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ABC's GMA Skips Own Poll to Promote Favorable Obama Numbers --10/2/2008


1. ABC's GMA Skips Own Poll to Promote Favorable Obama Numbers
Good Morning America on Wednesday reported on a new Quinnipiac poll that highlighted leads for Barack Obama in Florida and Ohio, but completely skipped the network's own national poll that found a tight race. A September 30 ABC News/Washington Post survey concluded that Obama leads Senator McCain by four points -- 50 to 46 percent. In contrast, GMA last week trumpeted an ABC News/Washington Post poll that showed Obama with a nine point lead. On September 24, former Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos touted the larger lead and asserted, "...You have to go back to 1948 for the last time when a candidate having this kind of a lead, in late September, lost." He mentioned that on the issue of the economy, the Illinois Senator is "blowing away John McCain." An onscreen graphic proclaimed: "Obama Surges Ahead." But, just a week later, GMA not only ignored findings suggesting a closer national race, the morning show highlighted a rival poll's state numbers.

2. VP Debate Moderator Ifill Writes Book About 'Age of Obama'
There's one good reason Gwen Ifill, the host of the PBS show Washington Week, is moderating the vice presidential debate: she has a forthcoming book about Barack Obama (and other black Democrats) called The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. In addition to her portrait of Obama, Ifill will also investigate Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a close friend of Obama's; Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who Ifill describes as "very charismatic" in the video; and Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama. "They all chose to get into politics for the most upstanding of reasons, and they all have achieved much more than their parents could have hoped." It doesn't hurt that it's made Obama a mega-best-selling multi-millionaire author.

3. 'Brilliant' Ifill Cousin Scours Palin: 'Offensive to Black Women'
Here are more signs Sarah Palin could face an uphill battle with PBS host Gwen Ifill. Professor Sherrilyn Ifill of the University of Maryland Law School, whom Gwen Ifill has lauded as "my brilliant baby cousin," has written that black women are not buying Sarah Palin's "false claims to feminism" and is portrayed as too perfect: "when women who are privileged present as though they have it all together, it's offensive to black women."

4. Jon Stewart's Plan to Mock Barack: He's Too Hopeful
In an interview in the October 3, 2008 issue of Entertainment Weekly, liberal comedian Stephen Colbert explained what an emerging critique of Barack Obama might be: "He's a hope-ronaut. He's in a rarefied level of hope where the rest of us have to take tanks up with us." Interviewer Josh Wolk skeptically replied, "Is that really a comedic take? Seems more like a compliment." Not backing down, Colbert's Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart made clear that this "attack" on the Democratic nominee would be different then that of the harsh jibes at Republicans: "Even if you're satirizing how wonderful they are, that hyperbole is setting them up for an expectation to fail, especially within the American political system now, where authenticity -- and apparently mediocrity -- are the manna that the populace feeds upon." Earlier in the piece, Stewart derided: "You 'good values people' have had the country for eight years, and done an unbelievably s---ty job. Let's find some bad values people and give them a shot, maybe they'll have a better take on it."


ABC's GMA Skips Own Poll to Promote Favorable
Obama Numbers

Good Morning America on Wednesday reported on a new Quinnipiac poll that highlighted leads for Barack Obama in Florida and Ohio, but completely skipped the network's own national poll that found a tight race. A September 30 ABC News/Washington Post survey concluded that Obama leads Senator McCain by four points -- 50 to 46 percent. In contrast, GMA last week trumpeted an ABC News/Washington Post poll that showed Obama with a nine point lead.

On September 24, former Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos touted the larger lead and asserted, "...You have to go back to 1948 for the last time when a candidate having this kind of a lead, in late September, lost." He mentioned that on the issue of the economy, the Illinois Senator is "blowing away John McCain." An onscreen graphic proclaimed: "Obama Surges Ahead." But, just a week later, GMA not only ignored findings suggesting a closer national race, the morning show highlighted a rival poll's state numbers.

(The Washington Post also reflected the skew. Last Wednesday, the top of the front page headline screamed: "Economic Fears Give Obama Clear Lead Over McCain in Poll." But this Wednesday, while still on the front page, the poll article did not hint at the nine-point gap closing to four, "Most Voters Worry About Economy: Majority Consider Situation a Crisis.")

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

In the 8am hour on Wednesday, news anchor Chris Cuomo explained, "Barack Obama is actually widening his lead now in the key battleground states. A new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading John McCain by eight points in Florida and leading by eight points in Ohio, as well." Less than an hour earlier, at 7:11am, co-host Robin Roberts played up the state numbers: "A new poll out this morning has Barack Obama leading John McCain by eight points in Florida, eight in Ohio, and 15 points in Pennsylvania."

The MRC's Rich Noyes reported in a September 29 CyberAlert posting that the earlier ABC poll had come under fire for an oddly weighted sample. Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 16 points in the survey, a larger than usual amount. See: www.mrc.org

A transcript of the September 24 segment, which aired at 7:02am and featured the larger poll lead:

7am tease
DIANE SAWYER: Breaking news this morning, Barack Obama gains ground in a new ABC News poll. A nine point lead over John McCain. And Sarah Palin, who came to New York for meetings with foreign leaders. Your new views on her. They've shifted too.

7:01am
ROBIN ROBERTS: Also, the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, found that voters believe that Barack Obama has a better handle on their economic concerns and there are also new numbers on the Palin factor, now that the public has gotten to know John McCain's running mate a little bit better. George Stephanopoulos will break it all down for us in just moments.

7:02am
SAWYER: But let's get right to the news this morning. It is our brand-new, ABC News/Washington Post poll. And here's a benchmark: Two weeks ago, Senator McCain led by two points. Now, Senator Obama leads by nine points. 52 percent to 43 percent. And, as we said, to break it down for us with the bottom line, ABC's chief Washington correspondent, host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos. Good morning, George.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hi, Diane.
DIANE SAWYER: All right. Take us through it. Is this shift just the economic upheaval? Is it something personal with the candidates?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, it is all about the economy, Diane. People are angry and shocked and worried about the economy. And that is all helping Barack Obama right now. Go back to our poll a couple of weeks ago. On the trust to handle the economy, Obama had about a five-point lead. Now, it's up to a 14-point lead for Obama on trust to handle the economy. And then when you ask this question, who understand our economic problems better? Barack Obama is blowing away John McCain on that point. They say he gets it. It's a 24-point lead. All of this is fueling the first time that Barack Obama is above 50 percent. And, Diane, you have to go back to 1948 for the last time when a candidate having this kind of a lead, in late September, lost.
SAWYER: Hmm. 1948. Let me zero in, then, on a couple of the most talked about groups of voters. And one of the most changeable groups. White women. Tell us what we're seeing now. And the Hillary Clinton voters, particularly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, we are really seeing something here. I don't want anybody to get this wrong, but white women are the swingers of 2008. You know, two weeks ago, we saw that John McCain had opened up an 11-point lead over Barack Obama on white women. Now, it's down to a two-point lead for Obama. They've come, again, on concerns of the economy. Now, with Hillary Clinton voters, Barack Obama is still having a bit of a tough time. He's only getting about 77 percent of the Hillary Clinton voters. But he's doing far better with Democrats overall, getting 88 percent of Democrats.
SAWYER: All right. A couple of footnote issues here. Age. What did our polls show about age as a factor?
STEPHANOPOULOS: More and more people worried about age. 48 percent of voters say they see that age is an issue. And if you think age is an issue, those 48 percent of voters, they break heavily for Barack Obama by 30 points. We also looked at Sarah Palin. You know, we know there was a big Sarah Palin effect coming out of the Republican convention. She has high favorable rates. She's coming back down to earth a little bit. Her favorable rating has gone from 58 on September 7th, now 52 percent now [sic]. So a little bit of a deflation there.

VP Debate Moderator Ifill Writes Book
About 'Age of Obama'

There's one good reason Gwen Ifill, the host of the PBS show Washington Week, is moderating the vice presidential debate: she has a forthcoming book about Barack Obama (and other black Democrats) called The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Ifill talks about the book project on YouTube: www.youtube.com

In addition to her portrait of Obama, Ifill will also investigate Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a close friend of Obama's; Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who Ifill describes as "very charismatic" in the video; and Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama. "They all chose to get into politics for the most upstanding of reasons, and they all have achieved much more than their parents could have hoped." It doesn't hurt that it's made Obama a mega-best-selling multi-millionaire author.

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

Ifill presents Obama and the others as the idealistic successors of Martin Luther King: "This book is about a generation of people who took seriously the achievements that their parents fought for. They knew that Martin Luther King did what he did so they can do what they're doing, and they decided to follow through."

The obvious question in all this is whether Ifill is not merely writing about a "breakthrough" for Obama and the new generation of black Democrats, but rooting and wishing and hoping for it. The less obvious question that her liberal friends might ask: why no profiles of black female politicians in your book?

Our 2004 Media Reality Check on Gwen's Greatest Hits is here: www.mrc.org

In an interview with her former Washington Post colleague Howard Kurtz earlier this month, Ifill suggested people like Obama (with their "immense accomplishments") are somehow left out of the "lazy" racial dialogue, and expanded on the need for what supporters call affirmative action:

"We're very lazy when we think about race in this country," Ifill says. "We try to put it in a box. It's Jesse versus Al, or Jesse and Al versus everyone else," she says, referring to Jackson and Sharpton. "We love simplistic conflict. There's a whole group of people who have Ivy League degrees and immense accomplishments who actually benefited from the things their parents were fighting for."

So why aren't there more of them in the media ranks at the Republican convention?

"You have to look hard," Ifill says. "That's a failure of news organizations, mostly newspapers, to support and promote people of color."

Kurtz's September 4 article: www.washingtonpost.com

Again, we need to ask: does Ifill want the elites to "support and promote people of color" from Ivy League colleges just in the media....or all the way to the White House?

'Brilliant' Ifill Cousin Scours Palin:
'Offensive to Black Women'

Here are more signs Sarah Palin could face an uphill battle with PBS host Gwen Ifill. Professor Sherrilyn Ifill of the University of Maryland Law School, whom Gwen Ifill has lauded as "my brilliant baby cousin," has written that black women are not buying Sarah Palin's "false claims to feminism" and is portrayed as too perfect: "when women who are privileged present as though they have it all together, it's offensive to black women."

The Community Times, a suburban Maryland newspaper, found Professor Ifill was ardently opposed to the Alaska Governor when they did an e-mail interview:

"From the first day, Palin presented herself as shooting a bear in the morning, field dressing it, cooking up the breakfast, diapering the babies, passing legislation in the afternoon, cleaning the house, satisfying her husband, etc., etc., etc. And it's just not true," she wrote in an e-mail interview. "It's hard to be an average working mom, really hard. And when women who are privileged present as though they have it all together, it's offensive to black women."

She said, "black women are not easily confused by false claims to feminism. When women like Palin lay claims to '€˜representing' average women, I think that black women have a visceral reaction to it."

Ifill added that Palin "missed her opportunity when she announced Bristol's pregnancy to explicitly talk about how painful it was to her as a mother -- instead of making it as though this too was also part of her perfect life.

"Hillary has the sympathy of women because of what she went through with Bill in front of the whole country. Michelle [Obama] takes pains to be self-deprecating and to talk about her concerns and fear about her girls. She insists that she couldn't do what she does without the help of her mother. Most importantly, both champion issues that affect the lives of real, average women - universal health care, equal pay, choice, etc. To do so is a recognition that real working women (not political wives or politicians) need policies that will help them maintain their families. What's the point of Palin's brand of feminism if it doesn't translate into real returns for average women?"

The September 17-posted article with the e-mail: www.communitytimes.com

It can be noted that the professor is so passionate an Obama supporter that she also denounced Hillary Clinton as a phony feminist: "When she knocked back a shot and a beer in that bar in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Clinton ended any pretense of running as a feminist." She compared it to Michael Dukakis in a tank, a failed "macho stunt."
Gwen Ifill's family pride came through in her monthly washingtonpost.com online chat on October 4, 2007:

Pittsburgh, Pa.: Is Professor Sherrilyn Ifill at the University of Maryland Law School, who's spoken out so eloquently and thoughtfully on symbols of racial hatred lately, any relation to you?

Gwen Ifill: She is indeed my brilliant baby cousin, and the author of an excellent book "On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 20th Century."

See: www.washingtonpost.com

Cousin Gwen supported that book at an event at the liberal D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose. As The Politico reported in February of 2007:

Ifill's reading illustrates how decisions are made. She had everything you need: a name to draw a crowd (her cousin, moderator of PBS's "Washington Week," introduced her); a friendship with Jim Lehrer of "The News Hour," also on PBS; and a book with a liberal, social-justice bent, about lynchings that took place outside the Deep South.

"Jim Lehrer's a great friend of the store," Meade said, adding that the store probably would have held the reading anyway, given the content of Ifill's book. "If it's something that involves civil rights, civil liberties, we're pretty interested in it usually."

The idea that Politics and Prose has a liberal bias has caused the store some consternation, but it's rooted in reality. The bookstore draws a graying, turtleneck crowd in a neighborhood known for its liberal politics in a city that gave George W. Bush fewer than 22,000 votes in 2004. Would you expect the shelves to be buckling under the weight of Sean Hannity and Co.'s latest books?

The bookstore's most well-known snub went to Matt Drudge, a conservative and the creator of The Drudge Report. Cohen reportedly called him "a rumormonger and a troublemaker" in 2000 when the store rejected his request for a reading.

Politico story: www.politico.com

Jon Stewart's Plan to Mock Barack: He's
Too Hopeful

In an interview in the October 3, 2008 issue of Entertainment Weekly, liberal comedian Stephen Colbert explained what an emerging critique of Barack Obama might be: "He's a hope-ronaut. He's in a rarefied level of hope where the rest of us have to take tanks up with us." Interviewer Josh Wolk skeptically replied, "Is that really a comedic take? Seems more like a compliment."

Not backing down, Colbert's Comedy Central colleague Jon Stewart made clear that this "attack" on the Democratic nominee would be different then that of the harsh jibes at Republicans: "Even if you're satirizing how wonderful they are, that hyperbole is setting them up for an expectation to fail, especially within the American political system now, where authenticity -- and apparently mediocrity -- are the manna that the populace feeds upon." Earlier in the piece, Stewart derided: "You 'good values people' have had the country for eight years, and done an unbelievably s---ty job. Let's find some bad values people and give them a shot, maybe they'll have a better take on it."

Asked whether things will change if the Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House, Stewart railed against the party for past examples of not being liberal enough: "And then they [Democrats] got in and were like, 'Really, you want to eavesdrop? Okay, we'll let this one go. But this is the last blank check! Unless you want another.'"

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

For the interview, Colbert dropped the faux conservative act that he perfects for The Colbert Report and railed against the Bush administration. On the subject of change, he complained: "Any change is as good as a vacation at this point...I don't know if you've paid much attention to the past eight years, but it has been a s---burger supreme. If somebody gives me an empty burger, it's better than eating s---."

In a previous example of the difference between the satire Stewart directs at conservatives versus liberals, Stewart famously referred to columnist Bob Novak as a heartless "vampire demon" on September 18, 2006. See the September 20, 2006 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

The entire EW interview can be read here: www.ew.com

-- Brent Baker