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CNN's Jeff Toobin Frets Democrats Didn't Say 'Throw the Bums Out' --8/26/2008


1. CNN's Jeff Toobin Frets Democrats Didn't Say 'Throw the Bums Out'
On Monday night just after Michelle Obama finished speaking, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, as he expressed his disappointment that the Democrats didn't go negative on the first night of their convention, inserted a barb against the Republicans: "There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap...." He further explained that "Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight."

2. Skip Not 'Proud,' Couric: Michelle Obama 'Slightly Controversial'
After Michelle Obama's Monday night speech, ABC and NBC mentioned her "for the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country" previous slap at the United States, but in the context of how she resolved any doubts. ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared: "Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered." CBS didn't touch on the topic during its prime time hour, though during an interview with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Katie Couric described Mrs. Obama not as controversial, but as "slightly controversial." In a taped session later with Craig Robinson, Michelle's older brother, Couric wondered: "What one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?" When he suggested "sincere," Couric agreed: "That's a good word." On the ideological labeling front, Ted Kennedy's appearance the hour before, highlights of which led all three broadcast networks at 10 PM EDT, failed to prompt a single liberal label on ABC or CBS, but NBC applied the tag three times, two of those to describe Kennedy as a "liberal lion."

3. Fineman Cheers: Michelle 'Beautifully' Dug Herself Out of Hole
During MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic Convention, on Monday night, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pronounced that Michelle Obama, in her opening night speech, had "dug herself, beautifully and completely, out of the hole she put herself in...when she said her husband's success was the first time she was proud of her country."

4. CNN Labels Dem Convention Speakers as Some of the 'Most Liberal'
Previewing the first night of the Democratic convention on Monday's Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer and a network graphic repeatedly identified the announced speakers as liberal. The CNN anchor asserted: "The speaker lineup for tonight, by the way, here at the convention, includes some of the party's most prominent and most liberal members, including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter." Blitzer then asked guest James Carville if "...highlighting all these liberals tonight, is that the way these Democrats can reach out to moderates, to independents and say, you know what, it's time for a change?" Carville praised the work of cancer-stricken Senator Ted Kennedy and predicted high emotion. Fellow guest, conservative radio host Bill Bennett, replied, "Oh, it's their party and they can be emotional or cry if they want to or be liberal if they want to."

5. CNN's Martin: 'Crazy Folks on the Right' Distort Michelle Obama
Monday's American Morning featured a segment on CNN political analyst Roland Martin's TV One interview with Michelle Obama aired Sunday night which seemingly sought to counter negative assertions about Obama by Republicans and "crazy folks on the right." After airing a clip of Obama talking about her blue-collar upbringing, during which she stated that her story was the "quintessential American story," co-host Kiran Chetry asked Martin about how important it would be for Obama to address that in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. In his reply, Martin contended that "crazy folks on the right" are to blame for distortions of Obama.

6. CBS's Early Show Offers Puff Pieces on Michelle Obama
In preparation for Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic convention, Monday's CBS Early Show continued its fawning over the wife of the presidential candidate as co-host Harry Smith declared: "Michelle Obama steps out tonight to address the nation. Is she Barack's best asset?" The show featured three segments on Michelle Obama, two of which were complete fluff.

7. On MSNBC, PBS's Gwen Ifill Fawns Over Michelle Obama
Live from Denver, Colorado, Brian Williams hosted the 1 pm EDT hour of Monday's MSNBC News Live and featured guests Gwen Ifill of PBS and Michele Norris of NPR to talk about Michelle Obama's upcoming primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention. The segment turned out to be a love-fest of Michelle Obama and her humble roots. Ifill insisted: "A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She's educated, she's beautiful, she's tall, she tells you what she thinks..."

8. Nets Tout Biden's 'Accomplishment,' CNN: Biden 'Madness' on Iraq
CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today on Monday morning touted, without offering specifics, what CBS reporter Dean Reynolds called Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden's "wealth of experience" and "long record of accomplishment" on foreign policy; NBC's David Gregory asserted that Biden had "deep foreign policy experience." On Sunday's Good Morning America, reporter John Berman also declared "Biden's foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama's resume." But CNN's American Morning asked their Iraq reporter, Michael Ware, to rate Biden's major contribution to recent foreign policy debates, his plan to partition Iraq into three separate regions. "Madness," Ware declared, adding: "No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran." Appearing later in the same show, Ware again scoffed at Biden's proposal: "No one supports it. It ain't going anywhere."

9. NYT: Biden Not Tough Enough on Thomas, Not Nice Enough to Hill?
New York Times online political editor Kate Phillips: "[Biden] was widely criticized by liberal legal advocates and women's groups as having mismanaged the allegations of sexual harassment made by Ms. Hill against her former employer, Mr. Thomas...Some women...who were actively involved in opposing Mr. Thomas's confirmation in 1991 recall the narrow vote (52-48 in favor) as 'a day of shame for the Senate and a day of shame for women,' as one lawyer said this week." Was Senator Joe Biden, Obama's choice for running mate, truly not tough enough on Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas during those infamous hearings in 1991? The Times' Phillips seems to think so, judging from the tone of "Biden and Anita Hill, Revisited." In a long, 1,500-word blog post from Saturday, Phillips suggested that Biden was too soft on Clarence Thomas, even though he forced Anita Hill and her 10-year old unsubstantiated allegations on Thomas during the hearings.

10. Newsweek's Eleanor Clift Puts Bob Dole in Her 'Hall of Evil'
The McLaughlin Group isn't the hot buzz-machine show it used to be in the 1980s, but this weekend's show brought a classic Eleanor Clift explosion. When Pat Buchanan mocked Barack Obama's abilities at political street brawling, and suggested he needed surrogates like the ones Nixon had -- John Connally, Bob Dole, Spiro Agnew -- Clift scowled and exclaimed: "What a Hall of Evil!" Bob Dole's a super villain?

11. Get MRC's Latest Convention Coverage Reports Before CyberAlert
Get the latest MRC "Convention Watch" analysis before it arrives in the daily CyberAlert. We've created a widget at the top center of the MRC home page with the latest headlines for MRC postings, on our NewsBusters blog, about convention coverage this week and next. By checking it during the day and night you'll see the stories (and many more that won't fit) which will later be compiled into the once-a-day CyberAlert. So, throughout the day, check the widget at: http://www.mrc.org/


CNN's Jeff Toobin Frets Democrats Didn't
Say 'Throw the Bums Out'

On Monday night just after Michelle Obama finished speaking, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin, as he expressed his disappointment that the Democrats didn't go negative on the first night of their convention, inserted a barb against the Republicans: "There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap...." He further explained that "Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight."

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted early Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

About two hours earlier, just after the beginning of 9pm EDT hour, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen expressed similar disappointment in the Democrats, though he used more subdued language: "[W]hat really has surprised me, so far, is that we're two hours into this and the Democrats have offered almost no substance for television purposes. You know, we've had very little that's been compelling thus far....I mean, having worked on the choreography of these before, you need to grab people's attention with a message early on and then build to your ten o'clock hour, not to let these hours sort of get frittered away in a lot of hoopla, which is, you know, is fun and interesting, but I don't think it's compelling."

Toobin's remark came just after the top of the 11 pm Eastern hour on Monday evening during the network's convention coverage, after co-host Campbell Brown asked him about Michelle Obama's "reaching out to Hillary Clinton" during her speech, which had just concluded. Just before, Brown asked Gergen about his earlier remarks regarding his disappointment in the Democrats:

CAMPBELL BROWN: Anderson, I want to ask David to follow-up on the point that he had made earlier, a complaint, that David, you had had earlier about sort of the lack of compelling message coming out of this convention so far. Did that change, do you think, when she took the stage tonight?
DAVID GERGEN: I think she rescued the evening for the Democrats, but much more importantly, she gave the validation for Barack Obama and the Obama family that I think Americans were looking for. You want to have some better sense of who are these people, you know, what are their values, where do they come from, and more importantly, what do they believe our future ought to be about?

The full transcript of Toobin's remarks to Campbell Brown during CNN's Monday night, August 25, coverage of the Democratic convention:

CAMPBELL BROWN: Jeff Toobin, that moment, her reaching out to Hillary Clinton?
JEFFREY TOOBIN: That was -- they're going to be a lot of moments for the next 3 days where the Clinton people recognize the Obamas, the Obamas recognize the Clintons -- but there is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap in-
BROWN: But wasn't it supposed to be kind of a feel-good night, a get-to-know the -- that's how it was pitched.
TOOBIN: That's how it was pitched, but I think -- that's a useful thing, but it is not enough, when you have this -- You only have four nights, and you only have the American people's attention for a few minutes, and, and I just think you -- Democrats have never shown, at least in recent history, that they are good at negative campaigning. Republicans are terrific at it, and Democrats have been lousy at it, and I don't think they were any good at it tonight.

Skip Not 'Proud,' Couric: Michelle Obama
'Slightly Controversial'

After Michelle Obama's Monday night speech at the Democratic National Convention, ABC and NBC mentioned her "for the first time in my adult lifetime I'm proud of my country" previous slap at the United States, but in the context of how she resolved any doubts. ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared: "Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered." Noting how "we heard the word 'America' or 'American' or 'Americans' 12 times," NBC's Chuck Todd decided "this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American." (On MSNBC, Newsweek's Howard Fineman declared: "I think Michelle Obama dug herself, beautifully and completely, out of the hole she put herself in" with the not proud comment. See item #3 below.)

CBS didn't touch on the topic during its prime time hour, though during an interview with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Katie Couric described Mrs. Obama not as controversial, but as "slightly controversial." In a taped session later with Craig Robinson, Michelle's older brother, Couric wondered: "What one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?" When he suggested "sincere," Couric agreed: "That's a good word."

On the ideological labeling front, Ted Kennedy's appearance the hour before, highlights of which led all three broadcast networks at 10 PM EDT, failed to prompt a single liberal label on ABC or CBS, but NBC applied the tag three times, two of those to describe Kennedy as a "liberal lion." (CNN and MSNBC provided scattered liberal labeling.)

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

Earlier in the night, ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News ran glowing profiles of Michelle Obama, both of which showed the "for the first time...proud of my country" soundbite. The NBC Nightly News did not air a profile of her and so did not air the soundbite.
# ABC News, after Michelle Obama's Monday, August 25 speech at the Pepsi Center in Denver:

DIANE SAWYER: And also talking about her love of America several times. As we know, coming into the convention she had two high numbers, right George, a 51 percent favorable number, but also a 30 percent unfavorable.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And a lot that was because of that comment she made during the course of this campaign where she said "the first time I was proud of my country" was during this election. Tonight, there was no doubt. The money line in this speech was that line when she said, 'that is why I love this country,' and she lingered.

# CBS News:

Couric to Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius: "Now this is a big night for Michelle Obama, his wife, who's been slightly controversial. What do you think she needs to do tonight to win people over?"

Couric's questions to Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson:

- Very few people know Michelle Obama as well as you do. How would you describe her?

- You all didn't have a lot of advantages growing up.

- This whole thing must be quite a head trip for all of you. But particularly for Senator Obama himself. How has he changed through this process, do you think?

- After this speech tonight, what one word would you like viewers all across the country to use to describe your sister?
[Craig Robinson: You know, there is no real one word. But my sister, if nothing else, is very sincere.]
That's a good word.


# NBC News, as provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, AT 10:01 PM EDT: After being introduced by Caroline Kennedy after a film by the filmmaker Ken Burns, the liberal lion from Massachusetts, the senior Senator from the Bay State, his voice reedy and his hair thinning, came out to accept the thunderous ovation from this crowd, invoking his own themes and those of his late brother.

...

WILLIAMS, AT 10:11 PM EDT: There was no mistaking when the unofficial start to this gathering was. It was during that film, the tribute to the liberal lion from the Bay State that really was the kickoff. Republicans will surely have their moment. This one belonged to the Democrats tonight.

...

WILLIAMS, AT 10:14 PM: This thing kicked off with the tribute to Senator Kennedy....What a beginning to tonight. There's no other figure in American politics quite like him, certainly nothing in front of this partisan audience.
TOM BROKAW: Well, no, and what he can do is coalesce the traditional liberal wing of this party around Barack Obama, unlike anyone else.

After Michelle Obama's address, about 10:55 PM EDT:

WILLIAMS: Chuck Todd, your feelings, having listened to Michelle Obama?
CHUCK TODD: Well, it was interesting, we heard the word "America" or "American" or "Americans" 12 times. She said the word "values" a number of times. We heard her refer to "blue collar people," "working class folks," people "working on the night shift." Brian, this is definitely a response in some ways to that whole kerfuffle that she created for herself, six or eight months ago, about being proud to be an American.

Fineman Cheers: Michelle 'Beautifully'
Dug Herself Out of Hole

During MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic Convention, on Monday night, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pronounced that Michelle Obama, in her opening night speech, had "dug herself, beautifully and completely, out of the hole she put herself in...when she said her husband's success was the first time she was proud of her country."

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

Fineman made the following declaration at 12:03am EDT on the Monday, August 25 (to Tuesday morning August 26) coverage of the Democratic Convention:
"I think Michelle Obama dug herself, beautifully and completely, out of the hole she put herself in, with the people paying attention, when she said her husband's success was the first time she was proud of her country. I think a lot of the speech that she gave, and it was a beautifully controlled speech here, Chris, in the hall, you could hear a pin drop. It was beautifully done because she didn't overdo it. She was classy all the way, she was humble. She told the story of her family in the way that left no doubt, in the minds of the people who watched and listened, that her story was indeed the story of the American dream. But it was a speech, in part, made necessary by some of the controversy that she generated earlier on with some of her comments. She overcame them beautifully."

CNN Labels Dem Convention Speakers as
Some of the 'Most Liberal'

Previewing the first night of the Democratic convention on Monday's Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer and a network graphic repeatedly identified the announced speakers as liberal. The CNN anchor asserted: "The speaker lineup for tonight, by the way, here at the convention, includes some of the party's most prominent and most liberal members, including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter."

Blitzer then asked guest James Carville if "...highlighting all these liberals tonight, is that the way these Democrats can reach out to moderates, to independents and say, you know what, it's time for a change?" Carville praised the work of cancer-stricken Senator Ted Kennedy and predicted high emotion. Fellow guest, conservative radio host Bill Bennett, replied, "Oh, it's their party and they can be emotional or cry if they want to or be liberal if they want to."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

He also added: "But this is a more liberal party. It is a more liberal platform than we had with Bill and Hillary Clinton. It's different. This is not your big brother's Democrat Party."

A transcript of the exchange, which occurred at 5:35pm EDT on August 25:

WOLF BLITZER: The speaker lineup for tonight, by the way, here at the convention, includes some of the party's most prominent and most liberal members, including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Ted Kennedy and former President Jimmy Carter. Let's talk about that and more with our CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville, along with our CNN political contributor Bill Bennett, the host of the conservative national radio talk show Morning in America and a fellow at the Claremont Institute. James, highlighting all these liberals tonight, is that the way these Democrats can reach out to moderates, to independents and say, you know what, it's time for a change?
CNN GRAPHIC: Liberal Lineup
JAMES CARVILLE: Well, I mean, the Speaker of the House is speaking tonight. I mean, I think it's going to be a very, very emotional moment if Senator Kennedy comes in this hall. I think, regardless of anyone's political ideology, he's probably the most accomplished senator in the United States Senate since World War II. And I don't think that's what the public is going to gleam from this at all I think-
BLITZER: It will be an emotional moment.
CARVILLE: It will be a very, very, very emotional moment and, by the way, you know, Speaker Pelosi is the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, the highest ranking government to ever serve -- the highest ranking women to have ever served in the United States government, Congress. So I think it will be great.
BLITZER: You think that this is the way the Democrats should be kicking off their convention, this, the first night, Bill?
BILL BENNETT: Oh, it's their party and they can be emotional or cry if they want to or be liberal if they want to. But it is going to be emotional. Their lion -- Ted Kennedy is their lion. But it is liberal. There's no doubt about it. The Clintons have been dethroned. They're out. They're gone or so we think. I guess that's yet to be decided. We're all watching that with interest. But this is a more liberal party. It is a more liberal platform than we had with Bill and Hillary Clinton. It's different. This is not your big brother's Democrat Party. It's your father's Democrat Party. It's back to the left.

CNN's Martin: 'Crazy Folks on the Right'
Distort Michelle Obama

Monday's American Morning featured a segment on CNN political analyst Roland Martin's TV One interview with Michelle Obama aired Sunday night which seemingly sought to counter negative assertions about Obama by Republicans and "crazy folks on the right."

After airing a clip of Obama talking about her blue-collar upbringing, during which she stated that her story was the "quintessential American story," co-host Kiran Chetry asked Martin about how important it would be for Obama to address that in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. In his reply, Martin contended that "crazy folks on the right" are to blame for distortions of Obama:

CHETRY: Roland, how important is it going to be for her to bring that up tonight as she gives the speech?
MARTIN: It's vital because it lays the foundation that, look, I'm just like you. I'm not, you know, I wasn't some rich kid who went to Princeton and Harvard where I had a silver spoon in my mouth. She makes the point in the interview on TV One last night that, look, I was born in a two bedroom apartment, grew up with my brother, my dad, my mom. So, when you're able to tell that story, you're able to counter this different kind of version that's been put upon her by frankly a lot of the crazy folks on the right.

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

CNN then played a clip of Obama reassuring people that she is proud of her country, with an on-screen graphic which read "Michelle Obama One-on-One: 'I am absolutely proud of my country.'" This clip also featured Obama declaring that she is who "Americans were supposed to be": "I have said and will continue to say that I am absolutely proud of my country and in no other place in this country could my story be possible. I mean, that's, you know, I am here because of the opportunities that my father had, that my mother had, um, you know, we are who Americans were supposed to be."

Afterwards, Chetry ignored Obama's pretentious remarks about herself and instead focused on what Obama would have to do to convince people that she is patriotic. Martin responded to this inquiry by bashing Republicans for focusing on the character of their opponents during campaigns while also claiming that Democrats "always want to talk about the issues" and giving the Obamas some advice on how to counter Republican attacks:
Look, Republicans are very good, and I've been saying this for years, Democrats always want to talk about the issues but Republicans define elections based upon character, based upon values. "You're not one of us, you're not patriotic." Democrats have to respond in kindness. "Hey, wait a minute, I'm just like you. I have the same concerns." You know, I think one of the things that Obama should do, Senator Barack Obama and Michelle, say, "wait a minute, we paid our student loans off four years ago so we know what you're going through." You know, Obama should be saying, "I worked through college, I know what that feels like, I'm American just as you."

The transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:26am EDT during the August 25 edition of CNN's American Morning:

KIRAN CHETRY, host: A live look right now at the convention hall and meanwhile Barack Obama's hoping to reintroduce himself to voters at the convention and who better to help him with that than his wife Michelle. She is tonight's featured speaker. CNN's political analyst Roland Martin, who has his own radio talk show and is a syndicated columnist, sat down with Michelle in an interview for TV One. Sorry, it was hard for me to get that out. I'm so excited about the fact that you really had a chance to get a lot out of her. One of the interesting things she talked about was playing up her blue collar upbringing and she's gonna talk about that in tonight's speech. Let's listen to a tiny bit of that and I'll get your reaction.
ROLAND MARTIN: Sure.
MICHELLE OBAMA: My father was a shift worker. He worked for the city all his life, same job. Um, and as I told people, people know my father had multiple sclerosis. Um, my father had a severe disability. You know, no silver spoons, no magic, just parents who tried their best to give the next generation something a little bit more. Uh, and I think how that impacts this campaign is that that our stories are the quintessential American stories.
CHETRY: Roland, how important is it going to be for her to bring that up tonight as she gives the speech?
MARTIN: It's vital because it lays the foundation that, look, I'm just like you. I'm not, you know, I wasn't some rich kid who went to Princeton and Harvard where I had a silver spoon in my mouth. She makes the point in the interview on TV One last night that, look, I was born in a two bedroom apartment, grew up with my brother, my dad, my mom. So, when you're able to tell that story, you're able to counter this different kind of version that's been put upon her by frankly a lot of the crazy folks on the right.
CHETRY: Her critics have taken some of the things she's said specifically about patriotism and sort of turned them against her. She addressed that with you last night, too. Let's listen.
[ON SCREEN GRAPHIC: MICHELLE OBAMA ONE-ON-ONE: "I AM ABSOLUTELY PROUD OF MY COUNTRY"]
OBAMA: I have said and will continue to say that I am absolutely proud of my country and in no other place in this country could my story be possible. I mean, that's, you know, I am here because of the opportunities that my father had, that my mother had, um, you know, we are who Americans were supposed to be.
CHETRY: And Roland, you know, this is not only the convention audience but of course the nation-wide audience watching from home. If you're sitting on your couch, what does Michelle Obama have to say for you to be convinced that, you know what, she is indeed patriotic just like all of us?
MARTIN: It boils down to selling your story. Look, Republicans are very good, and I've been saying this for years, Democrats always want to talk about the issues but Republicans define elections based upon character, based upon values. You're not one of us, you're not patriotic. Democrats have to respond in kindness. Hey, wait a minute, I'm just like you. I have the same concerns. You know, I think one of the things that Obama should do, Senator Barack Obama and Michelle, say, "wait a minute, we paid our student loans off four years ago so we know what you're going through." You know, Obama should be saying, "I worked through college, I know what that feels like, I'm American just as you." If -- when Democrats allow Republicans to hit them over the head on character issues, they lose. Economy's important, national security is important, but people do want to get the sense that, hey, I'm just like you, and that's how I think she's going to have to do tonight and frankly, Obama's going to have to do the same thing in his speech. You heard Senator Joe Biden do some of that Saturday. They have to do more of that to say, "Look, I am just as American as you, my story matters as well." So, I think that you're gonna hear a lot of that tonight in her speech, and it's a very compelling speech that she gives talking about her upbringing.
CHETRY: Just got a couple seconds here but I wanna ask you, is she nervous? I mean, it's the biggest speech of her life she's gonna give tonight.
MARTIN: Uh, you know what, I've seen her speak before crowds and her campaign, I mean the Obama campaign, they call her the closer. Don't be surprised if she brings it tonight and so she may put the pressure on her husband to give a better speech on Thursday.
CHETRY: All right, Roland Martin, great job with that interview. I'm glad you got to share some of it with us today. Thanks.
MARTIN: Thanks, Kiran.

CBS's Early Show Offers Puff Pieces on
Michelle Obama

In preparation for Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic convention, Monday's CBS Early Show continued its fawning over the wife of the presidential candidate as co-host Harry Smith declared: "Michelle Obama steps out tonight to address the nation. Is she Barack's best asset?" The show featured three segments on Michelle Obama, two of which were complete fluff.

In the first segment, Bianca Solorzano looked at five things that people might not know about Michelle Obama: "Michelle Obama is known for her fashion-forward style, but when it comes to her style of eating, she likes good old-fashioned comfort food. We asked close friend and family confidant Valerie Jarrett to give us the inside scoop, beginning with Michelle's favorite food." Jarrett replied: "Oh, that's easy, French fries." Jarrett is of course an Obama campaign worker, in addition to being a "family confidant." It was also revealed that Michelle Obama exercises daily, her favorite singer is Stevie Wonder, and she watched the '€˜Dick Van Dyke Show' as a child. In June, the Early Show did a similar segment on Barack Obama and informed viewers that he "loves to play scrabble" but "does not like ice cream."

Solorzano went on to highlight how outspoken Obama is: "Another thing close to Michelle's heart -- honest views." A clip was played of Obama appearing on ABC's The View claiming that: "People aren't used to strong women."

Read about Early Show coverage of Barack Obama's likes and dislikes in the June 19 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

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

Later in the show, Smith talked to liberal political operative Laura Schwartz about Michelle Obama's fashion sense: "Tonight, Michelle Obama will command a national audience. Americans will not only analyze what she has to say, they'll also pay keen attention to what she wears." Schwartz later observed: "She wore black leggings and black and white sun dress from the Gap. Flew off the shelves that same day. So we are seeing that she is setting a trend, not just in politics, but really in everybody's everyday lives."

Smith replied to that comment by explaining: "How interesting is it though, that so much focus is on that and here's this very serious person. Went to Harvard, big time lawyer, community organizer, all of this stuff in her biography and there really is -- what she does resonates throughout huge portions of the populace." Schwartz replied: "Especially if Barack Obama wins and she does indeed become the First Lady. I think she's honored to be known as some sort of budding political fashion icon. But at the same time, I think she wants people to focus tonight especially on what she has to say." Schwartz also concluded: "...whatever she wears tonight could be in your closets tomorrow."

The one instance of objectivity came during a brief report by Jeff Greenfield on the substantive political implications of Michelle Obama's speech. Greenfield mentioned some of the controversy created by Obama's past comments: "What did she mean when she said: [clip of Michelle Obama speaking] For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country." Greenfield went on to wonder about Obama's elitism: "Can a health care executive with an Ivy League degree, a mid six-figure income and seven-figure home relate to the average American?"

On MSNBC, PBS's Gwen Ifill Fawns Over
Michelle Obama

Live from Denver, Colorado, Brian Williams hosted the 1 pm EDT hour of Monday's MSNBC News Live and featured guests Gwen Ifill of PBS and Michele Norris of NPR to talk about Michelle Obama's upcoming primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention. The segment turned out to be a love-fest of Michelle Obama and her humble roots. Ifill insisted: "A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She's educated, she's beautiful, she's tall, she tells you what she thinks..."

Williams started off the segment by asking the typical question of "what does Michelle Obama have to do tonight in this hall?" Ifill immediately went into gushing mode, first about Senator Ted Kennedy and then about Obama:
"Michelle Obama has to find a way to be more amazing and more emotional than Ted Kennedy. If it looks like Ted Kennedy actually walks across that stage tonight and appears in some fashion in person and speaks, it's gonna be an emotional highpoint. Michelle Obama, however, also has to deal with preconceptions about who she is. A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She's educated, she's beautiful, she's tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself."

Williams then threw in some gushing of his own by describing Obama as "a mother of two girls, and the head of a family that has to sustain itself while Dad is otherwise occupied for the last couple of months. No easy feat." Ifill then continued to praise Obama and her two daughters:
"Two amazingly precocious girls who walked out on the stage today at the sound check rehearsal with them and wanted to play with the gavel. I mean, they have the ringlets, they have the little girl dresses. This family wants to let you know they are Cosby with Norman Rockwell overtones. They want people to look at them and say, 'oh, I get you. I understand you. You don't threaten me. I get this family.' That's what Michelle Obama's trying to do."

Later, after Williams described Michelle Obama's "south Chicago experience" as "more of the kind of American story than [Barack Obama's] Kansas, Kenya, South Pacific, you know his bizarre life story," Ifill talked up Michelle Obama's humble roots: "It's rooted. It is rooted. Her father was a city worker, a retired pump operator who fought all his life with a congenital disease and never complained, never missed a day of work. Her mother, who is 71 years old, takes care of the kids when they're traveling. She's here with them, Mary Ann Robinson, everybody will find her instantly recognizable as the grandma who indulges the kids with the treats."

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

NPR's Michele Norris also got in on the praising of Michelle Obama. In response to a question by Williams about how Obama could compensate for the "emotional highpoint" of Senator Kennedy's potential appearance during her own speech, Norris gushed:

There's a lot of pressure on her but I did get a chance to talk to her earlier today and you wouldn't know it by talking to her. I mean, she's an athlete so she carries that pressure very easily on her shoulders. She's quite confident about what she has to do tonight. She knows what she has to do. And as Gwen said, she has to show people that if they look closely, if they listen closely, if they look at this family tableaux which is unlike anything that we've ever seen on a convention stage, that people will see something that looks different but if they listen carefully they might hear something that resonates in their own lives. She's going to talk tonight not just about their triumphs, she's going to talk about their struggles. How they both come from fairly humble roots.

How they had to climb up the rough side of the mountain to get where they are now and they're hoping that people in hearing that message will say, "Oh, I learned something about Barack Obama that resonates in my own family. I know someone who's had a similar struggle." That's her goal tonight.

Williams ended the segment by asking if Obama suffers "any delusions or any disappointments that, you know, in some quarters her negatives are high?" In answering the question, Norris touted that Michelle and Barack Obama "together made a compact at the beginning of this campaign that when they got to the end of the process they were gonna look at each other and see the same person across the table that started on this journey and they were gonna try very hard not to let this change them." Norris also worried that because of the "angry black woman" characterization of Obama, she might not be able to "rise up and defend her husband."

Nets Tout Biden's 'Accomplishment,' CNN:
Biden 'Madness' on Iraq

CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today on Monday morning touted, without offering specifics, what CBS reporter Dean Reynolds called Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden's "wealth of experience" and "long record of accomplishment" on foreign policy; NBC's David Gregory asserted that Biden had "deep foreign policy experience." On Sunday's Good Morning America, reporter John Berman also declared "Biden's foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama's resume."

But CNN's American Morning asked their Iraq reporter, Michael Ware, to rate Biden's major contribution to recent foreign policy debates, his plan to partition Iraq into three separate regions. "Madness," Ware declared, adding: "No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran."

Appearing later in the same show, Ware again scoffed at Biden's proposal: "No one supports it. It ain't going anywhere."

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

Biden has certainly spent a long time dealing with foreign policy issues, but the network coverage suggests that all of Biden's contributions have been positive. CBS's Reynolds was the most effusive this morning, also declaring that the fact that Biden's son is going to Iraq "will lend a certain credibility to the Democratic ticket's discussion of the war," as if Bo Biden's presence will improve the quality of Obama's ideas. In a piece shortly after 8:30 Monday morning, Reynolds declared:
"At 65, Joe Biden brings a wealth of experience into the equation. Obama was only 11-years-old when Biden was first elected senator, and he's carved out a long record of accomplishment, especially on foreign policy. His selection was clearly designed to answer critics that Obama lacks experience. Biden's son Bo, currently Delaware's Attorney General, will be shipping off for a tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Delaware National Guard next month, something that will lend a certain credibility to the Democratic ticket's discussion of the war."

Over on NBC's Today, Gregory was slightly more restrained: "Sixty-five-years-old, Biden is a familiar face in Washington. He served in the Senate for three decades, amassing deep foreign policy experience as chairman of the Foreign Relations committee. As a Catholic and a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, his political appeal extends to the working class voters Obama has struggled to attract."

Monday's Good Morning America had already moved beyond the Biden bios, but reporter John Berman on Sunday hit the requisite talking point: "Biden's foreign policy expertise fills some holes in Obama's resume and he's scrappy."

And the New York Times put Biden's "Foreign Policy Expertise" into the four-column headline blaring Biden's arrival on the Democratic ticket on Sunday: "Obama Selects Biden, Adding Foreign Policy Expertise to Ticket." Reporters Adam Nagouney and Jeff Zeleny declared in their second paragraph: "In Mr. Biden, Mr. Obama selected a six-term senator from Delaware best known for his expertise on foreign affairs -- Mr. Biden spent last weekend in Georgia as that nation engaged in a tense confrontation with Russia -- but also for his skills at political combat."

But on Monday's American Morning, CNN's Iraq-based reporter Michael Ware, who was in studio with co-anchor Kyran Chetry today, delivered a sharp rebuke to Biden's idea for splitting up Iraq, calling it "madness." Ware appeared shortly before 6:30am EDT, and Chetry asked him about Biden's "foreign policy experience" which she said "is expected to be a big boost to Barack Obama." A partial transcript:

KYRAN CHETRY: Well, the next president will face a number of critical decisions concerning America's foreign policy. They include withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. When will that happen? How will it happen? Plus, how to confront the growing threat from insurgents fighting in Afghanistan and also should the U.S. directly engage Iran? Joe Biden's foreign policy experience is expected to be a big boost to Barack Obama. CNN's Michael Ware is just back from Georgia, he spent a ton of time in Iraq as well, and he's with us now in studio. Good to see you.
MICHAEL WARE: Hi, Kyran, it's great to be here.
CHETRY: Yeah, I want to ask you about your thoughts on Joe Biden and the fact that he's been a long-time supporter of partitioning Iraq into three separate autonomous regions. Is that something that could and would work?
WARE: Well, madness, really, to be honest. I mean, as you see when Senator Biden was -- his nomination was announced -- you find out that opposition to Senator Biden's partition policy is one thing, that, you know there are three ethnic groups in Iraq. No one is for partition unless of course you're an Iranian-backed political party because they'd love to have a self-governing zone in the south that effectively would become an extension of Iran. So, really, that would play into the hands of Tehran. So, no, that's not an effective strategy.

Ware returned a bit before 9am EDT and made the same point after Chetry again asked him about the Democrats' "wealth of experience, especially in foreign affairs."

KYRAN CHETRY: If Joe Biden brings anything to the Democratic ticket, it's certainly a wealth of experience, especially in foreign affairs, and Barack Obama will need that, if elected, as he addresses some critical foreign policy questions. CNN's Michael Ware knows the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan all too well....I'd like to get your insight about the talk about Iraq and what to do about Iraq. Now, Joe Biden, when he was running for president back in 2006, he talked a lot about his plan, which was partitioning Iraq into three separate and autonomous regions. Would that work?
MICHAEL WARE: No, it doesn't have a snowflake's chance, that kind of a solution. For a start, it just plays directly into Tehran's hands. I mean, one of the big issues that's being fought out in Iraq politically is that the hardcore Iranian-backed Shia parties are trying to create a self-ruling zone in the south. That would basically become a little Iran. Now, in the north you already have a self-governing state -- the Kurds own Kurdistan, and they don't listen to the central government, they've got their own defense force, they've got their own foreign ministry. That's enough of a drama. So, to try to partition it off is just going to destabilize not just that country, but further destabilize the region. And no one supports it. It ain't going anywhere.

NYT: Biden Not Tough Enough on Thomas,
Not Nice Enough to Hill?

New York Times online political editor Kate Phillips: "[Biden] was widely criticized by liberal legal advocates and women's groups as having mismanaged the allegations of sexual harassment made by Ms. Hill against her former employer, Mr. Thomas...Some women...who were actively involved in opposing Mr. Thomas's confirmation in 1991 recall the narrow vote (52-48 in favor) as 'a day of shame for the Senate and a day of shame for women,' as one lawyer said this week."

Was Senator Joe Biden, Obama's choice for running mate, truly not tough enough on Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas during those infamous hearings in 1991? The Times' Phillips seems to think so, judging from the tone of "Biden and Anita Hill, Revisited." In a long, 1,500-word blog post from Saturday, Phillips suggested that Biden was too soft on Clarence Thomas, even though he forced Anita Hill and her 10-year old unsubstantiated allegations on Thomas during the hearings.

[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: www.timeswatch.org ]

An excerpt from the posting on the newspaper's The Caucus blog:

....while the Delaware Democrat ultimately voted against confirming Mr. Thomas, he was widely criticized by liberal legal advocates and women's groups as having mismanaged the allegations of sexual harassment made by Ms. Hill against her former employer, Mr. Thomas, at the Department of Education and at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at those hearings....

Some women, invariably of Senator Clinton's age, who were actively involved in opposing Mr. Thomas's confirmation in 1991 recall the narrow vote (52-48 in favor) as "a day of shame for the Senate and a day of shame for women," as one lawyer said this week. The episode in time evoked strong reactions from women across the country, who viewed the judiciary panel as 14 white men who too easily dismissed Ms. Hill's accusations and who did not allow the testimony of other women who might have corroborated or helped buttress her account to prove a case of sexual harassment....

The backlash sentiment among women voters, whose refrain about the Senate at the time, (and men in general) became "they just don't get it," may have become influential in propelling the first President George Bush to sign the 1991 civil rights bill. And in electing Bill Clinton to the presidency afterward.

SUSPEND Excerpt

No comment from Phillips on how electing Bill Clinton was somehow a red-letter day in the fight against sexual harassment.

Phillips found a feminist law professor who said Biden treated Thomas too fairly because of the "racially charged nature of the hearings." She even cited 1994's Strange Justice, a biased anti-Thomas book by two reporters (one of whom is now managing editor for news at the Times) to make her case, while conveniently smearing Thomas all over again with old attacks:

Over the years, Mr. Biden has defended his role in the hearings. In Strange Justice, a book about the Clarence Thomas confirmation, authors Jill Abramson (managing editor for news here at The Times) and Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side and a writer for the New Yorker, extensively document the internal and external machinations surrounding the hearings and interviewed Senator Biden several times.

He made decisions, they wrote, based on his views of respect for a person's privacy about what and wouldn't be let into the hearings -- including the pornography rentals and Mr. Thomas's thin legal record....In one interview, the two wrote that Mr. Biden said later that he had tried to be a statesman, to uphold decency standards. In the end, however, he conceded that his motivations might have been "misplaced." On excluding the pornography issue alone, they quoted Mr. Biden as saying that he acted, "in fairness to Thomas, which in retrospect he didn't deserve."

SUSPEND Excerpt

Phillips sounded a pro-Hillary feminist note later while suggesting the hearings had been flawed and that Hill had not been given a fair chance to represent herself:

Another pivotal player from those years said she was told by a friend the other day, in mentioning Mr. Biden's actions during that era, that she needed to "get over it."

In the last few days, as we tried to reach out to people involved in the Thomas hearings, we kept hearing the same thing. Mr. Biden's role in the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas saga was so long ago as to not be relevant. It was a long time ago.

Funny how that phrase, though, "get over it" keeps coming back. It's the one Mr. Obama used in a meeting with supporters of Senator Clinton about how women, once they really learned what Senator John McCain represented on their issues, would "get over it."

Last year, when Mr. Thomas published his memoir, Anita Hill wrote an Op-Ed in The Times, basically saying well, she wasn't over it.

END of Excerpt

For the August 23 posting on "The Caucus" blog: thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift Puts Bob Dole
in Her 'Hall of Evil'

The McLaughlin Group isn't the hot buzz-machine show it used to be in the 1980s, but this weekend's show brought a classic Eleanor Clift explosion. When Pat Buchanan mocked Barack Obama's abilities at political street brawling, and suggested he needed surrogates like the ones Nixon had -- John Connally, Bob Dole, Spiro Agnew -- Clift scowled and exclaimed: "What a Hall of Evil!" Bob Dole's a super villain?

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Monday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The exchange on the August 23/24 McLaughlin Group:

PAT BUCHANAN: Here's what he needs, John. What Obama needs more than anything else is, cause he's not good at it [fighting back]. He needs surrogates. Remember Nixon? We had John Connally, Bob Dole, and Spiro Agnew doing the cutting-
ELEANOR CLIFT: Oh God! What a, what a Hall of Evil! [Buchanan laughs heartily, even though she's dead serious.] I don't think he needs a Bob Dole or Spiro Agnew.
BUCHANAN, talking over her: Forty-nine states, Eleanor, forty-nine states!
CLIFT: And impeachment follows!

This is the latest proof of John Harwood's Media Maxim. In a discussion of Karl Rove and liberal bias in 2005, Harwood, then with the Wall Street Journal, declared: "I believe it is true that a significant chunk of the press believes that Democrats are incompetent but good-hearted, and Republicans are very efficient but evil."

See April 25, 2005 CyberAlert item, "Reporters Believes Democrats 'Good-Hearted,' Republicans 'Evil,'" at: www.mediaresearch.org

Get MRC's Latest Convention Coverage
Reports Before CyberAlert

11) Get the latest MRC "Convention Watch" analysis before it arrives in the daily CyberAlert. We've created a widget at the top center of the MRC home page with the latest headlines for MRC postings, on our NewsBusters blog, about convention coverage this week and next. By checking it during the day and night you'll see the stories (and many more that won't fit) which will later be compiled into the once-a-day CyberAlert. So, throughout the day, check the widget at: www.mrc.org

Direct address for all the "Convention Watch" postings on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org

Or, of course, to read everything on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

But, we realize that some find a blog, with its many posting -- often several an hour -- a bit intimidating.

So we now have a three-tiered structure:

-- Go to NewsBusters to get everything posted about the conventions by both MRC staff and outside bloggers: newsbusters.org

-- Or, if that's too much, check the "Convention Watch" widget on the MRC home page to see all of the MRC staff postings about convention coverage: www.mrc.org

To read those "Convention Watch" postings in full on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

-- Or, to review just those posting judged "Cyber-worthy" -- the articles culled from all of the NewsBusters convention postings that I judged the most relevant/providing best evidence of media bias -- look at the CyberAlert you receive in e-mail. For the latest CyberAlert online: www.mrc.org

During past conventions, we distributed CyberAlerts twice a day. But now that we have a blog updated throughout the day and night, save for an extraordinary circumstance, there will only be one CyberAlert a day.

If that doesn't satisfy your need for convention coverage analysis in terms of amount or timeliness, look in on the widget on the MRC home page or jump into the NewsBusters blog.

And don't forget about TimesWatch, the MRC's site devoted to the New York Times, which will be documenting how that paper is approaching the conventions: www.timeswatch.org

Plus, the MRC's CNSNews.com has two reporters on site in Denver: www.cnsnews.com

-- Brent Baker