Lauer Empathizes with Obama Over 'Sobering' Intel Briefings --2/2/2009
2. CNN's Blitzer on Steele: 'I Don't See Whole Lot of Black People'
3. Time: Steele Pledges 'To Temper Party's Rigidity and Truculence'
4. CBS Lists Excess Spending Which Prompted GOP Opposition
5. Nets Skip (D) for Blagojevich as Scandal-Plagued Governor Ousted
6. Flashback: Showtime Displays Barbara Bush's Abortion of Son W
7. Zellweger: 'I Have a Crush on Jimmy Carter...He Writes Poetry'
Matt Lauer started his live interview with President Barack Obama, from the White House during NBC's Super Bowl pre-game show, on a light note, "So let me ask you the question that's on everyone's mind right now: How's it going living with your mother-in-law?" And he wondered if Obama now gets to read a story to his daughters "at night, tuck them in bed?"
But the member of a press corps which usually showed more concern for the Bush administration's tactics than the terrorist threat they were meant to avert, empathized with the burden of the "pretty sobering stuff" the new President now learns about: "There are millions, tens of millions of people watching this broadcast right now Mr. President, and if they were to have access to the same information you have now on a daily basis, how much less sleep would we all be getting?" Lauer next pressed Obama as to whether "a substantial number" of service men and women in Iraq "will be home in time for next Super Bowl Sunday?"
Lauer asserted that the House passage of the stimulus bill without one Republican vote "disappointed a lot of people" and he painted a dire picture of the economy, treating the President as an expert economist and giving him an excuse for lack of a recovery. Lauer contended that after watching the Super Bowl, for many people "tomorrow morning...the worry's going to start again and they're going to worry about losing their jobs and their homes and putting their kids through school and making ends meet. How much worse is the economy going to get, Mr. President, before it gets better?"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
All of Lauer's questions in the live 12-minute long interview, which started at 5:07 PM EST, from the Map Room of the White House, before he moved to the college football bowl system, Super Bowl predictions and who can e-mail him on his Blackberry:
- So you've been President twelve days. So let me ask you the question that's on everyone's mind right now: How's it going living with your mother-in-law?
- I was driving over here, Mr. President, I was thinking about this enormous transition that you've been through, taking on the reigns as Commander-in-Chief, Mrs. Obama becoming the First Lady. But you've got a daughter ten and a daughter seven and this is a huge game-changer for them as well. How they doing?
- Are you getting to take part in some of the routines? I was thinking you've been on the road basically for two years, although you got home a lot, now you're all under the same roof, basically for twelve days. Are you there for breakfast, do you get to read them a story at night, tuck them in bed? How's it going?
- President Bush said in his last press conference here at the White House, he said he wasn't sure when it would happen for you, but there would be a moment -- perhaps in the Oval Office -- when you would stop and realize "I am the President of the United States." So I'm curious, have you had that moment?
- You talk about sobering moments. Even as a Senator and member of the Foreign Relations Committee you were getting intelligence briefings, on the campaign trail also and during the transition. But now, from what I understand, every day you go down there and there's that intelligence briefing on your desk and it's got to contain some pretty sobering stuff. There are millions, tens of millions of people watching this broadcast right now Mr. President, and if they were to have access to the same information you have now on a daily basis, how much less sleep would we all be getting?
- Let's talk about some of those men and women who are serving this country overseas in Afghanistan, other locations, in Iraq. And I'm sure they're watching today. It's a big event for the armed services. And a lot of those people have a vested interest in one of your campaign promises to end this war and get them home as soon, within 16 months or so, as humanly possible. So when you look at them can you say that a substantial number of them will be home in time for next Super Bowl Sunday?
- The economy. People are going to watch this game, they're going to blow off some steam, they're going to have a good time. But a lot of them are going to bed, they're going to wake up tomorrow morning and the worry's going to start again and they're going to worry about losing their jobs and their homes and putting their kids through school and making ends meet. How much worse is the economy going to get, Mr. President, before it gets better?
- And when it comes to the stimulus plan, the House passed its version last week, but without one Republican vote -- that disappointed a lot of people. The Senate takes up their version of the measure starting tomorrow. How important is gaining some more Republican support for that, how big a test for your leadership at this early stage of your presidency?
The Today show aired the interview again Monday morning and its site has Flash video of the entire 12-minute session: www.msnbc.msn.com
The anchor's comment came during the CNN program's regular "Strategy Session" discussion. Besides Sanchez, Blitzer hosted Democratic strategist Donna Brazile during the segment. He brought up Steele's election as the first topic. After getting both women to respond to the news, Blitzer made his comment about the seeming lack of black people. Sanchez responded by conceding to his observation, in terms of the top RNC members, but then pointed out that "if you walked around that room, there's so much diversity there. There was so much excitement for Michael Steele."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Friday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Blitzer then followed up with his "encouraging" remark about the white RNC members electing the black Steele. Brazile replied by invoking how the Republicans have "taken a page from the Democratic Party" and pointed out how the DNC elected Ron Brown to be their chairman back in 1989.
The Democratic strategist is correct in her point, but since then, the DNC has not elected another African-American to lead their party, even with their emphasis on "diversity." Has Blitzer ever raised that issue during his program?
The transcript of the relevant portion from the panel discussion, which began 50 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of Friday's Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER: Take a look at the audience, though -- and I want to show our viewers a picture of the audience. Michael Steele, the first African-American leader of the RNC -- Leslie, I don't see a whole lot of black people, at least in that group over there.
Time magazine acknowledged that Michael Steele's election as Chairman of the Republican National Committee "makes history," but their story quoted only social and political liberals for analysis. Steven Gray insisted: "In a TIME interview during that [post-election] period, Steele praised Obama's election as America's first black President. He made clear that as RNC chairman, he would move to temper the party's rigidity and truculence." Truculence? Here's the dictionary definition:
1. feeling or displaying ferocity: CRUEL, SAVAGE
2. DEADLY, DESTRUCTIVE
3. scathingly harsh; VITRIOLIC
4. aggressively self-assertive: BELLIGERENT
Steele fans and foes alike in the GOP would love to see what Steele actually said on this front, since the Time writer described it so colorfully. (Doesn't it sound like the Time writer's thinking of....Rush Limbaugh?)
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Saturday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Then Gray turned to how Steele could display less "rigidity" on snuffing out the lives of the unborn:
The former Maryland lieutenant governor's selection is an acknowledgment by the party's leadership that the GOP must quickly recast itself if it is to remain relevant to an increasingly diverse electorate no longer moved by divisive social issues.
"He understands the importance of having candidates who appeal to different constituencies without promoting a monolithic agenda," says Kellie Ferguson, executive director of Republican Majority for Choice, a Washington-based group of moderate conservatives. (A Roman Catholic, Steele personally opposes abortion.) She added, "Hopefully, he will have an open door with social moderates and conservative Republicans and bring everyone together under what will truly be a big tent."
Talk about rigidity: the liberal media hasn't stopped chiding the Republicans to drop their pro-life platform for decades now, no matter how tremendously counter-factual the idea of a "Republican majority for choice" is. Democrats have made compromises in supporting some allegedly pro-life candidates like Sen. Bob Casey, but Time never wrote an article insisting Howard Dean needed to get past the party's "rigidity" on "divisive social issues." Time's Gray insisted the Republicans were "desperate for moderation" and rejected the Limbaugh candidates:
At one point, one of Steele's rivals was Ken Blackwell, an African American and a former Ohio secretary of state, who was widely viewed as too dogmatically conservative to head a party desperate for moderation and who eventually threw his support behind Steele. The original slate of candidates included Tennessee GOP chairman Chip Saltsman, who had distributed a CD containing a song titled "Barack the Magic Negro."
Time wasn't about to explain the liberal-media origins of the "magic Negro" phrase, or explain it was a parody of Al Sharpton's disdain for Obama's "post-racial" style. The sentence about Steele's opposition to "rigidity and truculence" didn't sound moderate, unless it's moderate to want to win the votes of ethnic groups:
In particular, one of the models he pointed to was Ronald Reagan, who, he said, "made it cool to be a conservative." He said he would make clear to local party leaders that "if you want to be chairman under my leadership, don't think this is a country-club atmosphere where we sit around drinking wine and eating cheese and talking amongst ourselves. If you don't want to drill down and build coalitions in minority communities, then you have to give that seat to someone who does."
Time's writer in no way acknowledged that this has been a GOP mantra for decades, or notice especially that RNC chairman Ken Mehlman pledged four years ago he would push hard to win over minorities. Then came the media's, ahem, rigid and truculent coverage of Hurricane Katrina. It could be argued that the media's coverage of racial matters seemed tailor-made to insure Mehlman failed at attempts to make progress with minority voters.
Gray wrapped up the article by citing more liberal experts on black politics:
Certainly, among his biggest challenges will be redefining what it means to be a Republican and dealing with the question of whether a viable GOP can include white Southern conservatives, who have been a vocal force since the 1960s, as well as fiscal conservatives, libertarians and those who adhere to a more hawkish role in the world for the U.S. "The only thing that might stand in the way of Steele is that he's not conservative enough," says David Bositis, an analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington think tank that studies black issues.
This kind of analysis was standard for liberal-media reports, that the GOP was too white, too Southern, and too conservative. Obviously, a majority party isn't a question of whether it "can include" white Southern conservatives, but whether it can include all kinds of conservatives and libertarians, and then reach out for the independent voter. Then Gray's analysis grew increasingly strange, as he insisted the GOP (under John McCain?) overemphasized social issues and underemphasized the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:
He inherits a party that has become largely dormant in huge swaths of the country, including New England. The party's recent emphasis on divisive issues like abortion, gay marriage and stem-cell research has proved out of touch with voters more concerned with the economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of its immigration policies have alienated Latinos, a particularly crucial group in battleground states like Florida and Colorado. Already, Steele has indicated an interest in reaching out to black voters. But that won't be easy, considering the GOP's recent history. For example, only one major Republican candidate '€" Mike Huckabee '€" showed up at a candidates forum at historically black Morgan State University in Baltimore during the last campaign. There hasn't been a single black Republican in Congress in years, and the party has struggled to elect even local candidates who are black. Against that backdrop, and particularly given Obama's support among blacks and Latinos, "merely putting Steele in a high-profile position won't change things overnight," says Daryl Harris, a political-science professor at Howard University.
END of Excerpts
The Time.com story: www.time.com
The "candidates forum" Time refers to was a PBS debate moderated by hostile liberal Tavis Smiley. Steele did work with Smiley to insure Republican attendance, and joined Smiley in denouncing the Republicans who did not attend.
As usual, when noticing the lack of black Republicans elected to Congress, media outlets like Time don't explain that they didn't give Steele or Blackwell or Pennsylvania's Lynn Swann the time of day when they were running for statewide office in 2006.
In the August 14, 2006 issue of Time, these three candidates drew a single paragraph in a sidebar story -- headlined "Here Comes the New Wave of Barack Obamas." The story this sidebar was attached to was a long profile of black Democratic candidate Harold Ford Jr., hopefully headlined "Why Harold Ford Has a Shot." In the last weeks before the 2006 election, Time ran a huge cover story on...Barack Obama.
Two nights after the CBS Evening News commiserated with President Obama over his unrewarded efforts to win Republican House votes for the "stimulus" plan as Chip Reid chafed over how "Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support," Friday's newscast provided the first broadcast network rundown of the ineffective spending provisions to which GOP Congressmen objected. Fill-in anchor Harry Smith noted: "The Republicans' biggest complaint about the stimulus bill is it just gives Democrats an excuse to make government bigger. Wyatt Andrews says the examples are not hard to find."
Reporter Wyatt Andrews began: "If you are one of those taxpayers who does not want to spend $25 million to repair ATV trails, or $150 million for agricultural losses like damaged beehives, then you'll understand why no Republican supported the stimulus in the House and why most Republicans are trashing it in the Senate." Andrews related how "Congressman Eric Cantor says around one-fourth of the stimulus spending will never go away," such as "$15 billion for Pell grants." Andrews pointed out "anything that Congress couldn't afford before -- $50 million to support the arts, or $70 million to help people stop smoking -- has found its way into the stimulus now."
Meanwhile on Friday night, NBC continued to pass along Obama talking points as Brian Williams teased, "The President's message today was to the American middle class: Help is on the way."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org:]
The January 30 CyberAlert item, "ABC & CBS Chide Republicans for 'Turning Cold Shoulder' to Obama," recounted:
Shortly after the House on Wednesday passed President Barack Obama's $825 billion "stimulus" package, ABC and CBS commiserated with Obama over his unsuccessful efforts to woo Republican votes. "Not one Republican voted for it," ABC anchor Charles Gibson announced on World News with "Rescue Plan" as the on-screen heading, "turning a cold shoulder to the President's appeal for bipartisan support." Reporter Jonathan Karl fretted: "So much for the President's charm offensive. Today it was all partisan rancor and name-calling."
CBS reporter Chip Reid related how "the White House says this is a victory for the President, but certainly there is also some disappointment that he worked so hard to get bipartisan support and couldn't get a single Republican vote." Reid soon chafed over how "Republicans relentlessly attacked the bill despite the President's extraordinary efforts to get bipartisan support." Katie Couric noted how "the President went up to the Hill to personally appeal to Republicans already," so, she pleaded, "what more can he do?"
Full rundown in the previous CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video tp produce this transcript of the story on the Friday, January 30 CBS Evening News:
HARRY SMITH: The Republicans' biggest complaint about the stimulus bill is it just gives Democrats an excuse to make government bigger. Wyatt Andrews says the examples are not hard to find.
WYATT ANDREWS: If you are one of those taxpayers who does not want to spend $25 million to repair ATV trails, or $150 million for agricultural losses like damaged beehives, then you'll understand why no Republican supported the stimulus in the House-
Seven weeks after his arrest for allegedly attempting to peddle Barack Obama's Senate seat, Rod Blagojevich was removed as governor of Illinois on Thursday. ABC, CBS and NBC all offered full reports last night and this morning, but none of the anchors or reporters provided any hint that Blagojevich was a Democrat.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Back on December 9, reporting on the then-governor's arrest, all three of the evening newscasts properly referred to Blagojevich as a Democrat. NBC reporter Lee Cowan described the charge as "that the two-term Democratic Governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder," while ABC's Brian Ross stated that "the boyish-looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder." See: www.mrc.org
But now that the scandal was ending Blagojevich's political career (he's now banned from ever serving in public office in Illinois), the networks have dropped the (D) from the story. A round-up of some of the coverage, starting with Thursday's evening newscasts:
# ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: Rod Blagojevich is no longer the governor of Illinois. He was ousted from office late today after being convicted by the state senate. Hours before the vote, Blagojevich made a plea to senators trying to save his job. It didn't work. The vote to oust him: 59-nothing.
KATIE COURIC: And one more job loss to report. The Illinois senate today removed Governor Rod Blagojevich; the vote was 59 to nothing. Blagojevich, only the eighth U.S. governor to be impeached and thrown out is now banned from ever again holding public office in Illinois.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: You may be hearing the name Blagojevich a lot less often starting tonight. We go now to Illinois where the state senate removed Governor Rod Blagojevich from office late today, just hours after he made a dramatic, eleventh-hour appeal to save his job. Apparently no one was moved by his remarks; the vote to oust him was 59 to nothing.
# ABC's Good Morning America:
KATE SNOW: To directly quote one Illinois lawmaker, "the freak show is over." Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office after being accused of trying to sell President Obama's old Senate seat. So, what is next for Rod Blagojevich? ABC's Chris Bury is in Springfield, Illinois this morning.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: This morning a new governor is in charge in Illinois. Former Governor Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office last night by a unanimous vote in the state senate. CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.
MATT LAUER: Let's turn now to the big political story in Illinois, where Rod Blagojevich is out of a job this morning despite a last-minute appearance at his impeachment trial. The Illinois state senate voted unanimously to kick the governor out of office.
ANN CURRY: Illinois has a new governor today now that in the words of one state lawmaker, quote, "the freak show is over." Despite a last-minute impassioned plea in the state senate, Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office last night on a unanimous vote. The Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn was immediately sworn in. Blagojevich now faces a federal corruption probe but vows to clear his name.
The Washington Times reported Friday that NBC rejected for the Super Bowl an ad from the Fidelis Center for Law & Policy's CatholicVote.com showing a baby in the womb identified as Barack Obama -- which reminded me of how in January two years ago another network, CBS's Showtime cable channel, featured in one of its prime time series a mannequin "art" piece of Barbara Bush aborting George W. Bush.
CyberAlert reported at the time:
Sunday's episode of the L word, Showtime's drama series about lesbians in Los Angeles, featured the "Unauthorized Abortion of W," a sculpture of a woman's body with an exposed womb displaying George W. Bush's adult face with each of his hands holding onto a rocket labeled "U.S. Air Force." The rockets were angled to suggest they represent forceps. The figure was made to look just like Barbara Bush, with an American flag blindfold, and with the suction end of a vacuum cleaner just below her crotch.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Washington Times reporter Julia Duin's description of the ad NBC turned down:
The ad opens with an ultrasound of a child in utero, set to violin music.
"The child's future is a broken home," the caption reads. "He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him."
As the music swells and an outline of a baby can clearly be seen, "Despite the hardships he will endure, this child will become," the voice-over says as a photo of Mr. Obama in front of a cheering crowd flashes on the screen, "the first African-American president."
As a final photo of the President appears, "Life. Imagine the Potential," the caption concludes.
January 30 Washington Times article: www.washingtontimes.com
Video of that pro-life ad with Obama: www.catholicvote.com
The January 30, 2007 CyberAlert item recounted:
Lerner then announces to Collins: "This is called the 'Unauthorized Abortion of W.' Some of the most powerful student work I've seen." Collins, seeing the sculpture with a vacuum cleaner at its base, fires back: "It's an abomination and an abuse of university funds." Porter pleads with him: "Look Skip, don't you think, really, that the primary purpose of a university is to provide a safe haven to explore ideas and expand boundaries?" Collins: "Not on my dollar."
After Collins storms out, Lerner urges Porter to "give him the speech about how the impressionists were met with the same response when they debuted their work in Paris in 1874."
That CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
On Thursday's Late Show, actress Renee Zellweger recounted her "emotional" experience seeing Barack Obama's inauguration, but Obama isn't the only liberal politician she idolizes. Zellweger, who stars in a new movie that apparently ridicules small town America and Christians, told USA Today: "I have a crush on Jimmy Carter. I admit it. He has an extraordinary mind. He's an exceptional human being. And he writes poetry, for crying out loud. He's all good things."
In a Friday "Life" section profile, "A low-key Renee Zellweger loves to hide in plain sight," reporter Donna Freydkin relayed: "So wowed was Zellweger that she waited in the blistering Manhattan cold for 2 1/2 hours on Monday to have the 39th President sign her copy of his latest book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work."
Humorously, three pages later, USA Today film reviewer Claudia Puig trashed Zellweger's movie which opened Friday, The New Town, as not only "the worst movie of this fledgling year," but as "one of the worst movies of any year." Puig condemned it: "Not content to be merely inane and predictable, it is downright insulting, humorlessly deriding those who choose to live in rural America, labor in factories or have a strong Christian faith."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Internet Movie Database's page for Zellweger, who is probably best-known for her title role in 2001's Bridget Jones's Diary: www.imdb.com
Video of Zellwger on Thursday's Late Show: lateshow.cbs.com
Freydkin's profile included a look at Zellweger's quest to hear Obama's inaugural address:
With visible glee, Zellweger recounts her morning running around the capital, trying to find an unblocked street that would let her be near Barack Obama's new home and hear the swearing-in.
"And now it's 10 to 12. And I knew I wasn't going to make it. I'm feeling the energy of all these people," she says. "I feel that something magnificent is about to happen in our country, something very right is coming to be. So I had to get in earshot. I start running. There's a police barricade on First Street. I see an opening on one of those. There's a lady leaning on it. It just so happens that she's blind so she didn't need to stand up. I stand up behind her. I have no ticket, I have no plan. I just wanted to hear him."
Entire USA Today profile piece: www.usatoday.com
From the top of Puig's January 30 review, "'New in Town': Don't go there, seriously," which she gave just one star:
To say that New in Town is the worst movie of this fledgling year is to damn it with faint praise. It may be one of the worst movies of any year. Not content to be merely inane and predictable, it is downright insulting, humorlessly deriding those who choose to live in rural America, labor in factories or have a strong Christian faith.
It treats this giant swath of Americans as foolish, if lovable, buffoons, essentially insulting viewers by making the audience unwitting co-conspirators simply by watching this dreck.
It follows a particularly abhorrent Hollywood formula: Ridicule the friendly, rural folks, show how stupid they are, then by the end, place their small-town values and inherent decency on a pedestal....
As dunderheaded as the folks of New Ulm, Minn., are portrayed, Lucy, the ambitious, self-absorbed executive played awkwardly by Renee Zellweger, comes off even worse. She's a citified cliché-and-a-half....
Complete review: www.usatoday.com
-- Brent Baker