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.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show White House correspondent Chip Reid reported on President Obama’s controversial commencement address at Notre Dame University over the weekend, but dismissed pro-life protesters as interlopers from outside groups: "The President did come under fire, but mostly from university outsiders, anti-abortion activists. But inside that graduation ceremony, his reception was much warmer than some had expected...But the vast majority here welcomed the President with open arms."
Reid briefly described some of the protest efforts: "There were hundreds of protesters waiting for the President when he arrived at Notre Dame. Hecklers who interrupted his commencement speech several times." Reid then declared: "And some who saw an opportunity to re-ignite the national debate on abortion." A clip was then played of Obama’s former Senate race opponent, Republican Alan Keyes: "Barack Obama's deeply committed to what [Pope] John Paul [II] called the culture of death and the murder of innocent children."
Reid’s report did not feature any members of the Notre Dame faculty or student body opposed to Obama speaking or mention a separate commencement ceremony that several pro-life students attended on campus. In addition, Reid failed to acknowledge a recent Gallup poll that showed a majority of Americans consider themselves pro-life.
The evening newscasts on Tuesday night attributed Senator Arlen Specter's motivation for changing parties to how he realized he wouldn't win the Republican primary in Pennsylvania, but they also, just as they did with Senator Jim Jeffords in 2001, eagerly relayed -- without any challenge -- Specter's spin that, in the words of the TV journalists, he “had been driven out by the right-wing of the Republican Party,” the GOP's “increasingly conservative tilt” and “the fringe of the party.”
CBS framed its story around that convenient target as the Evening News showcased Specter's charge in its tease: “The party has shifted very far to the, to the right.” Katie Couric noted that Specter “acknowledged he cannot win the Republican primary, so he's becoming a Democrat. But as Chip Reid reports, Specter says there were other reasons behind the switch.” Setting up the same Specter soundbite as in the tease, Reid reported the “moderate” Specter “says he's leaving the Republican party because the Republican party left him.” Reid bolstered Specter's concern by asserting “200,000 Pennsylvania Republicans have registered as Democrats in just the past year. Specter blames the party's increasingly conservative tilt.” Specter exclaimed: “There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising.”
On NBC, Kelly O'Donnell described how “he would be facing a much more conservative challenger” in the primary and “couldn't risk” losing, before she related Specter's rationalization “that voters who tend to turn out in the primaries tend to be on the fringe of the party, not a moderate Republican like he is.” ABC's Jonathan Karl highlighted how “Specter said he had been driven out by the right-wing of the Republican Party.” Then viewers were treated to Specter scolding conservatives: “They don't make any bones about their willingness to lose the general election if they can purify the party. There ought to be a rebellion. There ought to be an uprising.”
Giving a warm wind-up to President Barrack Obama's overseas trip as it comes to an end in Istanbul, NBC's Chuck Todd declared Monday that the decision to make Turkey the last stop “could prove to be one of the shrewder early moves in this young presidency.”
On CBS, anchor Katie Couric highlighted how a new CBS News/New York Times poll pegged Obama's approval at 66 percent, the highest ever in that survey the CBSNews.com online posting touted: “Obama Approval Hits New High -- 66%.” Couric also pointed out how Obama has made Americans feel better with the “wrong direction” measure for the nation falling from 89, under Bush, to 53 percent: “More than half still say we're heading the wrong way, but that's a dramatic 36-point improvement from the waning days of the Bush administration.”
Reporter Chip Reid showcased more positive poll results for Obama's trip, as “67 percent of Americans believe the President will return to the U.S. with the respect of world leaders.”
The broadcast networks continued their infatuation Thursday night with Michelle Obama as ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “Center stage. With substance and style, the First Lady steps onto the world stage, becoming something of a mega-star.” He soon equated her popularity with Jacqueline Kennedy, the last First Lady to so enchant the press. On NBC, Dawna Friesen trumpeted how “she has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town.” Highlighting the First Lady's appearance before a largely-minority group of school girls, Friesen hailed: “To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful.”
Two noteworthy quotes from the CBS Evening News:
> In a wrap-up piece on the G-20 summit, anchor Katie Couric decided it was relevant to stress: “The people of London treated the Obamas like rock stars, the kind of reception an American President has not received in some time.”
> CBS reporter Chip Reid, over video of many waving raised hands from journalists trying to catch Obama's attention, pointed out how excited Obama made the press corps during his news conference: “The President continued his charm offensive with the nearly two thousand members of the international press corps who literally begged to ask questions.”
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show correspondent Chip Reid reported on President Obama’s first day in Britain: "Arriving at 10 Downing Street this morning, the President and First Lady were warmly greeted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah. They posed for a hoard of photographers who shouted for the President, who is hugely popular here, to give them another wave...Then a short walk across the street for a press conference where Mr. Obama was showered with praise."
A clip was played of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offering that "praise": "Your first 70 days in office have changed America, and you've changed America's relationship with the world." Reid then added: "After cementing relations between the two close allies, the President said he's confident this summit will help ease the global economic crisis."
Reid began his report with breaking news, touting a possible nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia: "At this very moment, President Obama is meeting with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and White House officials say they will soon announce a diplomatic breakthrough. Opening negotiations on a new treaty to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Some very good news for President Obama as he begins this high stakes summit."
In what was an otherwise critical story about President Obama signing an earmark-laden spending bill despite promising an end to such pork barrel projects, on Wednesday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid decided to mention a modest earmark by former Idaho Senator Larry Craig: "And it's not just Democrats, about 40% of the earmarks were inserted by Republicans. Even retired lawmakers. Remember Republican Senator Larry Craig, arrested in a bathroom sting? He retired, but his legacy lives on through a million dollars in earmarks for Idaho." If Reid wanted to cite much more egregious Republican offenders he could have picked Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, who had $114 million in pet projects, or Missouri Senator Kit Bond, who had $86 million. Of course, neither of them were recently involved in sex scandals.
Other than the Craig mention, the piece was unusually tough on Obama, as anchor Katie Couric began the broadcast by declaring: "Also tonight, he campaigned against earmarks, but today President Obama signed a bill loaded with them behind closed doors." Reid reported: "The last thing the President wanted was a high-profile ceremony as he signed a bill stuffed with pork barrel spending...behind closed doors, it was, critics say, business as usual, as the President quietly signed a $410 billion domestic spending bill. 1,100 pages loaded with about 8,500 pet projects known as earmarks, inserted by members of Congress without legislative review...Some are the handiwork of former lawmakers who now work for the President. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has $6.5 million in projects for Illinois."
Media outlets preyed upon people's emotions this week in its reporting of President Barack Obama's decision to overturn the Bush Administration ban on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research.
Embryonic stem cell research is a hot topic among pro-life advocates because it involves the destruction of human embryos in order to obtain the stem cells needed.
CBS' Chip Reid said of embryonic stem-cells during the March 6 Evening News "Scientists believe that by turning them into cells damaged by injury or disease, they can treat or even cure everything from spine cord injuries to Alzheimer's disease to diabetes."
Typical of ABC's Lisa Stark's weekend reporting on the issue was her explanation during the March 6 World News with Charles Gibson: "The president's move will free up federal dollars for more widespread research on embryonic stem cells, the so-called master cells of the body. Supporters say it may lead to cures for diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimers."
What these reports ignore is that embryonic stem cell research has not produced any positive results Daniel S. McConchie, vice-president of government affairs for Americans United for Life, wrote, "Ten years after the first isolation of embryonic stem cells, there is not a single disease that these cells can cure." He adds, "Scientists have been conducting research on mouse embryonic stem cells for over 25 years and are yet unable to cure mice."
President Obama's health care summit at the White House played into receptive television news hands Thursday night as NBC displayed “Fixing Health Care” on screen before reporter Chuck Todd appropriated the coach who inspired “win one for the Gipper” by touting how “the President's drive to pass health care got a Knute Rockne-like boost with a surprise appearance” by Senator Ted Kennedy, while ABC's Dr. Tim Johnson, who on Sunday had decried as a “national shame” America's lack of universal health care, effused: “I was blown away by President Obama's grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.”
CBS's Chip Reid corroborated Obama's point about soaring costs by citing a business where “in 2005, it cost $75,000 to cover about 25 employees. In 2008, it cost $148,000,” as if more government involvement to expand the number of people covered will lower costs. Reid also hailed Obama's fresh approach: “Instead of doing battle with insurance companies, drug companies, hospitals, and doctors, this time all those groups are in the room, most agreeing that now is the time for shared sacrifice.”
One of the issues Obama was taking action on was health care, according to Chip Reid's "Evening News" report.
Chip Reid told viewers: "Hoping to take advantage of any momentum from last night's speech to Congress, the president, today, forged ahead with a flurry of activity on his economic plan. On health care, the White House said the president's budget, to be released Thursday, will include $634 billion to expand health coverage. To be paid for by taxing the wealthy and trimming payments to insurance companies, hospitals and doctors."
Later in the segment, Reid misled viewers as to the number of uninsured. He said the White House was calling that enormous package "a big first step in getting health insurance to America's 48 million uninsured."
The problem is, "America's 48 million uninsured" is an overstatement. The Census Bureau puts the figure at 45.6 million, but that statistic includes non-citizens and people who choose not to have insurance because of age or income.
ABC, CBS and NBC reporters over the past two days have relayed how the Obama administration proposes to cut the annual federal deficit from $1.3 trillion to $533 billion in four years by cutting spending on the war in Iraq and raising the income tax rate for those earning more than $250,000. Not considered: How since the Bush tax cuts the revenue paid by the richest -- and their share of total income taxes collected -- have been rising year-by-year. So will a tax hike, from 35 to 39.6 percent, really increase the amount the wealthiest pay, or will they find ways to avoid reporting income and thus the government will see little, if any, additional revenue -- to say nothing about the wisdom of alerting investors during an economic downturn that their tax rate will soon jump?
Monday night, CBS's Chip Reid reported: “Most of the savings would come from winding down the war in Iraq, ending the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year and cutting spending.” Jake Tapper, also Monday night, on ABC: “Another source of revenue being proposed -- allowing the Bush tax cuts for a family earning over $250,000 a year to expire in 2011, increasing that tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent.”
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid described Barack Obama’s signing of the massive "stimulus" spending bill into law: "After a mere four weeks in office, the President today signed what he called ‘the most sweeping economic recovery plan in American history’...A new law that he described as a new beginning...In Missouri, the reaction was instantaneous. As the bill was signed, highway commissioners signed a contract, cut a check, and work began on the first project in the nation."
Reid dedicated only one sentence of his report to those opposing the legislation: "On the steps of the Colorado statehouse today, protestors condemned the bill, while Republicans across the nation vowed to analyze every dollar of spending in search of waste and fraud." Reid followed that up with: "The White House is already fighting back. Today launching a web site intended to instill public confidence in the President's plan." None of the protestors or Republican lawmakers were quoted in the story.
ABC, CBS and NBC centered their Thursday night stories, on Senator Judd Gregg's decision to withdraw as Commerce Secretary-nominee, around his disagreement with the Obama administration's “stimulus” plan -- with only passing mention, if any, of the administration's wish to move the 2010 census count from Commerce to the White House.
CNN's Jessica Yellin reported at the top of the 6 PM EST Situation Room that “sources close to Senator Gregg say the bigger issue for him was the White House's effort to take control of the census,” yet that politicalization of the census wasn't mentioned at all in a full CBS Evening News story from Chip Reid, who found time to relay how “a top Democratic source on Capitol Hill was more blunt, saying Gregg actively campaigned for the job, then 'erratically dropped out without warning,'” nor in a Katie Couric-Bob Schieffer discussion.
On ABC's World News, George Stephanopoulos offered a clause about the census, but couched as merely a GOP allegation: “Since the nomination became public there were two public issues over who would administer the census -- that was getting politicized according to Republican officials -- and also over the stimulus bill.”
On Monday’s CBS Evening News correspondent Chip Reid described Barack Obama’s efforts to gain support for the so-called "stimulus" bill: "The president aimed the full power of his office, including Air Force One, at the Heartland today, speaking directly to the people in Elkhart, Indiana...For now, the president appears to have the public on his side. A new Gallup poll out today gives him a 67 percent approval rating for his handling of the stimulus legislation, far higher than either Democrats or Republicans in Congress, and he'll be turning on the pressure of popularity again tonight when he holds his first prime time press conference."
In later coverage, just prior to the presidential press conference, Reid again cited the Gallup poll numbers. However, recent Gallup poll results showed that only 38 percent of Americans supported the actual bill in its current form, with 37 percent wanting major changes, 17 percent rejecting it, and 8 percent having no opinion.
Following Reid’s Evening News report, anchor Katie Couric asked: "And, Chip, after the Senate passes the bill, it goes to conference with the House. What is the outlook for that?" Reid replied: "Well, the Democrats and Republicans admit that it is going to be passed eventually, probably by the end of this week, but there's going to be some serious horse trading. It all goes on behind closed doors, and that's when the real work gets done. It gets done much more quickly than when it’s out in public." Apparently public support is not that important.
A CBS News poll conducted February 2 through February 4 found that 62 percent of Americans believe that tax cuts would do more to get the country out of recession, while only 16 percent thought government spending would. However, when Evening News anchor Katie Couric touted other results from that same poll on Thursday, February 5 she managed to leave out that particular finding. That poll finding has not been mentioned in any CBS News coverage since the poll’s release on February 5.
Instead, Couric focused on the aspect of the poll that claimed that 51 percent of Americans support the so-called "stimulus" bill being pushed by the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress. In addition, later on Thursday’s Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid also cited a poll question that showed 81 percent of Americans saw President Obama as being bipartisan in the debate over the massive spending bill.
During the opening of Friday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric teased upcoming coverage of the so-called "stimulus" bill being debated in Congress: "Tonight, 13 jobs a minute disappearing...Senate moderates race to trim the stimulus package to a passable size." An image of a ticking clock appeared on screen as Couric spoke. A clip was also played of Barack Obama exclaiming: "These numbers demand action." In another clip, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked: "The world is waiting to see what we're going to do in the next 24 hours." [audio excerpt here]
Couric later reported on a possible Senate agreement regarding the legislation, portraying it as a compromise despite a lack of significant Republican support: "The Senate has reached tentative agreement on an economic stimulus package. Price tag: $780 billion, trimmed down from more than 900 billion. The compromise followed more dismal economic news." Correspondent Chip Reid continued to tout the so-called "compromise": "The deal was worked out behind closed doors by a group of about 16 moderate Republicans and Democrats, who plodded slowly through the 700 page bill line by line, looking for projects that won't do much to stimulate the economy." Neither Reid nor Couric explained that only three moderate Republican senators offered support.
Following Reid’s report, Couric asked him: "So, Chip, does today's deal mean the House and Senate will be able to compromise on a final stimulus bill, or once again will everything be back on the table?" Reid raised concerns, but only those of Democrats who wanted to spend more: "Not everything, but a whole lot. Nancy Pelosi and other liberal Democrats in the House do not like these cuts. They didn't even like the idea of trying to cut $100 billion out of this bill, much less 150 billion, and they're vigorously opposed to those cuts in education."
On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid touted a new CBS News poll that portrayed Barack Obama as being more bipartisan on the current "stimulus" spending bill being debated in Congress, than Republicans: "The new CBS News poll shows 81 percent of Americans think the president is trying for bipartisanship, but less than half say congressional Republicans and Democrats are doing the same." The poll, which separated the president from his fellow Democrats in Congress, claimed 49 percent of Americans felt congressional Democrats were being bipartisan, while only 41 percent said the same of congressional Republicans.
However, those poll findings were not reported on Friday’s CBS Early Show. Perhaps because later Thursday night, speaking at a retreat for House Democrats, Obama declared: "Don't come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis...We're not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that, for the last eight years, doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin...We can't embrace the losing formula that says only tax cuts will work for every problem we face, that ignores critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil, or the soaring cost of health care, or failing schools and crumbling bridges and roads and levees."
Live-blogging the press briefing. Was scheduled to start at 2:30, it's now 2:38.
Watching on Fox News Channel. May also through up some Tweets @KenShepherd
The archive of official White House press briefings can be found here.
14:45: Still waiting for Gibbs to come out. Fox News has gone to split-screen.
14:52, Gibbs finally underway.
14:54, female reporter notes Judd Gregg connection to Abramoff scandal. 2nd question, is president getting tougher in rhetoric on stimulus?
14:56, same reporter he feels the need to ramp up the rhetoric a bit, why is that?
14:58, male reporter asks if there's any concern the executive pay guideline will backfire, with firms not asking for bailout money b/c of the rules. Also asks if Gibbs can give a "flavor" for what to expect from stimulus negotiations.
15:01, same reporter: Are you worried about it backfiring?
15:02, Ed Henry, CNN with question about president's stance on "buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill.
15:03, Henry asks "what balance" does Obama want "to strike" in buying American and honoring trade commitments.
13:47 CNN cuts to Brady briefing room, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs making opening announcements before questions. Announces Obama event to commemorate 200th anniversary of birth of Abraham Lincoln.
13:52, female reporter: On Tom Daschle, if you could take a step back, we have two nominees paying back taxes. An awful lot of money... what kind of a message does it send?
Robert Gibbs says Daschle discovered a mistake and paid for it, including penalty fees. Says he hopes Senate will examine not just "one mistake in a career" but Daschle's whole career in public service.
After years of agitation over what they saw as President George W. Bush's self-righteous moral certitude, journalists on Thursday night embraced President Barack Obama's vilification of those working for Wall Street firms who got a bonus last year. “Shameful,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams teased his newscast, “that's how President Obama labels those Wall Street types paying themselves big bonuses while getting billions in tax dollars.” Reporter Chuck Todd referred to how Obama was “channeling his inner populist” as he “got upset about something that the public has been angry about for weeks.”
CBS's Katie Couric led with how “we found out what it takes to get Barack Obama angry,” that “employees of financial companies in New York collected nearly $18.5 billion in bonuses last year” and “the President called it 'shameful.'” Chip Reid related how “the President told advisors the anger rose straight from his gut” before Reid relayed that another liberal politician, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, “said the President's remarks are 'a welcome breath of fresh air.'”
Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $825 billion “stimulus” package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republican votes. “Not one Republican voted for it,” ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News with “Rescue Plan” as the on-screen heading, “turning a cold shoulder to the President's appeal for bipartisan support.” Reporter Jonathan Karl fretted: “So much for the President's charm offensive. Today it was all partisan rancor and name-calling.”
CBS reporter Chip Reid related how “the White House says this is a victory for the President, but certainly there is also some disappointment that he worked so hard to get bipartisan support and couldn't get a single Republican vote.” Reid soon chafed over how “Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support.” Katie Couric noted how “the President went up to the Hill to personally appeal to Republicans already,” so, she pleaded, “what more can he do?”
More proof that America has been delivered from the eight years of hell that were the Bush administration: Environmentalists are happy again. That’s according to CBS Evening News on Jan. 26.
Reporting on the orders President Obama issued yesterday to overturn Bush Administration decisions regarding automotive emissions, Chief White House Correspondent Chip Reid said, “On Capitol Hill critics said the action could set the struggling American automobile industry back even further, but the change in course delighted the president’s audience, long suffering environmental activists.”
Had it been a Republican president undoing the draconian environmental policies of a Democrat president, would Reid have talked of “long suffering manufacturers?” “Hard pressed entrepreneurs?” “Much put-upon businesses?”
Update/Closing thoughts (14:34): Hearst columnist Helen Thomas continues to make a cartoon of herself in her using her perch to parrot ultra-left-wing talking points. Her question today was on why President Obama wants to send troops into Afghanistan to "kill more people."Without doubt it was the loopiest left-wing question posed today. Oddly enough, given her history of bias, one of the best queries today came from April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, who questioned the wisdom of pegging hopes of economic recovery on so-called "green jobs."
About to live-blog the White House daily press briefing. I'm focusing chiefly on the questions from the journalists. I'm watching via Fox News.
13:42: Gibbs: our e-mail system isn't working so well, apologizes for that to press corps.
Questions from reporters follow:
13:44, female reporter: Can you describe a little more fully about Amb. Rice's comments on mid-east diplomacy
13:45, female reporter: So you can't say when the diplomacy [with Iran] will begin or how?
13:46, Chuck Todd, NBC News: When are you guys going to announce a housing plan? Where is the money? Is it part of TARP?
13:47,Todd's followup: Does that mean it will not be part of the $350 billion?
13:48, Todd: Going to encourage banks to lend more?
That's one of the selling points used over and over again by pundits, as they are paraded out repeatedly on broadcast and cable network news programs - that so-called "shovel-ready" projects will challenge economic woes by revitalizing something we need to do anyway. But only 3 percent of the Obama stimulus plan is slated for such projects.
"The total size of the plan is about $750 to $800 billion - roughly $300 billion is for tax cuts for businesses and individuals," CBS correspondent Chip Reid said on CBS's Jan. 12 "The Early Show." "The rest will be spent on everything from roads and bridges to renewable energy to create three to 4 million jobs. Republicans are raising red flags about the amount of spending."
The network evening shows didn’t have much of an appetite for Democratic hypocrisy among the team they hailed as a "superstar Cabinet" on Tuesday night. Timothy Geithner, Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, a man who would oversee the IRS, failed to pay $42,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes -- and waited to pay more than half of that amount – $26,000 – only after Obama decided to nominate him. On top of that, one of Geithner’s household employees failed to renew her green card. Only ABC mentioned Geithner in their introductions, and featured no report, just an interview with George Stephanopoulos, who said it was a mere "speed bump" and "fairly common." CBS and NBC spent little more than a minute on Geithner, and NBC’s screen featured the Obama team’s claim in quotes. Under Geithner’s picture were the words "Honest Mistakes."
ABC’s World News at least put the Geithner scandal in its opening seconds. Anchor Charles Gibson declared: "Tax trouble. Questions are raised about Barack Obama's choice for Treasury Secretary, and his failure to pay some taxes." About four minutes into the show, the story was aired:
Barack Obama nominates someone to head the CIA whose major qualification is his inexperience. Even Democrats are dismayed. John Travolta's son, sadly, died. So in its crucial first half-hour this morning, the Early Show naturally devotes almost five minutes to the Travolta story while ignoring the controversy surrounding Leon Panetta's appointment. Far from revealing that even senior Dems like Senators Feinstein and Rockefeller have signalled their displeasure over the naming of Panetta, CBS' Chip Reid painted the pick as a sign of how Obama is briskly taking charge. Here was the sum total of the Early Show's discussion of the matter:
CHIP REID: He may not be Commander-in-Chief just yet. But Mr. Obama is wasting no time, on Monday picking former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the CIA, and retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence.
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, fill-in host Chip Reid discussed the economic crisis with left-wing economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, wondering: "I know you've been arguing for a more progressive government for a long time and obviously at difficult times like this, I don't want to suggest that a recession is a good thing. But if looking back at this five years, or some number of years, from now, can you envision a country that is better off because of how it responded to this recession?"
In response, Krugman explained: "Well, if you believe, as I do, that we need a stronger social safety net, that we need universal healthcare, then the revelation of just how vulnerable we are when things go wrong is going to help." Krugman went on to praise the New Deal: "We came out of the New Deal, we came out of the 1930s, as a better country, a middle class country, where we had been in the Gilded Age. We came out as a country that took better care of its citizens."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Chip Reid compared Obama’s economic plan to that of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal: "During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the Works Progress Administration, the WPA. It would put 8.5 million to work...Now a new American president-elect is vowing to put the country back to work. This Sunday Morning, we'll take a look back at the WPA. And the lessons it may hold for him and for the nation." Reid later played a clip of Obama addressing the economic crisis and then observed: "In 1933, another new president faced a collapsing economy and rallied the nation with similar words...75 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal."
In a segment that was a glowing tribute to FDR and the New Deal, Reid described Obama’s economic plan as a triumphant return of big government: "And now, President- elect Obama is talking about his own jobs program, that could cost half a trillion dollars. Economic analyst Jeff Madrick believes Mr. Obama is also sending a very clear message." Madrick observed: "Well, I think the government is back and we're all the better for it. In fact, the government's been away at least since Ronald Reagan." Reid touted Madrick’s latest book: "Madrick recently published 'The Case for Big Government.' He says today, as in the Depression, only government action can stop an economic dive to an unknown bottom." Reid did wonder: "So who's going to pay for big government?" Madrick replied: "I think down the road higher taxes, even on the middle class -- and I know this is anathema right now -- will be necessary to pay for the social programs we need."
In October 2006 the national media projected Rep. Mark Foley’s online sex chats with House pages into a disaster that would swallow the Grand Old Party whole. CBS, for example, proclaimed it the "congressional equivalent of Katrina." In 2008, when federal investigators found Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich trying to put Barack Obama’s Senate seat on the auction block, these same "news" gatherers found a storm, to be sure, but a storm they suggested would in short order be "pushed out to sea."
With the governor caught on tape unloading obscenity after obscenity about how he expected to reap a financial bonanza for handing out his gubernatorial perks, this story was so undeniably big, even the Obamaphile press couldn’t ignore it. So instead these reporters tried to downplay its impact on the President-elect and the Democrats.
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show worked hard to put as much distance as possible between Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as correspondent Chip Reid reported: "Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have both been leaders in Illinois Democratic politics for years, but long-time observers say that's about as far as the connection goes." Reid later dismissed Republican efforts to question Obama’s connection to the indicted Governor: "...that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together...Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
In a segment that followed Reid’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet: "Does any of this rub off on Barack Obama?" Sweet replied: "A little bit does. Because these are his -- this brings up the whole -- we're talking about the Senate seat for sale, but the criminal complaint does bring up Tony Rezko, it does bring up questions about the associations-" Smith interjected: "Which the Republicans tried so hard during the campaign to say Barack Obama is a Chicago politician." Sweet dispelled that characterization: "Right. And here's the thing, Obama does not come out of this culture."