You can't be loved and adored by everybody, but if you're President Barack Obama and it concerns the media, you can come awfully close.
In an interview on CNBC's June 16 "Closing Bell" with the network Washington correspondent John Harwood, Obama reflected on the media coverage he has received to date. Harwood asked the president to respond to the claim that lack of media criticism has allowed him to "hurt" the country.
"When you and I spoke in January, you said, I observed that you haven't gotten much bad press," Harwood said. "You said, ‘It's coming.' Media critics would say not only has it not come, but that you've gotten such favorable press either because of bias or because you're good box office that it's hurting the country because you're not sufficiently being held accountable for your policies. Assess that."
During a CNBC interview, New York Times reporter John Harwood shared an intense moment with President Obama: "He had this fly that was persistently buzzing around him during the interview...he swatted his hand and he said ‘I got the sucker’...it was a, you know, Dirty Harry ‘make my day’ moment."
Harwood described the showdown at the end of the 4PM ET hour on MSNBC, after anchor David Shuster remarked: "John, I know that the President is credited with being sometimes awfully lucky, rainbows appear sometimes when he speaks, but I understand there was an instance today where he killed a fly out of mid-air during your interview." Harwood began to tell the tale: "Well, David, this reminded me of that moment during the campaign when he took a three-point shot at a military base and it swished."
After detailing the President’s courage in battling the insect, Harwood also noted Obama’s cleanliness: "...and at the end of the interview, David, he picked up a napkin off the table and said ‘I clean up after myself’ and he picked up the fly off the carpet." In awe, Shuster observed: "Amazing...An amazing interview...it never fails, great weather, rainbows, incredible speeches, and three-point basket. A fly and he nails it. Unbelievable, unbelievable."
Co-anchor Tamron Hall concluded the discussion by comparing Obama’s quick reflexes to that of the martial arts expert in the movie Karate Kid: "Mr. Miyagi, just snapped it right up. Look at that – look at that intense look."
In John Harwood's Sunday Week in Review piece, "Rethinking The Reagan Mystique," he claimed Republicans are rejecting Ronald Reagan as a political inspiration and urging their party to look forward. He probably overstates the case. However, Harwood does come up with a novel insult of Reagan: The man the media labeled a heartless budget-cutter was actually a runaway spender in disguise!
For a liberal Democrat, President Obama has offered generous praise for the most celebrated of his recent Republican predecessors.
Mr. Obama has credited Ronald Reagan with having "changed the trajectory of America" in ways Bill Clinton didn't. "President Reagan helped as much as any president to restore a sense of optimism in our country, a spirit that transcended politics," Mr. Obama said earlier this month while signing the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act in the presence of Nancy Reagan.
It's not surprising that Mr. Obama has embraced Mr. Reagan's achievement since it seems akin to his own aspirations and might also ingratiate him with conservatives. What is surprising is the increasingly ambiguous position Mr. Reagan holds on the right.
On Monday, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer offered some advice to Republicans: "Until they change policies – I mean, that's what it took for conservatives in Great Britain to win – is a real change in focus away from morals and values into things that affect people's daily lives.’
Brewer made the comment during the 2PM ET hour while discussing the future of the GOP with New York Times reporter John Harwood, who completely agreed: "Well, bingo, Contessa, that's exactly right." Harwood added: "The question is what is the right mix? To what extent are they going to focus on economic issues...Or do they focus more on national security...Or those social issues which have repelled some voters. But still motivate a lot of people in the Republican base." Brewer replied: "The one’s who probably vote Republican anyway."
The segment began by Brewer asking Harwood about his latest article in the New York Times, entitled "Rethinking the Reagan Mystique," in which he argued that some Republicans are calling for the party to move beyond Ronald Reagan. Brewer observed: "While there may be disagreement in the Republican about the best way forward, you know, it's been in this sort of Republican mantra to invoke Ronald Reagan's name often and loudly. That could be changing though."
It was a liberal-fest on MSNBC's weekly "New York Times Special Edition on MSNBC" show, hosted last Friday by John Harwood and Norah O'Donnell and featuring a rotating gaggle of Times reporters, both in studio and on location.
To preface a discussion about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor about 20 minutes into the show, host Harwood (who also writes for the Times) broadcast a clip of former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo describing the liberal Hispanic activist group La Raza, which Sotomayor once belonged to, as the "Latino KKK without the hoods and-or the nooses."
For that bit of commentary, Harwood called Tancredo "a little kooky." Next, reporter Adam Nagourney accused Rush Limbaugh of "incendiary" comments on Sotomayor, while Sheryl Gay Stolberg lamented that "with an African-American president trying to bring people together, now we're seeing those old ugly culture and race wars bubble up, and it'll be interesting to see if President Obama himself can kind of tamp that down."
After burying the story on page A18 Friday, the New York Times finally put the Nancy Pelosi-C.I.A. controversy on the front page Saturday. Yet congressional reporter Carl Hulse made excuses for House Speaker Pelosi, who accused the CIA of deliberately misleading her in 2002 about waterboarding.
Hulse glossed over the multiple contradictory accounts Pelosi has delivered of what she knew about waterboarding and when she knew it. He also insisted Pelosi was in no political danger and focused solely on the politics of the battle and the effectiveness of Republican attacks, not on the veracity of Pelosi's accounts of what the C.I.A. told her about waterboarding.
After many failed efforts, Republicans have finally found a weak spot in Nancy Pelosi's political armor as a fight over detainee interrogations engulfs Ms. Pelosi, Republicans and intelligence officials.
The furor was heightened on Friday when the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, pushed back against an assertion by Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat who is the House speaker, that she had been misled by agency representatives seven years ago about harsh treatment of terrorism suspects, a claim that struck a raw nerve at the spy headquarters.
Mr. Panetta, a former Democratic congressman from California and a longtime associate of Ms. Pelosi, issued a statement that said the agency's "contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that C.I.A. officers briefed truthfully," a rebuttal of Ms. Pelosi's claim on Thursday that intelligence officials had lied to her.
The economy is already in rough shape, but some think we should let it go to pot - literally. Pro-legalization advocacy groups are promoting the possibility that legalizing marijuana could provide some economic relief, and the media has eagerly explored the idea.
On April 20, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) aired TV ads calling for marijuana legalization. They ran on CNN, Fox News Channel and were covered by CBS News.
"In the spot, Americans say of the drug, ‘you can tax it, you can regulate it, apply age restrictions...create millions of new jobs ... save our economy,'" Brian Montopoli wrote for CBSNews.com on April 20.
With chatter that this could be a campaign issue in 2010, the new Obama Administration's relaxed policies toward the drug and some people's desperate, try-anything approach to solving the government spending deficits and economic woes, the idea of marijuana legalization is gaining traction with the media.
That's one of the selling points used over and over again by pundits, as they are paraded out repeatedly on broadcast and cable network news programs - that so-called "shovel-ready" projects will challenge economic woes by revitalizing something we need to do anyway. But only 3 percent of the Obama stimulus plan is slated for such projects.
"The total size of the plan is about $750 to $800 billion - roughly $300 billion is for tax cuts for businesses and individuals," CBS correspondent Chip Reid said on CBS's Jan. 12 "The Early Show." "The rest will be spent on everything from roads and bridges to renewable energy to create three to 4 million jobs. Republicans are raising red flags about the amount of spending."
With a liberal Democrat coming to power, the New York Times has evidently gotten over the false fear of "big cuts" in Medicare it displayed when Republicans tried to trim the program back in 1995.
Thursday's lead story by Jeff Zeleny and John Harwood, "Obama Promises Bid To Overhaul Retiree Spending," characterized the president-elect's stated willingness to tackle huge entitlement programs Social Security and Medicare in mostly positive terms. The reporters described Obama's vague proposal as an "overhauling," an "approach to rein in Social Security and Medicare," and an "effort to cut back the rates of growth of the two programs."
President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be "a central part" of his administration's efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs.
Just one day after Ann Coulter chided NBC News' Matt Lauer and Brian Williams, on the "Today" show, for softball questions to Barack Obama, CNBC's John Harwood, on Thursday's "Today," outdid them both in Obama puffery. In a one-on-one interview with the President-elect, Harwood asked such hard-hitting questions as what kind of "family advice," he got from his lunch with the former presidents, if he is being allowed to use his Blackberry, and whether recent topless photos of him in Hawaii were, "an embarrassment."
"Today" co-host Meredith Vieira teased the interview, claiming Harwood "sat down with Obama to talk about the economic challenges," ahead but instead the segment focused on less weightier matters, as seen in the following exchange:
JOHN HARWOOD: As of this moment, you still have your Blackberry?
BARACK OBAMA: As of this moment, I still do. This is a concern, I should add, not just of Secret Service, but also lawyers. You know, this town's full of lawyers. I don't know if you've noticed.
OBAMA: And they have a lot of opinions. So, so I'm still in a scuffle around that. How do you stay in touch with the flow of everyday life? When we were on vacation in Hawaii, I was greatly discouraged from going body surfing. Going to get shaved ice was a major ordeal. And, you know-
HARWOOD, OVER STILL PICTURE OF OBAMA IN BATHING SUIT: Were, were you told not to walk outside without your shirt on?
OBAMA: Well, I learned of that after the first day. But, but I think that-
HARWOOD: Was that, was that an embarrassment to you, or do you care? You got a lot of commentary about that.
Feeling a little bailout fatigue? Tired of the assault on the taxpayer from the federal government to pacify those influenced by the United Auto Workers? CNBC's Larry Kudlow feels your pain.
Call this red meat for the troubled anti-bailout soul. Kudlow, now performing a role as a co-host on CNBC's mid-morning program "The Call," blasted the Union Auto Worker, President George W. Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and anyone else associated with $17.4 billion in loans for auto companies announced earlier today on Dec. 19.
"This is a full-up pooper scooper for the American taxpayer, which now owns General Motors," Kudlow said. "We're going to have a GM cabinet. Barack Obama is going to be the new car czar because Bush basically pushed this pooper scooper his way."
"You can see that even in Europe, some of the climate concerns, given this, this once in a lifetime recession, John - to put someone that, an advocate of such strong measures," Kernen said on "Squawk Box" Dec. 11. "Really I've seen her called Brownies or Brownistas. Um. That's a little scary with what's happening right now."
Earlier Kernen was discussing cabinet appoints with CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood and pointed to new regulations Browner could institute:
Promise, or threat? John Harwood declares "the New York Times isn't going anywhere." The Times correspondent, who also toils for CNBC, made his unconditional claim on today's Morning Joe in response to Joe Scarborough's envisioning of a future in which major news organizations, including the Times, might disappear. Scarborough was concerned that the public would be deprived of the media's investigative function.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The problem is, though, that these people are all being fired. So what are we going to do without a New York Times or a Washington Post or an NBC News? The investigators that hold government accountable.
That's when Harwood sprang to his employer's defense.
Repent, all ye owners of Suburbans, thou drivers of Explorers. Mend thy ways, ye Escalade-loving louts! Take heed of the warning the prophet Mika has vouchsafed unto you: greedy thou art; verily, destroyers of the environment be thee!
Oy. Mika Brzezinski was on quite a roll this morning. On the one hand, free-marketers would find much to agree with in Mika's arguments. As noted here yesterday, whereas Joe Scarborough has been vigorously advocating a federal rescue of Detroit, Brzezinski favors bankruptcy over bailout. But Mika couldn't help muddling her message, delivering a jeremiad against Detroit for producing larger vehicles and Americans for buying them, actually condemning the latter as "greedy."
It may not have been "huge" when CNBC's Joe Kernen said it but the dude has been on practically every news station by now.
Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood that the "Joe the plumber" story "would be huge" and even a "bombshell," in any other election year. Kernen said voters "don't care" because they are buying into Sen. Obama's assertion that the Bush tax policies have led to the financial crisis.
"Obviously not everyone out there knows how to connect the dots between the [financial crisis] and tax policy. For some reason the Bush tax policies are being cited by Obama as the reason that we're in this position right now, again and again and again," said "Squawk Box" co-host Kernen Oct. 16.
Chris Matthews spent the entire first segment of Tuesday night's "Hardball," questioning Sarah Palin's "intellectual ability" to lead but Republican Congressman Dan Lungren wasn't having any of it, as he countered: "You want to talk about my friend Joe Biden who made at least 10 misstatements in the last debate," and even made fun of Matthews' Obama fondness, as the California Congressman fired back: "Chris she does not send a tingle up my leg like Barack Obama does to you."
After playing a clip of Palin on Rush Limbaugh's radio show today, Matthews seemed dumbfounded that anyone believed Palin was capable of serving in the White House as he pressed Lungren:
Are you confident in Governor Palin's ability to help lead this country in complicated times? The person you just heard from, in one of the rare moments we've had where she spoke without notes, without a script?
After Lungren expressed his confidence in Palin's experience, Matthews made fun of Alaska's population as he told Lungren: "You have more constituents than the Governor of Alaska." When Lungren retorted with the "tingle" slam the "Hardball" host scoffed:
Conservative opposition to a federal bailout of financial institutions is over campaign donations, not a desire to uphold sound market principles, according to CNBC.
CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood said Sept. 25 on "Squawk Box" that he had a conversation with "a top Republican member of congress last night" who told him the resistance among conservatives to the $700 billion bailout plan is in part due to Wall Street donations to Democrats.
"‘A lot of our guys have decided that we hate Wall Street ... because they're giving a lot of money to Democrats right now,'" Harwood said he was told by an unnamed source.
"We've talked about how nice the bi-partisan coming together of the far left and the far right to oppose this plan. It was heartwarming, right? That finally brought the fringe elements of both sides together on this," co-host Joe Kernen joked.
As the Bush administration on Friday proposed a sweeping government bailout to address the nation's financial woes, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent John Harwood told viewers that such a move could help John McCain's presidential campaign because the "crisis on Wall Street benefits Barack Obama."
This came just days after CNN's David Gergen and Candy Crowley made similar assertions with the latter stating that "horrific" headlines from Wall Street were exactly what the Obama campaign wanted.
What follows is a partial transcript of this exchange from CNBC's "The Call" Friday (video embedded right):
New York Times-MSNBC contributor John Harwood took his usual Tuesday afternoon slot on the cable network to interview Elisabeth Bumiller, the Times's lead reporter on the McCain campaign beat.
Bumiller has a history of hostile coverage of McCain and Republicans, and did nothing to shake that perception on Tuesday, passing along as fact Barack Obama's out-of-context assault on the comment McCain made on Monday (as the crisis on Wall Street unfolded) about the strong fundamentals of the U.S. economy.
Bumiller: "On the other hand, McCain has had a very rough 24 hours, when he said on Monday that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. The Obama campaign will never let him forget that comment. He then came out a few hours later and said, well, the economy is in crisis. This morning he had revised his comments yet again, and now it is that the American worker is strong, but the economy is still in crisis. And now as we see, he's calling for a commission to study the problems on Wall Street, which is a tried-and-true Washington solution to, when there's little else you can do right away."
Harwood then played the full clip from McCain in Florida, putting in context what he said about the economy:
John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington Correspondent, admitted this morning "that people who talk about bias in the mainstream press, left of center bias, are not imagining things." He went on to explain, "It has to do with the kind of people who go into journalism, okay? So I'm not arguing with that general notion. I think that those of us in journalism have to do our best to try to present the most objective view we can of what we have, but everybody brings their own filter into it."
Harwood's admission of liberal bias in the media came out during a discussion about the Republican Convention with "Squawk Box" host Joe Kernan at about 6:14am EDT on Wednesday. Kernan pointed out a bit of bias he observed in CNN's coverage of the convention last night when Wolf Blitzer stated "We want you to see, to get a feeling for what it's like to be here whether you agree with what they're saying or not." Kernan pointed out that Blitzer did not say that during the Democratic Convention last week.
CNBC's "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernen took a moment during a panel discussion September 2 to take a shot at the onslaught of coverage over presumptive vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy.
You know as a member of the media I'm just kind of embarrassed with the media. The media says, "Yeah it shouldn't matter, it's not going to matter, we're not going to cover it" and then they put it on the cover of every paper.
Earlier in the broadcast Kernen told chief Washington correspondent John Harwood he did not think the family incidence was as big a deal as the media was making it out to be:
Felt a little bit like the guy in Casablanca, shocked, you know: teen sex in Alaska, John. Probably not that much of a shocker I guess, right? Not a whole lot. I guess bowling, yeah, It's a little lonely probably up there, right, John? ... I don't understand everybody at the same time saying that this is not going to be a big deal ... the press is going to be responsible about this, Barack Obama please don't make anything of this, but then it's the cover of every paper like it, you know, like matters.
Add John Harwood to the list of Barack Obama sycophants, for on Tuesday morning's "Squawk Box," CNBC's chief Washington correspondent actually crossed his fingers hoping that Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention tonight can bring about a much-needed catharsis amongst her disgruntled supporters.
In fact, he not only told the viewing audience to cross their fingers, but as he said it, also looked into the camera while crossing his own (file photo).
You know the old software programmer's excuse: "that's not a bug. That's a feature!" John Harwood of CNBC/NYT has produced a political variation on the theme to buff up Joe Biden. Biden's gaffes, including the racially-insensitive ones, are actually . . . "a strength."
Harwood was chatting with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on a special Morning Joe edition today, and the topic of Biden's famous "clean and articulate" comment about Obama arose. Biden also made headlines of course with his crack about 7-11s being populated by people with Indian accents.
JOHN HARWOOD: He is not somebody who is infused with political correctness, the verbal equivalent of putting his pinky up when he opens his mouth. So this is what, the way ordinary voters are as well. They're not always worried about sort of calibrating every single word by "ooh, is this racially insensitive?" That's something that Joe Biden brings as an asset to the ticket. The gaffes actually show one of his strengths.
When a writer for the New York Times questions his own paper, for refusing to publish an editorial by John McCain, and a former Clinton press secretary questions the "balance" of the coverage of Obama’s foreign tour, you know the media has reached a bias tilting point.
On Tuesday night's "Hardball," New York Times political writer John Harwood said of the Times decision to spike a McCain editorial: "I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama."
And former Bill Clinton press secretary, Dee Dee Myers, called the press coverage of Obama overseas, "extraordinary" and admitted: "It’s legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?"
The following segment occurred on the July 22, "Hardball:"
How insulated is the MSM? In how much of a liberal cocoon does it exist? For an answer, consider the vile cartoon displayed here. My guess is that the great majority of NewsBusters readers are familiar with it. But John Harwood—of the New York Times and CNBC—has never seen it.
That became clear on today's Morning Joe. The topic was the TV comedy world's double-standard, in which Republicans are regularly skewered but the laff factory suddenly shuts down when it comes to mocking Barack. A New York Times article on the matter was the jumping off point, and Joe Scarborough had a field day ridiculing lefty comedians' hypocrisy in piously claiming to "speak truth to power." The truth, said Scarborough, is that the comedians lay off Obama not because there's nothing funny about him, but because they're "in the tank" for the Dem candidate.
Towards the end of the segment came this stunning exchange:
Chris Matthews was not happy and seemed overly sensitive when John McCain compared Barack Obama to his old boss Jimmy Carter. On Tuesday night's "Hardball," after Matthews played a clip of McCain saying Obama was running for "Carter's second" term, he declared "I don't like it," and tried to write the attack off by saying not enough voters "even remembered voting for the guy."
The following exchanges occurred throughout the June 10 edition of "Hardball":
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Look John McCain has a more complicated task because he's got to try to discredit Obama but also say he's not gonna be like George Bush either. And I think the difficulty of this task is highlighted by, you look at the examples, Barack Obama is saying John McCain would be George Bush's third term and McCain comes back with Jimmy Carter. Well you know there are a lot of voters out there saying, "And who was Jimmy Carter exactly?" They don't remember that.
Not sure that would be a winning campaign slogan for Barack Obama, but on today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski expressed skepticism as to whether Americans really care about winning in Iraq. Mika made her comments in the course of touting Frank Rich's NYT column of yesterday [on which I commented here].
Brzezinski was clearly eager to make her point: after reading an extended excerpt from Rich's column and inviting comment from the panel, she didn't let a bemused John Harwood of CNBC/NYT get more than a few words out before cutting him off to express her own opinion.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Anyone want to comment?
JOHN HARWOOD: Well, I don't think Americans forgot Iraq --
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? I think Americans are tired of being duped, and I think this is coming back, from the McClellan book. I mean, everyone talks about how Americans want to win, want to win. I don't know so much with Iraq.
Breaking news! A parallel universe does indeed exist, and either John Harwood or I inhabit it. The irrefutable evidence came this evening, as Harwood of CNBC/NYT claimed that Michelle Obama will be—albeit slightly–more of an asset to her husband's campaign than will Cindy McCain to that of her spouse.
Here was Harwood's response on this evening's Race for the White House to a question from host David Gregory about the respective roles the two spouses will play in the coming campaign.
JOHN HARWOOD: Yes, look, I don't know how you match up spouses, and obviously people generally speaking aren't going to vote on that. Cindy McCain looks a little bit more exotic, she's a little richer than Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama has a little bit more of the average, middle-class housewife look about her, she's got young kids. So, I'm not sure there's a big advantage for either side, if I had to give any I'd say slight advantage to Michelle Obama.