Chris Matthews is beginning to realize that Barack Obama can't change things with just the power of his personality.
Such was amazingly discussed during the syndicated talk show bearing his name this weekend as two White House correspondents made some astonishing claims about the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"He feels that he has some ability to bring people together," noted NBC's Savannah Guthrie.
Helene Cooper of the New York Times agreed, "[T]here's this fundamental belief that he can change, that the power of his personality and the power of his oratory can change people... But you can't just do it with the power of your personality."
A seemingly stunned Matthews replied, "Well, we're learning that" (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
Historically, there are two kinds of White House reporters: those that confront officials with the strongest critique and demand a response (think ABC’s Sam Donaldson, who dogged Bill Clinton in the late 1990s just as he had Ronald Reagan in the 1980s); and those who see their job as simply repeating the White House spin of the day.
Reporting this morning on the Obama administration’s push for another $100 billion in spending, supposedly for “job growth,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie fell into the second category. Rather than amplify the growing chorus of critics who argue that we can’t afford more massive spending when the previous “stimulus” was so expensive and ineffective, Guthrie on NBC’s Today saluted the President for making a “judgment call” that “all economists” could support:
This is a budget where the President makes a judgment call. He's asking for $100 billion to spur job growth, things like tax cuts for small business, tax breaks to increase wages. And he's doing this knowing that it will drive up the deficit, certainly even more in the short term, but all economists agree the real way to get a chunk out of the deficit is to increase hiring.
On the first evening newscasts after President Obama’s State of the Union address, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie won hands down if there were an award for stenography to White House power. Guthrie loaded up with five Obama soundbites and one from Nancy Pelosi, leaving Republicans at the end with with one soundbite from House Minority Leader John Boehner.
On ABC, Jake Tapper offered two Obama bites and four of Republicans: two applauding Obama’s bipartisan tilt (Eric Cantor, Lindsey Graham) and two expressing skepticism (John Boehner, Jon Kyl).
CBS had two reports with a total four Democrat soundbites (three Obama, one Richard Durbin) and five Republican soundbites (two from Mike Pence, two from Cantor, one from Boehner).
Guthrie's 6-to-1 tilt stood out. It was made slightly worse when John Yang’s subsequent report offered a seventh presidential soundbite, followed by two from a very encouraged small businessman.
Perhaps providing a window into the mind of journalists, MSNBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Friday appeared shocked that a Democrat might lose in next week’s Massachusetts Senate election. "This is bad," fretted the Daily Rundown co-host. [Audio available here.]
She prefaced that comment by ominously observing, "With just four days to go in the race for Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat, a new poll is terrible news for Democrats." Discussing the numbers with co-host Chuck Todd and NBC political director Mark Murray, Guthrie marveled, "Chuck, I'm interested now. NBCs deputy political director, Mark Murray, joins us now.This is bad." [UPDATE: Guthrie responds. See below.]
Slam dunk, or nothing-but-net three-pointer? Either way, with a line he got off today, Chuck Todd has surely scored some points in the battle over Pres. Obama's all-male White House basketball games.
The NBC News political director/chief WH correspondent took his shot while discussing the issue with Andrea Mitchell—whose sympathies were clearly with the distaff side—during the 1PM hour slot on MSNBC today.
Rush Limbaugh has responded to Barack Obama's claim that Fox News is like talk radio by stating that if the President is right, MSNBC and CNN are pornography.
As NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein reported Thursday, Obama replied to a question about Fox News from NBC's Savannah Guthrie on this morning's "Today" show: "[I]f media is operating basically as a talk-radio format, then that's one thing, and if it's operating as a news outlet, then that's another."
This amused Limbaugh who early in his own program Thursday said (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, h/t NBer bigtimer):
Pres. Obama has described Fox News as "operating basically as a talk-radio format" rather than as a "news outlet."
When NBC's Savannah Guthrie raised [in a segment of her extended interview of the president aired on Today this morning] the issue of White House attacks on Fox News, PBO first tried to play the statesman, resorting to the old dodge about "the American people" being more interested in jobs and the situation in Afghanistan.
But when politely pressed, PBO didn't hesitate to fustigate Fox.
Tied to NBC's promotion of Maria Shriver's “A Woman's Nation” report, completed in conjunction with the left-wing Center for American Progress, Wednesday's NBC Nightly News showcased Savannah Guthrie's interview with President Barack Obama in which she trumpeted how he “has put women in high places in his administration and the Supreme Court. The first bill he signed, a pay discrimination law.” Plus, she assured viewers “the President says he gives a lot of thought to whether the women who work here in the White House feel they're being heard, whether there are those persistent subtle biases still around.”
NBC gave air time for Obama to pander: “When I think about policy, I'm constantly thinking about how can we strengthen families, how can we provide more resources, greater flexibility so that women can thrive, because I think if women are thriving everybody's going to be thriving.” How profound.
But no more banal than Guthrie explaining Obama sat down with her “to talk about the Shriver Report and its finding that a workforce that's half women 'changes everything.'” As if that workforce composition is somehow new this week. Indeed, the title is just that silly, “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything.”
Guthrie also touted: “For the President, that woman's nation starts at home.” And: “The President says he can relate to what the report calls the negotiation between the sexes.”
Last night ABC News, as the MRC’s Brent Baker noted, showcased the "Why People Hate You Obama?" kid and on Friday’s "Today" show it was NBC's turn to be charmed by the Obama-adoring child. NBC's Savannah Guthrie, reporting from College Station, Texas about Obama's latest health care pitch and his upcoming joint appearance with George H.W. Bush to promote volunteerism, squeezed in a clip of Tyren Scott asking Obama why people hated him, when they're supposed to love him? After which Natalie Morales cooed: "Alright cute kid there."
The following is the full report as it was aired on the October 16 "Today" show:
In the category of "intentional misunderstandings" about the political fiasco over the 2016 Summer Olympics, liberals win the gold medal. Cheers and laughs broke out in conservative offices and radio studios on the morning of October 2 when Chicago’s bid came in dead last. This was not an exercise in behavior so flagrantly unpatriotic that it’s almost like a flag-burning indoors. It was rejoicing over a come-uppance for the massive, media-enabled egomania of the Obamas and their team of so-called political geniuses inside the White House.
As the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh put it: "The Ego Has Landed."
Let’s not kid ourselves: The embarrassment over Chicago finishing dead last in Copenhagen was also felt by the multitude of Obama promoters in the media that almost unanimously jumped to the supine conclusion that victory for Chicago was assured once the president announced his plan to bless the International Olympic Committee with his presence.
President Barack Obama's last-minute decision to fly Thursday to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago's bid for the 2016 summer Olympic games excited broadcast network journalists Monday night. “The Olympic motto is 'swifter, higher, stronger,'” fill-in CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith reminded viewers before trumpeting: “Apparently, President Obama is taking that to heart. In a change of plans today, the President decided he will go to Denmark to try to win the 2016 summer games for his hometown.” On NBC, Savannah Guthrie championed Obama's credentials:
From his candidate days to earlier this month on the White House lawn, where he picked up some pointers on fencing, the President has established himself as a kind of Olympics super-fan. Now with Chicago locked in a tight battle with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, and their heads of state making the trip to Copenhagen, the hometown pressure for Obama to go was intense.
ABC, which pointed out how “no President has ever made such an appeal,” even led with the development. “Olympic bid,” Charles Gibson teased, “the President decides to travel thousands of miles for a last-minute personal pitch, hoping to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago.”
Savannah Guthrie is apparently very smart. Guthrie was a member of the prestigious Order of the Coif (which has nothing to do with promoting good scalp health, nor with seventeenth-century headwear) while earning a J.D. from Georgetown Law, highlight her ability to learn dull and boring things very quickly.
Lost among the dusty tomes of Georgetown, however, was the fact that Ronald Reagan was a very nice guy.
On the Friday edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the Brew Crew was discussing the apparent Zen-like calm of the Obama White House. Guthrie, drawing on her spectacular knowledge of the Reagan era, noted the difference in temperament between the Reagan and Obama administrations:
Previewing Barack Obama's trip to Italy for the G8 summit, on Wednesday's "Today" show, NBC's Matt Lauer asked Savannah Guthrie what kind of reaction the President will receive as Lauer noted the President got a "chilly reception" in Russia. Guthrie responded that "It was a real contrast," because she is used to seeing, "really swooning Europeans who are very excited about Mr. Obama." [audio excerpt here]
MATT LAUER: And, and what kind of reception will the President receive from the Italian people? We all know that it was a rather chilly reception when he went to Russia the other day.
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.
When NBC's "Today" show, on Wednesday, devoted an entire segment asking the question "How Should the GOP Battle Back?" who did they turn to, to offer strategic advice? Leftist Nation editor/publisher Katrina Vanden Heuvel and self-described "moderate" radio talk show host Michael Smerconish. What? Was Meghan McCain not available? Not surprisingly neither guest suggested the Republican Party should be consistent in expressing and acting on conservative principles as Vanden Heuvel railed:
Since its announcement in March, the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year's commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate in law has been a big story for American Catholics. Pro-life Catholics were outraged and more than 366,000 people signed a petition urging Notre Dame to rescind the invitation. Somehow, though, the controversy didn't merit notice by the broadcast networks. They refused to cover it.
Yet after the fact, Obama's commencement address led ABC and NBC's evening news programs on May 17. (CBS' "Evening News" was preempted by golf, but anchor Russ Mitchell did offer a newsbreak that included a brief mention of Obama's address.) The broadcast networks' morning news programs, including CBS, also discussed Obama's speech. In each case they praised his words and ignored what had stirred so much controversy: the president's history of supporting even the most extreme abortion rights measures. And they turned to mostly liberal Catholics to provide context and perspective on the debate.
On Monday morning’s Today, NBC seemed to respond to Wanda Sykes making jokes about hoping Rush Limbaugh being the 20t terrorist and hoping his kidneys would fail...by making the issue Limbaugh’s potential to be a liability for the Republicans. There was no question whether Wanda Sykes was a liability for the Democrats, or the White House correspondents who invited her to wish Limbaugh dead on a national stage. In a report by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie (complete with the on-screen question "Is Limbaugh a Liability To The GOP?"), Rush was controversial, while Sykes was apparently just funny:
GUTHRIE: Meantime over the weekend, radio host Rush Limbaugh continued to dominate the political conversation in Washington.
OBAMA: The Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout. Rush Limbaugh does not count as a troubled asset. I'm sorry.
GUTHRIE: On Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney, was asked if he had to choose between having Limbaugh or former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama, in the Republican Party, the former VP did not hesitate.
DICK CHENEY: Well if I had to choose, in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh I think. I think, my take on it was that Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican.
During the 3PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell turned to White House correspondent Savannah Guthrie for reaction to President Obama’s surprise appearance at the daily press briefing to discuss the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter: "Savannah, let me just start with you, the shock factor. I mean, you've got that seat right there by where the President walked out. Were you surprised?" Guthrie replied: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting." [audio for download here]
Guthrie went on to explain: "I had kind of been giving Gibbs a little bit of a hard time, saying, 'look, why does everyone in Washington know this and you're telling us there's been no communication between Justice Souter, the Supreme Court, and the White House?' And sure enough, the President walks in and said ‘I just got off the phone with Justice Souter.’" O’Donnell asked: "Are you suggesting, Savannah, it was your questions that were the reason the President walked out? Because that sounds like where you're going with this." Guthrie humbly replied: "Well, I'm not quite that self-centered. But all I'm saying is I'm very happy to have my question answered, and certainly, personally by the President."
The insular world of NBC News and MSNBC. In her Tuesday NBC Nightly News story on President Barrack Obama's status of the economy speech, reporter Savannah Guthrie emphasized how “the White House billed today's speech as a 'major' one” and so it was “carried live on cable” where “analysts said it was short on rhetoric and long on policy.”
Guthrie's expert “analysts” turned out to be one analyst, her boss. In a clip lifted from MSNBC earlier in the day, NBC Nightly News viewers heard NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker effuse: “Well, there was a moment of church in that speech, but the rest of it was pure law school.”
In the second hour of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, correspondent Savannah Guthrie gave a live report on the upcoming G-20 summit from London. This was a fairly straightforward report, hitting on issues that the major parties were interested in hammering out – the French want more financial regulation, for example. And then, at the very end of the report, Mika Brzezinski threw a hanging curveball. Guthrie did not disappoint:
Brian Williams certainly has an affinity for FDR. Four months after suggesting the nation could “use a little FDR right about now,” though Rooselvelt's policies failed to end the Depression, on Thursday night he connected the obscure 76th anniversary of Roosevelt's first “fireside chat” in 1933 to President Barack Obama's efforts to fix the economy:
76 years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt summoned radio news microphones to a desk next to a fireplace in the Oval Room of the White House, and the fireside chat was born. He wanted to talk to the nation about the economy and the banks. And here we are 76 years later, in the midst of another deep and wide economic crisis. For President Obama, it remains job one in this different era.
Reporter Savannah Guthrie at the White House touted how before a Business Roundtable gathering Obama “really sought to engage them” as he assured the attendees: “I'm a serious free enterpriser and we'll return the markets to free enterprise once this is over.” Guthrie highlighted what she saw as a “a really interesting moment today where the Chairman of CitiGroup... asked the President, 'hey, you're confidence builder in chief, can you give us some confidence?' Well the President did that...”
NBC and ABC on Tuesday night marked President Barack Obama's first 50 days -- not by pointing out all his unfilled executive positions, failed nominations or the long wait for the stimulus spending in the “stimulus” bill -- but by heralding his “whirlwind” of action and “whirling dervish of activity,” though both noted criticism that the administration is trying to do too much. “The President's first seven weeks have been a whirlwind with often dramatic movement in all directions, on all fronts. The economy, health care, two wars and today education reform,” NBC anchor Brian Williams breathlessly announced.
Noting the “accusation that he's taken on too much all at once,” NBC's Savannah Guthrie relayed how Obama “took some time to answer his critics.” Viewers then heard Obama invoking Abraham Lincoln: “You may forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad and passed the Homestead Act and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of civil war.”
On ABC, Jake Tapper contended “you can disagree with what President Obama has done, but you cannot accuse him of dragging his feet. His first 50 days have been marked by presidential action on nearly every issue under the sun. Of course, for his critics, that's precisely the problem.” Tapper soon asserted: “Seven weeks ago, just minutes after taking the oath of office, President Obama formally nominated his cabinet. He's been a whirling dervish of activity ever since.”
CBS's "Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday almost entirely ignored the embarrassing departure of yet another of Barack Obama's cabinet nominees, with only NBC's "Today" providing any real information on the event. GMA devoted a scant 15 seconds to the withdrawal of Republican Senator Judd Gregg as the President's second nominee for Commerce Secretary. (Previous choice Bill Richards dropped out for tax reasons.) Instead, the networks included segments on aphrodisiacs for Valentine's Day and how to make a flourless chocolate cake.
"Early Show" doubled ABC, managing a still insignificant 30 second anchor brief. NBC's "Today" actually featured a full report and had the most coverage, three minutes and 21 seconds. Out of a combined eight hours of programming, the total for all three came to only four minutes and six seconds. None of the coverage made any mention of Senator Gregg's opposition to the Obama administration's goal of moving the 2010 census count from the Commerce Department to the White House. (The census issue was mostly ignored on Thursday's evening news programs as well.)
On Thursday's "Today" show NBC reporters offered little skepticism of Barack Obama's dictations to corporate America, instead buttressing Obama soundbites with sloganeering as, Meredith Vieira declared, "President Obama lashing outat Wall Street and clamping down on corporate fat cats," and Savannah Guthrie underlined, "The President bashed Wall Street," and "took a shot across the bow." The "Today" show then brought on CNBC'ers Melissa Francis and Dylan Ratigan to discuss Obama's capping of executive pay at $500,000, to which they both agreed, "it didn't go far enough." "Today" anchor, millionaire and world traveler, Matt Lauer himself lectured: "Can the culture of Wall Street be changed? Let, let's just be clear here. Private jets, perks, lavish trips gone. Is it ever, are they ever gonna come back?" But when Ratigan tried to use the ratings performance of the "Today" show to make a point, Lauer jokingly, but quickly, cut him off as seen in the following exchange:
MATT LAUER: Just going back to the beginning. We talk about $500,000 for these corporate CEOs. Let's just be clear-
DYLAN RATIGAN: It's a ton of money.
LAUER: That's a lot of money. It's a lot of money-
MELISSA FRANCIS: Yeah.
LAUER: -for the average person waiting on tables and...
RATIGAN: Not to mention if you, if you ran your, if, if this show had, has, ratings went to zero-
Continuing the trend of embracing Barack Obama's bashing of Wall Street bonuses from last night's evening news, NBC's "Today" show, on Friday, described Obama as "outraged!" "agitated," and claimed he "took the tone of a scolding parent." Opening the "Today" show Matt Lauer exclaimed: "Good morning, outraged! President Obama lashes out at Wall Street for doling out nearly $20 billion in bonuses despite the financial crisis." Then a little later Lauer threw it to Savannah Guthrie, who opened her story this way:
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: The President did not hold back. He gave a dressing down to Wall Street that went on uninterrupted for two-and-a-half minutes. This after he read in the newspaper about some big bonuses.
[On screen headline: "Outraged Obama Blasts Banks For Bailout Bonuses"]
BARACK OBAMA: That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful.
GUTHRIE: The President took the tone of a scolding parent, reacting to news Wall Street was still paying itself big bonuses. $18 billion last year, even as many banks' balance sheets crumbled, billions of taxpayer dollars spent to bail them out.
Liberal pastor and civil rights leader Joseph Lowery’s strange benediction prayer hoping that one day "white will embrace what is right" wasn’t ignored on the Tuesday night news, but it wasn’t portrayed as at all controversial. CBS skipped over it. But ABC, NBC, and PBS’s NewsHour all featured it, often without interrupting their gauzy promotional tone. Here’s a brief tour of how it unfolded.
ABC: In the first half-hour of a 60-minute World News, Charles Gibson recalled a legend praying:
GIBSON: The Reverend Joseph E Lowery, the legendary civil rights leader, delivered the benediction.
Rev. JOSEPH LOWERY: We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man and white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
GIBSON: As hundreds of thousands on the Mall savored what they had just seen.
On Tuesday morning’s Today show, NBC substitute anchor Lester Holt and correspondent Savannah Guthrie all but expressed regret over President-Elect Barack Obama having to make an “adjustment” -- not being able to “just pick up and go anytime he wants” due to “not just Secret Service, but a traveling corps of journalists now follows his every move, even in Hawaii.” Guthrie reported on the “signs Obama is growing a bit frustrated with all the attention.” The on-screen graphic accompanying her report inflated this apparent frustration on the part of future chief executive: “Man in a Bubble: Obama Chafes at Constant Scrutiny.”
Holt introduced Guthrie’s report with a lament over Obama’s seeming predicament: “He may not be president yet, but Barack Obama is getting an early taste of what life as leader of the free world is really like -- a lack of freedom, and an entourage documenting his every move.” Guthrie then began her report along a similar line: “Obama came here to Hawaii to get away from it all -- get one last vacation in before becoming president. But even here, he can’t just pick up and go anytime he wants, and that’s been quite an adjustment for the president-elect.”
Even though the votes have all been counted, NBC couldn't resist taking one last shot at GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on this morning's Today broadcast.
Last week, CMI released a study documenting the media's character assassination of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Analysts found that during a two-week period earlier this fall the media pushed three major narratives about Palin: that she was unqualified and unintelligent, that she's tearing apart the conservative movement and that she's little more than McCain's attack dog. All three networks reinforced the "unintelligent" theme by repeatedly playing clips from Saturday Night Live's skits ridiculing Palin, and embarrassing moments from Palin's interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric.
Reporter Savannah Guthrie virtually recapitulated CMI's study in a single news segment, rehashing all three narratives during her brief report on Palin's future in the Republican party.
Two weeks after Sarah Palin's convention speech “reporters are still fact-checking what they hear from her, as our own Savannah Guthrie does for us tonight,” NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams announced Wednesday evening. But of Guthrie's five presumed misstatements by Palin, two were remarks made by Palin “aides,” not Palin herself; one, the “Bridge to Nowhere,” was already dissected eight days ago on the same newscast; and on another, how previous VP nominees have not met foreign leaders, Guthrie didn't disprove Palin's contention.
Up first, how Palin asserted “my job has been to oversee nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas.” Guthrie pounced: “She's wrong. Alaska accounts for only 3.5 percent of America's total energy production, 7.5 percent of oil and gas.” Unmentioned by NBC: How the Alaska Resource Development Council's Web site has stated: “Alaska's oil and gas industry” accounts “for an average of 20 percent of the entire nation's domestic production.”
Federal investigators have electronic surveillance evidence that allegedly links Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers with receiving a payment or payments in connection with a city-approved sludge contract.
Ruh-roh. Conyers is the wife of John Conyers, the Dem Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who continues to toy with the notion of seeking to impeach President Bush. So how did this morning's Today show report the story?