2. MSNBC Dives To Cover For Obama With New 'Special Olympics' Theory
3. 'Masterful' Obama Performance with Leno 'Calmed Down' Totenberg
4. NBC Buries Obama Special Olympics hit; ABC Hits 'Late Night Gaffe'
5. Joy Behar's Kids Book: Barack Obama Vs. Mean Republican Dogs
As if Olbermann doesn't graze a "buffet of daily talking points" from an "ultra-liberal media site." The headline over a post earlier in the day on Media Matters' "County Fair" blog: "Accepting Buckley award, Fox's Hume thanked Media Research Center 'for the tremendous amount of material' they 'provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report.'" See: mediamatters.org
Unlike Olbermann, however, Hume almost always credited the MRC so viewers were informed of his source.
Before subsequently reading the Hume quote verbatim as transcribed by Media Matters, Olbermann charged "Brit Hume admits that for years he's been reading daily talking points, from a lunatic-fringe right wing Web site, on the news" and that Hume "made an admission at a DC dinner last night as startling as if he had confessed to making up the news out of whole cloth or reading it off a ouija board."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
"Plumber Joe" also aroused Olbermann's interest as he set up a brief soundbite by mis-naming the MRC: "The Media Research Council, which is a lunatic-fringe Web site run by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell, hosted Joe the Plumber last night, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, and Joe the Plumber likes his snake." Viewers heard from Wurzelbacher: "You got all this love in this room and everything. I'm horny."
Of course, Olbermann preferred his homosexual innuendo to any context. Wurzelbacher was on stage to accept, standing in for ABC's Bill Weir, "The Obamagasm Award." Weir won for ruminating over how "even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity" at Obama's inauguration. Before that award, Olbermann's colleague, Chris Matthews, earned the "The Media Messiah Award" for boasting Obama gave him a "thrill going up my leg." So Wurzelbacher's quip came after six nominee videos (three in each category) of journalists oozing over Obama.
(The posted video contains four clips of Olbermann's remarks about the MRC, Wurzelbacher and Hume.)
Olbermann on Hume on the Friday, March 20 Countdown:
# Tease: "Worsts: Brit Hume's dumbfounding admission. He was fed a buffet of daily talking points by an ultra-conservative media site and quote 'we certainly made tremendous use of it.'"
# Plug: "Brit Hume admits that for years he's been reading daily talking points, from a lunatic-fringe right wing Web site, on the news."
# Worst Person in the World segment: "Our runner-up, Brit Hume from Fixed News. For most of its history host of its purported straight newscast and chief of its Washington bureau made an admission at a DC dinner last night as startling as if he had confessed to making up the news out of whole cloth or reading it off a ouija board. 'I want to say a word, however, of thanks, to Brent [Bozell] and to the team at the Media Research Center and all the contributors for the tremendous amount of material that the Media Research Center provided me for so many years when I was anchoring Special Report. I don't know what we would have done without them. It was a daily, sort of a buffet of material to work from, and we -- we -- we certainly made tremendous use of it.'
"Don't know what you would have done without them Brit? Might have done the news!"
Our page for the Buckley award, with video of the presentation and acceptance: www.mrc.org
Our page for the gala with videos of the DisHonors Awards: www.mrc.org
The actual exchange on the Thursday, March 19, Tonight Show does not make that explanation seem even remotely plausible:
HOST JAY LENO: I imagine the bowling alley has been burned and closed down.
[This item is based on an article by intern Mike Sargent posted Friday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Friday morning on MSNBC, Witt offered up this exotic theory to absolve Obama of being insensitive to the disabled: "Nothing goes unescaped when it comes to the President. He did talk about the Special Olympics. Some people took that as an offensive remark. However, this morning on a radio show, the director of the Special Olympics for the state of Illinois, a man by the name of Doug Snyder, talked about that, and he thinks he knows where all this came from, because he remembers a couple years back introducing the President to a little girl named Caitlyn, who showed the President how to bowl, and did a darn better job of doing it at the time than the President was able to do it. He thinks Caitlyn is actually perhaps the inspiration for the President deciding to be a bit better as a bowler."
Presumably, the President did not intend to offend when he cited the Special Olympics as a way to laugh off his low bowling score, but it's quite a stretch to suggest that his remark on the Tonight Show was an attempt to cite the Special Olympics as a positive example. It's at least too much for Obama's own press people, who have not made such an absurd claim -- leaving it up to his fans in the media to try and explain away such an obvious blunder.
Since "I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American," NPR's Nina Totenberg decided to watch President Obama on the Tonight Show "and he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance."
The eager-to-be-impressed Totenberg made her comment on Inside Washington, a weekly show produced and aired over the weekend by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate and its all-news cable channel, News Channel 8: "When I heard he was going to do this I thought, should a President really do that? Then I actually stayed up and watched it and he calmed me down. I've really been getting pretty upset in the last week, just like every other American I think. And he calmed me down. And he was presidential. I thought it was just a masterful performance."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Three weeks ago, a CyberAlert post, "Nina Totenberg's Friend: 'Oh My God, We Have a President Again!'" recounted:
NPR's Nina Totenberg revealed Friday, not surprisingly, that she was enchanted by President Barack Obama's address earlier in the week to a joint session of Congress. "It made me feel pretty good. I thought it was a great speech," she enthused before relaying a contrast with former President George W. Bush: "A friend of mine said, 'oh my God, we have a President again!'" Totenberg added that "in some ways, that's not fair to Bush," but she insisted: "That's the way you felt. You felt this was a guy who was totally in charge."
For more, check the March 2 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
NBC's Today show on Friday minimized and neglected a gaffe by Barack Obama that his bowling skills are on the level of the "Special Olympics or something." In contrast, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's Early Show heavily covered the remark. GMA devoted the first two segments to the ill advised joke the President made on Thursday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno. And although Today opened the program with Obama's appearance, they didn't get to the Special Olympics crack to the very end of the piece. Co-host Meredith Vieira awkwardly explained that the President "said something that forced the White House to issue an explanation afterward."
Fellow co-host David Gregory vaguely added, "When you're on comedy shows, there's always a chance that a punch line doesn't work." What was the punch line? He didn't say. Chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd then reported on the story and only got to the gaffe at the segment's end. In contrast, "Good Morning America" senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper asserted that Obama "proceeded to put his foot in his mouth" with his remark. GMA featured the offending line right at the beginning of the piece and also included a graphic that announced, "Late Night Gaffe: Obama's Special Olympics Joke." Co-host Robin Roberts even observed that "some have an issue with the venue" of the talk show.
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In a follow-up segment, Roberts brought on Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver to discuss the comment. Shriver is a supporter of Obama and gave $1750 to the then-candidate during his presidential run. (Roberts didn't mention this.) So, it's not surprising that he accepted the apology (which the President offered in a call on Thursday night) and suggested the event could be a "teachable moment." However, Roberts pressed the subject and wondered, "Is that enough for you? Or do you think there's something else that he should do?"
Over on the The Early Show, CBS also featured the controversy prominently. Co-host Maggie Rodriguez announced that the President created a "whole new uproar." Fellow host Julie Chen explained, "First, it was a whirlwind trip to the West Coast for President Obama, but his message on the economy may be drowned out by an inadvertent comment." Guest co-host Chris Wragge deemed the statement a "flippant comment." However, he seemed confused about the fact that Obama has already apologized. Wragge asked Slate.com's John Dickerson, "Does he need to make an apology?" As Good Morning America and Today noted, the President put out a statement apologizing shortly after talking with Leno.
In the 9am hour of the Today show, the segment was repeated and NBC's Todd deemed the quote a "inappropriate comment." He also related the story that Obama called Mr. Shriver to apologize. In the 7am hour, however, after playing the offending clip, this was the extent of NBC's coverage:
TODD: Now, Air Force one was barely in the air when the White House put up an official statement apologizing for the remark. Bill Burton, deputy press secretary, says "The President made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics. He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world." David, I have a feeling some phone calls this morning to the Shriver/Kennedy family, who of course have been big advocates of the Special Olympics.
The contrast between the three shows can most clearly be seen in how each program teased the story. Only NBC skipped the Special Olympics comment. Here is the GMA version:
DIANE SAWYER: The President hits the late night comedy circuit. BARACK OBAMA: I do think in Washington, it's a little bit like "American Idol," except everyone is Simon Cowell.
The Early Show tease was similar:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: President Obama takes to late night TV defending his embattled Treasury Secretary but causes a whole new uproar.
The Today show crew ignored the gaffe in their show open:
JAY LENO: Please welcome President Barack Obama.
[Special thanks to MRC intern Mike Sargent for transcribing the Today segment.]
Today viewers who just heard the opening headlines certainly wouldn't know that the President said anything at all controversial.
As a somewhat incredulous Roberts watched, Behar continued: "And he organizes the big dogs around the little dogs. 'Cause at first, the big dogs, also known as the Republicans, don't like him. See?" With no spoiler alerts, Behar concluded, "And so, he finds ways, pragmatically, to help the big dogs...And so, he becomes popular. And everybody loves each other. "
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday morningon the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Describing the complex, layered themes in her book, Behar asserted, "It's all about pragmatism and change, and trying to find a solution in your situation, which is Barack Obama."
A partial transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:35 on March 19, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: Funny lady, Joy Behar, one of the fabulous co-hosts of The View, is joining us this morning. She's here to talk about her brand-new book. Yes, Barbara said it.
-- Brent Baker