ABC Scolds McCain & Admits Obama Driving the Campaign 'Narrative' --7/24/2008
2. CBS Frets Obama Can't Escape 'Hussein' Middle Name in Israel
3. NY Times' Tom Friedman on GMA: Obama Middle Name Now a Plus
4. CBS's MacVicar: Obama 'In Statesman Clothes' On Trip
5. NBC Breaking News: Shimon Peres Aide Thinks Obama is a 'Hunk!'
6. Pro-Obama Bias? New York Times TV Critic: What Pro-Obama Bias?
7. Letterman: 'Bush's Administration Clearly Guilty of War Crimes?'
Matching CBS/Katie Couric on Tuesday night, on Wednesday evening ABC's World News followed its exclusive Barack Obama session of the day with a shorter interview segment with John McCain as anchor Charles Gibson teased: "Barack Obama, here in Israel, holding meetings at breakneck speed on the Middle East conflict." Obama got a full five minutes with anchor Charles Gibson in Israel, not counting a glowing minute-long introduction -- Obama's "schedule here in Israel looked like a Middle East shuttle mission" -- while ABC allocated two-and-a-half minutes to David Wright with McCain. Gibson did press Obama on his foreign policy "inexperience" and Obama's declaration that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel," wondering if that was "a rookie mistake?"
Wright began by scolding McCain for his "extraordinary statement" that "Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." Wright demanded: "Do you really think he's that craven?" Wright also lectured: "But what you seem to be saying there is that it's all about personal ambition for him and not about what he honestly thinks is right for the country." Bizarrely, as if the media's decisions are not primarily responsible, Wright told McCain the fact that "the narrative of this campaign is being driven by whatever Senator Obama does" shows a McCain campaign failure:
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For the July 23 CyberAlert item, "Couric Showcases Obama Over McCain, Admits a Media 'Obamathon,'" go to: www.mrc.org
Gibson's tease, from Jerusalem, at the top of the Wednesday, July 23 World News on ABC: "Mideast shuttle: Barack Obama, here in Israel, holding meetings at breakneck speed on the Middle East conflict. We'll ask him how he plans to bring peace to the region. Counterpunch. John McCain goes on the defensive, saying Obama's policies will mean defeat in Iraq and won't solve te energy crisis at home."
Gibson introduced his Obama interview (ABC led with Hurricane Dolly): "We turn next to the flurry of events for Senator Barack Obama, whose schedule here in Israel looked like a Middle East shuttle mission. We caught up with him in Jerusalem, between meetings and photo ops, with among others, Israeli President Perez, and Defense Minister Barak. And then it was on the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Abbas.
The questions to Obama from Gibson, aired on the Wednesday, July 23 World News, with both sitting together in Israel:
- Senator, let's talk about the trip as a whole. The polls indicate that a considerably larger percentage of the people of the United States think that John McCain would make a good Commander-in-Chief than you. So, is the trip principally designed to narrow that gap?
- If people have a reservation about you, it is that you are young, that you're inexperienced and that you're very new to the international stage.
- Do you sense that there's a considerable portion of Israelis, and even American Jewry, who are very reserved and even distrusting of your commitment to Israel?
- Obama recently caused a great deal of controversy here, when he said in a speech:
[Obama: Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is nonnegotiable. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.]
To Palestinians, that is flat out unacceptable. When you said that, did you not realize the significance that that has for so many people in this region?
[Obama: Well, look, number one, the fact is that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. So, I was simply stating a fact.With respect to-]
You said must remain undivided. Those are code words.
[Obama: Well, the issue of it being undivided, I have said and I said immediately after the speech, that that word was poorly chosen. That what I was referring to is making sure that we're not setting up barbed wire across Israel.]
Senator, it's a very simple declarative statement. And you started the paragraph by saying, "let me be clear."
[Obama: Charlie, if the day after or the day of making the speech I concede that the wording is poor, and it's immediately corrected, then-
[Obama: I wouldn't say rookie mistake. I think that veterans make mistakes, as well.]
In the two states, what do you envision is the capital of Palestine?
[Obama: You know, I'm going to let the parties sort that out. And I don't think that it's the United States' job to make that decision.]
Would you move the U.S. embassy -- if you were President, would you move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?
[Obama: Charlie, you know, I think that we're going to work through this process before we make these kinds of decisions.]
- Aren't these things that you thought through in your head?
- Let me turn to Iran. John McCain has said the only thing worse than war with Iran would be a nuclear Iran. John Abizaid was one of the top military leaders in the United States, has said, well, we may have to live with a nuclear Iran. I know it's a choice you don't want to make. Who's right?
- So, what if Israel decides, in the name of its own security, that it needs to make strikes on Iran?
Gibson set up the subsequent segment with John McCain: "Barack Obama may be out of the country, but he's not been out of range by attracts by John McCain. Day after day, the Republican candidate has challenged Obama's domestic policies, and been quick to point out his inexperience in foreign affairs. ABC's David Wright covers John McCain and talked with the Arizona Senator today."
- Senator, I want to start by asking you about an extraordinary statement you just made in that town hall meeting.
[JOHN McCAIN: So, apparently, Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.]
That's pretty strong language. Do you really think he's that craven?
[McCAIN: I think that it's very clear that Senator Obama has refused to recognize that the strategy in Iraq called the surge has succeeded.]
But what you seem to be saying there is that it's all about personal ambition for him and not about what he honestly thinks is right for the country.
- But it sometimes seems, as an outside observer, that both of you guys sometimes get stuck in the past. Senator Obama's kind of stuck in 2003 and whether the war was a good idea in the first place. And you kind of seem stuck, sometimes, in 2007, whether the surge was the right strategy. Shouldn't this debate really be about the future and where we go from here?
- Charlie Gibson sat down today with Senator Obama in Jerusalem. And as you can imagine, they talked a lot about the Middle East peace process. How would that initiative look different in a McCain administration than it would in an Obama administration?
- You've been touring here in the states, had the domestic stage all to yourself. And yet, we're talking an awful lot about foreign policy. It seems like the narrative of this campaign is being driven by whatever Senator Obama does and that you're left to kind of react to that.
[McCAIN: It may seem like that to you. It doesn't seem like that to me. We're getting very good crowds. We're doing well in the polls. So, I'm very happy with where we are.]
ABCNews.com's page for World News features several articles about, and some video clips of, the Obama and McCain interviews: abcnews.go.com
Next up on the Obamathon interview parade: Obama with NBC's Brian Williams on Thursday's NBC Nightly News. Wednesday night Williams, who hasn't anchored for a week-and-a-half, showed up to anchor from Germany.
The Wednesday CBS Evening News story on Barack Obama's day in Israel presumed Jewish concerns about his commitment to Israel are unreasonable as reporter Sheila MacVicar empathized with Obama's plight while she fretted about how an Israeli newspaper columnist "referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama." After noting that Obama "did spend an hour with the Palestinian President, something John McCain did not do on his trip here," MacVicar stressed the "the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him." From Jerusalem, she then held up a copy of the newspaper as she rued: "It's an uphill battle. An example? A commentator writing in this morning's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama, talked about his Muslim stepfather, his childhood in Indonesia, his openness to dialogue with Iran as real sources of anxiety for both the Israeli establishment and American Jewish voters."
MacVicar concluded by bemoaning: "However unfair it may be, it will take more than this trip to alter the very deeply held perception of some that on Israel the Senator is not to be trusted."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from article MacVicar cited, "Obama visit all about wooing Jewish American voters," by Aluf Benn:
....Israelis don't interest McCain and Obama. Rather, it is their Jewish voters and contributors at home. Barack Hussein Obama -- with his Muslim stepfather and his childhood in Indonesia, his suggestion to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leftist image that adheres to his advisors -- has raised deep anxieties among the Jewish establishment. Republicans sensed a massive defection of Jewish voters. Obama's campaign managers have identified it as a problem and their candidate has been working on calming things down and issuing pro-Israel statements. McCain visited Sderot and expressed his support for Israel. Obama will follow in his footsteps Wednesday, as the city is experiencing a rare moment of lull. But Obama will also have a chance to denounce terror in real time: Tuesday's bulldozer terror attack took place next to his hotel in Jerusalem....
For the entire column: www.haaretz.com
Transcript of the story on the Wednesday, July 23 CBS Evening News:
HARRY SMITH, ANCHOR: Barack Obama continued his overseas tour today in a country that could be very important to his presidential aspirations: Israel. As Sheila McVicar reports, what he's trying to do is simple, succeeding, though, may not be.
SHEILA MacVICAR: In Jerusalem this morning, wearing a symbolically colored tie -- blue and white like Israel's flag -- Barack Obama set out to prove his friendship for Israel and woo voters back home. His hand shakes with senior Israeli statesmen.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to gush that the very act of Barack Obama going on his Middle East trip makes one think "he comes back a little wiser, a little smarter." Friedman also asserted that the candidate's middle name, Hussein, would be a plus for him as President. He opined: "I was in Cairo a few weeks ago. And one of things that was so striking is how impressed Egyptians were, simply with the prospect that after 9/11, Americans might actually elect a man whose middle name was Hussein."
(Of course, members of the media became apoplectic when radio talk show host Bill Cunningham used Obama's middle name at a campaign rally for John McCain.)
GMA co host Diane Sawyer set up the Friedman critique by very carefully offering qualifiers about how "we know [Obama] is absolutely American. Absolutely a Christian." She then offered up the new spin that Obama's heritage could be a presidential positive: "...But in the greater Arab world, does his parental history, his father's history, mean he can move the Arabs more than someone else might be able to?"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On a topic unrelated to the 2008 race, Friedman snidely suggested Americans were like crack addicts in their use of foreign oil. He scolded Obama and McCain for believing the U.S. has a "gasoline price problem." He then analogized: "Well, I don't think that's the problem any more than a crack addict has a crack price problem."
Earlier in the segment, the NYT columnist found another positive assessment for the Democratic presidential candidate. Agreeing with Sawyer that Senator McCan was "right" about the surge, Friedman claimed: "And what the surge, though, has ironically done is make Iraq safe for Barack Obama's foreign policy and the Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al Maliki's domestic policy."
He added: "So the sad thing from McCain's point of view is, yes, he was right, but the story has moved on quickly past 'Were you right or wrong about the surge?' to the effect of the surge on the whole region and the American presence in Iraq." Well, who is moving the discussion past this point? Wouldn't it make sense for Friedman and other journalists to question just how badly Obama got the surge wrong and what else he would misjudge as President?
A transcript of the July 23 segment, which aired at 7:09am:
DIANE SAWYER: And as Obama moves on to Europe, perfect time to hear from Washington from one of the best known guides to the Mideast world and the world at large for that matter, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of "The World is Flat." Good morning, Tom.
ABC GRAPHIC: How the World Sees the Race: Tom Friedman Weighs In
SAWYER: What about Charlie's question? Was something accomplished here by this trip? How did Obama do as a player on the Mideast stage?
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Sheila MacVicar described Barack Obama's visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial during his continuing Middle East tour as "yet another chance to see how the Senator looks in statesman clothes." MacVicar imbued Obama with the mantel of "statesman" just last Friday, July 18, when she described the upcoming trip: "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."
Earlier in Wednesday's report, MacVicar described Obama's meeting with top Israeli officials and made sure label the conservative: "The day began with a double helping of breakfast and conversations with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister and leading right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu." MacVicar concluded her report with a preview of Obama's next stop: "This afternoon he'll travel by helicopter with not one, but two ministerial tour guides, the foreign minister and the defense minister, to the Israeli town of Sderot, which is frequently a target of Palestinian rockets. For Obama it's a chance to show that he understands and feels the plight of Israelis. For the Israelis, it's a chance to make their point about their strategic weakness."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Following MacVicar's report, co-host Harry Smith played a clip of Katie Couric's interview with Obama in Amman, Jordan. Couric provided some challenging questions: "Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month. The country was rife with sectarian violence and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying, even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying why?...If you believe, Senator, Afghanistan is, in fact, the central front in the war on terror, why was this your first trip there?"
Here is the full transcript of the July 23 Early Show segment:
Apparently it's not just the American press corp that has fallen head over heels for Barack Obama. On Wednesday night's Hardball, NBC News reporter Martin Fletcher revealed the quote that "went rushing around the media" in Israel -- that a female assistant to Shimon Peres remarked of Obama: "What a hunk!"
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
When asked by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, on the July 23 Hardball, to give his assessment of the media coverage given to Obama in Israel, Fletcher dropped the following nugget:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you Martin for a final question there, as Barack Obama leaves the Middle East. What's the general assessment of the people over there, in terms of news coverage? Has he shown himself to be a commander-in-chief, potentially?
Alessandra Stanley misses the obvious: "But it's not pro-Obama bias in the news media that's driving the effusion of coverage, it's the news: Mr. Obama's weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas." New York Times TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley's Wednesday "TV Watch" column covered the only thing that's been on the tube lately: "Obama Overseas! In Presidential Mode! Back Home, It's McCain in a Golf Cart."
Amazingly, Stanley doesn't see a pattern of pro-Obama bias in the overwhelming media hype, simply an accurate reflection of a "presidential candidate acting so presidential overseas," one "at home talking to generals and heads of state." That's the only reason the media has gone ga-ga over the Democrat, you see.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from Stanley's July 23 article:
All three cable news networks carried Mr. Obama's news conference live and in full. They showed only parts of Mr. McCain's forum and focused mostly on his reaction to Mr. Obama's statements. Even Fox News broke away from Mr. McCain midevent to cover the rescue of a bear cub wounded in a California fire and nicknamed Lil' Smokey.
Mr. McCain's surrogates complained bitterly about the Obama news blitz; on Tuesday the McCain campaign put out a Web video mocking reporters' doting coverage with a montage of anchors' gauzy looks and glowing praise set to the tune of the Frankie Valli hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."
But it's not pro-Obama bias in the news media that's driving the effusion of coverage, it's the news: Mr. Obama's weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas. Mr. Obama looks supremely confident and at home talking to generals and heads of state, so much so that some viewers may find the pose presumptuous -- as if Mr. Obama believes that not only is his official nomination at the Democratic convention in August a mere formality, so is the November election....
Touring ruins of the Citadel in Amman, Mr. Obama strode confidently with his jacket crooked over his shoulder in classic Kennedy style. He also practiced statesmanly restraint, telling reporters in Amman that he wouldn't criticize his opponent while abroad.
Some images are so potent that Fox News, which hammers at Mr. Obama's lack of foreign policy experience, uses its headline crawls as disclaimers: Shots of his arrival in Iraq were captioned, "Obama in Iraq: Second-Ever Trip There."
End of Excerpt
For Stanley's piece in full: www.nytimes.com
Stanley recognized the "potency" of the Obama imagery being helpfully transmitted by the media, but apparently that's just because Obama's such a princely candidate.
David Letterman, who a month ago doubted George Bush and Dick Cheney have any "humanity," on Wednesday's Late Show pushed a guest to confirm "that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes." Far-left "journalist" Jane Mayer of the New Yorker was invited onto the Late Show to plug her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. Late in her second segment, Letterman recalled how "about a year ago" a Democratic presidential candidate was a guest and during a commercial break Letterman had wondered: "'What do you think George Bush's legacy might be?' And he says, 'well, I tell you what ought to happen to him, he should be arrested and tried for war crimes.' And we all sort of thought, well, he's being wacky, he's being funny. But now, you wonder..."
After Mayer suggested "I don't think they're laughing about it in the White House" and relayed how "in Congress there are people who are at least pushing for truth commissions," Letterman pressed her: "But can a case be made that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes? That's easy enough to make that case, or." Mayer demurred: "I'm not a lawyer."
About a year ago two Democratic candidates were Late Show guests: Dennis Kucinich on Friday, June 29, 2007: lateshow.cbs.com
And Joe Biden on Tuesday, July 31, 2007: lateshow.cbs.com
Calling for Bush's arrest sounds a lot more like Kucinich than Biden.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted very late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Last week on NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein noticed that CNN's Jack Cafferty had highlighted Mayer's "war crimes" allegations: "A new book titled The Dark Side, by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, suggests top administration officials, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and others, may be guilty of war crimes." See: newsbusters.org
Back in 1994, Mayer wrote the anti-Thomas screed, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. Amazon's page for it: www.amazon.com
Amazon's page for her new book: www.amazon.com
My June 12 CyberAlert item, "Letterman on Bush & Cheney: 'Is There Any Humanity in Either of These Guys?'" recounted:
Channeling Keith Olbermann, David Letterman on Wednesday night proposed to guest Scott McClellan that President Bush and Vice President Cheney "just couldn't care less about Americans" since "all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office," and so he marveled: "Is there any humanity in either of these guys?" Letterman's conspiratorial rant:
For the entire previous CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org
The discussion about "war crimes" on the Wednesday, July 23 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS:
DAVID LETTERMAN: About a year ago we had a guy on who was running for President of the United States '€" is out now -- but was campaigning and during the commercial I said to him, "what do you think-" -- and he's a Democrat -- I said, "what do you think George Bush's legacy might be?" And he says, "well, I tell you what ought to happen to him, he should be arrested and tried for war crimes." And we all sort of thought, well, he's being wacky, he's being funny. But now, you wonder, what was he talking about?
-- Brent Baker