Anchors Exult: Obama Making History, 'Son of Gun, I've Done This?' --6/5/2008
2. Chris Matthews: Obama's Win a 'Magic Moment' Like 'Camelot'
3. ABC Fawns Over 'Amazing,' 'Ground-Breaking,' & 'Historic' Clinton
4. Smith: 'Is America Really Ready to Elect a Black Man President?'
5. Ex-Journalist Linda Douglass Returns to ABC to Shill for Obama
6. NBC's Today Invites RFK's Daughter on to Promote Book, Bash GOP
Note: Distribution and posting of this CyberAlert was substantially delayed today because of power outages in the DC area.
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led Wednesday night with celebratory interviews with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- with ABC and NBC plastering "MAKING HISTORY" on screen -- as the three anchors luxuriated in Obama's success. ABC's Charles Gibson wondered: "I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?" Gibson followed up by prompting Obama to share his excitement: "When everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, 'Son of a gun, I've done this?'" On CBS, Katie Couric was so giddy she couldn't complete her question: "Did you ever think you'd see this day? I mean, are you still just completely-"
Echoing Gibson, NBC's Brian Williams began: "What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?" Williams next cued him up: "And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father." Then Williams excitedly informed Obama of the popularity on the Internet of the "fist pound"with his wife on stage the night before:
All three pressed Obama about picking Hillary Clinton as his running mate, with Couric the most aggressive. The topic consumed five of her seven questions aired in the Evening News excerpt, starting with her stroll through history: "In our latest poll, 59 percent of Democratic primary voters, including 46 percent of your voters, think you should select Senator. Clinton to be your running mate. So, in the spirit of Kennedy picking Johnson, and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Sen. Clinton? And please don't tell me it's premature to ask that question."
Only Williams posed a question that challenged Obama, an inquiry about McCain's much-greater experience, though from the angle of what he plan to overcome that reality: "In an election that, who knows, could turn on national security, how do you go up into a debate on national security with a man with the service record John McCain has from the Academy, to naval aviator, to five plus years as a POW, some in solitary confinement?"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
None mentioned to Obama the name Tony Rezko. News of his conviction was just breaking about the time of the late afternoon sessions with Obama. A later AP dispatch began:
A prominent fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted Wednesday of fraud and money laundering after a high-profile federal trial provided an unusually detailed glimpse of the pay-to-play politics that has made Illinois infamous.
Antoin "Tony" Rezko showed no emotion as the jury found him guilty of 16 of 24 counts, including scheming to get kickbacks from money management firms seeking state business and a contractor who wanted to build a hospital in northern Illinois. He was acquitted of charges that included attempted extortion...
For the AP story in full: news.yahoo.com
Separately, all three newscasts ran short items on the conviction of Obama's former fundraiser.
Only ABC's Gibson promised an interview Thursday night with Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Gathered with the help of the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, the questions posed by the three broadcast network anchors in the excerpts, of the interviews taped in New York City, aired on the Wednesday, June 4 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts:
# ABC's World News, questions posed to Obama by Charles Gibson:
- Senator, I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?
- What did she [Obama's grandmother] say?
- The public moments are not your own, but when everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, "Son of a gun, I've done this"?
- You don't get much time to enjoy this before people immediately start talking about the vice presidency. There obviously is one name that looms over all this. Hillary Clinton has already, to some extent, expressed her willingness. Is she a special case that you have to deal with before the others?
- But does there have to be a yes or no on the issue of Hillary Clinton before you get to the others? In other words, can this issue linger on because it pervades everything?
[After a story on Hillary Clinton and a discussion with George Stephanopoulos, World News returned with a second Obama interview excerpt:]
- And we turn back now to our conversation today with Barack Obama because we talked about what he will do between now and the convention, we talked about what he thought of Hillary Clinton's speech last night, how his daughters feel about his nomination, but first, what three issues he feels will decide this election?
- John McCain has issued an invitation to do a series of town meetings through the summer, one a week. Going to do it?
- Will you go to Iraq?
- There's a picture of you in the paper this morning with your wife watching the Clinton speech. What did you think of the Clinton speech? She didn't exactly acknowledge your victory.
- And finally, your daughters, what do they say to you? Do they take it as a matter of course that Daddy could be nominated to be President?
ABCNews.com has posted a transcript of the entire interview, with a two-minute video clip: abcnews.go.com
- Senator Obama, first of all, congratulations. In our latest poll, 59 percent of Democratic primary voters, including 46 percent of your voters, think you should select Senator. Clinton to be your running mate. So, in the spirit of Kennedy picking Johnson, and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Sen. Clinton? And please don't tell me it's premature to ask that question.
- So you're not ruling her out?
- As you know, a lot of it is about chemistry. So, just now, sitting here, talking about it, do you think you're chemically compatible? [Obama laughs] I'm serious. I mean, can you see working with her or does it just make you think ehhh, no?
- What about chemistry, Senator?
- It's also about liking someone, right?
- You watched Hillary Clinton's speech last night. Did it disappoint you, Senator, that she didn't recognize fully this milestone that you had hit?
- Did you ever think you'd see this day? I mean, are you still just completely-
CBSNews.com online version, with video of what aired on the Evening News, but text that does not include all the questions aired: www.cbsnews.com
Couric promised more will air on Thursday's Early Show.
- First of all, Senator, what was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?
- And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father.
- And your wife came up on stage with you last night, and in an otherwise private moment, attempted to give her husband a fist pound the way a lot of Americans do, the way a lot of couples do. Only problem was, it was an inside move shared in front of seventeen and a half thousand people in the arena and millions watching at home. It's the most talked about fist pound on the Internet today, you'll be happy to know.
- As Senator Clinton points out regularly, there are a whole lot of Democrats who didn't vote for Barack Obama, some threatening they'd rather vote for John McCain. How do you now, going forward, run your own campaign, and if you're successful running your own presidency while paying homage, while paying tribute to the people who voted the other way, to those people who believe passionately in Senator Clinton's candidacy and what she stands for?
- Specifically on this vice presidential issue, Maureen Dowd writes in the New York Times this morning, she has tried to emasculate you. In basketball terms, has she, at minimum, tried to jam you?
- What's your biggest hurdle, as you view it, from the perch of less than 24 hours as the presumed nominee of your party?
- In an election that, who knows, could turn on national security, how do you go up into a debate on national security with a man with the service record John McCain has from the Academy, to naval aviator, to five plus years as a POW, some in solitary confinement?
MSNBC.com has Flash video of the entire 18 minute interview session: www.msnbc.msn.com
Video of what aired on the NBC Nightly News: www.msnbc.msn.com
Chris Matthews took to the air on MSNBC's Hardball, just moments after former Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko was convicted on fraud and money laundering charges, but Matthews wasn't about to let that bit of breaking news ruin the moment, as he never mentioned the conviction once during the hour-long program. However, he did find time, during the 5 PM EDT edition of Wednesday's Hardball, to gush about Obama's "magic moment" on stage with his wife Michelle: "Let's go now to Roger Simon. Again your thoughts on last night's magic moment for a lot of Americans, in fact, me included. I, that picture is right out of Camelot, as far as I'm concerned."
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday evening, on the MRC's blog, Newsbusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Sawyer's introduction to the segment sounded itself like a poem. She extolled the "ground-breaking, crossroads" in which the candidate found herself. After lauding the presidential contender "who ran her campaign on her own terms," Sawyer raved: "This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life. As someone said, no thorns, no throne. No gall, no glory. No cross, no crown." The ABC graphic accompanying the story fawned: "Senator Clinton's Amazing Journey: How She Changed the Face of U.S. Politics." Snow gushed that the presidential bid was the "culmination of a life-long journey." Speaking of the relationship between Bill and Hillary Clinton, she credulously repeated: "But it was a love story that would change the course of [Hillary's] life."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The segment, which featured no interviews with anyone critical of Clinton, only fans such as Angelou and actor Mary Steenburgen, also attempted to turn the fact that the ex-First Lady moved to New York solely to run for the Senate into a positive. Speaking of the politician's supposed early shyness, Snow spun: "But the shy girl turned adversity around, running for Senate in a state she never even lived in." Snow closed the segment by speculating on what Clinton would do now that she's no longer running for President. Putting the best possible light on the situation, Sawyer responded, "Yes, but as you said, Kate, all of her friends would say to you, whatever ended, something new has also begun for her."
A December 3, 2007 CyberAlert post recounted Kate Snow's constant pro-Clinton reporting: www.mrc.org
She once famously lauded the candidate's much derided laugh as an example of "disarming her critics with a gleam in her eye and a roar straight from the belly."
(Special thanks to MRC intern Peter Sasso for transcribing the segment.)
A transcript of the June 4 segment, which aired at 7:44am:
DIANE SAWYER: And as we know this morning, there is another ground-breaking, crossroads moment. That is for Senator Hillary Clinton, who ran her campaign on her own terms. This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life. As someone said, no thorns, no throne. no gall, no glory. No cross, no crown. What will she do next? And what brought her to this moment. Kate Snow is back. Because she's been with Senator Clinton on the long road and we asked for her take this morning. Kate?
At the top of Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on Barack Obama becoming the first black nominee of the Democratic Party: "And the question, one of the many questions of the morning, is America really ready to elect a black man President? We have a brand-new CBS poll. The numbers will amaze you." At that point, co-host Julie Chen interjected: "You know who I would love to see handle that question?...Senator John McCain. It would be very interesting to see how he would handle that question." Smith agreed: "Yeah." Does Chen think McCain will say no?
Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez provided a segue to the story when she explained that "I came to town [New Orleans] last night to interview Senator John McCain as he kicked off his general election campaign. Here in this city where so many voters are African-American. That's an important demographic for the Senator to woo, especially now that the Democratic nominee is African-American." Smith began the segment by once again wondering: "Barack Obama is the first African-American to secure the nomination of a major party. So that brings up the question, will race be a major factor in the November election?" He then quoted a new CBS News poll on the issue: "Brand-new CBS News poll. A question that's been asked for some years now, is America ready for a black President? And as of yesterday, the answer was 68 percent said yes. Go back to just 2000. The answer was only 38 percent."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Smith then talked to Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, Republican strategist Michael Murphy, and liberal professor Michael Fauntroy. He first got reaction from Trippi: "I think what Barack Obama's done is every day he's gone out there, proven his medal, proven where he is on issues and withered these attacks and everything, he's proven that he is ready. And that's made a lot of Americans say, 'you know what? Maybe this could happen.' I think it's a pretty amazing thing. It's a great, great day for the party and the country."
Michael Murphy offered a similar sentiment: "I think America absolutely is. I think it just got kind of litigated in the primary. And Barack Obama historically, I think, has made the case and he won, and he won big." It's hard to see how one could argue Obama "won big" after such a drawn out primary fight.
Michael Fauntroy was more skeptical: "Well, I think the country is ready, but it should also be noted that so far we've just talked about a Democratic primary and there's still a general election to run. And so while the poll is reflective of registered voters, what we really look for in polls is likely voters. And so to my way of thinking, it's still an open question, though certainly we're moving in the right direction."
Smith then suggested that the question was in no way loaded and worried that people were lying to pollsters: "And certainly the way the question is asked is not particularly -- it doesn't have any hooks on it, doesn't have any barbs on it. And that whole phenomena we very well know about, about people saying in polls one thing, getting inside the polling booth and doing something completely opposite."
Of course, this not the first time Smith has wondered if America has overcome its racism, as he did on January 7 after Obama won the Iowa caucus: "Is America finally color-blind?" For details, check the January 8 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
Former ABC News journalist Linda Douglass returned to ABC and appeared on Good Morning America Wednesday in her new role as a strategist and spokesperson for Barack Obama. Expressing no surprise or conflict that a longtime reporter would segue from recounting the news to representing a liberal Democratic presidential candidate, GMA news anchor Chris Cuomo breezily introduced her: "We're going to begin with someone representing Obama, whom we know very well here at ABC News. Linda Douglass, a former respected journalist, a longtime ABC News family member. But now Linda is an Obama campaign strategist and spokesperson."
Wednesday's GMA featured a gaggle of journalists turned Democrats, Democrats who became journalists and also those with famous liberal families. Cuomo is the son of a former Democratic Governor of New York and the brother of the current Democratic Attorney General from that state. And his segment with Douglass followed one with This Week host George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton.
Cuomo provided some Democratic spin of his own when he asserted that Senator John McCain, by giving a tough speech on Tuesday, did not revel in Obama's history-making moment. In a tease early in the show, he lamented: "But on the Republican side, the nominee John McCain was all business. He was not basking in history last night." While interviewing Douglass, he reiterated: "On a night that was history-making for Obama, McCain did not dwell on history."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The May 22 CyberAlert summarized Douglass's years of liberal bias as a journalist. This included referring to Senator Jim Jeffords as a "moderate" and this December 23, 2000 critique of George W. Bush she offered during the This Week roundtable: "George W. Bush's rhetoric is very inclusive. He means to be inclusive, and he's used very soft rhetoric in trying to reach out to minorities. But the fact is he's proposed no federal programs for minorities. He hasn't talked about using the federal government to broaden the safety net."
That CyberAlert item, "ABC and CBS Veteran Linda Douglass Joins Obama's Campaign," recounted:
Marc Ambinder revealed Wednesday, on his blog for The Atlantic magazine, that his colleague at National Journal, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS News and then ABC News Washington bureau reporter until 2006, "will join Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a senior strategist and as a senior campaign spokesperson on the roadshow, a newly created position." Ambinder, a colleague at National Journal, reported: "Douglass confirmed her new position when I walked up to the ninth floor, knocked on her door, and asked her about it. She informed National Journal President Suzanne Clark this morning of her impending departure. 'I see this as a moment of transformational change in the country and I have spent my lifetime sitting on the sidelines watching people attempt to make change. I just decided that I can't sit on the sidelines anymore.'"
For more: www.mrc.org
Another May 22 CyberAlert article, "'I Hate to Keep Being in the Position of Defending Obama, But...'" recalled:
Weeks before Linda Douglass announced she would be jumping aboard the Barack Obama presidential campaign as a senior strategist, the former CBS News and ABC News Washington correspondent was already aiding the Obama campaign. Back on the May 4 Reliable Sources on CNN, for instance, she became defensive: "I hate to keep being in the position of defending Barack Obama..." Yet that's exactly what she did on that Sunday, the weekend after Obama held a press conference to denounce Jeremiah Wright, she pronounced media attention on Wright to have "been too much" and contended: "To make your judgments about how to cast a vote for President based upon the statements of this pastor seems to be a bridge too far." After host Howard Kurtz played a clip of Bill Moyers complaining that "white preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren't," Douglass agreed: "That is actually a point that we should be discussing." As to attention to how Obama does not (at that time) wear a flag pin, a flustered Douglass countered: "I hate to keep being in the position of defending Barack Obama, but on this question, John McCain does not wear a flag pin. Hillary Clinton does not wear a flag pin. And yet questions about his patriotism come up all the time..."
For the rest of that rundown: www.mediaresearch.org
A transcript of the Wednesday, June 4 segment, which aired at 7:08am:
CHRIS CUOMO: This morning we have two political insiders who are close to the Clinton and Obama campaigns. We're going to begin with someone representing Obama, whom we know very well here at ABC News. Linda Douglass, a former, respected journalist, a longtime ABC News family member. But now Linda is an Obama campaign strategist and spokesperson. Linda, a pleasure to see you this morning.
On the day after Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, NBC's Today show invited aboard Kerry Kennedy to promote her book about her father, Robert F. Kennedy, but during the interview viewers were subjected to an anti-Republican rant. Asked by NBC's Matt Lauer if there can be "unity in the Democratic Party," Kennedy responded by listing a series of grievances against the Bush administration -- from health care to Iraq to Guantanamo -- that would rally Democrats behind Obama: "You know my family always has a rigorous political debates and I think that, that's reflective of our country as well. And I think, the, the main issues are the ones, though, that, that we are agreed upon. That we need to get health care for all Americans. That we need to bring our troops home from Iraq. That we need to close Guantanamo. We need to, you know, stop extraordinary rendition and so many of the other civil rights violations that have happened under the Bush administration. And that will be, unify our party."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following is the full interview as it aired on the Wednesday, June 4 Today show:
MATT LAUER: 40 years ago tomorrow a towering political figure, Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated after winning the California Democratic presidential primary. Much has been written about the man, his message and of course his legacy and today his daughter Kerry Kennedy is here to share her memories of her dad. Hi, Kerry. Good morning nice to see you.
-- Brent Baker