President’s speech in Cairo last week and marking of the 65 th anniversary of D-Day in France on Saturday. On the subject of Obama addressing the Islamic world, Reid cited left-wing New York Times columnist and Obama sycophant, Roger Cohen, who declared: "He went out there, he spoke movingly...He spoke in a way that convinced Muslims that he is sensitive to their view of their suffering, to their culture, to their religion. And that's a new message from an American president."
In March of 2008, Cohen jumped aboard the Obama campaign, using his column to praise then candidate Obama’s speech on race: "It takes bravery, and perhaps an unusual black-white vantage point, to navigate these places where hurt is profound, incomprehension the rule, just as it takes courage to say, as Obama did, that black ‘anger is real; it is powerful’...Can an inquiring mind actually explore the half-shades of truth? Yes. It. Can...The clamoring now in the United States for a presidency that uplifts rather than demeans is a reflection of the intellectual desert of the Bush years."
Network anchors and reporters didn't hesitate to apply strong ideological labels (not just quoting others) to President Bush's two Supreme Court nominees, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Will they be as willing to tag President Obama's nominee, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, as “staunch,” and “hardline” and “ultra” liberal, or at least as “very liberal”?
In July of 2005, on the night Bush announced Roberts, ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Ted Koppel both described him as not just conservative, but as “very conservative.” NBC's Brian Williams called Roberts “a kind of 'bedrock conservative,' not what is called a 'movement conservative.'”
The next night, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts (now with CNN) wanted to know of his namesake: “Has President Bush attempted to move the court further to the right with this pick?” On NBC, Chip Reid (now at CBS) highlighted how one liberal activist “says he worries that Roberts might be a stealth candidate, moderate on the outside but as conservative as Justices Scalia and Thomas on the inside.”
Thursday's NBC Nightly News featured Andrea Mitchell chastising and correcting former Vice President Dick Cheney for his speech on fighting terrorism, but the network saw no need to correct anything asserted by President Obama in his address on the same topic while anchor Brian Williams asked if Republicans are “happy” to have Cheney as “their messenger?”
CBS delivered contrasting conclusions in their two stories: With Obama, stressing his rebuke of his critics; with Cheney, emphasizing his unpopularity. Chip Reid ended his report on Obama by relaying Obama's charge that “opponents of closing Guantanamo Bay are using the politics of fear,” but, moments later, Bill Plante concluded his look at former VP Cheney's address on fighting terrorism by highlighting “Republicans who fear that the high-profile criticism coming from someone as unpopular as Cheney isn't helping their party.” The two conclusions on the May 21 CBS Evening News:
Chip Reid: “The President said opponents of closing Guantanamo Bay are using the politics of fear and he promised it will be closed.”
Bill Plante: “The former Vice President has made it clear that he intends to continue speaking out, ignoring Republicans who fear that the high-profile criticism coming from someone as unpopular as Cheney isn't helping their party.”
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.