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.
A night after the CBS Evening News ignored CIA Director Leon Panetta's rebuke of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Saturday's newscast continued the blackout as anchor Jeff Glor only mentioned Pelosi in setting up a question by explaining she “put herself in a very awkward position” when “she said the CIA lied to her or misled her about water-boarding,” before he asked Time magazine veteran John Dickerson: “Is this something that's over for the Speaker now or does this continue?”
Though the whole topic is apparently already over for CBS News, Dickerson maintained “it's not over for the Speaker” as he proceeded to empathize with her plight by suggesting she's “got to hope another issue...blows her off the front pages” and that “when Congress goes home for their recesses that somehow she gets out of the news cycle because she's still in a fix.” But not one that interests CBS News.
Nor NBC, which like ABC on Saturday night, didn't utter Pelosi's name – possibly because all three evening newscasts were so exited about what they made their lead stories: President Obama naming Utah's Republican Governor, Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China. “A political masterstroke” declared ABC's George Stephanopoulos on World News in repeating the same phrase applied moments earlier by reporter Jonathan Karl. Stephanopoulos even managed to get in a dig at conservatives as he hailed the pick as “one more sign that this is a party [Republican] where the reformers -- the moderates -- are looking for an exit.”
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith took a critical tone against the Obama administration’s decision to reinstate military tribunals for terror suspects: "President Obama will resume the controversial military tribunals for some terror suspects." Smith later discussed the decision with John Dickerson from Slate.com and wondered what the hard left would think: "Let's talk about this decision by the Obama administration to go ahead and have tribunals for some of these terror suspects. The whole part of the -- a huge part of Obama's campaign was repudiation of this Bush policy in Guantanamo. What are Obama's supporters going to think of this decision this morning?"
Dickerson responded by attempting to explain that the decision was not a reversal by Obama: "Well, they have a lot of reason to be upset with him for a variety of decisions he's made recently. But Obama always said that he would take a look at these tribunals...He never said he would do away with them completely...So they will probably be upset. They would like the President to do away with the tribunals altogether. But in terms of matching what he's done now with his previous statements, he's still in line with what he said before."
Brent Bozell mentions in his new column that Time offered a cover story package complete with four pages of Joe Klein hosannas and ten pages of fanzine photos for Barack Obama’s first 100 days, while George W. Bush drew next to nothing. There was only a story on Bush guru Karl Rove and how he won with "the least experienced presidential nominee of modern times." (That’s no longer true, but you wouldn’t see that phrase laid on Obama.)
The April 30, 2001 article focused on Rove’s desperate attempt to clean up "W.’s anti-environment image." John Dickerson and James Carney (now Vice President Biden’s press secretary) began with accusations:
Bush abandoned a campaign pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, rejected the Kyoto global-warming treaty, suspended new arsenic standards for drinking water – and began to look suspiciously like the eco-villain Al Gore warned us about.
On Friday night’s Washington Week on PBS, the liberal media elites around the table were still finding political perils for the Republicans in the new era of Democratic dominance. NPR anchor Michele (pretentiously pronounced Mee-chelle) Norris substituted for Gwen Ifill, and noted President Obama still faced fire from the "Republican machinery," symbolized by Rush Limbaugh. Former Time reporter John Dickerson suggested there was real "political peril" in associating the GOP with Rush, as Obama masterfully suggested:
NORRIS: The Republicans are going through a certain amount of party building right now. They emerged from this last election with real wounds that they have to tend to. But there are signs that the Republican machinery is still very strong, particularly the thunder at the right that we hear on the airwaves every week and in the name of Rush Limbaugh.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals. And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars. Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.
Before moving to the substance, a word about the roundtable's lopsided composition, which resembled nothing more than Homecoming for public radio types. To "balance" David Brody of CBN, ABC chose Kurt Andersen of Public Radio International, Alison Stewart of NPR, and John Dickerson of Slate and . . . NPR. Andersen kicked off the Supreme Court segment with his "moderate" liberal comment. Dickerson followed with his pre-emptive warning about that potential Republican "fake fight."
Now that the general election is apparently on, National Public Radio staffers and listeners are already bracing for the "rancor" that John McCain and the Republicans are going to unleash. On Wednesday’s nationally distributed Diane Rehm show, Rehm asked bluntly: "What kinds of comments, what kinds of rancor are we likely to see coming from John McCain as he goes up against Barack Obama?" Rancor is apparently a Republican product, and something that will never be emitted by the Obama campaign.
Several Obama supporters worried to Rehm that the American voters are dumb enough to be talked out of voting for Obama by right-wing rumor-mongering about Obama’s religion. One caller complained about how voters listen to "silly rumors on the talk shows, they don’t bother to ascertain facts." After another caller told a story of a houseguest who thought Obama was a secret Muslim, NPR political director Ron Elving said the American people are intelligent, but often uninformed. Former Time reporter John Dickerson, now with the liberal Slate website, added that Obama will have to deal with voters who are "willfully stupid" about his life history.
For a moment, let's step away from the commentary, per se, and focus on the commentators. Liberals love to chide Fox News for its alleged conservative bias. So why don't we see, when it comes to being fair and balanced, how this morning's Fox News Sunday panel stacked up against that of its main competitor, Meet the Press?