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ABC's Chris Cuomo Slams McCain for 'Frivolous, Childish' Ad --8/4/2008


1. ABC's Chris Cuomo Slams McCain for 'Frivolous, Childish' Ad
On Friday's Good Morning America, news anchor Chris Cuomo derided John McCain's campaign manager for a "frivolous, childish" ad comparing Barack Obama to a celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Cuomo, who is the son of former New York Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of the state's current Democratic attorney general, even tried to goad Davis into pledging to not run any similar ads in the future. He prompted: "Your candidate started by saying he wanted to run a different type of campaign. Do you want to put out a pledge? No more ads like this? Let's leave the personal alone. Let's talk about what we'll do for America." He also played a clip of McCain pledging to run a respectful campaign and then complained, "So that's what we expected from John McCain...What's going on here?"

2. CBS: Obama 'Firing Back' After 'Below-the-Belt Attacks'
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.'"

3. CNN's Cafferty: McCain Celeb Ad 'Very Much Plays the Race Card'
CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, on Thursday's The Situation Room, found racist overtones to the recent McCain campaign ad comparing the hype surrounding vapid celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to the hype surrounding Barack Obama: "I think it's very much playing the race card to put a highly educated, articulate, middle-aged black family man into a television commercial with two blonde bimbo airheads with a combined I.Q. of a box of cereal. And if you have any doubts about what I'm talking about, it's the same kind of thing that was done to Harold Ford down in Tennessee in 2006 and it stinks. It's more subtle, but it stinks just the same." Cafferty was referring to the spot the RNC ran against Harold Ford in the 2006 Tennessee Senate race which made light of how Ford appeared at Super Bowl party thrown by Playboy magazine in 2005. In the ad, an attractive young blonde joked about how she met Ford at the Playboy bash, and asked him to call her. Liberals reacted harshly to the supposed racist insinuation made by the ad. The NAACP condemned it as a "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women."

4. Day After Skipping Good Economic News, ABC & NBC Highlight Bad
A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how "a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time."

5. Pulitzer-Winner Blames Those Who 'Refuse to Raise Taxes'
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, on Friday contended "it is not the protectionists of the AFL-CIO or CNN who are primarily to blame for the erosion of public support" for free trade, instead: "The blame lies squarely with a business community that continues to support Republican politicians who refuse to raise the taxes and spend the money necessary to provide the economic safety net for American workers that a free-market economy has not, and will not, provide."


ABC's Chris Cuomo Slams McCain for 'Frivolous,
Childish' Ad

On Friday's Good Morning America, news anchor Chris Cuomo derided John McCain's campaign manager for a "frivolous, childish" ad comparing Barack Obama to a celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Cuomo, who is the son of former New York Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of the state's current Democratic attorney general, even tried to goad Davis into pledging to not run any similar ads in the future.

He prompted: "Your candidate started by saying he wanted to run a different type of campaign. Do you want to put out a pledge? No more ads like this? Let's leave the personal alone. Let's talk about what we'll do for America." He also played a clip of McCain pledging to run a respectful campaign and then complained, "So that's what we expected from John McCain...What's going on here?"

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Davis wouldn't back down. "Well, listen, I think the ad is a great ad. I think it's getting a lot of attention which was exactly what it was designed to do," he asserted. Cuomo simply couldn't let go of his negative assessment of the spot and responded, "But is this the type of discussion you want? That you're comparing the candidate that you're running against to Paris Hilton. That it's frivolous, childish. Is that good for you?"

Cuomo proceeded to bizarrely suggest that it was the Arizona Senator who was "seizing on race" by attacking Obama's remark that the McCain team would tell people "he [Obama] doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills..." Attempting to turn the issue back to the Republican, the ABC journalist asked:
"But let's talk about where this all came from. You took something that Barack Obama said that seemed to indicate that his opponents will say that he looks different than the other presidents on the dollar bills and you said he's playing the race card. You said that. Now, Barack Obama has said these types of things before. Why are you seizing on this now to bring up something like race?"

Again, McCain's top aide refused to accept the premise of the loaded question. He pointed out that Obama, by name, associated McCain with attempts to interject race into the campaign. Referring to his own assertion that Obama had played the race card, Davis drew a line in the sand: "I said what I said because I will not allow anyone in this campaign to attack John McCain on race and it's never happened before and it never will again. And we are not going to allow the Obama campaign to put this on the table."

Now, Cuomo followed up his Davis interview by talking with chief Obama strategist David Axelrod. The GMA host did challenge Axelrod somewhat, but not as sharply as he did with Davis. He played Obama's statement on race and then asked the obvious: "What does that mean if it's not a suggestion that his race is going to be used against him?"

After fumbling for his words, Axelrod weakly responded, "He's said this repeatedly, as you mentioned, all over the country, he's noted he's not from central casting when it comes to candidates for president of the United States. He's young. He's new to Washington. Yes, he's African-American."

It's certainly a positive that Cuomo actually asked Axelrod about the race card, but he went on to tell his guest that the McCain team aired the celebrity ad because they were "looking to get attention. There's been a lot of attention given to Obama." Notice how he used the passive voice: "There has been a lot of attention..." Well, who has been giving it to Obama?

A transcript of the August 1 segment, which aired at 7:10am:

CHRIS CUOMO: All right, Jake, good question there and certainly all this talk about race isn't good for either campaign. So let's get to the bottom of what's going on here. First, we'll turn to Senator McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis. Rick, thanks for joining us this morning. Let me remind everybody what Senator McCain had said about what kind of campaign he wanted to run. Let's take a look and a listen.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I pledged at that time and I pledge again a respectful campaign, a respectful campaign based on the issues and based on the stark differences and vision that we have for the future of America.
CUOMO: So that's what we expected from John McCain. Now we see these ads with Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, even one of your former aides comes out and says, this is childish. What's going on here?
RICK DAVIS (McCain campaign manager): Well, listen, I think the ad is a great ad. I think it's getting a lot of attention which was exactly what it was designed to do. The ad-- In that ad, it says that Barack Obama is not ready to lead this country yet and they say in the ad that he is for increasing your taxes on energy and against drilling offshore which will help alleviate the gas crisis. These are things I think are important aspects of this debate. And, honestly speaking, I think it's much to do about nothing. It's a great ad and everybody is talking about it and we're having a great time with it.
CUOMO: But is this the type of discussion you want? That you're comparing the candidate that you're running against to Paris Hilton. That it's frivolous, childish. Is that good for you?
DAVIS: Look, I think that it's a matter of interpretation. I mean, there's no question that Barack Obama is a global celebrity. I mean how many politicians go off to Europe and have rallies with 200,000 fans? I mean, I think that's just obvious. So, the fact that we use it in a commercial was a gift that Barack Obama himself gave us. Look, what's outrageous here and with all due respect, this New York Times editorial is way over the top. It has absolutely nothing to do with this debate. Barack Obama's own campaign says they disagree with their conclusions and we'll stand by that. The New York Times has spent a lot of time trying to attack John McCain in their editorial section. We think it's just another low blow by them.

CUOMO: Well, I hear what you're saying about the New York Times. But let's talk about where this all came from. You took something that Barack Obama said that seemed to indicate that his opponents will say that he looks different than the other presidents on the dollar bills and you said he's playing the race card. You said that. Now, Barack Obama has said these types of things before. Why are you seizing on this now to bring up something like race?
DAVIS: Barack Obama's never said that line before and he said it three times night before last. And he used John McCain in those quotes. You missed -- You didn't have that in your tape but he said John McCain and the Republicans are going to tell you this. And that's just not true. John McCain doesn't use these kinds of tactics and when Barack Obama put that on the table, the press asked him what do you mean by that and they have yet to put out a plausible explanation. I took it as a race card. I said what I said because I will not allow anyone in this campaign to attack John McCain on race and it's never happened before and it never will again. And we are not going to allow the Obama campaign to put this on the table.
CUOMO: How about this, though? With the ugliness that's come out of this for both sides, your candidate started by saying he wanted to run a different type of campaign. Do you want to put out a pledge? No more ads like this? Let's leave the personal alone. Let's talk about what we'll do for America.
DAVIS: You know, the day after Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee, John McCain invited Barack Obama to weekly town halls in order to answer questions from people, real people, undecided voters. We haven't had a single acceptance of those weekly invites and I think it's about time the Obama camp laid down their swords and came over and joined us in a town hall meeting next week.
CUOMO: All right, Rick. Thank you very much. I'm going to turn now to David Axelrod. I'll see what he has to say about that. But thanks for joining us this morning. All right. We also have David Axelrod, he's the chief strategist for the Obama campaign. Let's start off with that last thing. You've been invited to all these different debates and they say you're not answering. What is going on? Does Obama not want to debate against McCain?
DAVID AXELROD (Obama campaign chief strategist): That's as untrue as his ads and much of everything else Rick just said. The fact is that we did accept and said let's do five of them. We actually proposed doing one on July 4th. We proposed doing one later in the summer. We never heard back from the McCain campaign. We're going to debate and we're going to debate several times and people will see them side by side and we look forward to that. But that is really a diversion from what's going on here. The fact of the matter is that they ran a ridiculous ad that's insulting not to us but to the American people. You just had a piece at the top of your news saying we've had the seventh straight month of job loss in this country and Rick is saying we're having a great time running ads about Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. This is beneath him. It's beneath Senator McCain. It's certainly a violation of the pledge he was going to run and now to inject this race card issue takes it one step beyond that and ask what happened to John McCain? What happened to the campaign that he promised to run?
CUOMO: Well, let's take one step back and figure out who brought up this race thing and what the implications are. Let me remind you what your candidate said. Here's Senator Obama.
AXELROD: Okay.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, oh, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know?
CUOMO: What does that mean if it's not a suggestion that his race is going to be used against him?
AXELROD: Well, look, he said -- the -- By the way -- He's said this repeatedly, as you mentioned, all over the country, he's noted he's not from central casting when it comes to candidates for president of the United States. He's young. He's new to Washington. Yes, he's African-American. And so this is nothing new but his main point was that the McCain forces were going to run a relentlessly negative campaign because they can't defend their record on the economy. They can't defend their record on foreign policy and that's what we see and now we see Senator McCain saying he's proud of his Britney Spears/Paris Hilton ad. That's what he said yesterday and it's really a shame. I think the country expected more.
CUOMO: Well, they're looking to get attention. There's been a lot of attention given to Obama. Let me ask you something about this: The polls for all the burden of expectations, let's say for Senator Obama, the polls are showing somewhat of a dead heat. Are you surprised by that? How do you explain it coming off this whirlwind tour you just took?
AXELROD: As we said during the trip, we didn't expect any dividend from going on the trip, politically, in the polls back home and so that's not our concern. Look, this is going to be a tough, heated campaign. Power doesn't -- we're fighting over the presidency of the United States. We've got the White House and Senator McCain working in tandem to try and hang on. And change never occurs without a fight so we know we're going to have a big battle but let's keep it on the issues. Let's talk about the things important to the American people. Let's not entertain ourselves with negative ads that make no sense and are insulting.

CBS: Obama 'Firing Back' After 'Below-the-Belt
Attacks'

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." Read about Reynolds' Evening News report here: www.mediaresearch.org

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Both on the Evening News and the Early Show Reynolds seemed to argue that John McCain himself agreed with Obama that race was being injected in the campaign: "While McCain has spoken of the need for civility on the stump, his campaign reacted quickly to this complaint from Obama about how his opponents are attacking him." A clip of Obama was played: "He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know." Reynolds continued: "Obama said McCain's camp was playing the race card. And while Obama's camp denied he was doing any such thing, McCain said the charge was legitimate." A brief clip of a McCain interview on CNN: "I'm sorry to say that it is, it's legitimate. And we don't -- there's no place in this campaign for that."

In reality, McCain was saying that Obama was playing the race and that the charge that Obama was playing the race card was legitimate. If Reynolds had played a longer clip of CNN's John King asking McCain the about the issue, the sound bite would have been much more clear:

JOHN KING: Your campaign manager says he's [Barack Obama's] playing the race card by saying that, by saying that you're trying to scare people and make them think this guy doesn't look like past presidents. Is that a fair criticism for Rick Davis to say the Barack Obama is playing the race card?
MCCAIN: It is. I'm sorry to say that it is. It's legitimate. And we don't -- there's no place in this campaign for that. There's no place for it and we shouldn't be doing it.

On the Early Show, Reynolds found the source of the McCain campaign's lack of "civility": "The sharper tone has been noted since McCain put associates of Karl Rove in charge of his campaign. Rove was the mastermind of President Bush's election victories."

Despite the clear anti-McCain theme in Reynolds' coverage, Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and Obama campaign manager David Axelrod in a balanced manner. While Rodriguez was tough on Davis, she equally challenged Axelrod:

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Joining us now is Rick Davis, campaign manager for Senator John McCain. Good morning, Rick.
RICK DAVIS: Good morning, Maggie. How are you?
RODRIGUEZ: I'm fine, thank you.
DAVIS: Good.
RODRIGUEZ: I want to ask you about something that you said yesterday. Quote, 'Barack Obama played the race card and he played it from the bottom of the deck.' Why did you say that?
DAVIS: Well, I said it because the night before in three separate appearances Barack Obama made direct allusions to the fact that John McCain himself, and Barack Obama named John McCain, was going to come after him in this way. And we're not going to let anybody define John McCain in those terms. And so we did exactly what we should do as a campaign. We went out there and we said, no, we're not going to let this card get played. We're not going to put up with this and we pushed back pretty hard. Since then I think the Obama campaign has retracted what they've been saying. And, look, from our perspective, we don't like this kind of thing but we will not let anyone define John McCain in those terms.
RODRIGUEZ: But it was Senator McCain who drew first blood with that ad comparing Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, two celebrities who are basically known for fluff. That's condescending.
DAVIS: Well, it's certainly a lot different than being called racist. And my gosh, Maggie, I mean, don't you think that an ad like that should be able to be aired if we choose to? I mean it's one thing if others don't like our ad. We liked it. And it was talking about a contrast between the fact that Barack Obama is not ready to be president yet because he is different on these issues-
RODRIGUEZ: Yes Rick, but -- but in a strategy memo of yours from March which I'll read from you said 'it's critical that we all follow John's lead and run a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people.' How is that ad focusing on the issues and values that are important to the American people?
DAVIS: That ad pointed out very clearly that Barack Obama is wrong on not allowing there to be drilling and that he is offering tax increases on energy, which I think is very clear to the American public, are major issues to them. And so my view is that's totally consistent with those two things.
RODRIGUEZ: Alright. Rick Davis, thank you for your time this morning.
DAVIS: Thank you, Maggie.

RODRIGUEZ: And in Chicago this morning is David Axelrod, chief strategist for the Obama campaign. Good morning David.
AXELROD: Good morning, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: You just heard Rick Davis say that running an ad comparing Barack Obama to a celebrity is not the same as your camp calling John McCain a racist. What's your response?
AXELROD: Well, it's an outrageous thing to say because of course Barack Obama never called John McCain a racist. And in fact, you know, the quote that Rick's referring to happened at a town hall meeting in a rural area of Missouri. Not one newspaper reported it the way he accounts for it. The audience laughed and applauded because what Senator Obama was saying was that he's not exactly from central casting for presidential candidates and he understands that and he understands that that will be a source of contention. But in no way did he say that. And Maggie, I was interested in reading the coverage this morning, the New York Times-
RODRIGUEZ: But hang on a second, David.
AXELROD: Yeah, yeah.
RODRIGUEZ: Before you -- let's talk about that quote. Because he did directly attribute this to John McCain. He said 'John McCain is trying to make you scared of me, saying he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bill.'
AXELROD: Well that was among-
RODRIGUEZ: That's clearly a reference to race.
AXELROD: Among-
RODRIGUEZ: How can it be taken otherwise?
AXELROD: Maggie, among the other things that he said was that he was young, that he was new.
RODRIGUEZ: But he said that as well.
AXELROD: And you heard Rick Davis say himself he's not ready to be president. I mean that, what Senator Obama said was exactly what-
RODRIGUEZ: But that has nothing to do with race.
AXELROD: -is going on. No. And the quote itself was not interpreted that way by the audience. I mean, what's happened is Senator McCain has made a decision that he's going to run a 100% negative ad. And you know why, because he's trying to defend policies that are indefensible, in our economy, foreign policy. We need a change of direction, and he wants to distract voter attention from that. What I don't understand is how Senator McCain could say, as he did yesterday, that he was proud of that ad. This is not the John McCain that we expected in this campaign, this is not the John McCain who ran in 2000. And he's completely subjugated his campaign to the Washington hit machine philosophy, and that's-
RODRIGUEZ: Alright, David-
AXELROD: -in a year like this where we have so many problems, it's really a shame.
RODRIGUEZ: We've got to leave it there to give you both equal time.
AXELROD: Okay.
RODRIGUEZ: Thank you so much.
AXELROD: Alright. See you Maggie.

Here is the full transcript of Reynolds' Early Show report:

7:00AM TEASER
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Nasty politics. Obama accuses McCain of taking the low road. McCain fires back that Obama's playing the race card. We'll hear from both campaigns.

7:04AM SEGMENT:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: The presidential race is getting nastier by the minute. The Obama campaign accuses the Republicans of resorting low road politics while the McCain campaign accuses Obama of playing the race card. CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds is in Chicago this morning. Good morning, Dean.
DEAN REYNOLDS: Good morning, Maggie. Well, there was a time a while back when both contenders were talking about conducting a civil campaign on the issues and off the insults. But no more.
AD NARRATOR: Gas prices soaring, Barack Obama says no to offshore drilling.
REYNOLDS: Spurred by what it considers below-the-belt attacks on his character, fitness, and even his fame-
NARRATOR: He's the biggest celebrity in the world.
REYNOLDS: Barack Obama is firing back.
BARACK OBAMA: I do have to ask my opponent, is that the best you can come up with?
REYNOLDS: 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.' While McCain has spoken of the need for civility on the stump, his campaign reacted quickly to this complaint from Obama about how his opponents are attacking him:
OBAMA: He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know.
REYNOLDS: Obama said McCain's camp was playing the race card. And while Obama's camp denied he was doing any such thing, McCain said the charge was legitimate.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm sorry to say that it is, it's legitimate. And we don't -- there's no place in this campaign for that.
REYNOLDS: The sharper tone has been noted since McCain put associates of Karl Rove in charge of his campaign. Rove was the mastermind of President Bush's election victories.
OBAMA: Senator John McCain, who started off talking about running an honorable campaign has fallen back into the predictable political attacks.
REYNOLDS: When a voter in Racine, Wisconsin on Thursday asked him about the more aggressive approach, McCain was unapologetic.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: Well, it seems like to Americans like me and other people like you may have flip flopped on what you had said earlier. And what is your response to that?
MCCAIN: Campaigns are tough, but I'm proud of the campaign that we have run, I'm proud of the issues that we have -- trying to address with the American people.
REYNOLDS: Indeed, campaigns are tough and this one looks like it's going to get a lot tougher. Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: No doubt. CBS's Dean Reynolds. Thank you, Dean.

CNN's Cafferty: McCain Celeb Ad 'Very
Much Plays the Race Card'

CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, on Thursday's The Situation Room, found racist overtones to the recent McCain campaign ad comparing the hype surrounding vapid celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to the hype surrounding Barack Obama: "I think it's very much playing the race card to put a highly educated, articulate, middle-aged black family man into a television commercial with two blonde bimbo airheads with a combined I.Q. of a box of cereal. And if you have any doubts about what I'm talking about, it's the same kind of thing that was done to Harold Ford down in Tennessee in 2006 and it stinks. It's more subtle, but it stinks just the same."

Cafferty was referring to the spot the RNC ran against Harold Ford in the 2006 Tennessee Senate race which made light of how Ford appeared at Super Bowl party thrown by Playboy magazine in 2005. In the ad, an attractive young blonde joked about how she met Ford at the Playboy bash, and asked him to call her. Liberals reacted harshly to the supposed racist insinuation made by the ad. The NAACP condemned it as a "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women."

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Friday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The comment came during a panel discussion with CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger and Tara Wall of The Washington Times. Wall objected to Cafferty's notion: "You know, look, that's a stretch. There's going to be a lot of time in this campaign to dissect whether something is racist or not. It is too early for these kind of shenanigans. This is -- this is ridiculous.... When there are legitimate claims of racism -- you know, this is like crying wolf. Let's put it into perspective here. It was a light-hearted ad that Obama himself reacted to in a light-hearted manner."

Later, after the panel discussed Obama's "presidents on the dollar bills remarks," Cafferty returned to the issue of ads. When Wall repeated her point about the "light" nature of the McCain ad, the CNN commentator reacted harshly: "There was nothing making light about it. There was nothing funny about that commercial.... Go watch the Harold Ford stuff."

The transcript of the relevant portions of the panel discussion, which began at the bottom of the 6 pm Eastern hour of Thursday's The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: Senator Barack Obama is accusing the McCain camp of taking the low road with negative ads, and the McCain campaign is now accusing Senator Obama of playing the race card. It doesn't get more poisonous than this. Let's discuss with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; our own Jack Cafferty; and Tara Wall of The Washington Times. They're all part of the best political team on television. I want to play this little exchange, Jack, that John King had with John McCain just a little while ago. I'll play the clip right now.
JOHN KING: Your campaign manager says he's playing the race card by saying that, by saying that you're trying to scare people and make them think this guy doesn't look like past presidents. Is that a fair criticism for Rick Davis to say the Barack Obama is playing the race card?
MCCAIN: It is. I'm sorry to say that it is. It's legitimate, and we don't -- there's no place in this campaign for that. There's no place for it and we shouldn't be doing it.
KING: They say that's not the case.
MCCAIN: Okay, John. Okay.
KING: Senator, thank you. I appreciate it.
MCCAIN: I'll let the American people judge.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, you're part of the American people, what do you judge?
CAFFERTY: Well, I think the McCain campaign better be careful about, you know, living in glass houses and throwing stones, and here's why I say that. I think it's very much playing the race card to put a highly educated, articulate, middle-aged black family man into a television commercial with two blonde bimbo airheads with a combined I.Q. of a box of cereal. And if you have any doubts about what I'm talking about, it's the same kind of thing that was done to Harold Ford down in Tennessee in 2006 and it stinks. It's more subtle, but it stinks just the same.
BLITZER: We heard a similar complaint earlier, Tara, from Donna Brazile. They think it was a racial overtone in that ad with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears-
TARA WALL: Oh, come on.
BLITZER: -comparing them to Senator Obama.
WALL: You know, look, that's a stretch. There's going to be a lot of time in this campaign to dissect whether something is racist or not. It is too early for these kind of shenanigans. This is -- this is ridiculous. I mean let -- are we going to pick apart every single ad to pick apart if there's a white person, a black person, a yellow person? The McCain campaign did one thing this morning and that is get on the offensive and say -- get on the defensive and defend themselves and say listen, you know, enough of this. We -- you know, Barack Obama is above putting -- he is the candidate. He doesn't need to draw in voters by saying they're going to make me look like the boogeyman, they're going to -- because they say that I'm inexperienced, that equals them saying that, you know, he's black-
BLITZER: All right-
WALL: And, you know, they're racist. That's -- that does not equate to the same thing. When there are legitimate claims of racism -- you know, this is like crying wolf. Let's put it into perspective here. It was a light-hearted ad that Obama himself reacted to in a light-hearted manner.
BLITZER: All right....
CAFFERTY: Let me ask you a question. Is it all right, then, to do commercials about the fact John McCain doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shias, that Joe Lieberman has to whisper-
WALL: Hey, that's-
CAFFERTY: -in his ear in a foreign country and correct him on an issue that he's been running his entire campaign on, which is how qualified he is to be commander-in-chief? Is that a fair commercial to put on the air?
WALL: Well, absolutely, it's fair, if that's a legitimate issue to raise. If people have concerns about his judgment because of those -- those particular issues, why -- why not? It is fair game. I mean are they just more, you know, outraged because John McCain is making light of some things that, you know, some people find amusing? And, again-
CAFFERTY: You keep-
WALL: Barack Obama himself-
CAFFERTY: You keep saying he was making light.
WALL: -was not too offended.
CAFFERTY: There was nothing making light about it. There was nothing funny about that commercial.
BORGER: And-
CAFFERTY: Go watch the Harold Ford stuff.
WALL: I watched the Harold Ford stuff, which was also legitimate.
BLITZER: All right.
WALL: And I did think the-
BLITZER: All right, guys.
WALL: The celebrity one -- listen, it did not -- I've seen racist ads and this does not rise to the level of racism.
BLITZER: All right, guys.
WALL: That's absurd. That's just all the liberal bloggers are talking about this.
BLITZER: Gloria, button it up because we've got to go.
BORGER: Thank you, Wolf. You know, this is about the McCain campaign trying to break through. It hasn't been able to break through, and what we've seen in the last week or two is a campaign that's been increasingly aggressive and tough and negative. From John McCain saying that Barack Obama would rather lose a war than an election, to this recent issue over race, they're getting aggressive because they feel like they're not breaking through.
BLITZER: All right. We'll leave it right there. Gloria, Tara, thanks to both of you.

Day After Skipping Good Economic News,
ABC & NBC Highlight Bad

A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how "a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time." Fill-in ABC anchor David Muir announced: "We're going to turn this evening now to the unemployment report out today which shows a new flurry of pink slips in July. Employers cut 51,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. This marks the seventh month in a row with job losses."

NBC anchor Brian Williams, with "Hard Times" on screen, reported: "On the jobs front, the employers cut their payrolls for the seventh straight month in July, total of 51,000 jobs were shed just last month, bringing the total for the year so far to almost half a million. Unemployment rate jumped two-tenths of a percent to 5.7, that's now a four-year high. A growing number of Americans are struggling on the job front even though they're not unemployed. Instead, they're being downsized from full-time work to part-time. That report from NBC's Rehema Ellis.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The August 1 CyberAlert item, "CBS Turns Doubled GDP into 'Disappointing' News, ABC & NBC Silent," recounted:

Second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubled to 1.9 percent, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, the Commerce Department announced Thursday morning as consumer spending rose 1.5 percent in the quarter ending June 30, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, and U.S. exports soared 9.2 percent, way up from 5.1 percent in the first three months of 2008.

Yet the CBS Evening News centered a story around "disappointing" news about the supposedly "struggling economy" (with that on screen) -- while ABC and NBC, which on April 30 led with full stories on the news of a 0.6 percent (since revised to 0.9) first quarter GDP, didn't utter a syllable Thursday night about the big GDP jump. On the last day of April, ABC's Betsy Stark declared the economy had "flat lined" and NBC anchor Brian Williams warned "it's getting rough out there" as the new GDP number "stops just short of the official declaration of a recession." Thursday night, however, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News made time for full stories on outrage over ExxonMobil earning "the largest profit ever made by a U.S. company." The "oil industry says it is not out of line, but some motorists feel otherwise."

CBS anchor Katie Couric, picking up on the 4th quarter 2007 GDP revision from 0.6 percent to a minus 0.2, stressed how "the government now says the economy was receding, not growing, in the final quarter of last year" though "it picked up a bit in the first quarter of this year." She then twisted the fresh news of a 1.9 percent jump into a negative: "But look at this: In the second quarter, when all those rebate checks were supposed to stimulate the economy, it grew less than two percent. Jeff Glor has more about the disappointing numbers."

Preferring an anecdote to factual data analysis, Glor started his story with how "you'll have a hard time convincing Paula Corletto the economy is growing" since "she and her eight-year-old daughter Leandra," both of whom CBS showed shopping for clothes, "now limit their shopping to only one day a week."

A full screen CBS News chart incorrectly listed first quarter GDP growth at 0.6 percent. In fact, the July 31 press release from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis announcing the second quarter number, stated: "In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.9 percent."

The initial report on April 30 put first quarter GDP at 0.6 percent, but last month it was revised upward to 0.9 percent....

For the complete rundown: www.mediaresearch.org

Pulitzer-Winner Blames Those Who 'Refuse
to Raise Taxes'

Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein, who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, on Friday contended "it is not the protectionists of the AFL-CIO or CNN who are primarily to blame for the erosion of public support" for free trade, instead: "The blame lies squarely with a business community that continues to support Republican politicians who refuse to raise the taxes and spend the money necessary to provide the economic safety net for American workers that a free-market economy has not, and will not, provide."

In his column bannered across the top Friday's "Business" section, "Wave Goodbye to the Invisible Hand" Pearlstein argued that "just as the Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era and the New Deal gave way to the post-war era of big government, big business and big labor, the current era of free-market capitalism seems to be giving way to something else" as "the larger truth may be that the social and economic costs of the next increment of globalization probably outweigh the benefits for many people, and that reality has now been reflected in the political marketplace."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Saturday night on the MRC';s blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from the August 1 column by the ex-reporter:

....Here in the United States, consumers have already realized most of the possible gains from importing different and cheaper goods -- any further liberalization won't help them much. But because the government has refused to deal, in any serious way, with the dislocation and economic insecurity that increased trade has spawned, too many lower-skilled workers have concluded, with reason, that they are the inevitable losers from globalization.

Let's be clear: It is not the protectionists of the AFL-CIO or CNN who are primarily to blame for the erosion of public support for trade in the United States, as bone-headed as they may be. The blame lies squarely with a business community that continues to support Republican politicians who refuse to raise the taxes and spend the money necessary to provide the economic safety net for American workers that a free-market economy has not, and will not, provide.

Trade is hardly the only area in which open, unregulated and lightly-taxed markets have failed to deliver economic and social outcomes that Americans consider acceptable.

Despite the fact that the U.S. health-care system is the most privatized and market-driven of any in the industrialized world, it has become one of least efficient and effective, with extraordinarily high costs, mediocre results and a large and growing pool of working families with little or no insurance and inadequate care.

Deregulated energy markets have, for the most part, failed to provide a steady supply of affordable electricity to businesses and households due in large part to imperfect competition that has allowed the industry to manipulate prices and earn above-market returns. These same energy markets failed to anticipate the increased global demand for oil and natural gas and to make the necessary long-term investments in new supply and alternative sources of energy. More recently, they produced a speculative price bubble that has brought the auto and airline industries to their knees.

As market failures go, however, few have been more spectacular than the massive misallocation of credit and mispricing that led to the giant housing and credit bubble of recent years....

END of Excerpt

For the column in full: www.washingtonpost.com

-- Brent Baker