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ABC's George Stephanopoulos Fawns Over Obama's 'Law Seminar' --3/26/2009


1. ABC's George Stephanopoulos Fawns Over Obama's 'Law Seminar'
ABC's George Stephanopoulos appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to laud Barack Obama's "confident" Tuesday night press conference as reminiscent of a "law seminar." The This Week host then cooed, "The President used to be a law professor" and enthused: "I would say overall, though, a good performance, about an A-." He spoke to co-host Robin Roberts and praised: "Well, I thought the President was confident as he always is, Robin, and very straight. You didn't see a lot of laughter that we saw on Jay Leno."

2. CBS's Rodriguez: 'What Good' Is GOP Criticism of Obama?
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed President Obama's Tuesday night press conference with Republican Senator Richard Shelby and asked: "The President will head to Capitol Hill today to sell his budget and last night he wondered why Republicans who have been critical of it haven't come up with an alternative budget. What's the answer?" After Shelby explained that Republicans have serious concerns about the President's budget, Rodriguez quickly ran to Obama's defense: "Senator, the President said that even if he takes out all this spending from the budget, he'll still have a deficit, as evidenced by the $1.3 trillion deficit that he inherited from the Republicans." Shelby responded by declaring: "...we had a deficit, but nothing like this...This is scary. I believe we've reached the tipping point now, the tipping point, and if we tip over, it's a point of no return. We're looking at inflation and financial and economic destruction. We cannot go down this road." Perhaps not fully listening to what Shelby was saying, Rodriguez exclaimed: "But it looks like we are, and what good does it do the American people to -- to point that out? Why not work with the President to try to reach a compromise?"

3. MSNBC's Shuster Mocks 'Fantasy' Media Were Too Easy on Obama
Countdown with Keith Olbermann guest host David Shuster slipped an incredible claim into Monday's program when he highlighted "independent reports" showing that presidential candidate Barack Obama received harsher media scrutiny than did John McCain during the 2008 election. As a way of introducing a discussion on why the President didn't attend the 2009 Gridiron dinner (a longstanding occasion for journalists and politicians) on Saturday, the MSNBC anchor oddly suggested: "Even though independent reports have shown the media was more critical of Barack Obama than John McCain during the presidential contest, there is still a fantasy that the press is gaga over now-President Obama." What independent reports? He didn't say.

4. NBC Highlights Downbeat 'State of Black America' Report
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News highlighted the downbeat "State of Black America 2009" report, but failed to identify the group behind it, the National Urban League, as liberal nor note the left-wing policy prescriptions recommended in the report. Though NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged Barack Obama's election "was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations," he warned that "today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound." Reporter Ron Mott explained: "Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress." National Urban League President Marc Morial, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, then charged: "The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies."

5. Not Even NBC Buys, or Can Fit, 'Overseas Contingency Operation'
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams offered this brief update on Wednesday's newscast: "We learned today there's no more Global War on Terror -- at least it's been renamed by the Obama administration. The Pentagon will now call the ongoing U.S. military effort the 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'" That presumes the war, I mean "effort," will continue. But not even the NBC News graphics staff bought the new name , or at least couldn't fit the longer name into a graphic. As Williams spoke, NBC displayed "FIGHTING TERROR." The short item from Williams came right after he pointed out "a stunning turn of events in Iraq" as "the level of violence in Iraq has thankfully fallen sharply."


ABC's George Stephanopoulos Fawns Over
Obama's 'Law Seminar'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to laud Barack Obama's "confident" Tuesday night press conference as reminiscent of a "law seminar." The This Week host then cooed, "The President used to be a law professor" and enthused: "I would say overall, though, a good performance, about an A-."

As noted by in a March 25 CyberAlert posting, Stephanopoulos also appeared on Tuesday's Nightline and offered the A- grade to both the President and the questions posed by the press corps: www.mrc.org

On Wednesday's GMA, he spoke to co-host Robin Roberts and praised: "Well, I thought the President was confident as he always is, Robin, and very straight. You didn't see a lot of laughter that we saw on Jay Leno."

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

The former Democratic aide-turned journalist has developed a pattern of giving Obama top marks. Appearing on the February 9 Nightline to offer a "report card" for the President's first prime time press conference, he awarded Obama "an A for overall performance at the event and a B for Obama's bipartisan efforts." See a February 11, 2009 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

During the presidential campaign, Stephanopoulos declared the then-candidate the winner over John McCain in every debate between the two. See an October 16 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

On GMA, the journalist mimicked the cheery, optimistic tone that Obama is now adopting. Reciting economic information, he rattled off elements of a potential silver lining: "Credit is starting to flow, and the banks have been profitable at least for the first couple months of this year. The homeowners plan, we're seeing a tripling of refinancing over the last couple of months and mortgage rates are near historic lows right now, so that's good news." "That is some sign of progress," Stephanopoulos added. Of course, during the Bush administration, many ABC reporters were constantly looking for the downside of any positive news.

A transcript of the March 25 segment, which aired at 7:03am, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: And now for the bottom line, we turn to our chief Washington correspondent and host, of course, of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. You were watching closely last night, George. How did the President do?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I thought the President was confident as he always is, Robin, and very straight. You didn't see a lot of laughter that we saw on Jay Leno. It was much more like a law seminar. The President used to be a law professor. But, he was focused on the job he had to do last night, which is to sell this economic strategy. And that's why he was focused on pointing out some of the progress that's been made over the last several weeks and then to push that budget that the President came back to again and again and again over the course of the budget and it's four pillars, health care, energy, education and reducing the deficit. As Jake pointed out, he is facing a lot of flak on Capitol Hill from Democrats and Republicans on that budget and he tried to push back. I would say overall, though, a good performance, about an A-
ROBERTS: About- And the right tone, do you think?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I think so. I think it was right for the President to be straight last night. A little bit stern. You know, that can come off as flat to some people but I think for this subject, it was appropriate.
ROBERTS: All right. It's all about the money so let's break down the agenda. The four major components. $700 billion to bail out the banks. 275 billion to help homeowners, a 787 billion stimulus package and up to $1 trillion to eliminate toxic assets. Now, which parts, George, are working, and which do you think are not?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot is out there, Robin, as you know. And most of these programs are just beginning so you can't reach a final grade in any way but if you look at the money to the bank, they are starting to lend again. Credit is starting to flow, and the banks have been profitable at least for the first couple months of this year. The homeowners plan, we're seeing a tripling of refinancing over the last couple of months and mortgage rates are near historic lows right now, so that's good news. That is some sign of progress. On the stimulus package, again, it's early but the tax credits in the stimulus package, a lot of experts say, are behind some of this increase in home sales. We saw over the last month and we are seeing some of the other programs like the clean energy programs allow businesses to bring people back to work. The jury is completely out on what to do about those legacy assets and the toxic assets, whether or not that's going to work. The key test for that, Robin, will be next month when the first bids for those assets go out and we see if the bankers and the hedge funds and private investors can agree on a price.
ROBERTS: Right. Yeah, we'll watch out for that for sure. You know, the President took some heat last night for all this spending. Did he do anything to quiet the critics?
STEPHANOPOULOS: He did make some concessions last night, Robin, as I said. He's facing opposition from both Republicans and Democrats on his budget and one of the things you saw in response to Jake's question last night is the President started to signal if the Democrats in the Congress are only going to fund his middle class tax cut for a couple of years, he doesn't like it but he is likely to accept it. The same thing with some of his energy plans. So, I saw a note of realism from President Obama last night. He knows he's not going to be get everything he called for and he started to signal that last night.
ROBERTS: Yeah and he's heading to Capitol Hill today. George, as always, thanks for the bottom line.

CBS's Rodriguez: 'What Good' Is GOP Criticism
of Obama?

On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed President Obama's Tuesday night press conference with Republican Senator Richard Shelby and asked: "The President will head to Capitol Hill today to sell his budget and last night he wondered why Republicans who have been critical of it haven't come up with an alternative budget. What's the answer?" After Shelby explained that Republicans have serious concerns about the President's budget, Rodriguez quickly ran to Obama's defense: "Senator, the President said that even if he takes out all this spending from the budget, he'll still have a deficit, as evidenced by the $1.3 trillion deficit that he inherited from the Republicans."

Shelby responded by declaring: "...we had a deficit, but nothing like this...This is scary. I believe we've reached the tipping point now, the tipping point, and if we tip over, it's a point of no return. We're looking at inflation and financial and economic destruction. We cannot go down this road." Perhaps not fully listening to what Shelby was saying, Rodriguez exclaimed: "But it looks like we are, and what good does it do the American people to -- to point that out? Why not work with the President to try to reach a compromise?" Shelby replied: "Well, I don't think we should compromise destruction of our economic system. And this is where we're going here."

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

In her final question to Shelby, Rodriguez tried to get him to reverse his past criticism of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: "Senator, last time we spoke, you were very critical of Timothy Geithner's handling, specifically, of the AIG fiasco. Now that he's come up with this toxic asset plan and the stock market seems to have rallied, do you think he's doing a better job?"

Following Rodriguez's interview with Senator Shelby, a report by correspondent John Blackstone highlighted a CBS focus group that rated Obama's performance: "By turning a dial, viewers give continuous feedback. The white line goes up when they like something and down when they don't...There was more approval when he was asked about helping homeless children...Another spike up when he said what counts is his performance, not his race." After the report, co-host Harry Smith remarked: "Really interesting stuff."

Here is the full transcript of the March 25 segment:

7:00AM TEASE:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Battle over the budget, President Obama goes prime time to convince Americans his budget won't leave runaway debt for generations to come.
BARACK OBAMA: I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory. Because, as I recall, I'm inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit -- annual deficit from them.

7:01AM SEGMENT:
HARRY SMITH: First though, let's get to the news of the day, and that is that second press conference held by President Obama last night. He's also going to make another trip to Capitol Hill this morning to push his budget. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante joins us now with more on that. Good morning, Bill.
BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. And that budget was exactly what the President was pushing last night. Taking his case directly to the people. Asking for patience, and trying to reassure the nation that he's got the financial crisis under control.
BARACK OBAMA: Please have a seat. Good evening. Before I take questions from the correspondents, I want to give everyone who's watching tonight an update on the steps we're taking to move this economy from recession...tax cut to 95% of all working families and every American should know that up to 40% of all mortgages are now eligible for refinancing this is the equivalent of another tax cut. We'll recover from this recession, but it will take time, it will take patience, and it will take an understanding that when we all work together, when each of us looks beyond our own short-term interests to the wider set of obligations, we-
SMITH: Alright, Bill. And so the President is heading to Capitol Hill today?
PLANTE: Well, that's right, Harry. He's going to talk to the Democrats. He's got a problem on his hands. The Democrats, looking to cut the budget because of the deficits being so high, are trying to take his health care reform program out. So he's going up there to talk to them, to try and get them to leave it in. It's all about money, of course. And on Friday, he's getting some of the nation's biggest bankers down here to the White House to talk to them about continuing to work with the administration in the programs that they've developed to take some of that toxic assets and loans away from the banks.
SMITH: Alright, Bill, thanks so much. We're going to take a look at what the President actually had to say last night. Take a look and listen.
OBAMA: Towards the future with a renewed sense of common purpose, a renewed determination, and most importantly, a renewed confidence that a better day will come.
PLANTE: The President again insisted that his budget address health care reform, clean energy, and education, and laughed off the fact that Senate Democrats are not exactly following his lead.
OBAMA: Now we never expected when we printed out our budget that they would simply xerox it and vote on it.
PLANTE: As for Republican charges that the budget, with its huge projected deficits, is too big.
OBAMA: I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory. Because as I recall, I'm inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit -- annual deficit, from them.
PLANTE: Mr. Obama said he was as angry as anybody over the payment of bonuses to AIG executives. But he defended the fact that he said nothing until several days after he learned of the bonuses.
OBAMA: It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.
PLANTE: As his press secretary called last question, the President segued from foreign policy back to his main point. That the economic challenges maybe difficult, but that he would be persistent.
OBAMA: We are going to stay with it. Four years from now, I think, hopefully people will judge that body of work and say 'this is a big ocean liner, it's not a speed boat. It doesn't turn around immediately, but we're in a better -- better place because of the decisions that we make.'
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: That recap from Bill Plante. Joining us now from Washington, Republican Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee. Good morning, Senator.
RICHARD SHELBY: Good morning, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: The President will head to Capitol Hill today to sell his budget and last night he wondered why Republicans who have been critical of it haven't come up with an alternative budget. What's the answer?
SHELBY: Well, the answer is the President, it's incumbent upon him to make the proposal. All presidents have. We will be examining this budget very thoroughly. What we see is -- is scary. It projects huge deficits, and then ultimately debt. I see the -- in the budget, the road to financial destruction. China has already questioned our ability to pay back our money. Our European allies are saying 'don't print more money.' We better listen.
RODRIGUEZ: Senator, the President said that even if he takes out all this spending from the budget, he'll still have a deficit, as evidenced by the $1.3 trillion deficit that he inherited from the Republicans.
SHELBY: Well, that's true. You know, he will -- we had a deficit, but nothing like this. The projection of his years in office that -- by his own budget people, this will be larger deficits tied together, accumulated deficits, larger than all the presidents put together since George Washington. This is scary. I believe we've reached the tipping point now, the tipping point, and if we tip over, it's a point of no return. We're looking at inflation and financial and economic destruction. We cannot go down this road.
RODRIGUEZ: But it looks like we are, and what good does it do the American people to -- to point that out? Why not work with the President to try to reach a compromise?
SHELBY: Well, I don't think we should compromise destruction of our economic system. And this is where we're going here. We should work with the president when we think the president's right. But I believe he's totally going down the wrong road now.
RODRIGUEZ: Senator, last time we spoke, you were very critical of Timothy Geithner's handling, specifically, of the AIG fiasco. Now that he's come up with this toxic asset plan and the stock market seems to have rallied, do you think he's doing a better job?
SHELBY: Well, we'll have to wait and see, this looks like a plan similar to what Secretary Paulson originally proposed, and the so-called details -- the devil's always in the details, the pricing. We've got to see how this is priced and how it works, because if you price these assets too high, people will make a windfall, probably, off the taxpayer. If it's too low, the banks won't sell them.
RODRIGUEZ: Senator Richard Shelby, as always, thank you.
SHELBY: Thank you, Maggie.
RODRIGUEZ: Now here's Harry.
SMITH: Alright, thanks Maggie. We've heard from President Obama, gotten the Republican response. Now we want to hear what American people thought of last night's conference. CBS News correspondent John Blackstone has that story.
JOHN BLACKSTONE: The Las Vegas screening room is usually used to test audience reaction to new sitcoms. We used it to rate the President's news conference.
OBAMA: Good evening.
BLACKSTONE: By turning a dial, viewers give continuous feedback. The white line goes up when they like something and down when they don't. They liked it when Obama said this:
OBAMA: Folks are sacrificing left and right.
BLACKSTONE: But there was a decided dip when he mentioned his Treasury Secretary.
OBAMA: Yesterday Secretary Geithner announced a new plan.
BLACKSTONE: Most in the focus group listened intently. But not all.
[A WOMAN YAWNING]
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Same thing I've heard all the time. I mean, a bunch of promises.
BLACKSTONE: Republicans were generally negative, Democrats positive. But when the President was asked why he didn't immediately express outrage about the AIG bonuses:
OBAMA: It took us a couple of days, because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak.
BLACKSTONE: That answer brought a big spike upward.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I loved that.
BLACKSTONE: There was more approval when he was asked about helping homeless children.
OBAMA: The most important thing that I can do on their behalf is to make sure their parents have a job.
BLACKSTONE: Another spike up when he said what counts is his performance, not his race.
OBAMA: The American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: He believes in sticking with it. That's what I think that came across more, that 'I'm not going to quit.'
BLACKSTONE: Focus groups are usually used to test shows for the regular schedule. But maybe that's what the President's going for, this is his second news conference in prime time. John Blackstone, CBS News, Los Angeles.
SMITH: Really interesting stuff.

MSNBC's Shuster Mocks 'Fantasy' Media
Were Too Easy on Obama

Countdown with Keith Olbermann guest host David Shuster slipped an incredible claim into Monday's program when he highlighted "independent reports" showing that presidential candidate Barack Obama received harsher media scrutiny than did John McCain during the 2008 election.

As a way of introducing a discussion on why the President didn't attend the 2009 Gridiron dinner (a longstanding occasion for journalists and politicians) on Saturday, the MSNBC anchor oddly suggested: "Even though independent reports have shown the media was more critical of Barack Obama than John McCain during the presidential contest, there is still a fantasy that the press is gaga over now-President Obama." What independent reports? He didn't say. It's possible that Shuster was referring to a Center for Media and Public Affairs report from August of 2008. They claimed that, through the first six weeks of the general election, McCain received more favorable coverage.

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

Even moderate Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger mocked the media's performance at the Gridiron dinner. Shuster quoted the California governor as joking: "You did such lovely work for Obama. You put your lives on hold to put him in the White House. Now you get all dressed up, the champagne is on ice and you find out he is just not that into you."

In contrast to the unnamed studies, an August 2008 Media Research Center investigation found much different results. After looking though 1365 evening news broadcasts (going back to Obama's first appearance in 2000), the MRC concluded that the then-candidate received almost seven times more positive stories than he did negative. See "Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media" study: www.mrc.org

Shuster didn't exactly offer penetrating questions to his guest, columnist Clarence Page, on Monday. At one point, he mentioned how Obama was spending time with his family at Camp David and asked, "Whatever his specific motives regarding this event, do you think the President is quickly developing a reputation, quite naturally too, as being, basically, a family guy?"

A transcript of the March 23 segment:

DAVID SHUSTER: Even though independent reports have shown the media was more critical of Barack Obama than John McCain during the presidential contest, there is still a fantasy that the press is gaga over now-President Obama. But, the so-called honeymoon may be over, since, in our number one story in the "Countdown," the President skipped the annual event where journalists and commander in chief happily co-mingle, the beloved Gridiron Dinner. And that's the first time a president has missed the dinner in his first year in office it since President Grover Cleveland in 1885. Instead, President Obama spent time with his family at Camp David. And though he not seated at the head of the table, as he might have been, he was still the focus of the annual bash in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night. The dinner hosts journalists and politicians and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger teased the crowd about the most conspicuous no show. "You did such lovely work for Obama. You put your lives on hold to put him in the White House. Now you get all dressed up, the champagne is on ice and you find out he is just not that into you." And this: "Here you were expecting, yes, we can. Instead, what do you get? Hasta la vista, baby." Vice President Joe Biden was there too, with a different explanation, quoting, "President Obama sends his greetings. He can't be here tonight because he is getting ready for Easter. He thinks it's all about him." Let's bring in Pulitzer Prize winning syndicated columnist for the "Chicago Tribune," Clarence Page, who attended the Gridiron Dinner and performed, as is tradition, along with many other journalists. Good evening, Clarence.
CLARENCE PAGE (Chicago Tribune): Good evening, David.
SHUSTER: Obviously, there was much levity about the President's absence. But, were some people there truly shocked and maybe a little bit miffed that the President missed the big event? PAGE: I think by the time the evening came along, we had gotten over it. Boy, it was only a couple of weeks or so before the night of the big event that we found out he wasn't coming. That, as you mentioned, has never happened in the first Gridiron of a new President's administration since Grover Cleveland. Very seldom has any president missed. Bill Clinton missed one when he had knee surgery, you remember. George Bush missed one one year when he was meeting with the Mexican president. We were just kind of wondering, especially, this is a newspaper club, really, the charm of it all is we've been keeping this tradition alive for over a century. It's a partisanship-free night, you might say, where that old spirit of comity that we had before politics got so polarized lives anew. Republicans and Democrats, independents together and make fun of each other. And Obama had been, I must say in fairness- before he became President, he was our Winter Dinner speaker and our Spring Dinner speaker here in recent years. So, we were just really shocked that he suddenly wasn't coming to this dinner. And the reason was family.
SHUSTER: Do you think that the President, other than wanting to simply spend time with his family, may have been thinking he just did not think it would be appropriate to be whooping it up there amidst the current economic crisis?
PAGE: We thought about that. But, you know, it was just a few weeks ago that he appeared at the Alfalfa Club Dinner, which is like ours, only they are newer. They only go back to 1912, I think. And they don't have any music and satire. They do have the roast, and the same kind of VIP crowd of administration folks and Republican, Democratic leaders. They have a lot more CEOs in their group, like we have journalists. But, you know, I don't think that was the reason. Of course their official reason is that they had planned this weekend at Camp David, because this is the spring break for the private school that the two Obama daughters attend. We were kind of miffed that it is only like a 20-minute helicopter ride away. He could of, kind of, have flown in. We promised to get him back by midnight.
SHUSTER: Whatever his specific motives regarding this event, do you think the President is quickly developing a reputation, quite naturally too, as being, basically, a family guy?
PAGE: He certainly is a family guy. And you can't begrudge him that. Me and my fellow Gridiron members are thinking about the times we had to be away from our families for professional reasons. You never get that time back. And besides, we're only a media group. It is hard to find anybody outside the media who sympathizes with us on anything. But this is an old tradition. And newspapers are going through a tough time right now. We are not just a newspaper group now. We have some broadcasters and some magazine people as well. But, you know, media have been going through a tough time, especially newspapers. We have been losing a lot of our colleagues in recent weeks, bureaus shutting down, that kind of thing. So, having this occur at this time, having the President not show up at this time was just kind of another morale blow. But, we'll get over it.
SHUSTER: Certainly, there is a lot of fascination with the entire Obama family. There has been a lot of attention on Michelle Obama, rumors that she was pregnant when she was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and was asked about that. Then, of course, there was the new vegetable garden, which got plenty of attention. As does everything else Michelle Obama takes on, is it pretty clear that Michelle Obama so far is a huge asset to this administration?
PAGE: Oh, certainly, she is. I think she has done a great job of that and being a first lady, a role model. Arnold Schwarzenegger did get off a good line Saturday night about her having bigger arms than he does. And he was funnier saying that than I just was. But no question everybody has a real heart warming feeling about Michelle Obama.

NBC Highlights Downbeat 'State of Black
America' Report

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News highlighted the downbeat "State of Black America 2009" report, but failed to identify the group behind it, the National Urban League, as liberal nor note the left-wing policy prescriptions recommended in the report. Though NBC anchor Brian Williams acknowledged Barack Obama's election "was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations," he warned that "today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound."

Reporter Ron Mott explained: "Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress." National Urban League President Marc Morial, the former Democratic Mayor of New Orleans, then charged: "The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies."

Mott recited several metrics about black Americans, including how they are "more than six times as likely to be in prison" -- hardly something that President Bush caused -- before vaguely referring to how "today's report offers 31 recommendations to the President -- everything from mortgage counseling to health care, so that more blacks might see their dreams become reality." Those recommendations, however, are a litany of left-wing, big government ideas, from "guarantee that all three- and four-year olds have access to full day, developmentally appropriate, high quality early childhood education" to "implement a comprehensive and universal health insurance system for all Americans."

Much of the report is made up of essays, such as: "'Nothing Trickles Down: How Reaganomics Failed America' by William E. Spriggs, professor and chair of the department of economics at Howard University, examines the damaging aspects of Reaganomics, and how it was economically detrimental to African-Americans."

The report costs $19.95, but you can read the full list of essay topics and the recommendations in the Executive Summary: www.nul.org

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

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story on the Wednesday, March 25 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: In that news conference we televised last night, President Obama was asked about his role as the nation's first African-American President. He noted he had about a day to think about it before he had to get to work, and it was a reminder of the great strides this nation has made in race relations. But today there was a reminder of how much work remains to be done to heal what has long been this nation's greatest wound. More from NBC's Ron Mott.
RON MOTT: Two months on the job, President Obama today got a sobering message about the state of black America, detailed in the National Urban League's annual assessment of racial progress.
MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: The country's in a ditch, and black Americans have lost ground over the last eight years. Those are the facts, and those facts are not lies. MOTT: According to the report, blacks are three times more likely to live in poverty as whites, more than six times as likely to be in prison, and blacks lag behind in home ownership and median household income.
ANN COMPTON OF ABC NEWS, AT PRESS CONFERENCE: Could I ask you about race?
BARACK OBAMA: You may.
MOTT: During his prime time news conference Tuesday night, the President was asked whether race played a role in any of the policy debates under way at the White House.
OBAMA: Obviously, at the inauguration, I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day.
MOTT: What's lasted longer, according to the report, is the slow but steady widening of the gap between whites and blacks in recent years on priority issues like economics, education and jobs. Soaring unemployment among African-Americans is also high on the list of priorities. In February, that number hit 13.4 percent, even worse for black men -- more than 16 percent, twice the national average. There are, of course, exceptions. Since we profiled her new personal fitness business in Atlanta a year ago, Amber O'Neill has doubled her work force.
AMBER O'NEILL, FITNESS TRAINER: What I've got right now is what I dreamed about, but when I got here, my dreams got bigger.
MOTT: Today's report offers 31 recommendations to the President -- everything from mortgage counseling to health care, so that more blacks might see their dreams become reality, too. Ron Mott, NBC News, Atlanta.

Not Even NBC Buys, or Can Fit, 'Overseas
Contingency Operation'

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams offered this brief update on Wednesday's newscast: "We learned today there's no more Global War on Terror -- at least it's been renamed by the Obama administration. The Pentagon will now call the ongoing U.S. military effort the 'Overseas Contingency Operation.'" That presumes the war, I mean "effort," will continue.

But not even the NBC News graphics staff bought the new name , or at least couldn't fit the longer name into a graphic. As Williams spoke, NBC displayed "FIGHTING TERROR."

The short item from Williams came right after he pointed out "a stunning turn of events in Iraq" as "the level of violence in Iraq has thankfully fallen sharply."

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

From the Wednesday, March 25 NBC Nightly News:

We wanted to take a moment tonight to note a stunning turn of events in Iraq. As you might have noted, there was not one question about the war in last night's presidential news conference. While it has been crowded off the national radar of late, the level of violence in Iraq has thankfully fallen sharply. A military spokesman there said today the number of attacks has dropped to the lowest level since the month following the U.S. invasion six years ago now -- from a peak of more than 1,200 attacks a week, to what is now often fewer than 100 a week.

And we learned today there's no more Global War on Terror -- at least it's been renamed by the Obama administration. The Pentagon will now call the ongoing U.S. military effort the Overseas Contingency Operation.

-- Brent Baker