CBS's Smith Warns Being 'Agent of Change' May Get Obama Killed --1/30/2008
2. Media Reality Check: 'Networks Swoon Over New King of Camelot'
3. Andy Card Calls Out MSNBC 'Cynicism,' Bush Like Fibber McGee
4. ABC Offers Dismissive Analysis of Past State of the Unions
5. GMA Alone Covers Dem Mayor Accused of Perjury; Ignores Party ID
CBS's Harry Smith on Tuesday morning, after hailing Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama as the passage of a "most treasured covenant," suggested the enthusiasm for Obama's "generational change" and his role as an "agent of change" makes him a potential target of an assassination. Interviewing Kennedy on The Early Show, Smith ominously inquired: "When you see that enthusiasm, though, and when you see this generational change that seems to be taking place before our eyes, does it make you at all fearful?" Kennedy either did not get Smith's point or deliberately avoided addressing the obvious allusion to the assassination of two of Kennedy's brothers, leading Smith to reiterate his dire warning about how "sometimes agents of change end up being targets, as you well know. And that was why I was asking if you were at all fearful of that."
Mark Finkelstein, a blogger for the MRC's NewsBusters blog, on Tuesday morning first posted Smith's questions with the dire implication, illustrated with video posted via YouTube. For Mark's blog entry with video of the January 29 exchange: newsbusters.org
(Skip down three paragraphs in this item for a transcript of the friendly interview with Kennedy in which Smith wondered: "Was yesterday an emotional day for you?")
The MRC's Kyle Drennen recounted, in a Tuesday posting for NewsBusters, how Smith opened the show:
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Smith described Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama in biblical terms: "In the civic religion that is Democratic politics, the most treasured covenant was passed to the young Senator from Illinois." Smith teased the segment by excitedly proclaiming that "Ted and Caroline set to hit the campaign trail after they announce the heir to Camelot." Smith went on to claim that "It feels like the '60s are back," to which co-host Julie Chen replied: "I think it's safe to say no matter what your party affiliation, you have to admit that no one gives a speech like a Kennedy."
Smith continued to speak of Kennedy royalty as the January 29 segment began: "First, the Kennedys launching a passionate campaign for Barack Obama. The chosen heir to their political dynasty." He went on to praise Ted Kennedy's speech: "With a voice filled with vigor and that unmistakable cadence, Ted Kennedy reached back to the 1960s and said the same sense of possibility and hope that carried his brother to the White House had found a new standard bearer."
For the transcript of the entire segment, check Kyle's blog entry: newsbusters.org
Kyle also corrected the closed-captioning against the video to produce a transcript of Smith's interview with Kennedy, who appeared from Capitol Hill:
HARRY SMITH: As we've been reporting, Senator Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama yesterday in a very emotion and energy-charged speech. Joining us now is Senator Kennedy. Good morning, sir.
The text of a Media Reality Check one-page summary report, "Networks Swoon Over New King of Camelot: Broadcast and Cable Networks Offer Oohs and Ahhs for Kennedy Family Endorsements of Obama," compiled Tuesday afternoon by the MRC's Tim Graham.
Several of these quotes from Monday night ran in Tuesday's CyberAlert, but most of those from Tuesday morning will be fresh to CyberAlert readers:
Networks Swoon Over New King of Camelot
Broadcast and Cable Networks Offer Oohs and Ahhs for Kennedy Family Endorsements of Obama
To Republicans, the Kennedy "Camelot" lingo is an outdated, cobwebbed piece of political history, a yellowed picture frame from the Marilyn Monroe era. To Democrats, it's still a shining legacy. It's not complicated to figure out which view the national TV news stars embraced on Monday night and Tuesday after Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama for President.
# MSNBC. Hardball host Chris Matthews found a "historic" moment: "Today, we got a glimpse of the early 1960s, when politics was alive, so here and now in Washington, D.C., the era of serious commitment, of short hair, white shirts, narrow ties, and the Peace Corps. Today, for a brief shining hour, the young got to see what we saw, not the gauzy images of Camelot, but the living spirit of the New Frontier."
# ABC. On Monday's Nightline, anchor Terry Moran trumpeted the "new son of Camelot. Ted and Caroline Kennedy pass the torch to Barack Obama to carry the legacy of JFK." Moran soon hailed how "the political world was transfixed by the spectacle of the most powerful Democratic family of the 20th century christening a new torch bearer for the 21st."
David Wright repeated a line from World News about "the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny....merging ideals from two different eras," as "Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot." On Tuesday, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer announced "let's turn to the Democrats and that political lightning bolt from the Kennedy family." The screen graphic read: "Camelot Crowns Obama: Caroline and the Senator Take a Stand."
# NBC. On Monday's NBC Nightly News, reporter Lee Cowan oozed that "the endorsement brought the Kennedy mystique to this campaign, not in a whisper, but a roar." On Tuesday's Today, reporter Andrea Mitchell announced "It was a very big deal, a huge endorsement indeed. A tremendous boost for Barack Obama just one week before 22 Democratic primaries on Super Tuesday....Monday night, all eyes were on Senators Kennedy and Obama. They sat together capping a rousing day of political theater."
In an interview with Sen. Kennedy, co-host Matt Lauer wondered if his speech was meant to mock the Clintons, but he softened the question by suggesting "you did that in a stirring speech, and you've made many of them during your political career."
# CBS. On Monday's Evening News, anchor Katie Couric hyped the event. "Passing the torch: Barack Obama is tapped as the candidate to continue the Kennedy legacy." On The Early Show, co-host Harry Smith was the most effusive man on TV: "It feels like the '60s are back. This morning, Ted Kennedy joins us live to tell us why he and Caroline have made their choice for Barack Obama."
Smith also declared: "With a voice filled with vigor and that unmistakable cadence, Ted Kennedy reached back to the 1960s and said the same sense of possibility and hope that carried his brother to the White House had found a new standard bearer....In the civic religion that is Democratic politics, the most treasured covenant was passed to the young Senator from Illinois."
Smith also asked Ted Kennedy if once again in our history, an inspirational leader would end up assassinated: "Sometimes agents of change end up being targets, as you well know, and that was why I was asking if you were at all fearful of that."
Network political gurus didn't consider whether this endorsement would still be seen as "historic" if Hillary Clinton wins Massachusetts, among other states, on Super Tuesday despite the Kennedy endorsements. If she wins, how was "history" made?
END of Reprint of January 29 Media Reality Check
Monday's State of the Union speech by President Bush gave the MSNBC team their latest chance to deride a Republican speech, which they eagerly accepted. Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews spent about an hour discussing negative reviews of Bush's speech, with Olbermann calling it "oldies but not so goodies," and fretting about Bush's warnings to Iran about "enriching uranium," with Matthews proclaiming that the speech reminded him of old-time radio character "Fibber McGee saying, 'One of these days, I'm going to clean out this closet.'...it was the theme of this entire speech tonight." When former Bush Chief-of-Staff Andy Card was interviewed at about 11:20pm EST, he chastised the MSNBC team: "I can't tell you how cynical you two sound, and almost every guest you've had on has been very cynical. You can't even find an objective skeptic to interview."
Co-anchor Keith Olbermann, who normally tones down his anti-Bush bias while anchoring special events, had trouble keeping his Countdown show's alter ego from filtering through as he repeatedly fretted that Bush's words about Iran "enriching uranium" reminded him of the "infamous 16 words" from Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech before the Iraq invasion, and similarly worried that Bush had plans for "endless war" in Iraq. He also characterized terror plots referenced by the President as being discredited, calling them "so-called terror plots," including the case of plotters arrested in Britain: "Another story about passenger jets invoked again, bound for America over the Atlantic, even though it proved later that the people who were supposed to try to blow them up did not have tickets nor passports to even get on board those planes."
Olbermann, who enjoys making fun of Bush's verbal mistakes on his show, notably flubbed his own line as he described Bush's 2003 speech reference to "yellowcake uranium" as "yellowcake pancake, yellow pancake of Niger."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
MSNBC started its post-debate coverage by interviewing Republican John McCain, then moved to Democratic Senators Barack Obama, Jim Webb and Joe Biden, inviting them to complain about the President's speech, before finally getting to Republican Andy Card. On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Olbermann admitted to recusing himself from a recent interview with Rudy Giuliani, deferring to Matthews, because of his past criticism of the former New York City mayor. On Monday night, he seemed to again recuse himself from Republican guests as he did not participate in questioning McCain or Card.
During the Biden interview, some notable exchanges occurred after the Democratic Senator voiced agreement with some of Olbermann's comments: "It's like a dream world. It's like what Keith said. As they say in my business, I associate myself with the remarks of the gentleman who spoke before me. I mean, it just is, you know, and I know I'm ruining your reputation by doing that, but all kidding aside, I mean, what was this about?"
Matthews brought up his idea that President Bush's speech reminded him of the character Fibber McGee, a character prone to telling tall tales, from the Fibber McGee and Molly radio series, to Olbermann's agreement:
MATTHEWS: You know, Keith, it reminded me of the old line on the radio, before we were really born, with Fibber McGee saying, "One of these days, I'm going to clean out this closet."
After Biden remarked that seeing a woman or African-American getting elected President was a dream of his, Olbermann joked that Biden "associating yourself with my words" was a "dream" to him before Biden reiterated: "I'm sorry if I hurt your reputation, bud." Olbermann responded: "No, no. It's gone already."
Matthews then spent about 18 seconds thanking Biden for running for President: " And, Senator, thank you for running for President because you added a lot to those debates, and they needed some things, and you gave it to them, and I know it was a hard thing, but thank you. I mean it, as a friend. I really think it showed so much guts to run. And maybe it will be an African-American, maybe it will be a woman, maybe it will be a Republican, but I think the best thing is that you ran, and that's how the system works."
Matthews then immediately introduced Card, who started off chiding Olbermann and Matthews for being "cynical":
A bit later, MSNBC's conservative analyst Pat Buchanan and Air America's liberal talk radio host Rachel Maddow came aboard to discuss the speech. Olbermann again brought up his contention that Bush's words about Iran enriching uranium reminded him of the "16 infamous words" from the 2003 speech and wondered if it was wise to include such lines again. After Buchanan pointed out that it is, in fact, true this time that Iran has been enriching uranium, which even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has admitted to, and contended that Bush had toned down his talk on Iran since the latest NIE report, even Maddow seemed to dismiss Olbermann's fears as she agreed with Buchanan: "I think I heard that as well. It felt like it was saber-rattling, it was very familiar-sounding threats, but they didn't really have the same punch behind them, I think partly because it's so repetitive."
For a more extensive transcript, check Brad's NewsBusters posting linked above.
Previewing George Bush's State of the Union speech on Sunday's Good Morning America, ABC correspondent John Donvan delivered a condescending, dismissive look at the President's past SOTU addresses. After showing a 2005 clip of Bush touting tax cuts for everyone, Donvan derided the cuts, saying they "came true, most of all, for wealthier Americans..." He also added that "out went balanced budgets and surpluses."
While inter-cutting clips of Bush talking about Saddam Hussein, Donvan snidely observed: "And the weapons he said justified going to war -- [State of the Union clip] -- well, they were never found." Donvan also willfully ignored the successful troop surge in Iraq and stuck to the pessimistic outlook of the war. In between a clip of Bush talking about how Iraq's success would inspire democracy in the region, the ABC journalist spun: "And the great hopes for the sacrifice made -- [State of the Union clip] -- those were disappointed hopes."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Donvan did, however, offer one condescending, back-handed compliment. He seemed to indicate that the President accomplished very little in the past seven years and highlighted a familiar phrase. The segment featured a montage of Bush repeatedly saying, "The state of our union is strong," or some variation. Donvan patronizingly added: "But say this for this President, on this podium, on this occasion, despite disappointments, he always managed to say in a way that says he meant it -- [montage of Bush claiming a strong State of the Union]." Donvan condescendingly closed: "Listen this week, then, when despite all, surely, he will say it one last time."
A transcript of the January 27 segment:
KATE SNOW: President Bush is set to make his final State of the Union Address tomorrow night. With less than a year left in his second term, the President goes into this one with a slowing economy, an ongoing war in Iraq, and an approval rating that has gone down to 32 percent. ABC's John Donvan takes a look back at President Bush's last seven years.
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, reporter Dan Harris covered the growing sex scandal of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and, at the same time, skipped the fact that he is a Democrat. The story, which has, thus far, been ignored by both NBC and CBS's morning shows, relates to testimony Kilpatrick gave in the summer of 2007 when he denied having an affair with his chief of staff, Christine Beatty, and of using security to cover up the relationship. (14,000 just discovered text messages between the Mayor and Beatty tend to refute the Mayor's statement.)
During Harris's segment, the GMA correspondent described the embattled politician who, prior to the scandal, was "considered a talented politician with a very bright future" in apolitical terms. Other than a brief, onscreen graphic, he didn't verbally mention Kilpatrick's Democratic Party affiliation. Harris also brought up related examples of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco's Gavin Newsom, both of whom are Democrats. (Those party Ids also went unspoken.)
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Now, it is true that major elements of the Kilpatrick story are just emerging, but it will be interesting to see how aggressively the media cover this case of perjury and a prominent Democratic politician. (It goes without saying that GMA made no comparison to former President Bill Clinton and his problems relating to a sex scandal and lying under oath.) And while Kilpatrick is not a Congressman like Republican Mark Foley, he is a Mayor of one of America's big cities.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:32am on January 29:
DIANE SAWYER: But now, we turn to the headlines out of Detroit this morning, the political scandal brewing there. The city's mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick and his female chief of staff under fire for allegedly lying under oath about a personal relationship, denying that they had one, a physical relationship. Monday, the chief of staff resigned amid revelations of newly discovered cache of nearly 14,000 text messages between the two. ABC's Dan Harris has more on all of this.
-- Brent Baker