Discussing the state of the Republican Party with political analyst John Dickerson on Saturday's CBS Evening News, anchor Russ Mitchell concluded: "...it has been a tough week for House Republicans." On Friday's NBC Today, co-host Meredith Vieira made an identical observation, declaring : "It has been a rough, rough week for the Republicans, to say the very least."
Mitchell explained his assertion: "Of the four bills planned for votes this week, only one passed. You also had a Republican congressman resign in a scandal." Speaking to Meet the Press host David Gregory on Friday, Vieira made the same points and wondered: "How big of a setback is this for the party?" On Saturday, Mitchell saw the possibility for more GOP difficulties: "As Republicans gear up for this budget battle with the President, do all these problems this week lead to trouble down the road?"
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Erica Hill noted President Obama "calling for a little bit of a detente" in the wake of the Tucson shooting and wondered, "is this civility going to last?" Political analyst John Dickerson argued: "There will be one small test next week as House Republicans bring up the repeal of the health care bill."
Dickerson criticized the name of the repeal legislation: "What used to be called the 'Job-Killing Health Care Bill,' which now of course has – operates in a much different context." Hill followed up: "Can the President make that, I guess, good will, for lack of a better word, last past the State of the Union in a couple of weeks?" Dickerson asserted: "Health care will be a bit of a sideshow because it won't really go anywhere after the House does it its work on that bill. But on the budget, on lifting the debt ceiling, on some of these other issues, there will have to be actual cooperation."
Reporting on Monday's CBS Early Show, congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes decried House Republicans attempting to repeal ObamaCare: "...they made it clear they'll try to use their 49-vote advantage to wipe out key Democratic legislation from 2010. Including the President's signature achievement, health care reform."
Following Cordes's report, co-host Erica Hill asked political analyst John Dickerson about the likelihood of repeal. After Dickerson explained that repeal could not pass, a relieved Hill declared: "So, folks who like it may not have to worry about it? Because there are certain provisions that have actually gone over well with a fair number of Americans. Things like keeping your adult children on you're insurance and of course those lifetime coverage limits." Dickerson agreed: "And new things that people will like are coming on line with the new year. Middle income seniors will see – get some relief in the prescription drug prices."
On Sunday's Face the Nation, substitute host Harry Smith dismissed GOP goals of "dismantling health care" as merely a "fool's errand."
On Saturday's Early Show fill-in co-host Russ Mitchell saw passage of the tax deal as a possible "turning point for Mr. Obama's presidency" and speculated that it was "perhaps setting the stage for another victory as the Senate takes up the repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law."
In the report that followed, correspondent Whit Johnson declared that with the deal "President Obama could finally declare victory." The headline on screen read: "The President's Big Win; More Success Before The Holiday Break?" Johnson explained "that after months of debate, they [Democrats] finally have the votes to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'" In a report on Sunday Morning, Johnson touted the eventual repeal of the policy on Saturday as a "major victory" for Democrats.
As all the broadcast network evening newscasts on Saturday used words like "historic" and "landmark" to describe the Senate vote in favor of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on homosexuals serving in the military, the networks also provided substantially more soundbites to supporters of the measure than to those who opposed changing the policy.
On ABC, the lead report filed by correspondent David Kerley used soundbites from five supporters of lifting the ban, while only two soundbites featured opponents. Kerley began his report by quoting an unnamed "civil rights leader" calling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a "stain on our nation," and, after quoting President Obama’s statement supporting the measure, immediately highlighted a former military service member who is gay. Kerley:
"A stain on our nation has been lifted," is how one civil rights leader put it tonight, and President Obama says, quote, "No longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans just because they are gay." This Senate vote was very personal for thousands of service members. Major Mike Almy served in Iraq but was discharged when the Air Force learned he was gay. He's been battling Don't Ask, Don't Tell ever since.
CBS’s John Dickerson also brought up civil rights as he called the vote a "civil rights victory for the President," although he also uniquely used the term "liberals" to refer to some of the President’s supporters who advocated the policy change. Dickerson: " Well, it's definitely a civil rights win for him, and it’s a win politically with liberals in his party, and they’ve been angry with him. They were angry with him on this issue in particular because they felt like he wasn’t pushing hard enough.
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith made liberal reaction to President Obama's Monday announcement of a tax deal with Republicans the central focus of coverage: "Let's make a deal. President Obama and Republican leaders agree to extend Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. What did the President get in return? And will it be enough to stop any challenge from angry Democrats?"
In the later segment, little attention was given to Republican reaction to the deal. While two sound bites of the President's address on the issue were played, no Republican sound bites were featured.
Smith lamented how the deal "breaks a long-standing promise by the President." Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante followed by explaining: "The President did campaign on a promise to end tax breaks for the wealthy. But he had no leverage....in order to get tax breaks for the middle class, he's had to settle for this." Plante concluded his report by declaring: "Democrats are still angry. A lot of them think that the President sold out to the Republicans."
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed a potential deal between the Obama administration and House Republicans on maintaining current tax rates, declaring: "The Democrats are – their noses are out of joint about this." Political analyst John Dickerson agreed: "Very much so, because they want the President to stand up and fight."
Dickerson went on to detail liberal efforts to put pressure on Obama: "There are ads that are going to be running this weekend saying, 'Don't Cave, Mr. President.' They want Barack Obama to make a stand and say Republicans want tax cuts for the wealthy...and Democrats want tax cuts for the middle-class." He added: "But the President is making a deal and it doesn't look like it's going the way the liberals want and they are very angry."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, political analyst John Dickerson discussed President Obama's strategy against Republicans in Congress, particularly on tax cuts: "[He] said there's got to be a way to pay for it, again trying to put pressure on Republicans to say if you want to spend $700 billion, you've got to find the cuts, make them own those cuts, which are painful and might be quite unpopular."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith asked about the possibility of Obama and the GOP working together on stopping earmark spending. Again, Dickerson saw the issue as a chance for the President to go after his opponents: "...an opportunity for the President not only to get involved in the conversation but, also, to perhaps drive a bit of a wedge within the Republican caucus, they have different opinions in the Senate, Mitch McConnell has a more favorable opinion of earmarks than say some of the tea party-backed conservative candidates or some House members and the President can say, 'hey, maybe I have a chance to cause a little mischief in the Republican caucus.'"
Touting "faint signs of hope" for Democrats in November, on Monday's CBS Evening News, political correspondent Jeff Greenfield outlined a strategy the DNC could use to stave off major Republican gains in Congress: "So how could Democrats prevent, or at least minimize, their losses? There are three keys."
Greenfield began by encouraging efforts to re-energize the left: "First, turn out the base....That's why President Obama is out trying to persuade his core backers – blacks, Hispanics, the young – not to stay home in November." He then urged marginalizing the GOP: "Second, convince the voters that this election is a choice. With ads that argue the Republicans are just too extreme." Finally, Greenfield recommended that vulnerable Democrats run from their liberal records: "Third, declare your independence. Across the country, many incumbent Democrats are stressing how they oppose the President and House Speakier Nancy Pelosi."
Greenfield did acknowledge problems with some of his advice. On the suggestion that Democrats paint the GOP as "too extreme," he brought in Republican strategist David Winston, who explained: "Ultimately, when you're talking about your opponent, it's because you don't have anything to say about yourself, and the electorate gets that."
Wrapping up the segment, Greenfield admitted: "But it is still uphill for Democrats. Independents were the key to the Republican takeover of Congress in '94 and the Democratic takeover in '06. Right now they are leaning heavily Republican....in this climate, less bad seems to be about the best Democrats can hope for."
Agreeing with Christine O'Donnell's decision not to do anymore national media interviews, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson acknowledged on Wednesday's Early Show that "the national media is not doing her any favors and, basically, a lot of people want her on so that she can have a car crash on air."
Dickerson went on to add that O'Donnell "needs to focus on Delaware....she's got to reach out to independents and get outside of the narrow conservative constituency she won." He then remarked: "...she's smart to keep to her knitting and she just has to hope that voters don't penalize her for trying to kind of stay away from the national media, which might look like staying away from any kind of difficult or probing questions." Co-host Harry Smith joked in reply: "Knit one, pearl two for John Dickerson this morning."
Both Smith and Dickerson joked about how "disappointed" they were that O'Donnell would not be making anymore national media appearances. Throughout the discussion, a headline on screen made reference to O'Donnell's witchcraft comments: "Bewitched?; O'Donnell Says No More National Interviews."
Following a report on Monday's CBS Early Show that slammed Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell for comments she made on Bill Maher's 'Politically Incorrect' in the 1990s, co-host Maggie Rodriguez suggested O'Donnell's response: "Well, she could do what Sarah Palin has done and which has worked so beautifully for Sarah Palin, and that is to play media victim." [Audio available here]
Rodriguez made the comment to political analyst John Dickerson, who added: "That's right. And the victim card is one that Sarah Palin has played, Rand Paul has done the same thing. It's a bit of a time-honored technique and it works with your supporters, who are apt to believe the things you say..." He then warned: "...but if you're trying to get to voters in the middle or independents....they're not just going to take it at face value that you are a victim and rally to your side." Neither Rodriguez nor Dickerson questioned whether media coverage of Palin and O'Donnell had been fair.
In the prior report, correspondent Nancy Cordes touted how "O'Donnell says she's a devout Catholic, but in the video she describes her experimentation with witchcraft. And the man who released the clip says there's a lot more where that came from." Later, Cordes mentioned how "The 1999 clip was released by comedian Bill Maher," without noting his left-wing ideology.
While acknowledging bad news for Democrats in the latest CBS News/New York Times poll on Thursday's CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante worked to find a silver lining: "But when it comes to who's at fault for the rotten economy there's a disconnect. 37% say the Bush administration is most to blame. Only 5% blame the Obama administration."
Following Plante's report, fill-in co-host Erica Hill spoke with political analyst John Dickerson and wondered: "37% of those in the poll said that fault for the bad economy lays with the Bush administration. 5% said it lays with the Obama administration. Does that mean that this Democratic message is getting through?"
Dickerson explained: "People don't blame the Obama administration and they also, in our poll, believe the Democrats have the better policies to deal with the economy and, also, they believe the Democratic position on tax cuts. Nevertheless, they want to throw out the people who are in power and the problem is there are just more Democrats in power."
On Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith touted President Obama's economic proposals and portrayed Republicans as obstructionist: "Obama's new plan. The President proposes to spend $50 billion on roads, airports, and railways and offers businesses a $200 billion tax cut. But the GOP says not so fast."
Later, Smith introduced a report by senior White House correspondent Bill Plante: "With unemployment at 9.6% and the midterm elections just two months away, President Obama is out and about this week promoting new ideas to get the economy moving again." Plante proclaimed: "Pumped up in full campaign mode before a crowd of union members in Milwaukee, Mr. Obama celebrated his administration's accomplishments and announced a new project to repair the nation's infrastructure." A headline on screen read: "Obama's New Deal; Announces $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan."
Following Plante's report, Smith spoke with CBS economics and business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and political analyst John Dickerson about the President's plans. As Jarvis promoted the idea that more spending would create jobs, Smith asked Dickerson about Republican opposition: "...almost anything that the White House talks about, say over the last couple months or so, has met – had been met with a raspberry, I suppose we should assume this will be met with the same kind of reaction?" The on-screen headline changed to "GOP Rips New $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan."
During a discussion of California's Proposition 8 being overturned on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday, fill-in host John Dickerson questioned Family Research Council President Tony Perkins's assertion that the federal judge who made the ruling was openly gay: "You mention this claim that he's openly homosexual. I'm not sure if that's, in fact, the case."
Perkins replied by citing his source on Judge Vaughn Walker's sexual orientation: "Well, that, according to The San Francisco Chronicle, that he is openly homosexual, one of two federal judges." Thursday's Good Morning America on ABC reported that fact as well, even while NBC's Today and the CBS Early Show failed to mention it.
Dickerson followed his doubt of Perkins by arguing: "...whether [Walker] is or isn't, what basis – what bearing does that have on the case?" Perkins responded: "...had this guy been a – say, an evangelical preacher in his past, there would have been cries for him to step down from this case. So I do think it has a bearing on the case." Dickerson countered: "You think it's made his ruling skewed?"
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):
A night after ABC's World News elevated the NAACP's allegation that the “Tea Party movement is a threat to the pursuit of human rights, justice and equality for all,” the CBS Evening News pitched in to advance the charge from the unlabeled liberal group. Over “BIGOTRY ALLEGATIONS” on screen beneath a Tea Party sign, from New Orleans Katie Couric teased at the top of her Wednesday newscast: “The NAACP accuses the Tea Party movement of tolerating bigotry.”
Anchoring from New York, Harry Smith announced “the Tea Party movement has come under fire from the NAACP. The accusation: the party tolerates racism in its ranks.” John Dickerson related the charge the “Tea Party tolerates racists, says the NAACP, and these signs allegedly made by Tea Party supporters, are proof.” The two signs shown, “Obama's Plan: White Slavery” and “Obama, What you talkin about Willis! Spend my money?”
Explaining how the NAACP's resolution calls “on Tea Party leaders to 'repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches,'” Dickerson featured expert comment from race-hustler Al Sharpton who insisted the Tea Party mission “is to reverse what civil rights did.”
“Up next, why some Republicans are starting to wish the Tea Party was over,” Katie Couric teased Friday night as CBS feigned concern over how Tea Party candidates are too “extreme” to win. CBS News political analyst John Dickerson delivered the usual media warning, just with a new entity to blame for pushing Republicans too far to the right: “The passion that was so important in primaries for Tea Party candidates doesn't play often so well in a general election where you're trying to go after moderate and independent voters.”
Reporter Dean Reynolds cited Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle who “wants to end the federal income tax and Social Security,” so incumbent Democratic Senator Harry Reid “wants to run against her because he believes her extreme views make her easier to beat.” In a North Carolina House race, “the Tea Party's Tim D’Annunzio has a shot at the Republican nomination even though divorce papers called him a ‘messianic drug user’ who worries that ‘a gigantic pyramid will descend on Greenland’ one day” and, even more appalling to CBS, “he recently held what he called ‘a machine gun social.’”
Unmentioned by Reynolds, how Tea Party leaders no longer consider him their candidate. Politico reported on May 27: “After a damaging Charlotte Observer story about D’Annunzio’s past run-ins with the law and alleged drug history, six tea party leaders in the 8th Congressional District are switching their support to D’Annunzio’s opponent.”
Does anyone remember when the liberal intellectuals decried populism coming from the likes of Glenn Beck and other conservatives that was aimed at the direction the country is going under the leadership of President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress?
Apparently it is OK to cry foul on so-called populist rants when the mouthpieces tend to be right-of-center. But now, with Congress debating financial regulation, this sort of above-the-fray approach has gone by the wayside, at least for Slate.com. On Slate's Political Gabfest podcast for April 22, moderator John Dickerson asked his panel consisting of Slate editor David Plotz and Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon, if Wall Street banks had a responsibility to self-regulate and do what's right as opposed to solely relying on legislation to set the boundaries. That inspired an "impassioned" populist response from Plotz.
Introducing a segment on Thursday's CBS Early Show about President Obama's decision to open up some new areas to offshore oil drilling, fill-in co-host Jeff Glor warned that some of Obama's "closest allies are especially unhappy." In a report that followed, White House correspondent Bill Plante noted "Environmental groups are disappointed."
However, Plante also touted the idea that the move could help pass unpopular cap and trade legislation, a long-held liberal goal: "Many in Washington see this as a strategy to win Republican support for a climate bill aimed at slowing global warming." He later concluded: "The conventional political wisdom is that this is not the time to have another rancorous nasty debate, like the one over health care, on a climate change bill. But the betting here is that the President's energy policy may make it easier to have that debate."
At the top of the show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "President Obama's controversial offshore drilling proposal is making big waves. Critics say the risks are obvious, but not the rewards." In a discussion with CBS political analyst John Dickerson after Plante's report, she did little to hide her displeasure with the proposal: "Let's establish right off the bat that this will not – not even remotely free us from our dependence on foreign oil." Dickerson agreed: "You're exactly right."
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked political analyst and writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, John Dickerson, if Democrats were "worried" about the "ton of momentum" behind the tea party movement. Dickerson replied: "What Democrats can only hope for is that tea party activists somehow overreach and that that ends up becoming a stain on the Republican Party."
Rodriguez agreed and touted Democratic Party talking points on ObamaCare: "Right. And also, if you ask the Obama administration, they'll tell you maybe people will see the few health care changes that are taking effect immediately and actually like them and it'll turn the tide of public opinion."
"That certainly is the hope," Dickerson replied, but then lamented: "The polling right now does not give the Obama administration a lot of encouragement on that front." He explained that the American public was simply afraid of change: "The problem is that people are nervous about change and this is an enormous change in their lives....people really just don't believe it yet."
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith promoted the idea of division within the GOP as he declared: "A controversial vote for brand new Republican Senator Scott Brown, as he sides with Democrats to help push through a jobs bill."
While it's certainly true that some conservatives took real issue with Brown's support of the $15 billion spending bill, Smith clearly saw an opportunity to stir up conflict on the Right: "the senator who broke the Democrats' super majority, Scott Brown, is taking some heat today from conservatives."
Rather than talk to any conservatives about the issue, Smith instead turned to liberal-leaning political analyst John Dickerson and observed that Brown siding with Democrats was a sign of his independence: "It's very interesting, though, because Scott Brown actually showed up at the CPAC meeting, the conservative meeting over the weekend in Washington, and yesterday he was quoted as 'I said I came to Washington to be an independent voice.'" Dickerson replied: "That's right. He said he was going to be independent and he, in fact, voted independently in this case."
Though polls and recent election results illustrate public antipathy to big government deficit spending and a preference for right-leaning Republicans, Thursday’s CBS Evening News foresaw an “incumbent backlash” in which Democrats are only more vulnerable because more of them hold national office. Katie Couric asserted “a lot of incumbents are in trouble” before reporter Chip Reid declared it’s “an election year that's looking more and more perilous for incumbents” since “the mood in the country is increasingly ‘throw the bums out.’”
CBS’s John Dickerson contended Democrats are only in more peril because they hold power, as if their policies are irrelevant: “The voting public is angry and they're in a mood to punish. 81 percent say they don't like the incumbent and that hurts the Democrats since they are in power in both the House and Senate and the White House.”
After noting how “even some long-term Democrats are in trouble” as Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is “trailing his potential Republican challengers in the polls,” Reid argued “Republican incumbents have a big problem of their own this year” since “Tea Party activists are challenging sitting Republicans.” Of course, those will take the form of Republican primary races while Democratic losses would lead to a party change.
While discussing Sarah Palin’s Saturday Tea Party Convention speech with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez remarked: “She was really scrutinized because she wrote those notes on her hand during her speech....I want to show real quick....boy, are her critics having fun with that one.”
As Rodriguez mentioned the incident, a headline on screen read: “Helping Hand? Palin Seen Glancing At Notes On Palm.” Dickerson was forgiving: “Well, we all face a little difficulty getting our words together in public moments,” but added: “I think this will be the kind of thing the Democrats will use to pick at her, you know, the notion is that basically she doesn’t have the capabilities to be president.” Dickerson concluded: “I don’t think in the long term, though, this is – will cause her too much trouble.”
While Rodriguez made sure to point out Palin’s gaffe to viewers, during an interview last February, Rodriguez glossed over an obvious gaffe made by Vice President Joe Biden.
Speaking to political analyst John Dickerson on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show about Republican Scott Brown winning the Massachusetts Senate race, co-host Maggie Rodriguez lamented: “When it comes to health care, I think it’s so ironic that the late Ted Kennedy’s passion was health care. He dedicated his career to it. And the man who will replace him could be the one to derail it.”
Rodriguez wondered: “Do you think that’ll happen? Do you think that Senator Brown will be seated in time to vote no?” Dickerson replied: “I think so. It looks like there’s not any appetite to try and rush something through quickly. Health care is already unpopular in Massachusetts and across the country. It’s a very tricky thing indeed to take an unpopular bill and then sort of sneak it in through this back door way. So that’s politically too painful.”
Interestingly, Rodriguez’s concern over Kennedy’s health care legacy was almost identical to a question NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked Senator-elect Brown on Wednesday’s Today: “...you plan to do whatever you can to derail what Ted Kennedy called, called ‘the cause of his lifetime,’ which is health care reform?”
Less than two hours before the polls closed in Massachusetts, CBS News political analyst John Dickerson argued that if Republican candidate Scott Brown wins tonight, “it's just going to get a lot uglier in Washington,” declaring that Republicans “feel excited and they see glory in attacking the President.”
After talking about prospects for the Democrats’ unpopular health care bill, CBS anchor Katie Couric asked Dickerson: “Finally, if this seat goes Republican, how will it change the political climate in Washington?”
Dickerson warned: “It's going to get uglier. Republicans, no matter what the outcome is, feel emboldened, they feel excited and they see glory in attacking the President. Democrats, on the other hand, have to really fight hard against that sentiment. The President's getting into that fight, pushing a populist message, and so in the end it's just going to get a lot uglier in Washington.”
Newsweek’s 20/10 Project has a list of the Decade’s Worst Tactical Blunders. It might not be a shock that Newsweek decided three of the top four were made by Team Bush – and the fourth was John Kerry for letting Swift Boaters prevent him from taking that awful Bush out. What might be surprising are the authors of the little articles that accompany the list. The number one blunder was "Bush’s Katrina Flyover." The author was Bush-hating atheist scold Bill Maher:
But there was something about Bush’s response to Katrina that did bother me—oh, yeah, it was that he didn’t have one. Nor did the former dildo salesman he appointed to head FEMA. In other words, I get far more angry when politicians don’t do their jobs than when they get their pictures taken pretending to do somebody else’s.
The second biggest blunder of the decade was "Kerry Lets Himself Get Swift-Boated" by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter. Conservative "lies" outpaced liberal "facts," thanks to Kerry’s decision to stay out of the rebuttal battle:
On Sunday’s CBS Evening News, political analyst John Dickerson brushed aside criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney that the Obama administration was “dithering” on Afghanistan: “...it puts Cheney out there as a kind of boogie man the administration can point to. He’s not terribly popular outside of conservative circles...in some ways, Dick Cheney is a gift for the White House.”
Dickerson, who is a contributing writer for the left-leaning blog Slate.com, has also filled in for Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer twice in the last six months, on the October 18 and July 5 broadcasts. He was responding to a question from Sunday Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell, who cited Cheney and wondered: “Are you hearing other sentiments out there along those lines?” Dickerson claimed: “Well, there’s been some elite opinion about the pause in the President’s thinking.”
An October 9 CBS News poll showed that there was more than simply “elite opinion” on the subject: “President Obama has a slide in his approval ratings on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan. In April, 58 percent approved of his handling of the conflict; by August, that number had fallen to 48 percent. In the most recent survey it has hit its lowest level yet, 42 percent.” An October 18 ABC News/ Washington Post poll placed public approval of the President’s handling of Afghanistan at 45 percent, with 47 percent disapproving of his handling.
Speaking with political analyst John Dickerson on Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked about the latest Obama administration attack on Fox News: “Anita Dunn, the communications director for the White House, pushed back against Fox. This is the first time that we’ve seen somebody really come out, out loud and say what she had to say....Now there seems to be a full frontal assault.”
Dickerson replied by describing the White House mud slinging as a win-win: “..the White House website where they talked about the ‘lies of Fox News,’ which is stronger language than you usually hear. This is kind of good for both sides. Fox News sees its viewers – viewership increase, the White House has an enemy. It can galvanize its liberal supporters by attacking Fox News. That’s something that gets cheers in those quarters.”
However, he did follow up by warning of a potential downside: “The problem for the White House, of course, is that it can look a little petty and a little small as it sort of takes it sort of punches down at a cable network. And so they have to make sure that if they’re going to take on Fox News, that they don’t seem overly obsessed by it.” It seems like that ship has already sailed.
As the broadcast network evening newscasts reported Friday on Sarah Palin's decision to resign as Alaska's governor, some of the negative wording on the CBS Evening News sounded eerily similar to the partisan statement attacking Palin that was released by the Democratic National Committee, which was quoted the same evening on FNC's Fox Report, and on Special Report with Bret Baier.
As she began her report, correspondent Nancy Cordes used words with a negative connotation -- "abandoning her job" -- to describe Palin's departure from office. Cordes: "Surrounded by family at her home in Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin said she was abandoning her job because she has no interest in being a lame duck."
Similarly, the statement issued by DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse also used the word "abandon" to refer to Palin's resignation: "Her decision to abandon her post and the people of Alaska who elected her continues a pattern of bizarre behavior that more than anything else may explain the decision she made today.”
Sarah Palin's “bombshell” holiday announcement that she will resign as Governor of Alaska managed to trump Michael Jackson as the lead on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts Friday night as NBC's Chuck Todd predicted she will now make fundraising appearances for GOP candidates where she'll draw in “car-wreck watchers.” CBS reporter Nancy Cordes reflected the tone of the stories when she described “a rambling, at times confusing announcement,” while on all three newscasts Palin's decision was called “bizarre.”
NBC News White House reporter Chuck Todd, who suggested she decided to quit so she could “make a lot of money” on the speaking circuit free of ethics complaint hassles, also predicted she will bring in big crowds at fundraisers for GOP candidates which will also entice those not so impressed by her:
She may spend the next year campaigning for Republicans all across the country. She's probably going to be the person that can attract the largest crowds, some of it is car-wreck watchers -- you know, they just are coming, kind of curiosity-seekers. It doesn't matter. She can attract a lot of people.