2. Newsweek's Alter: Only Racism Could Prevent President Obama
3. ABC's George Stephanopoulos: Only One VP is a Campaign Drag
4. CBS's Early Show: Sarah Palin's Fashion A Top Campaign Issue
5. Bernstein: McCain Hurt by Becoming a 'Captive of the Right Wing'
YouTube postings over the weekend divulged a 2001 radio interview in which Barack Obama regretted that "the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society," but though John McCain on Monday cited this new evidence of Obama's long-standing advocacy of redistributing wealth, the CBS Evening News offered nothing more than a McCain soundbite surrounded by reporter Chip Reid discrediting the criticism as he relayed the Obama campaign's charge McCain had made a "false, desperate attack" and Reid bemoaned: "If the events of today are any guide, this is a campaign that is taking an increasingly negative tone in the last week."
In contrast, the NBC Nightly News at least ran a short audio clip of Obama from 2001: "The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth." ABC's World News, in a piece by Ron Claiborne, aired a much longer audio soundbite from Obama: "One of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change."
In his Monday night CBS Evening News story, Reid began with McCain attacking Obama on economic policy before maintaining "the focus on the economy soon became blurred as Republicans launched a series of new attacks on Obama." Reid cited an unnamed "independent Republican group" (National Republican Trust) which "announced plans to start airing attack ads featuring [Jeremiah] Wright" and "McCain himself jumped into the fray. He regularly accuses Obama of wanting to spread the wealth, but today he added a new line of attack." Viewers then heard from McCain: "In a radio interview that was revealed today, he said that quote, 'one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement' is that it didn't bring about a redistribution of wealth in our society."
Instead of playing an illustrative clip, as did ABC and NBC, Reid went immediately to the Obama campaign's retort: "The Obama campaign said McCain was taking a seven-year-old interview out of context and accused McCain of deciding to close out his campaign with the same false desperate attacks that have failed for months."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Eyeblast site has a four-minute audio clip of the interview on WBEZ-FM, a public station in Chicago, from September 6, 2001: www.eyeblast.tv
# Reid's story, on the Monday, October 27 CBS Evening News:
CHIP REID: In Cleveland today, John McCain sat down with his economic team before delivering a statement on what he called the fundamental differences between his economic plan and Barack Obama's.
RON CLAIBORNE: This is Ron Claiborne in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. John McCain was fighting today on two fronts, attacking Barack Obama as a tax-raiser while distancing himself from President Bush.
KELLY O'DONNELL: ...Today, McCain continued his effort to separate himself from the two men who could deny him the White House -- Barack Obama and George Bush.
America's either racist, or it will elect Obama. So wrote Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, who focused in his weekly column on imagining the "horror" scenario, titled "Why McCain Won: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: how that scenario could (but likely won't) play out." Alter's theory in a nutshell: If McCain wins, racism is the answer. "Millions of people in the rest of the world assume that Barack Obama cannot be elected because he is black," but Alter hoped "the common sense and decency of the American people will prove the skeptics wrong."
[This item, by the MRC;s Tim Graham, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For Alter's column in the November 3 issue, "Why McCain Won: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory: how that scenario could (but likely won't) play out," at: www.newsweek.com
It sounds a little like Bryant Gumbel, who declared in 1989 that his NBC News special on racial attitudes "is not going to tell you whether or not you are a racist or a liberal." For more on Bryant Gumbel's 1989 statement on racial attitudes on NBC News, see the September 18, 1989 edition of MRC's Notable Quotables: www.mrc.org
Alter thinks less educated (and more racist) voters will be the difference if Obama loses:
In the end, the problem was the LIVs. That's short for "low-information voters"...Their allegiance to a candidate is as easily shed as a T-shirt. Several million moved to Obama through September and October; they'd heard he handled himself well in the debates. Then, in the last week, the LIVs swung back to the default choice: John McCain. Some had good reasons other than the color of Obama's skin to desert him; many more did not. In October, a study by the Associated Press estimated that Obama's race would cost him 6 percent. The percentage was smaller, but still enough to give the presidency to McCain.
...As it turned out, the real problem wasn't south Florida, where Hispanics came in surprisingly well for Obama. It was erosion in the critical I-4 corridor near Tampa and in the Panhandle, where the astonishing Republican margins among whites could be attributed only to race.
...But there was a reason Virginia hadn't gone Democratic since 1964. The transformation of the northern part of the state couldn't overcome a huge McCain margin among whites farther south. They weren't the racists of their parents' generation, but they weren't quite ready to vote for the unthinkable, either.
Alter can't imagine that some voters might feel that Obama doesn't have enough experience to be president. Apparently, that's an excuse for racism. Alter can't imagine that some voters might feel Obama is too liberal and will damage the economy with higher taxes. That must be another excuse for deep-seated loathing of a black president. Alter concluded with exactly the kind of didactic note that makes the "news" magazines sound like they'd much rather run the country than simply write about it:
At the start of the campaign season NEWSWEEK asked, "Is America Ready" for a black president? The answer: only if Obama proved close to a flawless candidate, and even then, we won't know for sure until Election Day. That doesn't mean Obama lost because all, or even most, McCain voters allowed race to be a factor. But enough did to change the outcome.
Democrats are despairing over the results, fearing they might never view their country in the same light again. Even many Republicans are subdued at the news of McCain's victory. Having expected him to lose, they know the GOP has now completed a sorry transition from the party of Lincoln to the party of cynicism. McCain, they're reasoning, might prove a fine president, but it shouldn't have happened like this.
It probably won't. Millions of people in the rest of the world assume that Barack Obama cannot be elected because he is black. They assume that the original sin of American history -- enshrined in our Constitution -- cannot be transcended. I go into next week's election with a different assumption -- that the common sense and decency of the American people will prove the skeptics wrong.
END of Excerpt
Newsweek's feeling about the voters -- are they idiots or will they vote for Obama? -- is based on whether they heeded Newsweek's four years of advice to get in line to support Obama. At the beginning of 2005, Alter wrote a sugary cover story on Obama, as Brent Bozell explained:
Obama was lauded as the "incredibly pragmatic" soul of civility who is "uniquely qualified to nudge the country toward the color purple" (merging the red states and blue states). He was all about "embracing our hybrid origins and transcending our often narrow-minded past."
For more on Alter's 2005 cover story on Obama, see Brent Bozell's January 5, 2005 column: www.mrc.org
Even back then, Alter was so in the tank for Obama he was praising the brand-new Senator's readiness for the White House with lines like "his expert grasp of foreign policy helped him bolt from the pack."
On Monday's Good Morning America, former Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos downplayed the idea that both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden might be a drag on their respective presidential tickets. Responding to a question by co-host Robin Roberts about the two taking attention away from Senators Obama and McCain, Stephanopoulos opined: "But I think the bottom line here is that across all voters, across the last couple of months, Senator Biden has made voters more comfortable with Barack Obama." He added: "Governor Palin has made voters, overall, less comfortable with John McCain."
While it's true that Governor Palin's numbers have fallen in the last few weeks, it's also apparent that the ABC network has contributed to that situation by aggressively criticizing Governor Palin, while downplaying gaffes by Democratic running mate Biden. Last Monday, ABC's "Political Radar" blog broke the story of the Delaware senator suggesting that Obama would be tested by an international crisis within the first six months of his (potential) presidency. The ABC network ignored the scoop for almost 24 hours. See an October 22 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
On the September 29 GMA, reporter David Wright asserted that Palin's advisors "are trying to lower expectations. But even among some conservatives, expectations couldn't be any lower." And at the same time, the network ignored potentially damaging Biden gaffes, such as claiming that Franklin D. Roosevelt got on television at the onset of the Great Depression to calm the nerves of Americans. (He wasn't president and there was no television at the time.) ABC also skipped footage of the Democrat encouraging a man in a wheelchair to "stand up." See an September 30 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
Monday's GMA featured a rare exception to this pattern. Correspondent Kate Snow actually wondered if Biden could be a drag on Obama's chances for victory. (This piece prompted the later question by Roberts.) During the earlier story, Snow highlighted a new McCain ad featuring Biden's "crisis" comments, as well as a skit on Saturday Night Live mocking him.
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
And while Stephanopoulos did allow during his segment, "Well, they've [Palin and Biden] become punch lines which isn't great for either candidate," he did not speculate on the role his own network might have played in making Americans "more comfortable" with the Democratic Senator.
In general, the ABC network has reiterated the idea that Palin isn't qualified. On the October 21 edition of Nightline, co-anchor Cynthia McFadden interviewed Hillary Clinton and asked about the Alaska governor. She goaded: "But it must rankle you, I mean, to be compared to Sarah Palin." Fellow Nightline host Terry Moran referred to Palin as the "blunda [sic] from the tundra" on October 22. See this October 24 CyberAlert posting for more on McFadden: www.mrc.org
And this one from the same day for more on Moran: www.mrc.org
A transcript of the exchange between Roberts and Stephanopoulos, and the previous Snow segment, which aired on October 27, follow:
Monday's CBS Early Show made Sarah Palin's clothes shopping habits headline news as co-host Harry Smith declared: "Sarah Palin defends her shopping spree...We'll take you to the consignment store where she says she really shops." Only minutes later, Smith seemed to lament the distraction of the issue: "So much time and attention has been spent talking about John McCain's running mate in this -- in this case and, now it's -- they're defending themselves about clothes and all of these other things. Ones wonders if there's a presidential campaign going on here." Apparently Smith forgot that he shares responsibility for making it an issue in the first place.
At the top of the show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported that McCain "defended the woman he's running with. Following reports of rising tensions inside Sarah Palin's inner circle and the flap over those high-end designer clothes she wore at the convention." Glor added: "Palin, campaigning with the View's Elizabeth Hasselbeck, also addressed the $150,000 shopping spree." He played a clip of Hasselbeck: "Let me tell you, this is deliberately sexist." However, Glor never explained that Hasselbeck was talking about media coverage of Palin, instead he concluded: "The Alaskan governor said her wedding ring only cost $35 and that she usually buys her clothes from a consignment shop in Alaska."
Smith wondering if the Palin clothing controversy was a distraction: newsbusters.org ]
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In the 7:30AM half hour, co-host Julie Chen investigated that Alaska consignment shop: "On the campaign trail yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin again addressed the criticism she has received over the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee spent to dress her and her family. She said she likes to shop in a consignment store called Out of the Closet. The owner is Ellen Arv -- Arvold and she joins us now."
Chen throughly interrogated Arvold: "So how long has Governor Palin shopped at your store?...What does she usually buy at your store? And does she also shop for her entire family there?...And, Ellen, what is the price range of your women's wear?...And how much does Governor Palin typically spend at your store?...And would you say your clothes look much different than what we've been seeing her wear on the campaign trail?" Arvold defended Palin: "...no, I don't think her style has changed too much. I have only seen a few pieces that she's bought here on the campaign trail, but, no, I -- you know, I think she looks great." To that, Chen replied: "Hey, for $150,000, she better look fantastic."
Here is the full transcript of the Glor segment:
HARRY SMITH: This is the final full week of the 2008 campaign. Barack Obama is pressing in on states that were once GOP strongholds and John McCain is on the defensive about himself and his running mate. Early Show national correspondent Jeff Glor is in Cleveland with more this morning. Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF GLOR: Harry, good morning to you. Both candidates will be here in Ohio today. Both will be making their closing arguments this week, in a word, John McCain's will be about experience. Barack Obama's, about change. Barack Obama never misses a chance to link John McCain to George Bush. So when McCain said Sunday that he and the president shared a common philosophy, Obama pounced.
Here is the full transcript of the Chen segment:
JULIE CHEN: So guy, you know Sarah Palin has received a lot of criticism for the money spent on her wardrobe, $150,000. Well, she says she normally shops at a consignment store and we're going to take you there in our next half hour. We'll be right back.
An emerging preview of the post-election media spin that McCain lost because he moved too far to "the right," with his pick of Sarah Palin as the smoking gun? On Monday night's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, now a political analyst for CNN, contended McCain is "in the difficulty he's in" because "he's really become a captive of the right wing of his party and its agenda and it shows, particularly through the pick of Sarah Palin." Bernstein's supposition came three days after Bob Schieffer of CBS News blamed McCain's situation on how, after the primaries, "instead of moving to the center, he moved to the right. He put Sarah Palin on the ticket which pleased the right but..."
Bernstein, formerly with the Washington Post and Time magazine, lamented on the Monday night/Tuesday morning CBS show: "I think he's abandoned the principles of his campaign in 2000 and that's probably why he's in the difficulty he's in." He elaborated: "The campaign of 2000 was built about being a really independent-spirited American politician and now he's really become a captive of the right wing of his party and its agenda and it shows, particularly through the pick of Sarah Palin."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The October 27 CyberAlert item, "CBS's Schieffer: McCain Doomed Because 'He Moved to the Right,'" recounted:
Just after CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric noted how there is "some finger-pointing already going on" in the McCain-Palin campaign, CBS's Bob Schieffer did a little finger-pointing of his own as he blamed John McCain's presumed impending loss on his supposed move "to the right." Schieffer observed Friday night that "with this continuing bad economic news, I think it's going to be very hard for any Republican, even one who says he's a maverick, like John McCain." The host of Face the Nation then offered his take on "what's going to make it even harder," that after the primaries: "Instead of moving to the center, he moved to the right. He put Sarah Palin on the ticket which pleased the right but, as we're now seeing in these polls, her appeal does not go much beyond that."
For that CyberAlert in full: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker