CBS & NBC Trumpet How 'Barack Obama Fights Back' on Patriotism --8/20/2008
2. CNN's Jack Cafferty: McCain 'as Intellectually Shallow' as Bush
3. NY Times VP Article Uses 'Conservative' More Often than 'And'
4. CBS's Early Show: Guns 'Controversial,' Not Same-Sex Marriage
5. CNN Again Omits Part of Story Concerning Obama's Abortion Votes
CBS and NBC led Tuesday night with speculation over the VP picks, but moved quickly, without citing any proof of John McCain's supposed scurrilous attack on Barack Obama's patriotism, to Obama condemning McCain for questioning his patriotism.
"Patriot games," CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith teased, "Barack Obama fights back." Viewers then heard a clip of Obama before the VFW: "I will let no one question my love of this country." Reporter Dean Reynolds described how "Obama is pivoting toward a more combative style, rebuking the Republicans for habitually turning differences over policy into questions about patriotism, a habit he said John McCain has readily embraced." CBS ran two Obama soundbites, yet on Monday, when McCain addressed the VFW, CBS didn't show a second of him. Reynolds soon asserted that McCain and Republicans "had the stage to themselves last week while Obama vacationed." Certainly not on the CBS Evening News which spent the week puffing Obama.
On the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell touted how "Obama strongly defended his patriotism today to veterans, the same group that heard John McCain attack him yesterday," and relayed how Obama's "hearing a lot of messages from all across the country that he has not been tough enough. He has to go after John McCain, he's got to be more aggressive." (Sounds like she's channeling journalists.)
On a potential VP for McCain, Mitchell offered that he "could wait until the Republican Convention to distract attention from George Bush and Dick Cheney, the first night's speakers," before she reported that sources say McCain is seriously considering a registered Democrat, Joe Lieberman," but "the right wing is threatening a revolt." Providing the pro-Lieberman argument, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd: "It's a message of independence. It brings back the maverick John McCain. It solidifies his image with independent voters."
Citing Tim Pawlenty as "a much safer political choice for McCain," Mitchell, who earlier in her story failed to apply a liberal label to Joe Biden, Tim Kaine or Evan Bayh, tagged Pawlenty as "conservative."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
As for Reynolds' contention McCain and Republicans "had the stage to themselves last week while Obama vacationed," in fact, the CBS Evening News spent the week promoting Obama:
-- On Monday, Katie Couric highlighted how "Obama put out a tongue in cheek response to Senator McCain's celebrity ad" and she helpfully pointed out: "The ad also features six different shots of Senator McCain next to President Bush." The newscast also allocated more than three minutes to a "CBS News Exclusive" interview and profile by Couric of "Barack Obama's brain," Valerie Jarrett. See: www.mrc.org
-- On Tuesday, Jeff Greenfield twisted news -- that a top Clinton campaign operative recommended attacking Obama as less than genuinely American -- into reprimanding McCain for supposedly following that strategy. For the full rundown: www.mrc.org
-- On Wednesday, Reynolds himself recalled how McCain promised "to conduct a respectful campaign," but citing McCain's celebrity ad, charged "now it frequently seems respect takes a backseat to ridicule." For details: www.mrc.org
-- And on Thursday, the CBS Evening News compared the Web sites of the two candidates and declared Obama's far superior as reporter Daniel Sieberg asserted "McCain's Web site is still playing catch up to Obama's use of cyberspace" and considered it newsworthy that "Obama is 'friended' almost seven times more than McCain." See: www.mrc.org
From Tuesday night, August 19:
# CBS Evening News, picking up after the VP speculation:
DEAN REYNOLDS: ...The eventual announcement will come at a time when Obama is pivoting toward a more combative style, rebuking the Republicans for habitually turning differences over policy into questions about patriotism, a habit he said John McCain has readily embraced.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Barack Obama strongly defended his patriotism today to veterans, the same group that heard John McCain attack him yesterday.
Delivering the ultimate liberal insult, in an online commentary posted Tuesday morning on CNNPolitics.com, CNN's Jack Cafferty charged that John McCain is as incompetent and incapable as President George W. Bush. "It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current President," Cafferty felt compelled to share. "Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been," Cafferty fretted before concluding: "I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him."
What set off Cafferty? McCain's "shallow, simplistic and trite" answers during Saturday's Saddleback forum in which "he showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none." The contributor of "The Cafferty File" segments on The Situation Room complained in his posting: "Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day."
Though virtually every pundit I've heard thinks McCain is at his worst when reading a speech from a TelePrompTer and excels "off the cuff" in "town hall" settings, Cafferty snidely imparted how McCain's non-scripted performances will make him as "embarrassing" to Cafferty as Bush: "Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly. I am sick and tired of the President of the United States embarrassing me."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from "Is McCain another George W. Bush?", a commentary by Jack Cafferty which carries the posting time of "updated 9:18 a.m. EDT, Tue August 19, 2008":
....Sen. John McCain takes weekends off and limits his campaign events to one a day. He made an exception for the religious forum on Saturday at Saddleback Church in Southern California....
It occurs to me that John McCain is as intellectually shallow as our current president. When asked what his Christian faith means to him, his answer was a one-liner. "It means I'm saved and forgiven." Great scholars have wrestled with the meaning of faith for centuries. McCain then retold a story we've all heard a hundred times about a guard in Vietnam drawing a cross in the sand.
Asked about his greatest moral failure, he cited his first marriage, which ended in divorce. While saying it was his greatest moral failing, he offered nothing in the way of explanation. Why not?
Throughout the evening, McCain chose to recite portions of his stump speech as answers to the questions he was being asked. Why? He has lived 71 years. Surely he has some thoughts on what it all means that go beyond canned answers culled from the same speech he delivers every day.
He was asked "if evil exists." His response was to repeat for the umpteenth time that Osama bin Laden is a bad man and he will pursue him to "the gates of hell." That was it....
One after another, McCain's answers were shallow, simplistic, and trite. He showed the same intellectual curiosity that George Bush has -- virtually none.
Where are John McCain's writings exploring the vexing moral issues of our time? Where are his position papers setting forth his careful consideration of foreign policy, the welfare state, education, America's moral responsibility in the world, etc., etc., etc.?
John McCain graduated 894th in a class of 899 at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His father and grandfather were four star admirals in the Navy. Some have suggested that might have played a role in McCain being admitted. His academic record was awful. And it shows over and over again whenever McCain is called upon to think on his feet.
He no longer allows reporters unfettered access to him aboard the "Straight Talk Express" for a reason. He simply makes too many mistakes. Unless he's reciting talking points or reading from notes or a TelePrompTer, John McCain is lost. He can drop bon mots at a bowling alley or diner -- short glib responses that get a chuckle, but beyond that McCain gets in over his head very quickly.
I am sick and tired of the president of the United States embarrassing me....
George Bush's record as a student, military man, businessman and leader of the free world is one of constant failure. And the part that troubles me most is he seems content with himself.
He will leave office with the country $10 trillion in debt, fighting two wars, our international reputation in shambles, our government cloaked in secrecy and suspicion that his entire presidency has been a litany of broken laws and promises, our citizens' faith in our own country ripped to shreds. Yet Bush goes bumbling along, grinning and spewing moronic one-liners, as though nobody understands what a colossal failure he has been.
I fear to the depth of my being that John McCain is just like him.
END of Excerpt
For the entire commentary: www.cnn.com
Reporter Michael Luo's anti-Romney New York Times piece crammed with "conservative" labels. Even though polls show a tightening presidential race, the Times finds little but disarray and discontent on the Republican side, as demonstrated from the headline and text of Luo's Saturday piece, "McCain-Romney Ticket? Some in G.O.P. Shout 'No." Besides the negativity, Luo's piece was also overloaded with "conservative" labels -- Luo used the word "conservative" an eye-popping 20 times, not including names of groups or quoted material, in his 1,400-word story. (The word appeared 26 times in all.) By way of comparison, the conjunction "and" appeared only 19 times under the same criteria!
Luo's August 16 article: www.nytimes.com
The Times recently reduced the paper's width from 12 inches to 10.5 -- perhaps trimming a few dozen unnecessary ideological labels could free up even more space?
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Meanwhile, Democratic angst over their own vice presidential candidates is muted in Times' coverage. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is being vetoed by the leftwing netroots for his pro-war vote, yet reporter Carl Hulse's story for the paper's political blog didn't make the print edition: thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com
While co-host Harry Smith described a Texas school allowing teachers to carry guns as "a controversial decision" on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, he teased an upcoming segment on Ellen DeGeneres marrying actress Portia de Rossi as simply exciting celebrity gossip: "And we have the wedding pictures from the marriage of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. That happened over the weekend."
The Early Show covered the DeGeneres-de Rossi wedding on Friday and Monday as well, with no suggestion of it being controversial at all. On Monday, Julie Chen declared: "And wedding bells. Comedian and talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, ties the knot with her long-time partner. We'll have details about the wedding." Correspondent Michelle Gillen then reported: "The DeGeneres-de Rossi wedding is perhaps the highest profile same-sex marriage since California legalized such unions just over three months ago...In 1997, Degeneres became the first television star to come out publicly on her sitcom The Ellen Show." At the end of Monday's segment, Smith wondered: "The thing I'm curious about, she's been so public about it. Then why would you keep the ceremony so private?" Chen replied: "So you can sell it to People magazine for $4 million."
Read about Smith's coverage of the "controversial" Texas gun policy here: newsbusters.org
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Apparently Chen was correct, because on Tuesday she talked to executive editor of People magazine, Jess Cagle, about exclusive photos of the wedding: "And the blushing brides. We have the first pictures of the wedding of Ellen and Portia." Chen began by asking Cagle: "Tell us all about the wedding, starting with what they wore, who wore what?" She later asked: "Alright, rings? What was the ceremony like? Was there a ring exchange? What do we know?" When Cagle replied: "And they exchanged just vows that they had written themselves. And Wayne Dire, the author of the inspirational books, was actually there to officiate the ceremony." Chen responded "How nice."
While Smith's segment on teachers carrying guns featured a debate among guests, Chen's segment on same-sex marriage featured no debate. An objective journalist might wonder what DeGeneres and de Rossi will do if gay marriage in California is overturned following a ballot initiative in November, or what impact the marriage may have on DeGeneres's ratings among Americans who oppose gay marriage.
Instead, Chen concluded the segment by asking Cagle: "In the final seconds, how long ago did they meet and how did they meet?" On June 17, Chen interviewed actor George Takei, who announced his plan to marry his partner, Brad Altman. Chen began: "Gentlemen good morning and congratulations." See: newsbusters.org
CNN correspondent Mary Snow's report on Monday's The Situation Room about Barack Obama's charge that pro-life "folks are lying" about his abortion record actually just presented both sides of the controversy without getting to the reality of the matter. The report, which was promoted as "checking the facts" by host Wolf Blitzer, also omitted how Obama's campaign conceded on Sunday that the pro-lifers were actually accurately representing his record.
Before Snow's report aired just before the top of the 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, Blitzer read two promos for it. In the first, he announced how "Barack Obama [is] in the middle of an abortion battle. Now, he's pushing back after an extraordinary claim against him. We're going to examine the record." In the second promo, Blitzer played Obama's "lying" soundbite, and stated: "Senator Obama blasts opponents for distorting his record on abortion-related legislation. We're checking the facts."
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Snow began her report by running Obama's accusation, which he made to CBN's David Brody in an interview on Sunday: "They have not been telling the truth, and you know, I hate to say that people are lying, but here's the situation where folks are lying." Specifically, Obama thinks that pro-lifers "have not been telling the truth" about his opposition to a 2003 Illinois state bill that contained identical language to the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act. In a second clip, Obama charged that the bill "also...was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade."
Later in the report, the CNN correspondent tried to summarize the debate over the Obama's record concerning the bill: "In 2002, President Bush signed a born-alive bill into law. Obama had said he would have supported that bill. The National Right to Life Committee says the language in the bill was the same and accuses Obama of a 'four year effort to cover up his full role in killing legislation to protect born-alive survivors of abortions.' Looking at the bills, the language is similar, but the Obama camp says while there were concerns about undermining Illinois abortion law." Note that Snow's "checking the facts" didn't actually examine the truthfulness of either claim.
At the end of the report, Snow noted that the bill ultimately passed in 2005 and that "a provision makes clear that it does not affect existing federal or state law regarding abortion....[Obama's] campaign points out that that added provision in that 2005 bill was a measure he had wanted in the past." When Blitzer asked her to summarize the difference between the federal law and the Illinois proposal, she repeated Obama's claim: "Well, 2003, the National Right to Life Committee will say the language is very similar, but what the Obama camp pointed out is that it lacked a provision to protect Roe v. Wade. That was the measure that was added two years later, so that is the explanation why the campaign said and Obama has said that he opposed that 2003 law."
This isn't the entire story however. Both Jill Stanek and David Freddoso in his book "The Case Against Barack Obama" noted that in 2003, the bill's sponsor proposed an amendment that contained the language of the federal law born-alive law which passed the previous year. Obama initially voted for this amendment when it came before the state senate health committee he chaired, but then voted against the bill as it was amended.
August 17 post by Jill Stanek, "Obama continues to misrepresent Born Alive vote," on her Web site: www.jillstanek.com
The New York Sun reported on Monday that during the Brody interview, Obama "said the federal version he supported 'was not the bill that was presented at the state level.'" The Sun also reported that not even 24 hours after the interview, the Obama campaign on Sunday "acknowledged that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law." Snow didn't mention this detail during her report on Monday.
August 18 NY Sun story by Russell Berman, "Obama Facing Attacks From All Sides Over Abortion Record": www.nysun.com
This isn't the first time CNN has omitted details about Obama's record on the born-alive legislation. Correspondent Carol Costello didn't mention two of Obama's votes on the bill during a report in July, and anchor Don Lemon didn't mention the issue at all in his summary of Obama's abortion stances on August 12. Three strikes -- you're out, CNN.
For a July 1 NewsBusters.org item by Matthew Balan, "CNN's Costello Omits Part of the Story About Obama's Radical Abortion Votes," go to: newsbusters.org
For an August 14 CyberAlert item, "CNN's One-Sided Take on SD Abortion Initiative, 2-D Look at Obama Stance," go to: www.mrc.org
The transcript of Blitzer's two promos and Snow's report from the Monday, August 18 Situation Room:
5:08 pm EDT, WOLF BLITZER: And Barack Obama in the middle of an abortion battle. Now, he's pushing back after an extraordinary claim against him. We're going to examine the record.
5:21 pm EDT, BLITZER: A hot button issue prompts some sharp words from Senator Barack Obama.
5:54 pm EDT, BLITZER: Barack Obama's clear on his support for abortion rights for women and he re-stated that position at this weekend's faith forum out in California. But he also says abortion opponents are lying about his stance when it comes to some specific legislation. Mary Snow has been working the story for us. Mary, it goes back several years. What do we know?
-- Brent Baker