2. NYT: Obama's 'Nuanced' Race Speech Marks Return of Lincoln, JFK
3. Nets All Highlight Minor Anti-War Protests on War Anniversary
4. Three Weeks Until MRC's 2008 'DisHonors Awards,' Get Tickets Now
"The McCain campaign suspends a staffer for circulating an inflammatory video about Barack Obama," CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric intoned as "Campaign Controversy" was plastered on screen over a YouTube video which simply intersperses clips of Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. Managing to twist Obama into a victim, a task made easier by the feckless McCain campaign, Couric set up a Thursday story: "A low-level aide to John McCain was suspended today for circulating an incendiary video about Barack Obama that's been viewed by tens of thousands of people on the Internet." (The YouTube video on Eyeblast: www.eyeblast.tv )
Reporter Dean Reynolds cited as "troubling" how "a low-level campaign aide to John McCain has been circulating it." Resurrecting the Bill Cunningham incident, Reynolds described the video as "one of several episodes in which aides, supporters, or surrogates have crossed the line and forced McCain to apologize or take action."
In contrast, ABC's Jake Tapper took the Hillary Clinton campaign to task for using Wright's "inflammatory comments" to suggest Obama can't win in November, asking: "Is that dirty politics?" Tapper also uniquely raised (amongst the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts) how Obama characterized his grandmother as "a typical white person."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Meanwhile, Couric wondered if the Obama campaign believes "they've successfully neutralized the Jeremiah Wright controversy?" Reynolds confirmed "Obama is trying to build a firewall, a defensive firewall right now, and they hope they've started that process this week."
A process no doubt helped by the type of effusive coverage of Obama's race speech provided by Tuesday's CBS Evening News. The March 19 CyberAlert item recounted:
"Barack Obama addresses the controversial comments of his pastor, condemning the words but not the man," CBS's Katie Couric teased before heralding: "And he calls on all Americans to work for a more perfect union."...
The CBS Evening News, following a lengthy report from Byron Pitts, brought aboard a panel of two from the far-left -- Jim Wallis of Sojourners and Debra Dickerson, a former U.S. News editor who is now a blogger for Mother Jones magazine, plus Jeff Greenfield of CBS News. Dickerson declared: "Obama was brilliant in this speech." Wallis insisted "the black pulpit is a place of truth-telling about the experience of black people."
For that earlier CyberAlert posting with the rave reviews from all the evening newscasts: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide these transcripts of the Thursday, March 20 stories:
# CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER: Also tonight, the McCain campaign suspends a staffer for circulating an inflammatory video about Barack Obama.
COURIC: Now to campaign '08, and another political shake-up. A low-level aide to John McCain was suspended today for circulating an incendiary video about Barack Obama that's been viewed by tens of thousands of people on the Internet. And while the Clinton campaign has remained mum about Obama's relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, it has given them an opportunity for some behind-the-scenes maneuvering. Here's Dean Reynolds.
DEAN REYNOLDS: For days, the Clinton campaign has been warning convention super-delegates that Barack Obama's relationship with his acid-tongued former minister makes him politically vulnerable. Indeed, Republican operatives have offered a timely sample of what they may have in store for Obama if he's the nominee. A video created by a conservative talk radio producer and running on YouTube is a grab bag of unflattering and unpatriotic suggestions about Obama. Perhaps more troubling, a low-level campaign aide to John McCain has been circulating it. And while he was suspended today, it's one of several episodes in which aides, supporters, or surrogates have crossed the line-
COURIC: Meanwhile, Dean, you talk to the folks in the Obama campaign on a daily base. Do they think they've successfully neutralized the Jeremiah Wright controversy?
CHARLES GIBSON, IN OPENING TEASER: Hard sell: Obama called for a discussion on race. But the Clinton campaign may be using the issue to question his electability.
GIBSON: Next, we turn to presidential politics. In the two days since Barack Obama delivered his speech about race, some two million people have watched it on YouTube alone. Some may watch it for inspiration. Political opponents may be watching it for fodder to use in the campaign against him. Here's ABC's Jack Tapper.
JAKE TAPPER: Barack Obama wanted to have a national conversation about race. Well, he's getting one. Hillary Clinton's campaign seems to be using the inflammatory comments of Obama's minister, Jeremiah Wright, to make the argument to party insiders, or superdelegates, that Obama has too much baggage to win in November, as she seemed to acknowledge today.
The New York Times on Wednesday glorified Barack Obama and skipped his apparent contradiction -- he'd previously denied hearing controversial statements by Rev. Wright. Barack Obama's Philadelphia speech was a transparent attempt to quell the controversy over his ties to fiery anti-American minister Jeremiah Wright. But the Times portrayed the speech just the way the Obama camp would have wanted -- as a transcendent address on race in America, past, present and future, with Obama's long connection to Wright a secondary consideration.
Janny Scott's "news analysis" of March 19, "A Candidate Chooses Reconciliation Over Rancor," compared Barack Obama's speech on race to those of Lincoln, JFK and LBJ, and featured no discouraging words from Obama opponents: "In a speech whose frankness about race many historians said could be likened only to speeches by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln..."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from Scott:
It was an extraordinary moment -- the first black candidate with a good chance at becoming a presidential nominee, in a country in which racial distrust runs deep and often unspoken, embarking at a critical juncture in his campaign upon what may be the most significant public discussion of race in decades.
In a speech whose frankness about race many historians said could be likened only to speeches by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, Senator Barack Obama, speaking across the street from where the Constitution was written, traced the country's race problem back to not simply the country's "original sin of slavery" but the protections for it embedded in the Constitution.
Yet the speech was also hopeful, patriotic, quintessentially American -- delivered against a blue backdrop and a phalanx of stars and stripes. Mr. Obama invoked the fundamental values of equality of opportunity, fairness, social justice. He confronted race head-on, then reached beyond it to talk sympathetically about the experiences of the white working class and the plight of workers stripped of jobs and pensions....
He faced a choice: Having already denounced Mr. Wright's ferocious charges about white America, he could try to distance himself from the man who drew him to Christianity, married him and baptized his two children. Or he could try to explain what appeared to many to be the contradiction between Mr. Wright's world view and the one Mr. Obama had professed as his own.
To some extent, he did both.
In a setting that bespoke the presidential, he began with the personal: He invoked his own biography as the son of a black Kenyan man and a white American woman, grandson of a World War II veteran and a bomber assembly line worker, husband of a black American who carries "the blood of slaves and slave owners." Seared into his genetic makeup, he said, is "the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts -- that out of many, we are truly one."
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full: www.nytimes.com
Scott quoted no opponents, just long-time black liberal activists John Hope Franklin and Julian Bond.
The main Wednesday story on Obama's speech was from Jeff Zeleny, who previously covered Obama at the Chicago Tribune. Even the headline, "Obama Urges U.S. to Grapple With Race Issue," helped Obama transcend the issue by putting the onus on America for racism, not on Obama for his long history with the hatemongering minister Wright. The article: www.nytimes.com
Wednesday's Web posting by reporter Jodi Kantor, "An Effort to Bridge the Divide," was the closest thing the Times could muster to an actual objective news story, with dabs of muted criticism. An excerpt:
In a way, Mr. Obama seemed to be arguing not only for his own candidacy but also against the often-reductive nature of presidential politics. To answer the brief, incendiary clips of his pastor's statements that have been dominating television airwaves and the Internet, Mr. Obama made a long, nuanced speech, seeming to bet that voters will care enough about him and the race to give it many minutes of attention and thought.
The address, which Mr. Obama wrote himself, seemed partly like a historical refresher course for white voters on discrimination against African-Americans.
Kantor again praised him for nuance:
It was one of several times that Mr. Obama seemed to be quite purposefully arguing two ideas at once -- another dangerous tactic in presidential politics, in which statements are sifted for hints of contradiction and every speech is an attack ad waiting to happen. He admitted that his pastor is both a divisive figure and an inspiring one. He said that his candidacy should not be viewed through a merely racial lens, though racial reconciliation is one of the reasons he ran.
Kantor did eventually note criticism at end of story -- the only critics to appear in the paper's coverage, by Times Watch's reckoning. Nowhere did the Times question the integrity of Obama comparing privately muttered racist talk by his grandmother to Wright's publicly aired, conspiracy-minded hatred. Excerpt continued:
In interviews, Democratic and Republican strategists, scholars, and voters all agreed that Mr. Obama had given a brave, incisive speech about one of the topics most difficult to address in American life. But nearly all of them expressed doubt that his address will fully put to rest the firestorm over Mr. Wright's statements.
Mr. Obama aimed his speech directly at voters like Linda Smith, a 64-year-old retired teacher from Fishers, Ind., a lifelong Republican who flirted with voting for her first Democrat -- Mr. Obama -- until she heard his pastor's words. "To me Wright's comments were outrageous and undo everything Barack says he's trying to do, which is unite people," she said. She tuned in eagerly to hear Mr. Obama's address, which struck her as sincere and thoughtful. "It helped me understand a little bit how he could tolerate Wright's comments," she said.
But Mr. Obama has not yet won her back to his side. "I still don't quite understand completely why he would stay in a church like that, unless it's a typical black church," she said.
"There's a large black church here in Indianapolis," she mused, "and I just can't believe the minister talks like that."
END of Excerpts
For the entire posting: www.nytimes.com
The Times didn't say anything about the contradiction by Obama caught by Politico -- that he had in fact heard "controversial" remarks by Rev. Wright:
Contrary to his earlier suggestion, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) acknowledged in his speech Tuesday that he had heard "controversial" remarks by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
"Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy?" Obama said. "Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely -- just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed."
Obama had initially written on the Huffington Post website: "The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign."
For the latest examples of bias in the New York Times, check TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org
The "Big Three" networks' evening newscasts, marking the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq on Wednesday evening, all chose to air news briefs on the very small anti-war protests scattered across the United States. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, as part of the first report on her program, used the protests as "evidence" of one of their recent poll results, that "more than half of Americans [59%] believe going to war in Iraq was a bad idea." "There are 155,000 troops in Iraq right now, and today, protesters in Washington and other U.S. cities reflected our poll. Nearly half the respondents [46%] said most U.S. troops should be pulled out within a year."
Five minutes into the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams chose to focus on the protests in Washington, DC: "There were anti-war protests today in several U.S. cities, including the nation's capital, where police arrested more than 30 people when they tried to block the entrance to the IRS, and they also tied up Connecticut Avenue, a major thoroughfare. There were also protests in New York's Times Square, downtown San Francisco, and in smaller towns as well, in places like Ohio and Vermont."
ABC's World News anchor Charles Gibson, as part of his retrospective on the past five years of the Iraq war, mentioned the minor anti-war protests as well: "For some Americans, this is the fifth anniversary of a war they do not support. There were marches in California, and in the nation's capital, a dozen people were arrested for blocking the entrances of the Internal Revenue Service. The protesters oppose being taxed to help fund the war."
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From the video footage shown in all three of these news briefs, it appeared that the turnout for these anti-war protests was light, with no more than a hundred or two hundred protesters visible in one shot. In comparison, all three networks chose to ignore this year's March for Life, which drew tens of thousands of pro-life demonstrators to Washington, DC.
To read more about the media's blackout of the March for Life, see Tim Graham's NewsBusters.org post from February 7: newsbusters.org
Less than three weeks until the MRC's 2008 "DisHonors Awards." The MRC's annual video awards with the "William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence," this year presented to Tony Snow, will take place in Washington, DC on Thursday evening, April 10. Confirmed participants: Ann Coulter, Larry Kudlow, Mark Levin, Cal Thomas and many more since surprise conservative guests will accept the awards in jest. Get your tickets now.
"It was a terrific show...It was a great, great, great assemblage of people... Everybody just had a blast!" -- Rush Limbaugh, 2007 recipient of the William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence.
Make your reservation today. Every year our gala sells out, so don't delay.
Individual seats available for $250. To reserve your seat(s), contact the MRC's Sara Bell at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call, 9 to 5:30 PM EDT weekdays: (800) 672-1423.
Online page with information: www.mrc.org
For a look at all the fun at last year's event: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker