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CBS's Smith on Obama: 'Can a Guy Who's Cool Be President'? --11/18/2008


1. CBS's Smith on Obama: 'Can a Guy Who's Cool Be President'?
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith touted the latest issue of GQ magazine, in which Barack Obama was named one of the publication's Men of the Year: "As If being elected President isn't a high enough honor, Barack Obama is now the quintessential 'GQ' guy." Later, Smith talked to GQ deputy editor Michael Hainey and asked: "Is there -- is -- do you have this little bit of a sense, can there be -- can a guy who's cool be President of the United States?" Hainey replied: "No. I think, I mean JFK was cool. I mean, you know...And I think, yeah, Reagan was cool. I mean it's that sense of how you define 'cool,' I think. And it's -- it's a real chemistry, that's what people are reacting to." Hainey explained: "Well, you know, it's interesting, we had Ted Kennedy write the piece for us in the magazine about the Senator. And as he said it, you know, the torch has been passed to a new generation...It really is, I mean, he's young, he's vibrant, he's vital, like all those qualities of a 'GQ' guy."

2. Chris Matthews: Obama's Administration 'Historically Wondrous'
On his syndicated Chris Matthews Show on Sunday, Chris Matthews discussed President-elect Barack Obama's ability to enact his campaign agenda as well as the state of the Republican Party with a panel of other newsmakers, including Erin Burnett of CNBC and Michele Norris of NPR. Matthews excitedly declared that "the American people voted for change, they voted for Obama" and hopefully wondered if the President-elect would "come in with loud music" and "do big stuff on infrastructure, on stimulus, on getting the economy going." Matthews also deemed Obama's administration, which hasn't taken office yet, as "historically wondrous" and pondered who would become the "chief jeer leader" of the new administration and "dump on the parade every day"

3. CBS: Will We Get 'Bipartisan McCain' or 'Conservative' McCain?
In a story on President-elect Barack Obama's Monday meeting with Senator John McCain, CBS's Dean Reynolds listed some "areas of potential cooperation," but he worried: "Will it be McCain the bipartisan maverick who reemerges in the Senate or the campaign conservative who might want to join fellow Republicans in frustrating the new President's plans?" Reynolds then turned to the Politico's Jim VandeHei, a veteran of the Washington Post, who assured viewers McCain will want to "fix any damage that he did during this campaign" -- presumably a reference to McCain going to the right -- by returning to his old Senate ways journalists liked: "This is a man with a very rich appreciation for history and his place in history and I think he'll want to, you know, fix any damage that he did during this campaign by ending on a high note in the Senate."

4. NBC's Today Show Begins Annual Global Warming Scare Week
The full Today show cast went to "The Ends of the Earth," as a part of NBC Universal's "Green Week," all in an effort to, once again, do the bidding of the likes of Al Gore, to create hysteria about global warming. With live reports from Matt Lauer worrying about reefs off the coast of Belize, Meredith Vieira fearful about drought conditions in Australia, Ann Curry watching the snow caps melt on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Al Roker troubled by glacier extinction in Iceland, the cast pushed the green agenda throughout Monday's Today show. Co-anchor Vieira, near the top of the show, set the table for her cast mates this way: "The warnings are stark. A vortex of trash twice the size of Texas, toxins bleeding into the ocean, rivers that can not reach the sea, species lost forever. Clouds, rain, storm's fury borne of the ocean, slowly drown distant nations. Islands disappearing and in their wake, a new kind of refugee, so far away and so close to home. Throughout our planet and within our bodies, water flows. We cannot survive without it. Yet, 1 billion people don't have enough. Our new thirst may fuel wars. Is water the oil of tomorrow?"

5. ABC Devoted 64 Minutes to 'Pregnant Man' Story Since March
Since March 26, ABC News has devoted nine segments or 64 minutes to the "pregnant man" Thomas Beatie, including three stories in the last four days on either 20/20 or Good Morning America. On Monday, GMA weekend anchor Kate Snow invited Beatie, who was born a woman but kept her reproductive organs after having transgender surgery, to discuss the autobiography "Labor of Love," which recounts the author's first pregnancy and now another. Snow announced that Beatie would be appearing "to tell us what his definition of family and fatherhood is all about."


CBS's Smith on Obama: 'Can a Guy Who's
Cool Be President'?

On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith touted the latest issue of GQ magazine, in which Barack Obama was named one of the publication's Men of the Year: "As If being elected President isn't a high enough honor, Barack Obama is now the quintessential 'GQ' guy." Later, Smith talked to GQ deputy editor Michael Hainey and asked: "Is there -- is -- do you have this little bit of a sense, can there be -- can a guy who's cool be President of the United States?" Hainey replied: "No. I think, I mean JFK was cool. I mean, you know...And I think, yeah, Reagan was cool. I mean it's that sense of how you define 'cool,' I think. And it's -- it's a real chemistry, that's what people are reacting to."

Smith began the segment by asking Hainey about the choice: "Why -- [Laughs] I suppose why not? Now when did you make the choice though?...And for Barack Obama, why would -- why was he a good choice?" Hainey explained: "Well, you know, it's interesting, we had Ted Kennedy write the piece for us in the magazine about the Senator. And as he said it, you know, the torch has been passed to a new generation...It really is, I mean, he's young, he's vibrant, he's vital, like all those qualities of a 'GQ' guy."

The magazine's "Men of the Year" pictures and articles: men.style.com

Kennedy on Obama: men.style.com

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Smith later wondered: "Watching these images of Obama come in...what is part of the conversation people have about Barack Obama?...what are some of your thoughts about his image, what he looks like, how he carries himself, that sort of stuff?" Hainey responded: "I think it's his dynamism, he's a very dynamic guy, he's very vibrant and also just a family man. I think you at him, he's young, he's attractive, he's solid, and he's, you know, he is a leader. You can't help but react to him." At the end of the segment Hainey listed the other GQ Men of the Year, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Phleps, and John Hamm. Smith remarked: "Yeah, I don't think you missed on any of them."

Here is the full transcript of the November 17 segment:

7:44AM TEASE:
HARRY SMITH: Coming up, as If being elected president isn't a high enough honor, Barack Obama is now the quintessential 'GQ' guy. We'll tell you why.

8:08AM SEGMENT:
HARRY SMITH: All week long we're looking at the Obama family. The new residents, or soon to be new residents, of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Turns out that President-elect Barack Obama has been named one of 'GQ' magazine's men of the year. Michael Hainey is deputy editor, is with us this morning. Good morning, sir.
MICHAEL HAINEY: Thanks for having me.
SMITH: Why -- [Laughs] I suppose why not? Now when did you make the choice though?
HAINEY: We made this choice months ago, actually. We closed the issue mid-October which was well before the election, obviously.
SMITH: Yeah, sure. And for Barack Obama, why would -- why was he a good choice?
HAINEY: Well, you know, it's interesting, we had Ted Kennedy write the piece for us in the magazine about the Senator. And as he said it, you know, the torch has been passed to a new generation.
SMITH: Right.
HAINEY: It really is, I mean, he's young, he's vibrant, he's vital, like all those qualities of a 'GQ' guy.
SMITH: Right. When you're -- in 'GQ' as you guys are sitting around watching these images of Obama come in, they first started coming in 22 months ago.
HAINEY: Right, right.
SMITH: But as they've been coming in over, say, the last six months or so, what is part of the conversation people have about Barack Obama?
HAINEY: I think it's his dynamism, he's a very dynamic guy, he's very vibrant and also just a family man. I think you at him, he's young, he's attractive, he's solid, and he's, you know, he is a leader. You can't help but react to him.
SMITH: Yeah. 'GQ,' though, is so much about image.
HAINEY: Right.
SMITH: What is your -- what are some of your thoughts about his image, what he looks like, how he carries himself, that sort of stuff?
HAINEY: I think he looks great. I mean, he looks great whether he's wearing a suit or you know, as we've seen lately, in sort of like this interim period between the taking office, like jeans and a baseball cap and shades, taking the girls to school. You know, he's also come to be like -- the sort of like family dad.
SMITH: Right. Is there -- is -- do you have this little bit of a sense, can there be -- can a guy who's cool be President of the United States?
HAINEY: You could be president, you're cool.
SMITH: [Laughter] Can a kind of really old late 50s, kind of bald guy-
HAINEY: Sure, I mean, you're Eisenhower. You know? No. I think, I mean JFK was cool. I mean, you know-
SMITH: Right.
HAINEY: And I think, yeah, Reagan was cool. I mean it's that sense of how you define 'cool,' I think. And it's -- it's a real chemistry, that's what people are reacting to.
SMITH: Yeah, yeah. Who are your other men of the year here in your issue?
HAINEY: We have Leonardo DiCaprio-
SMITH: He's cool-
HAINEY: we have Michael Phelps-
SMITH: Mike, both cool-
HAINEY: And we have John Hamm of Mad Men, so we have four great covers. You know, so-
SMITH: Yeah. Hamm is cool.
HAINEY: Hamm is cool.
SMITH: Yeah, I don't think you missed on any of them.
HAINEY: I hope not.
SMITH: Yeah, I guess not, there we go.
SMITH: Thank you very much for coming and stopping by.
HAINEY: Thanks for having me.
SMITH: There you go. Now on a news stand near you.

Chris Matthews: Obama's Administration
'Historically Wondrous'

On his syndicated Chris Matthews Show on Sunday, Chris Matthews discussed President-elect Barack Obama's ability to enact his campaign agenda as well as the state of the Republican Party with a panel of other newsmakers, including Erin Burnett of CNBC and Michele Norris of NPR. Matthews excitedly declared that "the American people voted for change, they voted for Obama" and hopefully wondered if the President-elect would "come in with loud music" and "do big stuff on infrastructure, on stimulus, on getting the economy going."

Matthews also deemed Obama's administration, which hasn't taken office yet, as "historically wondrous" and pondered who would become the "chief jeer leader" of the new administration and "dump on the parade every day": "There's a row open right now, it's the chief jeer leader. When a new administration takes office, no matter how historically wondrous it is, like Barack Obama, there's going to be someone out there on the other side who leaps to the chance to be the person who dumps on the parade every day. Is it going to be Sarah Palin?"

[This item, by MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog: newsbusters.org ]

The Hardball host also seemed to agree with USA Today founder Al Neuharth who proclaimed in his November 14 column that Inauguration Day should be moved from January 20 to the first Tuesday in December because "people who elect a new President are eager for the change to take place. The sooner the better." The CyberAlert item: www.mrc.org

Matthews, though, took a more serious approach in his argument, claiming that "this lame duck period looks really dangerous right now for us." He chided President Bush for not being there "psychologically" and brought up the change to the Constitution in 1930's which moved Inauguration Day from March up to January 20:
"Okay. We have an interregnum here. We have one president not in office yet, one not still there it seems psychologically. You know, they changed the Constitution back in the thirties to have this shorter lame duck period. But now this lame duck period looks really dangerous for us right now because we've got through the holidays all the way to January 20."

He also seemed anxious for Obama to "try to deliver" his campaign promises as he asked his guests if Obama will take "big action on trying to get the country going in terms of infrastructure? He'll do it all relatively quickly?" Matthews also wanted to be assured that Obama's "promises mean something and they'll mean something within a year."

Along with all of the love for Obama, Matthews also poked fun at Republicans. He played a clip from Jay Leno's show which joked that former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was getting "thousands of calls pleading with her to run" for president in 2012, all from Democrats. Matthews added, "Palin became a late-night punch line this year but Republicans have been the butt of jokes for years. Back in 2002 when George Bush was still popular, they were cartooned on the Simpson's." He then showed the clip from the Simpson's episode in which a group of Republicans discuss which "unmitigated evil" to tackle: PBS, hippies or the environment. After the clip, Matthews joked that was a "party that only Dick Cheney would like to go to."

CBS: Will We Get 'Bipartisan McCain'
or 'Conservative' McCain?

In a story on President-elect Barack Obama's Monday meeting with Senator John McCain, CBS's Dean Reynolds listed some "areas of potential cooperation," but he worried: "Will it be McCain the bipartisan maverick who reemerges in the Senate or the campaign conservative who might want to join fellow Republicans in frustrating the new President's plans?" Reynolds then turned to the Politico's Jim VandeHei, a veteran of the Washington Post, who assured viewers McCain will want to "fix any damage that he did during this campaign" -- presumably a reference to McCain going to the right -- by returning to his old Senate ways journalists liked: "This is a man with a very rich appreciation for history and his place in history and I think he'll want to, you know, fix any damage that he did during this campaign by ending on a high note in the Senate."

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton = "breathtaking!" Meanwhile, in Jake Tapper's Monday night story on ABC's World News about speculation over Hillary Clinton getting a cabinet spot, Clintonista Lanny Davis hailed: "The combination of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the world stage is literally breathtaking!"

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

From the Monday, November 17 CBS Evening News:

DEAN REYNOLDS: ...Areas of potential cooperation for Obama and McCain include improving education, ethics reform, torture and the future of the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo, Cuba, which sources say was discussed by the two at their meeting. But will it be McCain the bipartisan maverick who reemerges in the Senate or the campaign conservative who might want to join fellow Republicans in frustrating the new President's plans?
JIM VANDEHEI, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF POLITICO.COM: This is a man with a very rich appreciation for history and his place in history and I think he'll want to, you know, fix any damage that he did during this campaign by ending on a high note in the Senate.
REYNOLDS: The irony for John McCain is that one way to maintain his influence in a Democratic controlled Senate may be by helping the man who defeated him. Katie?

Bio and picture of VandeHei: www.politico.com

NBC's Today Show Begins Annual Global
Warming Scare Week

The full Today show cast went to "The Ends of the Earth," as a part of NBC Universal's "Green Week," all in an effort to, once again, do the bidding of the likes of Al Gore, to create hysteria about global warming. With live reports from Matt Lauer worrying about reefs off the coast of Belize, Meredith Vieira fearful about drought conditions in Australia, Ann Curry watching the snow caps melt on Mt. Kilimanjaro and Al Roker troubled by glacier extinction in Iceland, the cast pushed the green agenda throughout Monday's Today show.

Co-anchor Vieira, near the top of the show, set the table for her cast mates this way: "The warnings are stark. A vortex of trash twice the size of Texas, toxins bleeding into the ocean, rivers that can not reach the sea, species lost forever. Clouds, rain, storm's fury borne of the ocean, slowly drown distant nations. Islands disappearing and in their wake, a new kind of refugee, so far away and so close to home. Throughout our planet and within our bodies, water flows. We cannot survive without it. Yet, 1 billion people don't have enough. Our new thirst may fuel wars. Is water the oil of tomorrow?"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday morning, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following are just some of the scarier, introductory teasers from the Today cast as they occurred on the November 17 edition:

ANN CURRY: We're coming to you now from the first, we're told, is the first live network broadcast from Mt. Kilimanjaro, it's the world's largest standing, free standing mountain. It's at more than 19,000 feet. Mt. Kilimanjaro's majestic, snow capped peaks are increasingly becoming a symbol of climate change. Scientists predict the glaciers could completely disappear by the year 2020. So we've been climbing this mountain since Friday. Our goal is to take you to go up there and see with us the glaciers. We've chosen the hardest route because it will take us closest to the glaciers. We'll have a report on this effort to get there, to get closest up there and also on this issue of climate change and what the melting of these glaciers mean.

...

AL ROKER: Iceland is the worldwide leader in clean energy. Iceland does face a big problem though. The glaciers are melting and that's causing a problem. By the end of the century the glaciers could be all gone. But in the meantime we're gonna be examining that and taking a look at how this country is a leader in hydro-electric power and it could be an example for the rest of the world. We'll have more on that a little bit later.

...

MEREDITH VIEIRA: This is year two of our "Ends of the Earth" series, at least, we hope it will be a yearly series. Last year, we focused, big picture, climate change. This year we decided to focus on the one resource that we cannot live without, the building block of life, water. To the ends of the Earth and into the blue. It's our first fuel and most essential. Mesmerizing, precious, powerful water. It covers 70 percent of the planet, provides half of our oxygen, and yet, we've only reached about 5 percent of the sea floor. In these oceans barely explored, creatures unknown hold the key to life on Earth and life beyond. Yet, we know more about the surface of distant planets than we do about our own.
And so, we venture to the most breathtaking sights, threatened by a changing, warming planet, chilling beauty on the verge of vanishing. The depths of a remote ocean paradise. Belize's great Blue Hole, a reef in peril. Down under, the Australian continent dangerously dry. The frigid north, Iceland's vast glaciers melting. And up Africa's highest summit, where the snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing. The warnings are stark. A vortex of trash twice the size of Texas, toxins bleeding into the ocean, rivers that can not reach the sea, species lost forever. Clouds, rain, storm's fury borne of the ocean, slowly drown distant nations. Islands disappearing and in their wake, a new kind of refugee, so far away and so close to home. Throughout our planet and within our bodies, water flows. We cannot survive without it. Yet, 1 billion people don't have enough. Our new thirst may fuel wars. Is water the oil of tomorrow? But there is hope. What man has undone nature can replenish, if we allow it. At the ends of the Earth, "Today" takes you live to destinations profoundly majestic and desperately fragile. Sounding a call to save our precious waters as we dive deep into the blue. And now let's head about 7,400 miles away from here to Ann Curry on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Ann?
ANN CURRY: Hey, Meredith, good morning. You know, Mt. Kilimanjaro's comprised not of one, but actually three volcanoes. Its name said to mean, "Mountain of Greatness, but it's becoming known locally as the "Mountain of Defeat." At 19,340 feet, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the roof of Africa, described by Ernest Hemingway as "as wide as all the world." Great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun. But the snows of Kilimanjaro are vanishing. 84 percent of her glaciers have disappeared in less than 100 years. To get a close look at this change, our NBC News team is taking the hard route up this mountain, as it will get us nearest to the glaciers. Dramatic NASA images reveal how fast Kilimanjaro's ice has retreated in just seven years. Climate change is the lead suspect, as ice is vanishing on mountain glaciers all over the world. Glaciologist Lonnie Thompson says this represents the permanent loss of ancient evidence that could tell us about future climate change, and it could all be gone as early as 2020.
LONNIE THOMPSON: Certainly, the glaciers on the summit are dying. I think their sentence has already been passed. We're just waiting for it to be carried out.
CURRY: This run-off from Mt. Kilimanjaro's melting glaciers has come down through here for thousands of years, may within a lifetime, be completely gone. That, and Kilimanjaro's shrinking rainforests, due to deforestation, are already threatening water supplies for the tribes people living below, including the Masai. They say their mountain is dying. So, tomorrow we're going to be showing you exactly how people living below this mountain are being affected by the diminishing water, and we're also gonna, a little bit later this morning show you what it's been like to take this big climb so far up this great mountain.

...

MATT LAUER: And we've been talking, throughout the weekend Fabien, about the person who doesn't think when they throw a plastic bag into a river, or a plastic cup or a plastic water bottle, even though this seems like a pristine environment, we've seen those things washing up on shore around here.
FABIEN COUSTEAU, JACQUES COUSTEAU'S SON: We are in some of the most pristine areas here in this area, and I've seen debris floating around, plastic bags and cups and everything else. That washes out from way up in the mountains. You don't have to be on the oceanside to affect the oceans, and in turn, the cycle will come back to us and pollute our bodies.
LAUER: Yeah and you know we talk about things like global climate change and pollution and, and increasing acidity levels in the ocean. Just a couple of degree increase in the temperature of the waters here along this enormous barrier reef, the largest in the western hemisphere, can have a substantially negative impact on the coral, can't it?
COUSTEAU: That's correct. Coral reefs are like little underwater cities. Over 70 percent of the oceans depend on what's happening in the coral reefs. The coral reefs die, the fish go away. Fish go away, we have no more food. And the, the cycle keeps going like that.
LAUER: Not to mention, if these coral reefs here off the coast of Belize were to die, it would leave no barrier between the low-lying mainland and the ravages of the ocean. People, and this is happening all around the world, people in low-lying areas, if they're surrounded by reefs and those reefs die, they're in big trouble.
COUSTEAU: That's absolutely correct.
LAUER: Alright. We're gonna get to talk much more throughout the next day and a half, Fabien. Thanks very much. It's a pleasure and honor to be here with you.
COUSTEAU: Thank you.

ABC Devoted 64 Minutes to 'Pregnant Man'
Story Since March

Since March 26, ABC News has devoted nine segments or 64 minutes to the "pregnant man" Thomas Beatie, including three stories in the last four days on either 20/20 or Good Morning America. On Monday, GMA weekend anchor Kate Snow invited Beatie, who was born a woman but kept her reproductive organs after having transgender surgery, to discuss the autobiography "Labor of Love," which recounts the author's first pregnancy and now another. Snow announced that Beatie would be appearing "to tell us what his definition of family and fatherhood is all about."

Since GMA first discussed the story on March 26, the program has gone back to the subject again and again. Despite hyping the transgendered birth, most stories acted as though there was nothing at all controversial about the topic. News anchor Chris Cuomo told a doctor in March, "Oddity aside, biology aside, it is all about love of this child and as long as that's present, everything else is really going to be normal."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
By April 4, the morning show had touted the subject three times. On June 9, reporter Ryan Owens insisted that "Today, Thomas says, different is normal" and "Love makes a family, he [Beatie] says, and that's all that matters." Mixed in with the usual segments on hotdogs and fireworks, GMA returned to the tabloid tale on the Fourth of July and proclaimed that the daughter of Beatie and his wife Nancy would have a normal life. Less than eight months after first being mentioned, the "pregnant man" returned on Monday to talk to Snow and to break the hour mark in terms of time devoted to a topic. (This was after Friday's 20/20 gave 33 minutes to the Beatie couple.)

Snow was more challenging than previous GMA journalists Owens or Cuomo. She queried Beatie, "Can you understand the questions, though? I mean, all morning people here have been talking about it and people say, when you're not around, people say, 'But is it normal?'" However, when Nancy Beatie said of the publicity, "Well, you know, hopefully it will just calm down and we can just get on with our lives," Snow failed to mention just much attention the couple had been seeking and ABC's role in obliging.

For more on ABC's early coverage of the "pregnant man" story, see an April 7 CyberAlert item: www.mrc.org

For additional blogs on the topic, see a June 9 NewsBusters post: newsbusters.org

And one from July 7: newsbusters.org

-- Brent Baker