Matching CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC Distort McCain on Hamas in 2006 --5/19/2008
2. CNN Lets Clintonista Denounce McCain's 'Hypocrisy' on Hamas, But
3. Shuster: Bush's Remarks 'Intellectually Grotesque and Dishonest'
4. AP: 'There's Ample Evidence that Obama is Something Special'
5. ABC Launches PC Investigation Into Obama 'Sweetie-Gate'
6. HBO's 'Recount' Movie: Favors Democrats, Harris as Cruella De Vil
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Friday conveyed Barack Obama's charge of hypocrisy by John McCain on dealing with Hamas, all based on one January 28, 2006 soundbite fed to them by the Obama campaign via the Huffington Post -- "They're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another" -- though, in fact, in an interview that same day with CNN, in the same snowy setting, McCain made clear the U.S. could deal with Hamas only if it were to "renounce" its "commitment to the extinction of the state of Israel. Then we can do business again."
CBS's Dean Reynolds presumed Obama had caught McCain in a flip-flop: "Obama called McCain a hypocrite for backing Bush, and pointed to an earlier statement McCain had made about Hamas, which runs the Gaza strip." After the "they're the government, and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another" McCain soundbite, Reynolds reported that "today McCain clarified," as if he had to adjust his earlier view. On NBC, Lee Cowan highlighted how "Obama pointed to this interview two years ago when the Arizona Senator seemed to hint that eventually talking with Hamas might well be a political necessity." Following the clip, Cowan allowed: "McCain says, though, that quote was taken out of context."
ABC's David Wright played the McCain clip, but then uniquely acknowledged that it didn't match his point at the time, noting that McCain on Friday recalled "he went on to say, in that interview, that he would not negotiate with Hamas unless it renounced violence and recognized Israel."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The 2006 clip favored by the media was put into play Friday morning, on CNN's American Morning, by current Clinton campaign operative Jamie Rubin who conducted the Sky News interview.
Rubin, a Clinton administration State Department official married to CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and now working for the Hillary Clinton campaign, was invited aboard CNN to expound on his Friday op-ed in the Washington Post, "Hypocrisy on Hamas: McCain Was for Talking Before He Was Against It." See: www.washingtonpost.com
Once contemporaneous interview video proved that Rubin's selected soundbite, fed to journalists by the Obama campaign, misrepresented McCain's policy position reporters should have ignored it -- or made an issue of the joint Clinton/Obama effort to distort McCain's record, just as they have spent the last 24 hours fulminating over the supposed distortion, by McCain and Bush, of Obama's position on talking to terrorist groups and leaders.
SkyNews is a British news channel owned by News Corporation: news.sky.com
As recounted in #2 below, CNN trusted "Rubin as the authority on what McCain's stance was two years ago, instead of their own archival video" of the January 28, 2006 6 PM EDT edition of CNN Saturday which the MRC found in our archive:
From the Friday, May 16 broadcast network evening newscasts, the coverage of the 2006 McCain soundbite, all portions of longer stories about Obama denouncing McCain and Bush for accusing him of "appeasement":
# CBS Evening News:
DEAN REYNOLDS: Obama called McCain a hypocrite for backing Bush, and pointed to an earlier statement McCain had made about Hamas, which runs the Gaza strip.
LEE COWAN: Or worse, he says, distorting the facts -- something he accused John McCain of doing.
DAVID WRIGHT: Today McCain was also forced to debate himself. Specifically, the tough line he takes now.
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
May 16 CyberAlert on item on CNN's initial hypersensitivity towards President Bush's "appeasement" remark: www.mrc.org
Huffington Post link to Rubin's clip of the 2006 interview of McCain: www.huffingtonpost.com
The interview of Rubin, which began 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Friday's American Morning, began with Phillips playing a clip of President Bush's "appeasement" remark. She then remarked that "John McCain piled on more, attacking Barack Obama for saying he would talk to U.S. enemies and consistently points out that Hamas, a militant organization, endorses Obama's candidacy. But there's word this morning that McCain actually hasn't been consistent in his opposition to Hamas."
After asking Rubin to comment on the President's speech, Phillips asked the former Clinon State Department spokesman, "[W]e see John McCain responding yesterday, the new John McCain. But there's an old John McCain that we discovered, and that comes from an interview you did when you were working with Sky News in 2006, I believe, correct?" After Rubin confirmed this, Phillips played the clip of McCain supposedly endorsing negotiating with Hamas. In it, McCain stated that "[t]hey [Hamas] are the government and sooner or later we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another. And I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy toward Hamas is because of their dedication to violence and the things they not only espoused but practice. But it is a new reality in the Middle East."
Rubin called McCain's supposed position then versus his position now "the ultimate flip-flop in American politics." He continued:
RUBIN: When he was in Davos amongst the European crowd and I interviewed him there, two years ago, he was talking as if it was appropriate and natural and reasonable to negotiate with Hamas, the new government of the Palestinian territories. And then two years later, he's taking a very, very different position, saying anybody who wants to talk to them is somehow an equivalent to terrorists, smearing people for suggesting that one ought to talk to Hamas, when it was he himself who was prepared to talk to Hamas two years ago. And the great irony of all of this is that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama even want to talk to the Hamas government. They both said we shouldn't negotiate with them or deal with them properly until they renounce terrorism in Israel. So John McCain doing this 180-degree flip flop and then attacking Barack Obama for it, it's just the height of hypocrisy.
Philips then brought up how former Secretary of State Colin Powell, during a 2007 interview on NPR -- three years after he left office -- also apparently called for the Bush administration to negotiate with Hamas. In response to this, Rubin continued to spin:
RUBIN: Well, here's the tragedy here. Apparently, it's a fairly acceptable view in the upper reaches of the Republican Party -- Colin Powell, John McCain two years ago -- to negotiate with Hamas, to deal with them as a government. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, the Democrats have rejected that. So then this very same candidate, John McCain, takes that argument, turns it on its head, pretends he never said what he said, maybe he forgot, and attacks the Democrats as somehow the friends of terrorists. Maybe this experience, and I hope and I pray, that this experience for John McCain and the Republicans of watching what happens when they try to use these sort of Nixonian campaign tricks will be so bitter for them that we can get back to the real issues. We have a big election coming and a big issue.
Phillips concluded the interview by asking, "So let's get away from the dirty politics and get away from the games on both sides and you think this will eventually or will now bring things back to the issues?" Rubin predicted that the general election in the fall would be a "virtual referendum on Iraq" and that McCain and Bush should just concentrate on that issue.
In both Rubin's Sky News/Huffington Post video and in CNN's own interview, McCain wore a red tie and a blue dress shirt underneath a gray scarf and black winter coat. This leads one to conclude that the two interviews were conducted on the same day, raising the question of whether McCain forgot to state his conditions when talking to Rubin -- or whether Rubin left them out of the video he supplied to both Huffington Post and CNN.
The 9am EDT hour of Friday's MSNBC News Live featured only antagonistic coverage of President Bush's remarks to Israel's Knesset, including Hardball correspondent David Shuster's characterization of the President's remarks as "clearly an intellectually grotesque and dishonest statement." Shuster also argued that Bush's remarks were offensive to "a lot" of people because "when you talk about Adolf Hitler in the context of the Middle East, it diminishes the atrocities and just how horrific the Nazi regime really was."
The hour featured two segments which focused on Bush's remarks with guests David Shuster and Barack Obama supporter Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), both of whom criticized the President's statements and went along with the Democratic spin that Bush's statements were an attack on Obama.
Shuster also used the opportunity to criticize the "hypocrisy" of President Bush as well as John McCain's supposed Hamas flip-flop: "There's a bit of hypocrisy here because merely talking with our enemies, that's something that Ronald Reagan has done with the Soviet Union, Richard Nixon did with China. John McCain advocated just a few years ago that we should be talking with Hamas."
Shuster attacked McCain for his supposed hypocrisy on standing for a new kind of politics: "Look at what John McCain was trying to say in his speech yesterday that he stands for a new kind of politics, that he's above of this sort of traditional, slash and burn politics and, yet, he then embraces in what is clearly an intellectually grotesque and dishonest statement by President Bush."
[This item, by MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For a transcript, check the NewsBusters posting.
Catching up with a fawning Associated Press story on Barack Obama from the Saturday before last, "Obama rises from political obscurity to verge of history," on Friday the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto ridiculed the sycophant approach taken by the AP's Charles Babington, formerly of the Washington Post. Babington trumpeted in the May 10 dispatch: "There's ample evidence that Obama is something special, a man who makes difficult tasks look easy, who seems to touch millions of diverse people with a message of hope that somehow doesn't sound Pollyannaish."
Taranto, in his May 16 "Best of the Web Today" online compilation, poked fun at Babington:
Is Barack Obama merely something special, or is he truly extraordinary? Babington can't take a position on that. He's a professional reporter, after all, and has to maintain his detachment. But he does report that "without question, Obama is an electrifying speaker," that "Obama has a compelling biography, too," and that "for a politician with only four years of experience at the federal level, Obama also has spot-on instincts, associates say, and a steely confidence in his convictions, in good times and bad."
Speaking truth to power Charles Babington isn't.
For an expert analysis, Babington turned to "Jim Margolis, a veteran campaign strategist now working for Obama," who credited Obama's success to the "blend" of his traits as a "great orator" and a "brilliant" person with an "intriguing biography" -- all "wrapped in 'authenticity,' which makes Obama's message of hope and inclusion seem plausible, not pie in the sky."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Taranto's item quoted this portion of Babington's story:
Maybe the toughest question is this:
Is Obama, with his incandescent smile and silky oratory, a once-in-a-century phenomenon who will blast open doors only to see them quickly close on less extraordinary blacks?
Or is he the lucky and well-timed beneficiary of racial dynamics that have changed faster than most people realized, a trend that presumably will soon yield more black governors, senators, mayors and council members?
Presidential campaigns have destroyed many bright and capable politicians. But there's ample evidence that Obama is something special, a man who makes difficult tasks look easy, who seems to touch millions of diverse people with a message of hope that somehow doesn't sound Pollyannaish.
For the May 16 Best of the Web: online.wsj.com
Another excerpt from later in the AP article, as posted by Yahoo:
Without question, Obama is an electrifying speaker. At virtually every key juncture in his trajectory, he has used inspirational oratory to generate excitement, buy time to deal with crises, and force party activists to rethink their assumptions that a black man with an African name cannot seriously vie for the presidency.
A prime-time speech at the Democratic convention in Boston catapulted him to national attention in 2004. When his presidential campaign badly trailed Clinton's high-flying operation, he gave it new life with a timely Iowa speech that outshone her remarks moments earlier on the same stage. And a heavily covered March 18 speech about race relations calmed criticisms about his ties to his former pastor, although Obama had to revisit the matter when the minister restated incendiary remarks about the government.
Obama has a compelling biography, too. The son of a black African father he barely knew, and a white Kansan mother who took him from Hawaii to Indonesia, he was largely raised by his white maternal grandparents. He finished near the top of his Harvard law class, then rejected big firms' salaries to work as a community organizer in Southside Chicago, where he found a church, his wife and a place that felt like home.
But all those attributes don't explain the Obama phenomenon.
Other great orators have fallen short of the presidency, including Daniel Webster and William Jennings Bryan.
Plenty of brilliant people have tried and failed, too. Bill Bradley was a Princeton graduate, basketball star and Rhodes Scholar.
Intriguing biographies aren't enough, either. John Glenn was an astronaut and American hero, but he couldn't get off the presidential launchpad.
Jim Margolis, a veteran campaign strategist now working for Obama, thinks it is his blend of all these traits, wrapped in "authenticity," which makes Obama's message of hope and inclusion seem plausible, not pie in the sky.
Margolis interviewed many of Obama's Harvard classmates for TV ads and documentaries. They told him Obama "was wise beyond his years, and never talked down to people," Margolis said.
"He has this amazing ability to connect with people and understand their problems," he said. "And through it all, there is this optimism."
For a politician with only four years of experience at the federal level, Obama also has spot-on instincts, associates say, and a steely confidence in his convictions, in good times and bad...
END of Excerpt
For the AP article in full, as posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com
On Friday's Good Morning America, various ABC reporters fretted about the political implications of Barack Obama referring to a female reporter as "sweetie." GMA co-host Diane Sawyer nervously asked, "When do 'honey,' 'sweetie,' cross the line?" Guest host David Muir introduced an investigation into "the debate over what words we can use and can't use when we're talking to members of opposite sex."
To further examine the issue, GMA even dug up previous clips of the presidential candidate using what has become the other S-word. So, only two days after "Sweetie-Gate" broke, the morning show had already provided detail and background on the case. This stands in stark contrast to how GMA (and ABC in general) covered a much more serious subject, Obama's relationship with indicted political operative Tony Rezko, a man who raised money for the Senator and was also involved in a questionable land deal related to the purchase of Obama's home in Chicago. In 2006 and 2007, ABC only mentioned Rezko once. Apparently Rezko and the Senator's dealings don't measure up to the sweetie story. See a January 11, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For the sweetie controversy, however, Harris intoned, "[Using the word], apparently, is a habit. We dug into our tape library and found these moments." He then played old file footage clips of Obama using the offending language: "Sweetie, if I start with a picture, I'll never get out of here. [Cut to second video clip.] Sweetie, If I start doing autographs, I just won't be able to-- I'm really late."
Harris also attempted to explain the rules of using such terms around women: "It's who says it and how they say it, I think is what it comes down to." Sawyer made an effort to defuse the whole issue. "Don't you think it's going too far to care about that stuff," she complained. The ABC host then added that she saw no reason to turn the subject into "a federal issue." However, could this just be a case of defending a liberal politician? After all, GMA, in October of 2007, featured a segment on a similarly superfluous matter, Hillary Clinton's cackle. In that case, correspondent Kate Snow sprung to Clinton's defense. She marveled at the candidate's ability to disarm "her critics with a gleam in her eye and a roar straight from the belly." See a October 2, 2007 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:31am on May 16, follows:
7:20am tease, SAWYER: Coming up on "Good Morning America," how do you feel? A presidential candidate says he's sorry for calling a reporter sweetie. When do "honey," "sweetie," cross the line?
7:31am, DAVID MUIR: But first here this morning, the debate over what words we can use and can't use when we're talking to members of opposite sex. The recent flap over Senator Barack Obama calling a reporter sweetie got us thinking about it. And ABC's Dan Harris is here with more. I'll simply say "Dan."
An early review is in for HBO's upcoming movie, Recount, about the Bush-Gore battle in Florida after 2000 election. Gillian Flynn in Entertainment Weekly, which like HBO is part of the Time-Warner family, has described the film, to premiere Sunday night, as tilted against the Republican characters. In her review in the May 23 edition of the magazine, Flynn asserted: "Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear." Saying "Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story," Flynn reported that the "Republican players here are coolly calculating -- Tom Wilkinson's James Baker III, the Bush team quarterback -- or they teeter on the edge of madness, like Laura Dern's Katherine Harris." In fact, in an interview elsewhere, the writer of the movie slammed Harris as "a fraud." [Screen shot, to be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, is of Dern as Harris]
Flynn awarded the film an A-, but concluded with caution about its imbalance:
Recount may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear. Despite its ''equal time'' approach, Recount is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story. While George W. Bush, like Gore, is only vaguely glimpsed, the remaining Republican players here are coolly calculating -- Tom Wilkinson's James Baker III, the Bush team quarterback -- or they teeter on the edge of madness, like Laura Dern's Katherine Harris. With flaming lipstick and helmet hair, Dern nails the Florida secretary of state's looks, cadence, and carriage to a disturbing degree, and she runs with Harris' Cruella De Vil vibe: At one point, before a press conference, Dern morphs her face from that of a human being into Harris' crazy-cuckoo public mask, and the moment is absolutely chilling. Fair? Debatable, but like Recount, it's a gorgeous bit of political theater.
The review in Entertainment Weekly: www.ew.com
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
HBO's page for the film: www.hbo.com
That portrayal is not so surprising if you read an interview with the writer of the movie, Danny Strong, posted by HBO. Strong declared he "didn't understand why there wasn't a state-wide hand recount of the ballots in an election this close, in which there were uncounted ballots," called the U.S. Supreme Court's eventual decision a "shame" because it was 5-4 and insisted that "like a lot of people, I felt that Katherine Harris appeared to be somewhat of a fraud at the time."
Excerpts from Strong's comments:
....I was really frustrated and disgusted with the whole thing because I didn't understand why there wasn't a state-wide hand recount of the ballots in an election this close, in which there were uncounted ballots. It still makes no sense to me, and I know as much about the recount as a person can know. It's very obvious what needs to happen if it's down to 327 votes and there are 175,000 ballots that the machines have registered as non-votes. The laws of Florida say that you do a hand recount. In most states in the union, that's the law. That was the law in Texas; George Bush himself signed that into law. I didn't understand why Al Gore had only requested recounts in four counties. And I didn't understand the Republicans trying to do everything they could to block the recounts....
I had heard that the Florida Supreme Court was going to count the whole state and I thought, "Well finally!" And then I heard that the U.S. Supreme Court had shut it down! And I thought, "Well, maybe there's a reason, and I really hope it's a unanimous decision." And then when the decision was five-four, I remember thinking, "God, what a shame this is." I wasn't particularly suspicious of anyone. Like a lot of people, I felt that Katherine Harris appeared to be somewhat of a fraud at the time. But then I moved on with my life, like the rest of the country....
END of Excerpt
For the interview: www.hbo.com
IMDb's page for Dern: www.imdb.com
IMDb's page for Strong: www.imdb.com
-- Brent Baker