On last Friday’s Washington Week, PBS moderator Gwen Ifill brought in a panel of four liberal journalists to dissect the three scandals that have plagued the Obama administration the past couple of weeks. Predictably, most of the panelists attempted to downplay the seriousness of the Benghazi fiasco.
Midway through the Benghazi discussion, Ifill turned to The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe and posed the question that has surely been on every left-wing reporter’s mind for months: “But Ed, why is this -- why is this stuck? Why is this a story that never went away?” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
UPDATED: [May 21; 5:15 p.m. EDT | see portion in brackets below the page break] || The liberal media continue their effort to spin the Obama administration right out of trouble. On Saturday’s Today, NBC brought on John Harwood, CNBC’s chief Washington correspondent, to provide some analysis of the three scandals that rocked the administration last week. Harwood, with help from co-anchor Erica Hill, attempted to make the discussion about the Republicans and their shortcomings rather than the White House’s failings.
Hill brought up the fact that some senior Republicans, such as Newt Gingrich, have cautioned the party about not going after Obama too aggressively over the scandals. Harwood agreed, adding that the party does not have a wide enough base. He then chastised Republicans: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
The New York Times has long excused the continuing unpopularity of Obamacare by arguing that people just don't understand it or that it's been unfairly caricatured by political opponents. The latest entry was John Harwood's "Political Memo" Tuesday, "The Next Big Challenge for Obama's Health Care Law: Carrying It Out." The text box fretted: "Misinformation and complex imperatives could cause trouble."
Let’s all be thankful for CNBC. On this morning’s Squawk Box, co-host Joe Kernen raised a question that the Big Three broadcast networks have been afraid or unwilling to touch thus far.
While Kernen was chatting with CNBC Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood about the sequester, Harwood brought up the FAA’s announcement that it will close 149 air traffic control towers next month. It was a story that ABC, CBS, and NBC each covered on their Saturday morning shows this week. Of course, what the broadcast networks failed to mention, but which Kernen raised, was Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran's amendment that proposed cutting $50 million in unspent FAA research money rather than closing the towers, $50 million being the approximate amount that would be saved by closing the 149 towers. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) refused to bring the amendment up for a vote. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
In Monday's New York Times, in a report which appeared online late Sunday, reporters Richard W. Stevenson and John Harwood devoted considerable space to the idea that President Obama's latest "outreach" effort is primarily an attempt to "salvage a big deficit-reduction deal," and not a political ploy to show voters in the 2014 congressional elections that he's really interested in achieving a compromise when no genuine desire exists.
Steven Hayes at the Weekly Standard believes it's the latter ("For Obama, It's All About 2014"), as should anyone, probably including the reporters just cited, who is on the mailing list of Obama's permanent campaign known as Organizing For Action. On Thursday, three days before the Times reporters tried to convince America that Obama is in deal-making mode, OFA, which self-evidently tailors its message to the White House's true desire went into over-the-top scaremongering mode in an email from proven prevaricator Stephanie Cutter (bolds are mine):
On the front of Sunday's New York Times, reporters Jackie Calmes and Jonathan Weisman suggested President Obama has a "mandate" for tax hikes in the ongoing tactical battle in Congress over the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts in "Soured History Hampers Talks Between Obama and Boehner."
Last year, Mr. Boehner had the edge as Mr. Obama faced a difficult re-election campaign and needed Republicans’ support to increase the nation’s borrowing limit, lest the government default. Now, after a decisive re-election victory and Democratic gains in Congress, Mr. Obama has the stronger hand. He also made higher taxes for the wealthy a central campaign issue, suggesting a mandate borne out in public polls. And he benefits from a hard deadline, Dec. 31, after which all of the Bush-era tax cuts expire if action is not taken to extend them. Polls show that voters would hold Republicans responsible if no deal is reached in time.
As NewsBusters colleague Kyle Drennan noted today, the liberal media has mobilized their legions to defend embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, complaining that the criticisms leveled by Republicans are motivated by racism, sexism or both.
But there most certainly is a double standard at play as Eliana Johnson of National Review noted in an excellent November 21 post in which she detailed how left-wing journalists and members of Congress attacked Condoleezza Rice as an incompetent Bush hack. Johnson wrote that:
Appearing on Saturday's NBC Today, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood completely dismissed the scandal surrounding the Benghazi terrorist attack as merely leftover campaign politics: "...what we're seeing in the Petraeus scandal and the Benghazi issue being prolonged is an extension of some of the conflict and the bitterness that we had during the election campaign." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Harwood predicted the whole controversy would just go away: "I'm not sure what the resolution of that is going to be. I think ultimately that energy is going to get spent and lawmakers are going to turn to the real crisis that is looming over the American economy, which is the fiscal cliff..."
Guess John Harwood was feeling lucky today. CNBC's chief Washington correspondent went on the Today show and boldly proclaimed that not only did Clint Eastwood not accomplish his mission with his RNC speech, but that the speech is almost universally viewed by political professionals as "a big blunder, a big set-back for Mitt Romney."
Harwood did not adduce a scintilla of evidence in support of his contention that the speech hurt Romney. And his universe of pundits apparently does not include people like Jonah Goldberg or Mark Steyn. View the video after the jump.
On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood warned that, unless the Romney campaign succeeds in changing the campaign subject away from Bain Capital, he could be "left out in the political wilderness pretty quickly" if both the Obama campaign and the media press Romney on the subject persistently.
After host Lester Holt asked "why is the question of when" Romney "was actually running things" at Bain Capital "so key," Harwood responded:
In the aftermath of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker defeating a union-backed recall election, New York Times reporter John Harwood still saw bright hopes for Obama both in Wisconsin and nationwide, basing his Saturday "political memo" on a study from a liberal group, in "Demographic Shifts in Key States Could Aid Obama in Fall." That's slanted enough. But why is Harwood also relying on the worthless exit poll from the Walker-Barrett vote last Tuesday to argue that Obama is ahead in Wisconsin?
On MSNBC, the disrespect one is allowed to show to a conservative and/or his family knows no bounds.
On Wednesday's Hardball, host Chris Matthews and his guests Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and John Harwood of the New York Times actually laughed at Mitt Romney's sons (video follows with transcript and commentary):
After the news portion of a "Warmer Weather Hurting Retail" segment on the impact of the mild winter on retail sales thus far appearing early this morning on CNBC, Joe Kernen and John Harwood got into it over the relevance and influence of so-called "global warming" (I guess Harwood didn't get the memo that it's "climate change" now).
As Thursday's Today show on NBC gave attention to GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's support for allowing some illegal immigrants to gain legal residency status rather than face deportation, substitute co-anchor Carl Quintanilla asked correspondent John Harwood if the former House Speaker was "pandering" to gain votes in the general election. Quintanilla:
John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC, co-hosted the GOP debate in Michigan last Wednesday, and had a hand in Perry’s infamous debate “oops” moment, when the Texas governor was unable to list all three of the federal agencies he planned to eliminate as president. On Monday Harwood revealed that a CNBC producer helped prod Perry’s long, awkward moment by shouting a directive into Harwood’s earpiece.
Harwood also writes a weekly “Caucus” column for the New York Times. On Monday he discussed his role in Gov. Rick Perry’s infamous debate "oops," as well as how the audience booed the hosts for bringing up Herman Cain's sexual harassment controversy.
Before being tapped to be one of the moderators at CNBC's upcoming Republican presidential debate, John Harwood was ranting against the GOP for causing the summer debt crisis. Appearing on NBC's Today in July, Harwood warned: "...the House Republican caucus...would not accept what President Obama needed to make a deal...It's crazy politics, what they're doing..."
When the U.S. later lost its AAA credit rating in August, Harwood again appeared on Today to proclaim that the downgrade had provided President Obama with "a tangible consequence to point to for Republican brinksmanship on the debt and deficit reduction deal.”
President Obama once again showed a thin skin on Thursday by accusing Fox News's Ed Henry of being Mitt Romney's spokesperson.
CNBC's John Harwood asked White House Chief of Staff William Daley about this the following day, and Daley responded, "There are certain people in the media who do seem at times to carry the water for certain piece of the political spectrum" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
At the top of Saturday's NBC Today, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood told co-host Lester Holt that the downgrade of U.S. debt provided President Obama with "a tangible consequence to point to for Republican brinksmanship on the debt and deficit reduction deal."
Harwood observed: "Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, always said, 'We don't want co-ownership of the economy,'" and predicted, "You can expect the administration to say, 'You've got it now.'"
Appearing on Saturday's NBC Today, CNBC's John Harwood solely blamed House Republicans for the ongoing debt ceiling gridlock: "Speaker Boehner and President Obama, were negotiating in good faith. They wanted a deal....the House Republican caucus...would not accept what President Obama needed to make a deal, and that is real and significant tax hikes as a component."
Harwood argued conservative House members were intimidating Boehner and declared: "That's why Boehner left the talks. That's why the United States' risk of default, while still low in my opinion, is higher than it was 24 hours ago." Later, Harwood touted how "Independents are starting to side with Democrats" and proclaimed: "House Republicans are not playing politics on this. It's crazy politics, what they're doing, and Republican leaders think it may hurt the party. But it's what they believe, and that's why we're at this point."
As broadcast news programs over the weekend gave attention to Sarah Palin’s bus tour which was viewed as a possible prelude to a presidential run, NBC correspondent John Harwood had one of the most negative views of the former Alaska governor’s chances of being elected President as he appeared on Sunday’s NBC Nightly News and predicted that she "has next to zero chance of being elected President."
He went on to declare that most Republicans want her out of the race: "I think what Republicans hope most is that Sarah Palin clarifies before too long that she's not going to get into this race."
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, May 29, NBC Nightly News:
Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, the Today show on NBC, and the NBC Nightly News all gave attention to potential Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee’s recent words from the Michael Medved Show lamenting the example set by the unwed pregnancy of actress Natalie Portman. But, while Huckabee might have been better served if he had also made a point of praising her for keeping her child and planning to marry the father during his original comments, the reports on ABC and NBC mostly ignored that it was host Medved who decided to bring up Portman, and Huckabee was responding to him rather than making a point of bringing her up on his own.
But only Saturday’s Today show even briefly mentioned that Medved introduced Portman into the conversation as substitute anchor Savannah Guthrie read a statement from Huckabee on the matter.
With what appears to be a devastating election looming for his party, is President Obama attempting to follow in the footsteps of one of his predecessors and moderate toward the center?
Not if choosing Pete Rouse to replace chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is any indication, according to CNBC’s Larry Kudlow. On the Oct. 1 broadcast of “The Call,” CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood predicted Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wasn’t going anywhere, but Obama would take a pro-business tack with the leadership of Department of Commerce. However, Kudlow, citing a “deep political insider,” had a different forecast.
“The Commerce thing is a great idea and you're probably going to be right, but I know that you don't hear this,” Kudlow said. “But I had dinner last night with a deep political insider who told me that Michael Bloomberg is the next Treasury secretary. I heard that. All I'll say is this is a serious insider who said the deal has been done and that Bloomberg is the next Treasury secretary.”
“Tonight, free-market capitalism on the comeback trail,” Kudlow said on his Sept. 15 program. “That is one of the messages of the Tea Party power. We saw a lot of that power last night in the primaries. I tell you what folks, that Tea Party power, that free-market capitalist power is so totally bullish for the stock market.”
When it comes to picking a moderator for a game of ¿Quien Es Mas Macho?, somehow John Harwood doesn't spring to mind. But there was CNBC's chief Washington correspondent on The Ed Show this evening, twice accusing Pres. Obama's businessmen critics of "whining," and instructing them to "man up."
Schultz set the stage, playing a clip of Mort Zuckerman describing Obama's White House as "the most anti-business administration." Trying to tar Mort with the R-word, Schultz spoke of Zuckerman as having considered a run for Senate from New York "as a Republican." In fact, the Zuck man is a lifelong Dem known for supporting liberal causes. He briefly flirted with an independent or Republican run for Senate as a means of avoiding a Dem primary, but is as much of a Republican as Mike Bloomberg.
Then came Harwood, who wrote off Obama business critics as a bunch of selfish, whining wusses . . .
Joe Scarborough was on fire this morning, his ire trained on twin targets: Dick Blumenthal, and the New York Times' John Harwood, who casually dismissed the candidate's lies about having served in Vietnam as just a case of getting "a little carried away." At one point, Scarborough claimed he wasn't calling Blumenthal a "scumbag"—but it sure sounded like it.
Harwood began his Blumenthal defense with a barroom analogy: "the occasions where he was loose is more akin to a guy who had a few too many at the bar and hit on somebody rather than somebody actually trying to slip a mickey into the girls drink." He later added this lame defense: that even if Blumenthal lied to the veterans groups about his record, they weren't deceived by it. "Were all those veterans groups fooled by it?", asked Harwood, implying they weren't. "You're a reporter, you go ask them," snapped Scarborough.
Scarborough later pointed out that Blumenthal lied and trafficked on the valor of others on precisely those occasions when, appearing before veterans groups, it would benefit him politically. Harwood miscast Joe's criticism of Blumenthal as a demand that all candidates explain why they didn't serve. A peeved Scarborough called Harwood out: "John, I don't know show, what feed you're listening to."
Although to ask this question is to invite with a good degree of criticism, it is still worth asking: Is Obama administration's approach to publicly reprimanding private industry cause for concern?
On CNBC's May 4 "Squawk Box," host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera raised this point and asked Washington correspondent John Harwood if White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' recent statement BP was a little overboard.
"The spokesperson says, quote, ‘We're going to keep our boot on the throats of BP,'" Caruso-Cabrera said. "How is the Business Council going to react to that when they see President Obama?"
Harwood, who often goes easy on the Obama administration, wasn't so quick to criticize Gibbs for this. His explanation was that it was a little "hostile," but repeated Gibbs' suggestion it was just a regional saying.
As congressional Democrats press on with their attempts to get financial legislation reform passed, a key component has been lacking from the debate: how to handle the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).