MSNBC host Chuck Todd assembled a panel of liberal-media veterans on his morning show “The Daily Rundown” Monday and joked that the assembled heavyweights presented “a nightmare scenario for Brent Bozell.” But what these journalists proceeded to issue was a devastating indictment of the Obama presidency and a real nightmare for this president.
Carolyn Ryan, the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, brought up “the national funk we’re in, the sort of national malaise.” The word “malaise” is never a good word to be around if you’re the president. But for Obama, who is now seen in polls as the worst president since World War II, worse than the Master of Malaise, Jimmy Carter, it’s Kryptonite.
After introducing his political panel on the July 7 edition of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, host Chuck Todd chose to mock Brent Bozell, Media Research Center President and NewsBusters publisher, after realizing he had three titans of the mainstream media on his program at the same time.
Todd described the panel, consisting of The New York Times’ Carolyn Ryan, Dan Balz of The Washington Post, and Susan Page of USA Today as “really a nightmare scenario for Brent Bozell. This is like the mainstream media all in one place, the Times, the Post, USA Today, NBC. Oh my God! Heads are exploding!” [MP3 audio here; video below]
Appearing on Monday's The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz touted Democratic spin that the ongoing Benghazi scandal could actually help Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign: "I talked to somebody over the weekend, a Democrat, who said, you know, this could actually be good for Clinton because the degree to which the right is really after her helps her with her left....if she's under attack by the right, the Democrats across the spectrum will be more forgiving of her." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Host and NBC political director Chuck Todd led off the exchange by wondering if the House GOP was just "playing politics" with the issue by announcing a select committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist attack. Balz declared: "I mean, I think the base of the Republican Party is very stirred up and continues to be very stirred up over Benghazi." Todd whined: "And they believe the worst in this conspiracy about the White House. And they believe it to the core."
When President Bush gave his fifth State of the Union address on January 31, 2006, he sat at 43 percent approval in the Gallup tracking poll, in no small part because of public perception regarding his administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union last night, his Gallup approval number was lower a mere 41 percent, doubtless impacted in no small part by the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare and the public's disapproval of the health care overhaul. What's more, some 53 percent in a recent Quinnipiac poll slammed the administration as incompetent and 47 percent expressed the belief that President Obama doesn't pay attention to what's transpiring on his watch. As to more objective metrics, the job situation is worse at this point in Barack Obama's presidency than it was the same point in George W. Bush's with higher unemployment (6.7 percent to Bush's 4.9 percent) and a woefully low labor force participation rate (62.8 percent to Bush's 66 percent).
Yet when you compare the Washington Post's front-page treatments of Mr. Obama's January 28 speech and Mr. Bush's January 31, 2006 one, it becomes all too apparent that the Post is eager to help the former spin his way to resetting the narrative for the midterm election year while the paper was all too happy to pound out a drumbeat about how President Bush was an abject failure, a lame duck roasting in the waters of public disapproval. Here's how Post staffers David Nakamura and David Fahrenthold opened up their January 29 front-pager "Obama: I won't stand still" (emphasis mine):
"Republican lawmakers Thursday blamed the Obama administration for the stunning resurgence of Iraq’s al-Qaeda franchise and called on the White House to take assertive steps to help Baghdad beat back militant uprisings in the country’s west." That's how Ernesto Londono opened his January 10 story "Republicans blame Obama administration for al-Qaeda resurgence in Iraq," a front-page-worthy story which Washington Post editors buried on page A10.
By contrast, the Post ran not one but two Chris Christie bridge-scandal stories on the Friday edition's front page. The other stories rounding out the front page centered on efforts to hash out a long-term security agreement with Afghanistan, the Washington Redskins announcing their new head coach, and privacy/data-collection concerns from dashboard computers in new cars.
The inauguration of unreconstructed liberal Bill de Blasio as New York’s newest mayor excited liberals hoping for a return to pre-Clinton times...and yet there were the Clintons, seeming to endorse the whole thing.
In Thursday’s Washington Post, columnist Melinda Henneberger wrote on page A-2 that the event was “not just a progressive jamboree but a 90-minute pummeling of outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg, who looked glum in the front row of the VIP guests who faced the crowd.” The socialist flag was flying, and Harry Belafonte was on the set list:
Barack Obama gets to jet around on Air Force One, golfs every once in a while (/sarc), and has all the trappings and perks of the highest office in the land. But according to a headline in Monday's Washington Post, he is the one person in the whole USA above everyone else — not those who have lost health insurance plans with which they were happy, not those who are paying outrageious amounts for far skimpier coverage than they formerly had, not the millions of potential workers so discouraged that they are no longer looking for work or considered to be workers, not the increasing ranks of the homeless — who has taken it on the chin this year (bolds are mine throughout this post):
On the front page of Tuesday's paper, the Washington Posttrumpeted new poll results showing "major damage to the GOP" in the wake of the government shutdown. However, writers Dan Balz and Scott Clement waited until page A10 to reveal that "congressional Democrats also sustained damage to their image."
Nowhere in the article did Balz and Clement reveal that the Post found only 46 percent approval for Barack Obama among registered voters. (The poll's result can be found on the website.) Fifty one percent now disapprove of the job the President is doing. According to the Post, the President's numbers with all adults (a less reliable statistic) improve to 48 percent approve and 49 percent disapprove, not exactly a vote of confidence. The two journalists dispensed with this stat in one charitable sentence: "Almost half of all Americans approve of the way [Obama] has handled his job, and an almost identical number disapprove."
Washington Post political reporter penned a column for Thursday’s paper with the headline “Could Clinton’s position on Syria today resurface in 2016?” Balz spent a whole column recounting how Senator Hillary’s vote authorizing the Iraq war doomed her in the 2008 race.
Unsurprisingly, Hillary put out a statement supporting Obama’s plans for military action. What was surprising is that Balz wrote an entire column on what might come back to bite Hillary in a presidential campaign without ever remembering she insisted on CBS that Bashar Assad was “a reformer,” not the next Saddam-style international outlaw:
Former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines (sacked in the 2003 Jayson Blair debacle) provided a positive review Sunday of Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz’s 2012-campaign book “Collision.” Raines claimed Balz was “a fair-minded reporter” in the mold of the late David Broder.
You can’t say the same for Raines, who insists Mitt Romney is “excruciatingly delusional” in assessing what happened last year. Bill Clinton’s convention speech gets “deservedly heroic treatment” from Balz, but somehow, Raines saw Clint Eastwood’s erratic convention speech as a “Monty Python moment,” perhaps one of few times anyone’s ever tried to put Dirty Harry next to Eric Idle in the cultural realm:
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday's front page that their ABC-Post poll showed Obama’s approval rating remained steady, with 51 percent approving and 44 percent disapproving. Then came the Post polling comparison to uncaring Republicans. Dan Balz and Jon Cohen reported: “A bare majority of Americans say they believe that Obama is focused on issues that are important to them personally; just 33 percent think so of congressional Republicans.” They illustrated that 18-point gap with a graph.
Should we draw from this question that lying to the public and using the imposing powers of the IRS to thwart conservative groups aren’t issues that the people need to care about? Would the Post have asked this question during the Watergate scandal? Or Iran-Contra? Inside the Post, their graphics relayed that 74 percent of the sample felt the IRS targeting was “inappropriate.”'
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is under fire for soliciting donations from health care companies to underwrite ObamaCare PR efforts to increase enrollment but you wouldn't know that if you only got your news from ABC and NBC or skipped Sunday's edition of CBS's Face the Nation.
The Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks have effectively buried the scandal that was first broken by the Washington Post on May 10.
Detecting media bias is often an exercise in contrasting two analogous events to see how the media worked to write the narrative in the public's imagination. We at NewsBusters have already looked at how the media love the party atmosphere of the Obama inaugurals but groused at the expense of Bush's second inaugural, for example.
So it's instructive to see how Washington Post veteran journalist Dan Balz greeted President Obama's entry into his second term with how he looked at the dawn of President George W. Bush's second term. "[T]his Inauguration Day comes at a time when there is far greater realism about whether the president, or perhaps any leader, can transcend political divisions and unite the country," Balz noted in his front-page January 21 analysis piece, "This time, the idea of a new beginning seems optimistic."
On Sunday's Face The Nation, Norah O'Donnell desperately tried to find a silver lining for President Obama if the Supreme Court ends up striking down his health care law. While her fellow panelists agreed that such a decision would be a blow to Obama, O'Donnell claimed that "politically, it might be better for the President, because then he can put the onus back on the Republicans." [audio clip available here; video below the jump]
The CBS White House correspondent also hyped that "if there's a repealing of the mandate, and if the pre-existing conditions are taken out, you're probably going to see a spike in health care premiums," even though premiums have already been on the rise since ObamaCare passed in 2010.
Monday's Washington Post announces their new poll with ABC News with the headline "As gasoline prices rise, president's ratings fall." Reporters Dan Balz and Jon Cohen announce the bad news upfront that "a record number of Americans now give the president 'strongly' negative reviews" on the economy. But you'd have to turn inside for the real numbers, as the reporters clear their throats about the overall trends among the "steadily brightening employment picture."
The Post did note on the front page that "nearly two-thirds" of respondents disapproved of Obama's handling of gas prices (65 percent disapprove, 26 percent approve). On the Post website Monday morning, they encouraged people to read the comments, as they normally do, but with this pro-Obama commenter headline: “1,300+ comments: 'How exactly are rising gas prices Obama's fault?’”
Yet in analyzing the polling data, Post staffers Jon Cohen and Dan Balz buried bad news for the president deep in their page A1 August 11 article and suggested the sour view Americans have on the Congress was the bigger story for the upcoming election season (emphasis mine):
A new survey by The Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Harvard School for Public Health found dire news for Democrats: “When asked which party better understands the economic problems that people in the country are having, non-college whites side with the Republicans by a 14-point margin.”
That news is so uncomfortable for media liberals that the Post put that sentence in paragraph 15 of a story they placed on page A-2. The headline on this story by Jon Cohen and Dan Balz was “Non-college whites gloomy about economy: Group is more pessimistic than those with degrees, poll finds.” It wasn't “Non-college whites don't like Obama economic policies.” There's also that finding, in paragraph 13:
Liberal Democrats in the past few weeks have been pounding the message that massive infusions of "secret" money into independently-run political advertising have a detrimental effect on Democrats democracy. The media have done their level best to amplify that complaint.
But is knowing the identity of political advertising donors really a huge issue to swing voters?
The Washington Post doesn't avoid the bad news for Democrats on Tuesday's front page, but it noticeably tried to hide the worst of it. The headline on the new ABC/Post poll was "Republicans making gains ahead of midterm elections; parties nearly even on trust; Obama's overall rating is at new low, poll finds."
-- Republicans lead Democrats 47 to 45 percent on the basic ballot question, but "among those most likely to vote this fall, the Republican advantage swells to 53 percent to the Democrats' 40 percent."
Yet nowhere in his 20-paragraph story did Balz delve into those poll numbers. Instead, Balz presented the Florida race as complete wild card that is unpredictable due to the three-way nature of the contest:
Gov. Charlie Crist is the man in the middle in Florida's high-stakes race for the Senate, a candidate without a party whose hopes of moving from Tallahassee to Washington depend on his ability to fend off a squeeze play from his Democratic and Republican rivals.
The three-way campaign for the Senate is the latest in a series of important races in Florida - including the 2000 recount that helped define red-blue divisions in America - but with dynamics new to the Sunshine State.
But a look at recent polling data available on RealClearPolitics.com seems to indicate Rubio went to bed on primary election night in good shape for the general election fight ahead.
Analysts that spend their time critiquing the media normally don't have very good things to say about what they observe these days, but the final segment of Sunday's "Face the Nation" on CBS was a marvelous exception.
Substitute host John Dickerson invited on the network's chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford and the Washington Post's Dan Balz for a refreshingly open and honest discussion of two pivotal legal issues facing our nation: a judge's decision to overturn California's controversial Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriages, and; whether or not the 14th Amendment should be revised to address illegal immigration.
What ensued was a tremendously informative seven minute report about these two issues without any cheer-leading or accusatory finger-pointing: Crawford gave the facts about both legal matters as she saw them; Balz addressed the political ramifications for both parties as well as the White House, and; Dickerson asked great questions to keep the conversation moving.
With that as pretext, sit back and watch - or read if you're so inclined - the way these kinds of issues should be discussed on a television news program (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Washington Post announced bad news for its largely liberal readers in its poll Tuesday morning. The headline said "6 in 10 Americans lack faith in Obama: Congress still held in lower esteem, but poll shows gap narrowing." Those who read the story would wait until the end of paragraph six (just before the jump) to get this liberal-haunting number: "Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent."
But if the Post reader skipped the gray text and went just for the graphics, they’d get the impression that Republicans are worse off than the Democrats: they’d see asked "how much confidence do you have" in the parties, they showed Obama’s "lack faith" number at 58 percent, Democrats in Congress at 68 percent, and Republicans at 72 percent.
But wait: in parentheses it says "percent of voters saying 'just some' or 'none'". (That wasn't bolded in the paper, as it is on the website.) Here’s the rub: deep in the Post's data (question 3), it shows Republicans "just some" number was 43 percent and "none" was 29 percent, while Democrats "just some" number was 35 percent and "none" was 32 percent. So portraying the Republican standing as "worse" than the Democrats (complete with trouble-red emphasis) is misleading at best.
Usually, when a political reporter uses the term "pragmatist," it sounds like a synonym for "centrist," for making the best bipartisan deal you can. So it’s a little jarring to pick up the Sunday Washington Post and see a first-year assessment of President Obama headlined "Testing the promise of pragmatism." But Obama dramatically expanded the scope and power of government, and that’s not centrist. Even the Post home page’s lingo sounds confused:
Voters doubting 'a more pragmatic approach'
Obama is trying to restore confidence in government while proposing the most significant expansion of Washington's role in the economy in a generation.
This headline downplayed the bad polling news the last ABC-WashPost survey uncovered. By 58 to 38 percent, survey respondents said they preferred smaller government and less services to bigger and more. That's gone from +5 to +20 for smaller government since June 2008.
The poll question illustrated on the front page showed that 76 percent thought Obama "will bring needed change to Washington" in January 2008, but now it’s only 50 percent say he will, and 49 percent say he will not.
Eight weeks ago, The Washington Post topped its own front-page with its own ABC-Washington Post poll announcing that the public strongly favored a "public option" in health care, by 57 to 40 percent. Their latest poll is much worse: "Negatives abound in poll," read the subhead. So it was buried on page 6 Wednesday. On the front page instead, a happy-talk headline: "Health bill’s prospects improve as Lieberman signals support."
Tuesday's conservative "Code Red" rally in Washington wasn't buried in the Post. It was nowhere in the Post.
The actual poll story by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen reports that 44 percent support current health-care legislation, and 51 percent disapprove. Approval of Obama’s handling of health-care has gone sour: 44 percent approve, while 53 percent disapprove. But the Post’s front page is still touting "Health care bill’s prospects improve" as their own poll shows a collapse of public support.
This afternoon, the Washington Post's Web site offers readers two looks at how the Democrats and the GOP will proceed following the 2009 elections, but, surprise, surprise, the paper only forsees internecine squabbles for the GOP.
Even before delving into the content of the articles, it's clear by the labeling that the Post sees the GOP's pending "ideological fissures" as a matter of objective news reporting, while the Democratic postmortem is a matter of informed "analysis," not hard news.
For their part, Rucker and Bacon aimed, like others in the mainstream media -- click here, here, and here -- to gin up an ominous narrative for the GOP party-wide from the New York 23rd congressional district saga:
The Washington Post touted a new poll on Tuesday that popular support is increasing for a government-run "public option" health care system – just as liberal Democrats try to push that into the Senate Finance Committee bill. The headline was "Public option gains support: Clear majority now backs plan." So it’s not surprising, as Ed Morrissey found at Hot Air, that the Post is stuffing its poll sample with a few extra Democrats:
The sampling comprises 33% Democrats, as opposed to only 20% Republicans. That thirteen-point spread is two points larger than their September polling, at 32%/21%. More tellingly, it’s significantly larger than their Election Day sample, which included 35% Democrats to 26% Republicans for a gap of nine points, about a third smaller than the gap in this poll. Of course, that’s when they were more concerned about accuracy over political points of view.
The Post’s poll (illustrated by a chart) found respondents favored a public option "to compete with" private insurance by a margin of 57 to 40 percent. But even with the polling sample tilted toward the Democrats, some less favorable findings weren’t in the headline, as Dan Balz and Jon Cohen reported:
Terry Gross, the female Philadelphia-based host of the National Public Radio show Fresh Air, notoriously tangled with Bill O’Reilly in 2003 by asking O'Reilly to respond to Al Franken's attacks on him (two weeks after a giggly interview with Franken himself). A July 1 interview with Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz on the (apparently hopeless) state of the Republican Party caused her to pick up the left-wing bloggers’ attack on Rush Limbaugh as someone who says "extreme wild things" and damages the GOP:
GROSS: You know, I always wonder what Republicans -- and I know you can't really generalize here because every Republican is different -- but what Republicans think of right wing talk radio and TV. Take Rush Limbaugh, for instance. He says some pretty extreme wild things. He's not running for office. He's not taking responsibility for running the country. He's, I mean, he's a talk show host and what he needs is an audience and ratings and saying extreme things is very good for getting audience and ratings.
On the occasion of President Obama reversing course on plans to release photographs "depicting the abuse of detainees," a decision wildly unpopular on the hard left, The Washington Post's lead story Thursday was "As Cheney Seizes Spotlight, Many Republicans Wince." There's only one obvious problem with Dan Balz's front-pager. Those "many Republicans" are too timid to attach their names to all the wincing.
Balz is left with a weak story with on-the-record Cheney defenders, on-the-record Democrat Cheney-bashers, and Republican "strategists" who "are not willing to take him on in public."
Question for the Post: how do we know these "Republicans" aren't strategists for Arlen Specter? We don't. They're anonymous. How many is "many" if they're too afraid to go public? We're left with quotes like this:
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer talked to Washington Post reporter Dan Balz about Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama and Balz argued: "Well I think it's obviously significant. I don't think endorsements ultimately mean that much, but there are two, I think, important things that happened with his endorsement of Senator Obama...the criticism of McCain for picking Governor Palin as his running mate, he said explicitly he did not think she was ready. This is something that is beginning to become almost a chorus in some parts of the Republican Party."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Schieffer offered almost identical analysis of Powell’s endorsement: "Well, I've never thought endorsements are game-changers but this just adds to the good news that Barack Obama's been getting lately...what Colin Powell said yesterday and why it was so riveting to hear him, he was saying aloud what a lot of Republicans are saying privately, I think, or at least what I've heard some Republicans tell me. They think the pick of Sarah Palin reflects on John McCain's judgment, they think the campaign has turned too nasty and is not inclusive."