With four days until the "fiscal cliff," CBS This Morning peppered its report on the Congressional negotiations with four Democratic sound bites compared to just one from Republicans.
Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) three times and simply relayed his smear of Rep. John Boehner's Speakership as a "dictatorship." Both ABC and NBC called out Reid's rhetoric, however. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Major Garrett tried to shoehorn Steven Spielberg's screening of his recent film "Lincoln" for the Senate into his report on President Obama's Wednesday press conference on the fiscal cliff and gun control. Garrett hyped how the movie "celebrates presidential power and crafty legislative strategy," and that Obama "may need the wisdom of Lincoln for his latest legislative battle - gun control."
The correspondent even played a clip from the film about the sixteenth President to hint at a parallel between the passage the 13th Amendment, which happened after the carnage of the Civil War, and possible new firearms regulations in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre [audio available here; video below the jump]:
"Militantly non-partisan" Major Garrett sounded more like an Obama administration flack on Thursday's CBS This Morning as he spotlighted the President's latest P.R. stunt. Garrett noted Obama's plan to visit a northern Virginia middle-class family and claimed that the Democrat was underlining the "self-evident point that if the there is a deal and their taxes aren't raised by about $2,000, they'll be happier and spend more money."
The correspondent also uncritically pointed out how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner signaled that the White House was willing to go over the fiscal cliff if their demand for higher taxes isn't satisfied.
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Major Garrett promoted a thinly-veiled version of President Obama's "Scrooge Christmas" attack on congressional Republicans. After spotlighting how White House Press Secretary Jay Carney maligned the GOP's fiscal cliff solution as "magic beans and fairy dust," Garrett added that the "Republicans answered back – bah, humbug."
The CBS morning newscast, along with NBC's Today, aided the President by failing to point out that his rejection of the Republican plan is a 180 from his position in 2011. That year, the Democrat called for "$1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking tax rates by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions."
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, new White House correspondent and former Fox News journalist Major Garrett bucked the "militantly non-partisan" label he gave himself over a year ago when he hyped the President's supposed populist stand in the fiscal cliff negotiations with top leaders in Congress: "President Obama is adamant about protecting existing income tax rates for middle-income earners and raising them on the wealthy."
Garrett later spotlighted how Obama "warned Republicans not to ignore his calls to protect middle-income households from higher taxes."
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, just hours after Mitt Romney's "crisp" debate performance, Norah O'Donnell stuck to her fixation on playing up the Republican's supposed negatives. O'Donnell maligned how Romney phrased his opposition to the federal government's subsidization of PBS: "This may have been the first time in a presidential debate that Big Bird was mentioned. It seems kind of like a silly thing to bring up."
Gayle King, an admitted friend of Michelle Obama and donor to the President's reelection campaign, also spotlighted a Tweet that referenced a decades-old anecdote about Romney placing his dog, Seamus, in a carrier on top of his car: "This wasn't a debate so much as Mitt Romney just took Obama for a cross-country drive strapped to the roof of his car."
On Wednesday’s Jansing & Co., MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing tried to establish that there is one question “we can all anticipate and not be surprised by,” and that is a question to Mitt Romney about the 47 percent comments, because it had a “very negative effect” on voters. Jim Lehrer must repeat Obama's TV ads in a question?
But what about the “other race speech” video of Obama from 2007? In perfect formation with the DNC line, Jansing asked disgraced CBS anchor Dan Rather if that smacked of Republican desperation: [ video below the break, audio here ]
Norah O'Donnell made it clear on Monday's CBS This Morning that her job as anchor is to repeat her stick-a-fork-in-Romney mantra and boost President Obama. On the issue of the upcoming debates, O'Donnell asserted, "We already know he [Romney] has high negatives - perhaps, a likeability problem." She later asked if "we see the competitive President Obama...or will we see the cool, constitutional law professor?"
The anchor couldn't be bothered to bring up the continuing unrest in the Middle East; the related issue of the Obama administration's changing story as to what happened in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya; or the new developments in the Fast and Furious controversy.
On Monday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell glossed over President Barack Obama's record of supporting gun control when she claimed that "Mitt Romney, in some ways, has been more for gun control than Barack Obama...He signed, as governor...a law, to ban assault weapons, and he only just recently joined the NRA." O'Donnell also played up that the President has apparently "disappointed gun control advocates." [audio available here; video below the jump]
In an unsigned 2009 report, the correspondent's own network actually acknowledged that Obama supported gun control as an Illinois state senator, a U.S. senator, and as a presidential candidate in 2008. Even before holding elected office, the Democrat sat on the board of a foundation that granted just under $2.7 million to gun control organizations.
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford spotlighted that "the economic and political climate today is more similar to years when incumbent presidents lost than when they won." The correspondent pointed out the similarity between polling numbers today and in 1992, when George H.W. Bush was running for reelection: "Gallup has asked voters whether they're satisfied with the way things in the country are going. Today, only 24 percent say they're satisfied. That's closest to the 20 percent low in May 1992."
Despite this, anchor Charlie Rose tried to shift the blame away from President Obama: "It looks like this is a situation where President Obama fears most the thing he cannot control, which is the economy."
On Wednesday, two out of the Big Three broadcast networks yawned at Mitt Romney's wins in five primaries the previous evening and minimized covering this story on the morning newscasts. ABC's Good Morning America didn't air one report on Romney's victories, and NBC's Today offered just two news briefs. By contrast, NBC devoted a full report and a news brief to a woman spilling frozen yogurt on President Obama.
ABC also covered the "embarrassing" yogurt encounter on GMA, but with only one brief. CBS This Morning, on the other hand, devoted one full report and a discussion segment to the Romney win and ignored the dessert story.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday actually attacked children at a Mitt Romney campaign event.
"Who are these featureless, young people waving those placards?" asked the Hardball host. "Are they androids?...They all are exactly in unison. Is this North Korea?" (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Chris Matthews must be seriously concerned about Barack Obama's reelection chances.
On the syndicated program bearing his name this weekend, the man who used to get a thrill up his leg whenever a certain junior senator from Illinois spoke said that George W. Bush did a better job of using television to convey his message than the current White House resident has (video follows with transcript and commentary):
This weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show spent the entire first segment talking about how America wants more centrist politicians looking to compromise with their political rivals.
The host and his guests believe the Republican presidential candidate that best exemplifies this moderate stance is Mitt Romney, with Time's Joe Klein actually saying he gave on Tuesday "one of the most impressive, impeccable debate performances I’ve ever seen" - but the panel still thinks Romney's got a very serious Mormon problem (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As much as liberal media members pushing for tax hikes don't understand the fiscal and economic reasons for not doing so, they've been deceitfully ignoring the political ramifications for Republicans caving on this issue.
On Monday's "Hardball," National Journal's Major Garrett explained to Chris Matthews that if the President didn't raise taxes high enough for his liking when the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress for two years, it's absurd to expect the GOP to do it for him now (video follows with transcript and commentary):
"There’s a difference between the press and the Democratic Party and the press and the Republican Party."
So said Chris Matthews on the syndicated program bearing his name this weekend in the midst of a discussion about how the news media treat presidential candidates (video follows with transcript and commentary, file photo):
On Morning Joe, Major Garrett, formerly of Fox News, now with the National Journal, claimed to be "militantly non-partisan" . . . then proceeded to offer a passionate defense of President Obama's Libya policy.
As an hors d'oeuvre during the discussion of the need for the media to acknowledge their leanings, Katrina vanden Heuvel risibly refused to admit that her Nation magazine is left-wing.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams cited a “stunning number” from “a reputable pollster” (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press) – which discovered “just under 20 percent of the American people believe the President is a Muslim” when “he is not” – to justify a full explanation from Chuck Todd on the mischaracterization of Barack Obama. “Look, let's be clear,” NBC's chief White House correspondent declared, “President Barack Obama was born in the United States and he is a Christian.”
Without pointing out how confusion and ignorance about Obama's religious affiliation extends beyond just Republicans and conservatives (41 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of liberals “don't know” Obama's religion), Todd fretted: “Ever since Mr. Obama became a national political figure, some of his political enemies have fanned the flames of religious prejudice by trying to make people believe the President is a Muslim.” Todd despaired that Obama's focus on his job had left him vulnerable to abuse:
During the campaign, Team Obama repeatedly refuted these charges with a special Web site they created called FightTheSmears. Well, when he took office, the anti-Obama campaign continued, but the White House tackled a slew of other issues, and efforts to refute those other attacks took a backseat.
Bill O'Reilly was certainly pleased with the announcement that Fox News has won a coveted seat position in the White House briefing room.
On Monday's "O'Reilly Factor," the host told guests James Rosen of FNC and Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times that he "might be able to sneak down in there" and "sit in the front row."
O'Reilly continued with a devilish grin on his face, "Believe me when I tell you that I will be there sometime down the line, and Glenn Beck might be there, Hannity might be there" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
Jon Ward of the Daily Caller, until recently a White House reporter for the Washington Times, wrote a piece for Sunday's Washington Post titled “Why we'll miss Helen Thomas.” But Ward also interviewed some White House press colleagues who suggested Thomas had ventured across a line into explicit advocacy and argument:
"Helen had always been a tough, no-nonsense interrogator of presidents and press secretaries," said Ann Compton, who has reported on the past six presidents for ABC News. "About a decade ago, when she shed her role as reporter and began a career at Hearst as an opinion columnist, Helen's questions began to cross the line into advocacy."
Ward wrote that as “zany and obvious” her advocacy had become, he wondered if other reporters couldn't learn something about being a little bit tougher on press secretary Robert Gibbs. Fox reporter Major Garrett admitted to Ward “that until the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico became a major story, the White House press corps (himself included) had often failed to adequately hold Gibbs's feet to the fire.” He explained:
As Fox News is purportedly competing with Bloomberg for that front-row seat once occupied by the former dean of the White House press corps and Hearst Newspaper columnist Helen Thomas, Chris Wallace, the host of "Fox News Sunday," suggested there would be some sort of righteousness in his network taking that seat.
"They absolutely should get it," Wallace said on the June 10 broadcast of the Fox Business Network's "Imus in the Morning." "This is kind of interesting because -- and I think it would be the final sort of back payment for Helen Thomas, if this were to happen because obviously she was very far to the left-wing and if her seat were to be taken by Fox News, that would just be kind of poetic justice."
"Special Report" host Bret Baier thinks Tuesday's election results changed the White House's view of the Fox News Channel.
He further believes that Obama senior adviser David Axelrod's interview with Fox's Major Garrett Wednesday was a sign "they’re gonna start playing ball on the news side."
During his Thursday chat with WOR radio's Steve Malzberg, Baier also agreed that Fox's ratings domination on election night had to be an eye opener for the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (15-minute audio available here, relevant section at 8:50):
Just how bad for Obama were Tuesday's election results?
So bad White House senior adviser David Axelrod went on Fox News Wednesday to try and spin it?
In case you've forgotten, this is about two weeks after Axelrod told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, "[T]hey're not really a news station."
I guess that's changed now that the Republicans have come back to life (video of Major Garrett's unedited interview with Axelrod embedded below the fold, part of it was aired on Wednesday's "Special Report"):
Network reporters swooned over President Barack Obama hugging a woman, who has cancer and lacks insurance, at his Wednesday “town hall” on health care, as both CNN -- where Suzanne Malveaux heralded the hug as “a bold display of presidential concern” -- and NBC failed to point out how all the questions (just seven in total) were pre-selected or from members of pro-Obama groups. Instead, NBC's Savannah Guthrie showed a kid in a video (“My mommy and daddy have small businesses, and we need health care”) before she touted how Obama “solicited questions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and in person, with a hug for a woman who says she cannot pay her medical bills,” while CNN's Ed Henry related “he fielded questions from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and a live audience.”
CBS's Katie Couric showcased “an emotional moment” when “a 53-year-old cancer patient described her battle to get treatment she can afford.” Couric relayed how Obama “called her exhibit A in a system that's too expensive and too complicated,” but at least, unlike NBC and CNN, Couric noted the woman “is a volunteer for Mr. Obama's political operation Organizing for America” and “the White House invited her to attend.”
Filling-in as anchor on CNN's The Situation Room, Suzanne Malveaux painted Obama as a combination of General Patton and Oprah as she set up Henry in the 6 PM EDT hour:
President Obama has a message for some critics. He will get his way. Today he made a bold promise regarding health care reform. And, in a bold display of presidential concern, the President comforted a sick and emotional woman.
Live-blogging the press briefing. Was scheduled to start at 2:30, it's now 2:38.
Watching on Fox News Channel. May also through up some Tweets @KenShepherd
The archive of official White House press briefings can be found here.
14:45: Still waiting for Gibbs to come out. Fox News has gone to split-screen.
14:52, Gibbs finally underway.
14:54, female reporter notes Judd Gregg connection to Abramoff scandal. 2nd question, is president getting tougher in rhetoric on stimulus?
14:56, same reporter he feels the need to ramp up the rhetoric a bit, why is that?
14:58, male reporter asks if there's any concern the executive pay guideline will backfire, with firms not asking for bailout money b/c of the rules. Also asks if Gibbs can give a "flavor" for what to expect from stimulus negotiations.
15:01, same reporter: Are you worried about it backfiring?
15:02, Ed Henry, CNN with question about president's stance on "buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill.
15:03, Henry asks "what balance" does Obama want "to strike" in buying American and honoring trade commitments.
Once again I'm going to live-blog the daily press briefing. I'll be focused on the reporters' questions, not so much Gibbs's answers. I also caution this is a rough transcript and may contain errors. I hope to render as accurate a depiction as possible of the questions asked and who's asking them.
As a little twist, I'll also try Twittering some comments on my Twitter page, @KenShepherd.
The presser was scheduled for 3:45 p.m. ET, but is late getting off the ground. Gibbs entering room at 3:53 p.m. ET
15:54 Gibbs gives announcements including week-ahead schedule "better late than never" he adds.
15:54, female reporter: Did the president come away with any specific reason to think Republicans will support the stimulus? Was there anything he agreed to put in the bill to get Republican support?
15:58, same reporter with followup, says way Gibbs describes it makes it sound like Obama is arguing for the status quo stimulus bill, not getting changes to it.
15:59, Bill Plante: It seems more aspirational. Public comments we hear are more predictable. Republicans accuse Dems of it being too larded up, Democrats say there's too much tax cuts... I don't hear enough from either side that there's compromise in the works.
Update/Closing thoughts (14:34): Hearst columnist Helen Thomas continues to make a cartoon of herself in her using her perch to parrot ultra-left-wing talking points. Her question today was on why President Obama wants to send troops into Afghanistan to "kill more people."Without doubt it was the loopiest left-wing question posed today. Oddly enough, given her history of bias, one of the best queries today came from April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, who questioned the wisdom of pegging hopes of economic recovery on so-called "green jobs."
About to live-blog the White House daily press briefing. I'm focusing chiefly on the questions from the journalists. I'm watching via Fox News.
13:42: Gibbs: our e-mail system isn't working so well, apologizes for that to press corps.
Questions from reporters follow:
13:44, female reporter: Can you describe a little more fully about Amb. Rice's comments on mid-east diplomacy
13:45, female reporter: So you can't say when the diplomacy [with Iran] will begin or how?
13:46, Chuck Todd, NBC News: When are you guys going to announce a housing plan? Where is the money? Is it part of TARP?
13:47,Todd's followup: Does that mean it will not be part of the $350 billion?
13:48, Todd: Going to encourage banks to lend more?
Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs is conducting his second-ever press conference right now. Below you'll find my live-blogging of the questions. I can't promise verbatim rendering of the questions, but should the Obama administration post a full transcript later on, I'll link to that as well. [see related post]
I'm watching the video via MSNBC.
13:20 ET: Unid'd female reporter: This morning this event with the bipartisan leaders that the president had... but will there come a point when the president, and democratic leaders in the congress decide to have a vote whether Republicans like it or not?
13:21 ET, same reporter asks follow-up question on bipartisan cooperation
13:22 ET, male reporter asks about economic stimulus plans
13:25: What kind of reassurances can you give on the economic package. And on Pakistan, did the president consult with the Pakistan government on the strike.
Gibbs replies that he won't address the airstrikes or other military operations.
13:25, Major Garrett, Fox News Channel: You will never speak of any military operation taken by the United States?
Gibbs replies he won't discuss those airstrikes at today's briefing
As Culture and Media Institute Director Robert Knight has noted, the media are still presenting Obama campaign spin on the McCain sex ed ad as hard facts.
Last week the McCain campaign released an ad charging Senator Obama with supporting sex education for kindergarten children when he was an Illinois state senator.
According to the Obama campaign and the media the legislation in question "was written to protect young children from sexual predators."
That's a line that Obama himself used during last year's CNN/YouTube debate:
I've got a 9-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old daughter. And I want them to know if somebody is doing something wrong to them, encroaching on their privacy, that they should come talk to me or my wife. And we've had that conversation, but not every parent is going to have that conversation with their child, and I think it's important that every child does, to make sure that they're not subject to the sexual predators (emphasis mine).
The only problem is that the goal of the bill wasn't to stop sexual predators, but to revamp the Illinois sex ed curriculum.