Jaws dropped among NBC viewers just after President Bush's gracious White House speech today in the 10am hour of Today welcoming President-Elect Obama. NBC political analyst Chuck Todd accused Bush of looking like he "wanted to bask in the reflected glory of the history that was made...just like John McCain did last night." Todd also said it was striking since Bush was "the man who's probably more responsible for not just Obama's election but John McCain's defeat than anybody else." Todd also insisted Bush was "responsible" for all the GOP congressional losses. [audio available here]
Is this how NBC wants to greet two Republicans energetically offering gracious concessions? Trashing them for "basking" in Obama's glory? Here's a fuller transcript:
LAUER: Very gracious comments from the president during extremely difficult times for him this morning.
It was a scene that made your humble correspondent want to pull an Evis on his TV screen. Brian Williams and Chuck Todd, the NBC numbers crunching political director, were being questioned by Chris Matthews on Hardball yesterday about an interview Williams conducted with John McCain and Sarah Palin. Brian Williams was annoying enough with the way he wrote off Sarah Palin by citing poll numbers, as if they were written in stone, that she isn't qualified to be president.
Recapping Wednesday's presidential debate TV journalists were struck with how Barack Obama conveyed an “appeal to the center” while a “sarcastic” John McCain showed “disdain and contempt” and was hurt by being too much of a right-wing “ideologue” whose “worst moment” came when he raised the name of William Ayers.
Also noteworthy: On NBC, Ann Curry pressed six undecided voters to “raise your hand if you know of people, and be honest here, who may not vote for Barack Obama because of his race.” And NBC anchor Brian Williams asked Hillary Clinton to assess Sarah Palin: “Is Governor Palin qualified to be Vice President or President?”
On “Nightline,” George Stephanopoulos went three for three for the Democrat -- four for four if you add in Biden over Palin -- in declaring Obama the “winner.” Read on for our recap.
Matching the Obama campaign spin, the network reporters and analysts were upset by John McCain, at one moment in the second presidential debate on Tuesday night, referring to Barack Obama as “that one.” CBS's Jeff Greenfield asserted “there is going to be clearly a major headline soundbite” and insisted “those two words are going to be what the water cooler conversation is tomorrow. Was it demeaning? Was it an insult?” Katie Couric turned to a group of “undecided voters” for their reaction to the phrase. One man “thought it was a little bit childish” and another “undecided” man declared: “I'm really tired of the last eight years of for us or against us and to me that showed that side of McCain coming out and the picky and childish and we've had eight years of that.”
On CNN a little past 11 PM EDT, reporter Suzanne Malveaux compared it to Bill Clinton's characterization of Monica Lewinsky: “It's like 'that woman,' you know, that we've heard 'that woman,' I mean a lot of people are saying that was the kind of language that was very condescending.” A few minutes later, Democratic hack Paul Begala slimed Sarah Palin as a racist, citing the Associated Press and how “they said her attack on this whole Bill Ayers thing was 'racially-tinged.' That's not what a Democrat said, that's what the Associated Press said.” There's a difference? MSNBC viewers heard Chris Matthews pleased by Obama's “wonderful smile” before he charged McCain's smile “has a somewhat menacing quality.”
Audio: MP3 audio (1:25, 450 Kb) which matches the video above of CBS's "undecided" voters.
align="right"Two themes in post-VP debate coverage Thursday night: First, “surprise” that Sarah Palin wasn't a “car wreck” and “did not embarrass herself.” Second, distress that she failed to answer moderator Gwen Ifill's questions.
On NBC, Chuck Todd observed “those that were tuning in looking for some sort of car wreck, probably came away disappointed.” CBS's Katie Couric proposed, without saying in which camp journalists fall, “the headline is Governor Sarah Palin did not embarrass herself or her running mate as some Republicans might have feared and some Democrats might have hoped.” Colleague Bob Schieffer asserted that “I think a lot of people were expecting” Palin “to make some sort of blunder or mistake and she did not do that.” Jeff Greenfield, also on CBS, decided “Palin passed the Tina Fey test. Anyone looking for a deer in the headlights experience didn't get one tonight.” Over on ABC, Diane Sawyer found that Palin, “after a bruising time in the media, showed up not just with confidence, but cheerful confidence that might surprise a lot of people.”
On Palin avoiding questions, CBS's Schieffer “found it a little disconcerting” that “time and again Governor Palin would just choose not to answer the question and launch in to some dissertation, sometimes talking points, and not really address what Gwen Ifill had asked her.” On CNN, reporter/analyst Gloria Borger charged: “I think at the beginning of the debate actually, Sarah Palin's problem was that she wasn't answering questions directly.” NBC anchor Brian Williams scolded: “Looking at some of the e-mail traffic and some of the commentary online tonight, people found it bracing when she said quote, 'I may not answer the questions the way the moderator and you,' Senator Biden, 'want to hear.' Of course, it's the only set of rules in town.”
Video/Audio: Click on frame above for video, compiled by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, of Katie Couric, Bob Schieffer, Diane Sawyer and Chuck Todd. Matching MP3 audio (55 seconds)
Watching Saturday’s network morning shows, the talking heads seemed to agree that Friday night’s debate did not produce “a clear winner” or any “knockout punch,” and that it was unlikely that any “needle was moved” among undecided voters. Yet those same networks tried to also argue that Obama had really won the debate, superficially suggesting that McCain’s “disdainful” body language poorly contrasted with the “warm” and “deferential” Obama.
On style, “Barack Obama did a much better job,” ABC contributor Matthew Dowd asserted. NBC’s Chuck Todd insisted that “McCain barely could look at Obama, was disdainful at times, almost annoyed that he was having to share the same stage....Here was Obama being deferential, and here is McCain being disdainful.”
Andrea Mitchell gave it the old Hollywood try for Obama this morning. Summarizing the debate on Today, Mitchell managed to cobble together a video clip that showed McCain's only stumble, while snipping out what many including her colleague Chris Matthews saw as the debate's most salient feature: the multiple times Obama expressed agreement with McCain.
And so it was that Andrea treated us to McCain's difficulties in pronouncing "Ahmadinejad." But the eight times Obama abjectly agreed with McCain? Not a one made it into the Mitchell editor's cut. Then there was Andrea's parting shot:
The only question is whether in some of the reaction shots [McCain] looked too angry and dismissive of an opponent who seemed determined to remain cool.
Wednesday morning, ABC News and the Washington Post released a new poll showing Barack Obama leading John McCain by 9 points, 52% to 43%. The next day, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll showing a much tighter race — 48% for Obama, 46% for McCain.
Any guesses as to which poll excited the press more? And which poll has come under fire for over-sampling Democrats?
ABC, naturally, reported its own poll on Wednesday’s Good Morning America, with Diane Sawyer touting at the top of the broadcast: “Breaking news this morning: Barack Obama gains ground in a new ABC News poll, a nine-point lead over John McCain.” The on-screen graphic exclaimed: "Obama Surges Ahead"
Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out:
On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw “Great Depression II” avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended “this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then,” prompting an “oh, wow” from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how “a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush.”
ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan “asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?” Muir also read an e-mail: “Why make the little people bail out these companies?” Of course, the “little people” won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax. One-third of those who file pay nothing or get money back while the bottom 50 percent ($32,000 down), who earn 12 percent of the total income, pay less than 3 percent of taxes collected. The top 25 percent ($65,000 up) pay 86 percent and the top 1 percent ($389,000) pay 40 percent, so maybe the wealthier will get something for all they put in.
Chris Matthews, on Monday night's "Hardball," speculated that Republicans were playing the race card, when they made fun of Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer, even going as far to say they're using the phrase like a "bullwhip." In a segment with NBC's Chuck Todd and pollster Stuart Rothenberg, Matthews suspiciously noted that Republicans like Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, at last week's GOP convention, were "giggling" over the "community organizer" title as he pondered: "Is this the new 'welfare queen?'"
Then a little later in the program, in a segment with the Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland and the Independent Women's Forum's Michelle Bernard, Matthews returned to the subject as he declared: "It seems to me that the use of the word, 'community organizer,' is almost like a bullwhip."
The following exchanges occurred on the September 8 edition of "Hardball" [audio excerpts available here]:
CBS's Bob Schieffer on Thursday night praised John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, especially compared to VP nominee Sarah Palin's address from the night before. He was pleased that McCain appealed to “our better angels” with a speech that was “much more inclusive” than what Palin delivered:
I thought this was a fine speech tonight that appeals to our better angels, really. I found it much more inclusive than the speech that Sarah Palin made yesterday. I think this speech will play very well across America.
Colleague Jeff Greenfield, however, found McCain's address to have been too predictably Republican: “I have to say, I found much of the speech surprisingly familiar. It was a speech that almost any Republican could give, except for the part of change” and so “other than the instant bump in the polls that everybody gets” the address “may not have changed a lot of minds.” Over on NBC, Chuck Todd saw McCain's words as anything but the standard Republican fare: “This was designed to be as non of an ideological speech as a Republican nominee could give at a Republican convention.”
After sounding cautiously, perhaps nervously optimistic in today's column about John McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate ("A Clear and Present Danger to the American Left," September 3), Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan performed an abrupt about-face in front of a live NBC microphone later in the day, apparently unaware she was being recorded. "It's over," Noonan said, apparently referring to the chances of the McCain Palin ticket sweeping to victory in November. (Link to NBC video clip)
Here is a transcript prepared by Frank James of the Chicago Tribune's blog, The Swamp:
MURPHY: You know, I come out of a blue, swing-state governor world. Engler Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, I mean, and these guys, this is all like how you win a Texas race, you run it up. It's not going to work.
NOONAN: It's over.
MURPHY: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.
Less than two hours after Peggy Noonan and former McCain advisor Mike Murphy appeared on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon, a YouTube video appeared of their candid exchange in which they dismissed Sarah Palin’s viability as a VP pick. The speed at which the video appeared indicated that it almost certainly originated from someone inside MSNBC, another favor for the Democrats this election year.
Joshua Micah Marshall’s blog Talking Points Memo and the blog of Michael Calderone of the Politico broke news of Noonan and Murphy’s comments. The exchange started as MSNBC Chuck Todd previewed what was coming up next on the program before a commercial break 20 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour, as Noonan and Murphy began a discussion off-camera, picked up by a hot mike. Todd then joined the discussion once the commercial break began. None of their discussion actually made it on the air for this reason.
Obsessing over Sarah Palin's pro-life position on abortion, MSNBC hosts and reporters on Tuesday night repeatedly raised it and painted it as a detriment to Republicans even though last week with Democrats the channel did not similarly pursue how a solidly left view on abortion might hurt Obama and Biden. By the count of the MRC's Geoff Dickens, between 8 PM and midnight EDT, MSNBC raised abortion at least 16 times, twice with an edge that painted the GOP position as extreme by applying a “hard right” label. Chris Matthews declared “they are going hard right on abortion rights” and later David Gregory asserted: “The abortion platform here is pretty hard right.”
Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, fretted over how “this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is” that “these delegates are more conservative than even the ones four years ago.” Andrea Mitchell described Palin as “very conservative” and pressed a Republican Congressman: “Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?”
Matthews bemoaned to Tom Ridge that “it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?” To Tim Pawlenty, Matthews demanded:
Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party?
Television journalists were nearly uniformly enthralled with Barack Obama's Thursday night acceptance speech, relieved he showed the toughness to take on John McCain directly, unlike, in their world view, all too-soft past Democratic nominees. Only FNC offered a contrarian view or mentioned the word “liberal” while David Gergen on CNN trumpeted the address as a “symphony” and a “masterpiece” with elements of Lincoln, MLK and Reagan.
ABC's Charles Gibson insisted that “four years ago John Kerry” was “held accountable for not being tough enough on George Bush,” and “Obama was obviously not going to make that mistake.”
On CNN, Gloria Borger decided: “If anybody ever thought that Barack Obama was not tough enough to run against John McCain, this speech should really put an end to that.”
On two separate occasions during the 1 p.m. EDT hour of MSNBC News Live on Wednesday, host Brian Williams continued to wonder, as he did repeatedly the night before, if there will ever be a female President: "If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when?" He recited the line during discussions with Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd. Williams first raised the topic during the second segment of the hour. After asking Rep. Lowey about her thoughts on Senator Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention speech, Williams wondered:
Congresswoman, we have talked about the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. As I said to Tom Brokaw on the air last night, the people who came to gladly vote for Senator Clinton, came with hammers in their hands to break that glass ceiling. They didn't cast their vote lightly. And here's the conundrum. If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when?
Paying tribute to Hillary Clinton hours before her address to the Democratic National Convention, on Tuesday night CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric delivered a nearly five-minute-long review of Senator Clinton's campaign and why it came up short, though Couric ended on a laudatory note: “She did leave her mark in the history books.” Following a soundbite from former Clinton campaign operative Geoffrey Garin touting how “for the next woman who runs for President, they don't have to wonder what the model looks like. The model looks like Hillary Clinton,” Couric trumpeted: “And the party platform, where for the first time, the issue of sexism in America is raised.”
Over on the NBC Nightly News, sitting with NBC political director Chuck Todd inside the Pepsi Center to preview the upcoming speech, anchor Brian Williams rued:
And I assume she's going to talk about that glass ceiling, i.e., a woman President of these United States, which begs the question as we listen to her tonight, if not her, who and when?
After Michelle Obama's Monday night speech at the Democratic National Convention, ABC and NBC mentioned her “for the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country” previous slap at the United States, but in the context of how she resolved any doubts. ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared:
“Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered.” Noting how “we heard the word 'America' or 'American' or 'Americans' 12 times,” NBC's Chuck Todd decided “this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American.”
CBS didn't touch on the topic during its prime time hour, though during an interview with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Katie Couric described Mrs. Obama not as controversial, but as “slightly controversial.” In a taped session later with Craig Robinson, Michelle's older brother, Couric wondered: “What one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?” When he suggested “sincere,” Couric agreed: “That's a good word.”
On the ideological labeling front, Ted Kennedy's appearance the hour before, highlights of which led all three broadcast networks at 10 PM EDT, failed to prompt a single liberal label on ABC or CBS, but NBC applied the tag three times, two of those to describe Kennedy as a “liberal lion.” (CNN and MSNBC provided scattered liberal labeling.)
As NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth has noted, over the weekend NBC News political director Chuck Todd, previewing the Saddleback forum, suggested it represented an opportunity for Obama to forestall "personal hatred" of him by evangelical Christians.
Todd has now contacted NewsBusters to express regret over his choice of words.
Todd's initial remark was made to Andrea Mitchell during a pre-game special edition of Hardball on Saturday:
CHUCK TODD: It's just not, it's just not his comfort zone. So it's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama.
On a special Saturday edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while previewing that night's presidential candidates forum hosted by evangelical leader Rick Warren, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd seemed to suggest that it is not out of the ordinary for evangelical Christians to feel "personal hatred" toward a Democratic presidential candidate. Todd, who is normally relatively balanced in his coverage of politics, once even admitting to being a "fan" of the MRC despite a history of working for liberal Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, made the uncharacteristic remarks as he contended that the forum would give Barack Obama an opportunity to keep evangelicals from feeling "personal hatred" toward him. Todd: "It's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama."
Update: NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reports that Todd has since apologized for his comments.
You know there are some in the liberal media who have simply lost touch with reality when the headline reads "John Edwards Cheats on Wife With Cancer" and they ask with great detachment whether he'll be able to run for office again soon. These people's morality is so bizarre that they showed more outrage at John McCain featuring a picture of Paris Hilton in a commercial for two eye-blinks than for Edwards catting around on a dying spouse.
For months (and more hotly in the last two weeks), the National Enquirer has been trickling out the goods they collected on John Edwards having an affair and possibly a love child with campaign aide Rielle Hunter, staking out Edwards in a California hotel – and how he hid in the bathroom to avoid them.
There's a quick campaign ad on the two parties in a nutshell. Republican George Bush took on Osama bin Laden and took out Saddam Hussein. Democrat John Edwards hides in a bathroom from the tabloids.
In another sign that the bloom might be coming off the Obama rose, the NBC "Nightly News" Wednesday reported some new poll results that not only suggest this election has suddenly become "areferendum on Obama," but also that 55 percent of those surveyed felt "it's Obama that's the riskier choice."
Frankly, more shocking than the results of this survey was that NBC would report them while the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee was on his so-called "Tour of Duty" overseas, and do so coincident with anchor Brian Williams being in Berlin to interview Obama before his big speech there today.
Yet, as the following demonstrates, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd wasn't Williams's guest Wednesday evening just to cherry-pick the pro-Obama aspects from this poll (video and full transcript below the fold):
If there's one person in the NBC news stable who combines solid analytical skills with a commitment to fairness, it could be political director Chuck Todd. Evidence thereof comes from no less a certified conservative source than Tom DeLay. Appearing on this evening's Hardball just after Todd had offered his breakdown of the electoral map, DeLay allowed that he "can't dispute" any of Todd's analysis, prompting Chris Matthews to exclaim "that's a development for us here: objective truth for you!"
So what was that Todd analysis that DeLay didn't dispute? There was much to it, but for present purposes let's focus on this: Todd can't see how Obama wins without Pennsylvania, and that having former governor Tom Ridge on the McCain ticket would help deliver the Keystone State. The catch is that Ridge is pro-choice, which in turn poses the question of whether pro-life Republicans would revolt if McCain chose him for the veep slot.
On Wednesday night's "Hardball," Chris Matthews seemed "thrilled" by new poll numbers showing Obama gaining strength and was so caught up in Terry McAuliffe's prediction of a Democratic sweep he encouraged the former DNC chair "to get the vote out."
First up, on the July 9 edition of "Hardball," Matthews made the following introduction to a segment with NBC's Chuck Todd on state by state poll numbers.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball." The NBC News political unit has some brand new battleground maps on the fight for the White House. Let's check in with NBC News political director Chuck Todd. Chuck, dazzle us right now, will ya? Because I'm thrilled with this. Obama's strength in the Northeast, the West Coast and the Great Lakes.
He calls it Hardball, but again tonight Chris Matthews showed he's a softy when it comes to Barack Obama. Chris was crestfallen when NBC News political director Chuck Todd laid out the case, chapter and verse, that political payback, even revenge, explained Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of Obama as much or more than the "spiritual" reasons Chris so wanted to believe in.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Chuck, I didn’t expect this guy. He’s a very cautious U.S. senator in his first year, his first term, and what did he do? Almost a spiritual announcement he made today: I’ve got to be for Barack.
One week after Hillary Clinton claimed that she faced sniper fire on a trip to Bosnia — and six days after NewsBusters posted contemporaneous news footage from CBS showing that she did not — the big broadcast networks have finally jumped on the story of Hillary’s big fib. Last night, as NewsBuster’s Noel Sheppard has already noted, the CBS Evening News featured a Clinton-busting report by Sharyl Attkisson, one of the journalists who accompanied Clinton on her trip 12 years ago and who narrated the video we posted last week.
Also last night, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who was also on the 1996 trip, filed her own report on the obvious discrepancies, and this morning all three morning shows led with how the Clinton campaign now admits her claim, “I remember landing under sniper fire...There was no greeting ceremony and we basically were told to run to her cars. Now, that is what happened,” was an accidental misstatement.
When Christopher Hitchens came on today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough began by inviting him to comment on "last night's" results. Quipped the famously hard-living Hitchens: "I'm still thinking of it as this morning's result. I hope it doesn't show." Unfortunately for Christopher, it did. See screencap.
But whatever price Hitchens was paying for indulgences of the night before did nothing to blunt his acerbic wit. The quondam Englishman turned naturalized American offered acid observations about both Dem contenders. Hillary was first in his sights. He described as "slightly sinister" her listing during last night's victory speech of Florida and Michigan among her primary wins, since by DNC rules those contests counted for nothing. By his lights, her inclusion of the two states portends nasty arm-twisting to come.
Then there was this: "Anyone who like me when they think about the Clintons thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be."
On the Monday "Today" show co-host Ann Curry was breaking down the delegate counts for each Super Tuesday state with NBC's political director Chuck Todd but when it came to finding Barack Obama's home state of Illinois on the map, Curry pointed to Minnesota instead.
The following exchange occurred on the February 4 "Today" show:
ANN CURRY: Okay let's talk about the home states because we've got Illinois--
As NewsBusters reported Sunday, the mainstream media in general have shied away from truly examining the racist campaign strategy recently being employed by the Clintons in their effort to defeat Barack Obama for the Democrat presidential nomination.
One huge exception is NBC's "Meet the Press," which on Sunday, with the assistance of guests Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, Chuck Todd of NBC News, and Byron York of the National Review, went a long way towards possibly ending this disgraceful race baiting by a man that used to fashion himself as being the first black president.
Regardless of what folks might think of the political leanings of Russert and Dowd in particular, all present and associated with this segment are to be enthusiastically applauded and thanked for going where few media outlets dare (partial transcript follows, video available here, relevant section begins at minute 27:25):
Credit Chuck Todd for candor. The NBC News Political Director has acknowledged that the media is poised to take a third-place finish by John McCain in Iowa, declare him the winner and catapult the Arizona senator to victory in New Hampshire. Todd appeared with the Politico's Roger Simon on this afternoon's Hardball.