After each of the firstthreenights of the Democratic convention, network news reporters have offered enthusiastically positive reviews, and Friday morning’s coverage of Barack Obama’s acceptance address made it a clean sweep. CBS Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, the only morning show host still in Denver, said he felt the earth moving. “This place rumbled....The stadium was just so alive, and the ground was almost quaking,” he told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
Rodriguez voiced pity for John McCain: “Harry, I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday.”
While speculating on John McCain’s upcoming vice presidential running mate, who we now know will be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez explained: "I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday, which is today, and which he will be celebrating in Dayton, Ohio, where he will formally announce his vice president." In a later segment, Rodriguez declared: "John McCain didn't waste anytime trying to steal Barack Obama's thunder. He's decided on a running mate, and he will announce it today."
Later in that segment, Rodriguez talked to McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker and asked: "But he needs to make a splash somehow, especially after last night. 85,000 screaming supporters witnessing an historic nomination. That's significant. How do you top that?" When Hazelbaker responded by pointing out that "what is holding him [Obama] back in this election, is the idea that he does not have the experience or the judgment to lead." Rodriguez interrupted: "But Jill, he answered...I disagree because he [Obama] answered, very directly, every criticism that John McCain has made about him from his readiness to be president, to his celebrity status, and everything in between, he gave very direct answers." Despite such strong defense for Obama, Rodriguez will be anchoring Early Show coverage at the Republican convention next week.
ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Early Show led the praise for the third night of the Democratic convention, with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos enthralled by how well it was going for Democrats. “I think every night in this convention has built on the one that came before,” he exclaimed Thursday morning, adding: “The speeches have gotten better every night.”
[Check here and here for a re-cap of how the morning shows drooled over the first two nights of the Democratic convention.]
CBS co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, who isn’t even in Denver but rather back in The Early Show’s New York studios, touted how Obama’s speech at Denver’s football stadium suggested “they're going to play the Super Bowl of politics there tonight.” She enthusiastically remarked: “If the crowd went as wild as it did yesterday at the Pepsi Center when he [Barack Obama] showed up, just imagine what 75,000 screaming fans will sound like. It's going to be something.”
All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it “couldn’t have been a more compelling first night” and Chen describing Michelle Obama as “so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak.”
Over on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first “an incredible night” and then “a night to remember for all ages.” NBC’s David Gregory called Michelle Obama’s speech “moving” and “heartfelt,” but that “the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy” for speaking on Obama’s behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor.
Four years ago when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made his “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it” remark, the CBS Evening News instead ran a soundbite of Kerry promising “we're going to build an army of truth-tellers” as it took the newscast six months (!) to finally air the vote for/voted against clip and the NBC Nightly News didn't play it for nine days. Yet on Thursday night, both newscasts led with what NBC's Lee Cowan declared is “John McCain's personal housing crisis.”
ABC, which in 2004 aired Kerry's comment a day later when Dick Cheney raised it, didn't lead Thursday with McCain's failure Wednesday to say how many homes he and his wife own, but devoted a full story-plus to it with Jake Tapper deciding “it could be a seminal moment” in the campaign before George Stephanopoulos relayed how the Obama camp thinks “this is one of those metaphorical moments.” He recalled 1992, “when it seemed like President Bush didn't know what a supermarket scanner was.”
Fill-in CBS anchor Maggie Rodriguez led: “John McCain couldn't answer a question most Americans would find simple, how many homes do you own?” NBC's Brian Williams, back in Manhattan from Beijing, opened with how though “reporters are busy chasing down all available clues” on Obama's VP pick:
This was not the biggest political story of the day. That came from John McCain in response to a question about how many houses he owns. He didn't answer. The actual answer is a sizable number.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to People magazine correspondent Sandra Westfall, who recently interviewed friends and family of Elizabeth Edwards who: "...wanted to put out there that she wasn't this wind-up doll that went on stage and let the campaign continue out of some sort of craven ambition, but that she really was going through a lot of anguish." That despite the fact that Elizabeth Edwards went along with the cover up of her husband’s affair throughout his presidential campaign.
Rodriguez described Westfall as someone "who has a close relationship with the Edwards’" and asked: "What was the most important thing they wanted to convey on her behalf?" Westfall explained: "I think that she had hoped that her statement on Friday night would be the end of it for her and was surprised and a little taken aback by how many questions already came up." Later, Westfall elaborated: "...she thought her forgiving him should be enough for everybody else and she was unprepared for the amount of disgust and how swiftly everything else he had done in his career would be wiped away. And that she's really reeling from that and afraid for what it will do to their legacy as a couple and what their children will inherit."
In response to Rodriguez asking: "when did she [Elizabeth Edwards] really find out?," Westfall explained: "The campaign had already gone through its official launch. They were in the middle of this tour. And she felt sort of trapped...He was a candidate. And then he drops this bombshell on her. And only in pieces. He told the truth slowly. So she, you know, didn't have all the information to make the decision right away and she was in shock."
While ABC’s Good Morning America suspended its coverage of the John Edwards scandal following reporting on Monday, the CBS Early Show continued to cover the affair for a third consecutive day on Wednesday. Even NBC’s Today, covering the Olympics in Beijing, managed stories on Edwards on both Monday and Wednesday. Considering it was during an interview on ABC’s Nigthline on Friday that Edwards confessed to cheating on his wife, it is interesting that GMA was outdone in covering the story.
On Wednesday, the Early Show looked at the money trail leading from Edwards to his mistress, Rielle Hunter, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "We will also talk about new bombshell revelations in the John Edwards affair, including claims that he did know his mistress was being paid and that he rekindled the affair after confessing to his wife." The segment began with a report by correspondent Bianca Solorzano: "According to the National Enquirer, the publication that first broke the story of John Edwards' extramarital affair, Edwards was aware of payments being made to his former mistress Rielle Hunter, something he denied on Friday...The allegations could not only have legal ramifications, it would shed considerable doubt on Edwards' other denial, that he fathered Miss Hunter's child."
If any further evidence was needed to prove that the country is in a recession, the CBS Early Show found it, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Coming up this morning, during hard times in some U.S. cities, they're as good as gold. Manhole covers being stolen and sold for scrap." Co-host Harry Smith later introduced the segment on this desperate trend: "Across the country thieves are stealing metal objects like manhole covers because the price of scrap metal has sky rocketed."
Correspondent Priya David reported on the problem: "That's right, thieves are literally stealing the street right out from under you. One area of the nation hardest hit by these thefts is Philadelphia. Typically they'd lose about a hundred manhole covers or grates a year to theft. But in the past year, 2,000 have gone missing." She went to describe how: "When you look at this street, you probably see a manhole cover. But to a thief, this looks like free money." As David later mentioned, that "free money" isn’t much: "Each cover nets a thief a grand total of about $10."
David detailed how the crime wave was starting to take it’s toll: "In Philadelphia, this girl is one of two children who suffered minor injuries from falling into open holes." She then turned to Democratic Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter: "That can be a very dangerous situation. But, you know, you can never be too surprised at the creativity and the lengths that people will go, you know, when facing, you know, a financial challenge, trying to take care of themselves."
Surprisingly, the CBS Early Show continued to report on the John Edwards scandal on Tuesday, as co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to a friend of Edwards’s mistress: "Edwards claims it was a brief liaison, but that's not how a friend of [Rielle] Hunter's remembers it." At one point in the interview, Rodriguez asked that friend, Pigeon O’Brien, about media characterizations of Hunter: "She's been portrayed as this Fatal Attraction-like woman who was semi-stalking him, madly in love, delusional, talking bad about his wife. The woman that you claim to know for 20 years, does that ring true?" Of course "semi-stalking" seemed to be how co-host Harry Smith described Hunter on Monday’s show: "This woman in question has a very interesting history...knowing her as this kind of bar fly who had this kind of crazy past... From reading everything I read it seemed to me that she targeted Edwards."
In response to Rodriguez’s question, O’Brien criticized those portraying Hunter in such a manner:
Not at all. It couldn't be further from the truth. It -- and that's one reason why I'm speaking to people like you. It really bothers me, what they're saying about her. It could not be further from the truth...It does not ring true that she would ever stalk somebody. They were very mutually engaged in this affair. I can't stress that enough. It was a mutual committed relationship and he persuaded her to believe so.
Monday’s CBS Early Show, came up with a list of excuses for John Edwards cheating on his wife, including co-host Harry Smith suggesting that the woman Edwards had the affair with, Rielle Hunter, targeted the former Senator: "This woman in question has a very interesting history...knowing her as this kind of bar fly who had this kind of crazy past... From reading everything I read it seemed to me that she targeted Edwards."
The bashing of Hunter began during a segment in the 7am half hour of the show when co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to David Perel, the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, which broke the story, and asked: "...your impressions of this woman, Rielle Hunter, who's being trashed in New York papers today. On the cover of this one, it says 'Rielle Cruel,' saying that she trashed Elizabeth Edwards. Said she was a woman who had bad karma. What can you tell us about her?"
In the later segment, during the 7:30am half hour, Smith talked to psychologists Robi Ludwig, from Cookie magazine, and Frank Farley, from Temple University. Smith began by posing the question: "Why do politicians like John Edwards risk their careers by having extramarital affairs?" Ludwig decided to blame Elizabeth Edwards’s cancer: "What was the trigger? So I wonder if there was something about his wife's illness that somehow got him to cheat or contributed at least." When a skeptical Smith asked: "You're cutting him a break then it sounds like?" Ludwig replied: "Well, you know, I think that we get so caught up in good or bad, you know. Is somebody a good person or a bad person. Cheating is wrong...But I think that there are multiple factors. Was he doing it because he had a fear of losing his wife? I mean, there are lots of different reasons." Smith then conceded: "No, I hear that...there may be legitimacy to that."
CBS's "The Early Show," reported August 7 that a new stronger strain of the West Nile virus could spread across the country with help from the neglected pools found in foreclosed homes in California.
"Apparently ... as more and more homes are passing into foreclosure and there are many, and many of those homes have backdoor pools, these are being neglected," Dr. Alton Baron of Roosevelt Hospital Center told co-host Maggie Rodriguez. "They're not being maintained and this can become a ripe feeding ground and breeding ground for these mosquito populations."
Baron added that the new strain of the virus "invades the brain and spinal cord" and listed other horrific symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, rashes, disorientation, severe muscle weakness, fatigue or even paralysis.
Mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, pass on West Nile to animals and humans when they feed off fowl that have the virus in their blood.
Foreclosures in the state of California may have hit a record high, but there are signs of a change-signs "The Early Show" ignored.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Republican strategist Ed Rollins about the recent exchange of ads between the McCain and Obama campaigns and started the discussion by declaring: "Let's begin with the one that started this negative tide, John McCain's ad last week comparing Barack Obama to celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears." Rodriguez went on to admit the media’s distaste for the ad as she asked Rollins: "So even though he was being criticized, do you think this was an effective ad because it got people talking about McCain again?" On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News" correspondent Dean Reynolds said of the McCain ad: "Some Republicans wonder about the new approach. McCain's own mother said using Paris Hilton in this controversial ad to insult Obama was, quote, ‘kind of stupid.’"
Later in the Early Show segment, Rodriguez introduced a clip of the Obama campaign’s response ad in a positive fashion: "Barack Obama says that he -- John McCain is taking the low road. He's supposed to be a straight talker who doesn't resort to this sort of thing, but he has. And he said as much in this ad, let's take a look at it." When Rodriguez asked Rollins what he thought of the ad, he observed: "Well he's responding to McCain. The truth of the matter is you want to run your own campaign, you don't want to respond in the opposition. That's the basic rule." Rodriguez seemed surprised by the critique: "You don't think that Barack Obama pointing out John McCain's weaknesses, in his view, is a good strategy?"
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" correspondent Dean Reynolds described how the Obama campaign was defending itself against the latest McCain ad: "Spurred by what it considers below-the-belt attacks on his character, fitness, and even his fame...Barack Obama is firing back." Reynolds went on to highlight a new Obama website designed to counter McCain’s "low blows": "And Obama's campaign has just created a new website, the 'Low Road Express.' Playing off McCain's campaign bus dubbed the 'Straight Talk Express.' The new site will chronicle what the Obama folks consider low blows from McCain, who, it alleges, ‘doesn't seem to stand for anything but negative attacks and false charges against Barack Obama. This isn't the John McCain we used to know.’"
Reynolds offered a similar campaign report on Thursday’s CBS "Evening News," in which he declared: "What is striking about McCain's sharper edge, criticized by several newspapers recently, is how it appears to conflict with some of his more high-minded talk of the need for civility on the stump." Introducing the segment, anchor Katie Couric referred to the McCain ad as "infamous."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on John McCain’s latest ad criticizing Barack Obama declaring: "War of words...The race for the White House gets ugly as John McCain and Barack Obama spar over negative ads." When Rodriguez later introduced the segment, she specified who was "getting ugly": "The race for the White House has officially turned negative with the McCain campaign drawing first blood and Barack Obama responding quickly." On Monday, co-host Russ Mitchell declared that another McCain ad showed that the "gloves are off" and was a sign of how "nasty" the campaign was getting.
Thursday’s segment began with a report by correspondent Chip Reid, who decried the negative turn: "You know, it's more than three months before election day and the McCain campaign has already decided to go negative. Recently they've released a series of attack ads and the latest one compares Barack Obama to pop stars Britney Spears and Paris Hilton." Reid then described the Obama response: "The Obama campaign rushed out a response ad," a clip of the ad was played: "John McCain. His attacks on Barack Obama not true, false, baloney, the low road." Reid then proclaimed that: "Campaigning in Missouri, Obama took the high road."
Reid then described how the ad would probably backfire on McCain: "Political analyst David Mark says the ad is sure to get a lot of attention as it's replayed again and again on the internet and cable news. But he says it could well turn out to be a mistake." Mark, from politico.com, then commented: " McCain's campaign is predicated on the notions of honor, being upright. This seems a little bit beneath him." Reid concluded his report by wondering: "And one big question for Obama now is how long can he continue to take the high road with McCain increasingly on the attack?"
Following a segment on Monday’s CBS "Evening News," on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Chip Reid again touted Obama economic advisor Warren Buffett calling for more taxes on the rich: "Barack Obama met with his team of economic advisers Monday...But there's one who couldn't make it and had to put in his two cents by phone...Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world. Despite his billions, he says the rich are under-taxed."
Reid went on to outline Obama’s plan to remedy that under-taxing: "Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year and use the money for a tax cut for the middle class." Reid also mentioned John McCain’s economic team: " John McCain is also tapping the minds of business leaders, including Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Meg Whitman, former head of ebay. They briefed reporters Monday on the importance of tax cuts for business."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Sheila MacVicar reported on Barack Obama’s upcoming international tour and declared: "...Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East."
MacVicar then explained how well-received Obama’s troop withdrawal plan would be to the Iraqi people:
...people know he has proposed to withdraw all U.S. combat troops within 16 months. American presidents have not been popular here for nearly 20 years. But Iraqis say they do want U.S. troops to go home. 'I'm for withdraw now,' says this shopper. 'The Americans have caused all our problems.' 'If Obama's plan is true,' he says, 'we bless it. We need withdraw today.'
MacVicar then looked at the rest of Obama’s planned trip: "On to Europe where many are enthusiastic." She quoted one British citizen who claimed: "If there were a vote here in the UK he'd probably win something like 5-1." MacVicar concluded her report by observing: "There's no question...that even this far away Mister -- Senator Obama, more than any other recent presidential candidate, excites great interest."
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez aired her interview with John McCain that followed his Monday speech to the National Council of La Raza and teased the segment by asking: "Up next, Senator John McCain, a maverick or a flip-flopper to Latinos?" During the interview, Rodriguez, who hosted the liberal La Raza conference, pressed McCain from the left on his immigration stance: "You championed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. But now as the nominee you admit you wouldn't vote for it if it came up today. Why not?" [audio excerpt available here]
After McCain explained that the legislation had failed twice due to lack of popular support, Rodriguez wondered: "The fact that it failed, does that tell you that the American people didn't want it or that your party didn't want it?" Rodriguez then followed up by quoting Obama campaign talking points: "Some political analysts say, and in fact, Senator Obama made the comments here yesterday, that when you became the nominee, when you could no longer risk alienating your conservative base, you started emphasizing border security over a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. What about that?"
When McCain later suggested that: "Americans want the confidence that we'll have secure borders. And then I believe the overwhelming majority of them will support a humane and compassionate approach to temporary worker program and to a comprehensive immigration reform." Rodriguez responded: "But securing the border could take years. What if it never happens? When will you get to comprehensive immigration reform?"
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported from California and touted her role as emcee at the annual conference for the liberal Hispanic group La Raza: "The conference for the National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking."
At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the segment by proclaiming: " Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote." Later during the segment Rodriguez continued to emphasize the importance of the Hispanic vote: "From coast to coast, in countless corners of American cities, the Latino influence is undeniable. Latinos are the largest minority in this country. 45 million strong and growing. By 2050 that number's expected to almost triple to 128 million. And a growing Latino population means more influence for Latino voters."
Following that observation, Rodriguez played a clip of Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, praising past immigration protests in the Hispanic community: "In 2008 we're culminating on several years of activism and mobilization of the Latino community. Just look back two years ago, with the 2006 marches, where millions of people took to the streets, many of them young people, who said today we march, tomorrow we vote. Well, tomorrow has arrived."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith reacted to Jesse Jackson’s controversial comments about Barack Obama by sympathizing with the left-wing activist: "Honestly to me, as somebody who sat in an Operation Push [Founded by Jesse Jackson] meeting some 30-plus years ago in an old theater in Chicago, hearing this and seeing this, there's something a little sad about it."
While Smith was "a little sad" about Jackson wanting to "cut his [Obama’s] nuts off," liberal guest Keli Goff observed that Jackson was suffering from: "...an illness that I said is plaguing certain aspects of the black community, which I called JNS Syndrome...Jealous Negro Syndrome...I won't call it epidemic because it's only a certain group of people-" Smith then finished her thought: "These guys laid down their lives, or bled the blood, and others are taking-" Goff continued: " Right, right. Are reaping the benefits. You know, the Barack Obamas of the world who've had it, compared to our parents, so easy, in some respects." Apparently Smith "bled the blood" with Jackson and others.
While most of the questions co-host Russ Mitchell asked Barack Obama on Wednesday’s "Early Show" were rather bland, he did challenge Obama from the left on the Senator’s commitment to a complete troop withdrawal from Iraq: "Last week you said you would refine your policy regarding troop withdrawal after you go to Iraq and have the chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground...What do you say to those folks out there who are saying ‘I voted for this guy because he told me he was going to bring the troops home in 16 months now he says he wants to refine his position.’"
Obama reassured Mitchell: "I have been entirely consistent that we are going to end this war when I'm president and that the timetable's going to be a pace that is safe for our troops, one to two brigades per month, which adds up to 16 months. That position has not changed." Mitchell made sure: "So that's still the plan, 16 months after you take office?" Obama replied: "Absolutely."
The other questions during the interview were not as challenging:
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on John McCain giving Republican strategist Steve Schmidt greater control of his campaign: "John McCain shakes up his campaign again. Is this the jump start he needs to get him to the White House?" Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased the segment this way: "Up next here for us, John McCain shakes up his struggling presidential campaign. We're talking with Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican campaign strategist."
The segment began with a report by correspondent Chip Reid, who declared:
For months, top Republicans have been urging John McCain to make changes in his campaign after a series of missteps...One example, the night of the final Democratic primary. Both Barack Obama and McCain gave speeches as their party's nominees...But compared to Obama's speech, McCain's fell flat with a small crowd and an ugly green back drop. It was a cry for change.
However, a major "misstep" by the Obama campaign this week, Obama supporter Wesley Clark degrading John McCain’s military record, was only given two news briefs during Tuesday’s "Early Show," totaling 90 seconds. Considering Clark’s comments were made on CBS’s "Face the Nation," one would expect a bit more coverage. In contrast, Thursday’s segment on McCain’s "struggling" campaign received nearly three and a half minutes.
With Starbucks’ announcement that it will closing 600 of its locations nationwide, the network morning shows on Wednesday heralded this news as another sign of a bad economy. ABC’s Bianna Golodryga on "Good Morning America" lamented that "Americans are struggling just to pay for a cup of Starbucks coffee." NBC’s Matt Lauer’s clever headline: "Trouble brewing -- Starbucks announces its closing 600 stores in the next year. Is the demand for $4 lattes dying in a tough economy?"
But CBS’s "The Early Show" took the puns and the "doom and gloom" to a new level. Host Maggie Rodriguez teased the headline news: "Starbucks shutting its doors on hundreds of stores. Tough economic times or just a grande letdown?" Correspondent Ben Tracy, in his report on the closings, quipped, "The economic slowdown has been a real grind for Starbucks' profits. After filling up their gas tanks, some coffee lovers don't have enough left to fill up their cups."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on global warming by fretting: "...are penguins sending us warning signs about global warming?" Later, correspondent Debbye Turner talked to biologist Dee Boersma, who claimed that "Well, penguins are the canaries in the coal mine. Penguins are telling us, as marine sentinels, that our southern oceans are changing."
Boersma, who according to newsmeat.com donated $1,000 to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, went on to condemn a wide range of human activity that she felt was harming global penguin populations: "Penguins are affected not only by climate variation and climate change, but they're affected by lots of activities that we do from moving oil around, because we spill oil, from plastics that we dump into the oceans, to fishing that takes away their food."
Earlier in the segment, Turner lamented: "We've all seen pictures like these. Polar bears in danger because global warming is literally melting their habitat. But they are far from the only animal affected by climate change." She later discussed the dire situation facing penguins: "Academy award winning documentary March of the Penguins chronicled the Emperor Penguins amazing struggle to reproduce and survive. Experts say because of soaring temperatures and decreasing ice that the day could come that they make their final march."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about global warming: "Also ahead this morning, we'll talk about a disturbing new report from some scientists in Colorado who say that there is the very real possibility that for the first time we will see the ice in the North Pole melt away completely during the summer."
Rodriguez elaborated as she later introduced the segment:
There are disturbing reports out this morning about the situation in the North Pole. Scientists are saying that by this summer there may be no ice on the North Pole at all, and that would be a first. Although the scientists also say there would be no significant short-term consequence to this, to not have ice in the North Pole year-round for the first time in history is symbolic of the growing threat of global warming.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show, " co-host Julie Chen lead the show with a depressing segment on the economy: "...with the economic woes hitting the nation, we have your complete guide to surviving the big squeeze." Chen proceeded to highlight high gas prices, then explain how "...the crisis in the housing market is also a drag on the economy," and finally, "Completing this perfect storm of economic woes, the devastating floods in the Midwest and how they will directly impact food prices."
When discussing the housing crisis with correspondent Thalia Assuras, Chen asked in desperation: "Thalia can you tell us anything good? Is there any relief in sight?" Assuras then offered a small glimmer of hope: "Well, the Senate toady is actually going to consider a foreclosure prevention plan or rescue plan of looking at the numbers here. It's going to provide $300 billion in new cheaper mortgages for high risk homeowners." However she then made it clear that Bush Administration would soon crush such hope: "But you know Julie, there's going to be a lot of squabbling and the White House has threatened a veto."
Following Chen’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to financial advisor Dave Ramsey and took the same pessimistic tone: "So with all this economic volatility, what are we supposed to do?...if there was ever a time to panic, is this it? It sounds pretty gloomy." In contrast, Ramsey was having none of it: "Absolutely not. I'm sorry I'm not with Chicken Little and we're not handing out helmets. There -- it is not a time to panic, there's lots of good things going on in our economy and for most people this may represent opportunity."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez described the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow filming on Church property of a movie prequel to "The DaVinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, this way: "...the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious."
On Wednesday, ABC’s "Good Morning America" featured a story on the controversy in which correspondent Nick Watt declared: "When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. 'An offense against God,' is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book." Watt then later proclaimed: "The Dan Brown express will not be stopped," to which GMA co-host Diane Sawyer replied: "Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the Church complains, probably the better it is for the business."
Meanwhile, on Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Allen Pizzey explained: "Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez highlighted Barack Obama’s "fist bump" with his wife Michelle during his victory speech on Tuesday night: "A simple fist bump between Barack Obama and his wife Michelle the night that he secured the Democratic nomination is generating a lot of buzz." [audio available here]
Correspondent Priya David then reported: "It was a historic night for Barack and Michelle Obama, there was the hug, the kiss, and then this. You can call it a 'fist bump,' a 'fist pound,' a 'knuckle buckle,' a 'dep'..." However, David also acknowledged: "...but whichever phrase you use, some are using it to call Obama out" and quoted one woman who though it was Obama: "Trying to be a little too cool."
Then David moved on: "Others say it's a symbol of love." She quoted CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield, among others, who said: "To me it was a kind of little light moment, maybe a moment of kind of intimacy. It certainly didn't reach the level of Al and Tipper Gore's record breaking kiss at the 2000 convention. And it is what it is. And you know, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a fist bump is just a fist bump." David then added: "It's not the first time Obama bumped with the younger generation. While bowling in Pennsylvania, this is how he congratulated an 8-year-old boy."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez speculated on the reason for Barack Obama secretly meeting with Hillary Clinton late Thursday: "Breaking news overnight. Obama and Clinton sneak off for a secret meeting. Was the dream ticket on the agenda?" Co-hosts Harry Smith and Julie Chen then simulated what the meeting may have been like:
HARRY SMITH: I'm tired. You must be tired.
JULIE CHEN: Yeah, I'm tired too. You tired?
SMITH: You tired?
CHEN: No, I'm more tired. But you might be more tired. That's what they talked about.
SMITH: Maybe, probably.
Despite the fawning over a possible "dream ticket," correspondent Bill Plante did report on the media’s frustration at being out of the loop: "Last night's meeting at the home of California Senator Dianne Feinstein surprised reporters traveling with Obama. They were upset. They didn't find out he wasn't coming back to Chicago until just before takeoff." A clip of an unidentified reporter was featured talking to Obama communications director Robert Gibbs: "Is there a reason why we didn't go with him in the motorcade all the way. This is what we're out here for and now we're on this plane with no candidate."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began the show by declaring: "A place in history. Barack Obama claims the Democratic presidential nomination. The first African-American to do so." While Obama’s win was indeed historic, correspondent Dean Reynolds later reported on Obama’s "ecstatic" supporters and the Senator’s humility: "...despite the thunderous, indeed ecstatic, applause at the arena in St. Paul, Barack Obama was not gloating. He dutifully paid homage to his defeated rival and her [Hillary Clinton’s] legion of supporters."
Reynolds soon followed up describing John McCain's speech as the beginning of a Republican "attack" against Obama: "John McCain is waiting for him and Tuesday night he sounded a theme of attack." In a later interview with McCain, co-host Maggie Rodrigguez wondered: "It's one thing to say that you are the better candidate. It's another to say that he [Barack Obama] is not qualified. Which is it?" Rodriguez also linked McCain, who spoke from New Orleans, to failures in Hurricane Katrina: "Here in New Orleans, a city that symbolizes one of the greatest failures of the Bush Administration, the response after Hurricane Katrina, you spoke a lot about failings of this administration. Are you trying to distance yourself from President Bush?"
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer about the political fallout of Scott McClellan’s Bush-bashing memoir: "The White House is essentially dismissing McClellan's book as sour grapes from a disgruntled employee who was let go early...What do you make of all this?" Schieffer replied by declaring that: " Well, it generally happens in these kinds of things when an insider makes a disclosure, those that are still on the inside start to raise questions about motivations. But I think you have to look at what he said, these are some very serious allegations."
However, while Schieffer had no doubt of McClellan’s motives, when former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg wrote an editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal in 1996 accusing the network of liberal bias, Schieffer was shocked at the idea. In his first book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," Goldberg recounted how Schieffer reacted at the time: "It’s such a wacky charge, and a weird way to go about it...I don’t know what Bernie was driving at. It just sounds bizarre." Rather than being "serious allegations," Schieffer dismissed Goldberg’s charges as merely "wacky," "weird," and "bizarre."