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McCain Too Sarcastic and Too Conservative, Obama in Center --10/16/2008


1. McCain Too Sarcastic and Too Conservative, Obama in Center
The take of television journalists and commentators after the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night: Barack Obama conveyed an "appeal to the center" while a "sarcastic" John McCain showed "disdain and contempt" and was hurt by being too much of a right-wing "ideologue" whose "worst moment" came when he raised the name of William Ayers. Also noteworthy: On NBC, Ann Curry pressed six undecided voters to "raise your hand if you know of people, and be honest here, who may not vote for Barack Obama because of his race." And NBC anchor Brian Williams asked Hillary Clinton to assess Sarah Palin: "Is Governor Palin qualified to be Vice President or President?" At the top of the midnight EDT Hardball on MSNBC, Newsweek's Howard Fineman scolded McCain for "arguing about the size of government and saying that Barack Obama was a big taxer and a big spender." Fineman contended Obama is no liberal since his proposals are "very carefully constructed not to be like that" and "the American people are tired of ideologues. And McCain came off as a very earnest and focused ideologue and that's not what the American people seem to want." Politico's Roger Simon chipped in that McCain's problem is "that he's deep into this movement Republicanism" and so, Simon mocked, "he's talking about oh, 'Barack Obama wants to spread the wealth.' That's some bad thing?"

2. Stephanopoulos Goes 4 for 4 in Declaring Democrat the Winner
Though he decided "this was John McCain's best debate," Democratic operative-turned ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos made it a "clean sweep for Barack Obama" as he declared on Nightline after Wednesday's third and final presidential debate: "He has won every debate." Add in the VP debate, which Stephanopoulos gave to Joe Biden over Sarah Palin, and Stephanopoulos has awarded all four debates this year to the more liberal candidate. He justified his latest assessment: "He won tonight by staying cool under pressure. He won tonight by parrying the attacks of John McCain. The only thing that John McCain could have really done tonight to change the tenor of this campaign was to get under Obama's skin, to force him into an error. That did not happen tonight. Another win for Barack Obama." Anchor Terry Moran predicted "you're going to get some heat for this, George, you called all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate for Obama-Biden." But instead of suggesting that just might show some bias on the part of Stephanopoulos, Moran presumed it meant Stephanopoulos' evaluations presage the electorate: "Does that mean this thing is over?"

3. CBS Uses Rich to Warn McCain Away from Raising Ayers in Debate
CBS political correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who after last week's second presidential debate lashed out at John McCain for referring to Barack Obama as "that one" ("Was it demeaning? Was it an insult?"), just over two hours before the third and final debate suggested McCain should not bring up Williams Ayers or Jeremiah Wright -- and he used far-left/conservative-hating New York Times columnist Frank Rich, who he at least tagged a "liberal," as one of his experts. Citing Ayers and Sarah Palin's attack on Obama for "palling around" with him, Greenfield asked: "Is all this fair game? Yes, says a conservative writer." That would be National Review's Byron York, but Greenfield countered him with two others, asserting: "It's dangerous, argues a liberal columnist." Frank Rich presumed Greenfield (who could be seen talking to Rich) shares his views ("You or I may not agree with it") as he scolded McCain: "If he wants to say your association with Jeremiah Wright or with William Ayers because they're too left wing or anti-American, whatever. That's all fine. You or I may not agree with it, but it's different from calling someone an -- being involved with active terrorists, palling around with terrorists. That's the line."

4. CNN's Toobin: Obama 'Doesn't Have an Affiliation with ACORN'
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin brushed aside the issues of Barack Obama's affiliation with left-wing terrorist William Ayers and the liberal group ACORN during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday's Situation Room program: "Who cares about ACORN? Who cares about Bill Ayers? I mean, I just don't get this. What is the point of raising that?" When CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger countered by trying to show the relevance of these affiliations, that "he has given lots of different stories on Ayers, and that his affiliation with ACORN, as a group that they think now has been discredited," Toobin went further: "But he doesn't have an affiliation with ACORN." When both Borger and host Wolf Blitzer affirmed that he did have ties to the organization, Toobin backtracked: "...I stand corrected on that, but I just don't see why that is going to move voters?"

5. CNN's Sanchez Highlights 'Defecting' Conservatives Against Palin
During Wednesday's 3 PM EDT Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez tried to portray that there were many so-called conservatives who were "defecting," in his words, from John McCain over his selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. His list of conservatives, which he read prior to an interview of National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, included homosexual activist Andrew Sullivan, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and satirist Christopher Buckley, who recently left National Review over his endorsement of Barack Obama. Sanchez later backtracked from this labeling after Ponnuru pointed out that "a lot of those people who are critical of Palin are not defecting from McCain:" "I'll take it back. Let's take out the word 'defection,' and just say Republicans who have been critical of John McCain. Is that more fair?"

6. October Surprise: CNN Gives Bush-Bashing Comic His Own Show
Right before the election, CNN is giving a Bush-bashing comedian a weekend show where he can spout off about "politics, entertainment, sports and popular culture," Variety reported Tuesday night. Back in March 2006, D.L. Hughley slammed President Bush during an appearance on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: "If I hear one more person tell me how this man is a man of faith, I think I'll lose my mother-f***ing mind....When thousands and thousands of people were being, dying in New Orleans, this son of a bitch didn't do sh*t, and that's very un-Christlike to me."

7. CNN Host: I'm Not Biased; Whines About 'Media Research Council'
CNN anchor John Roberts complained in an October 15 interview to Media Life magazine about the "Media Research Council" (he meant Media Research Center) giving him an award in 2001, when he was still with CBS, for being one of the most liberally biased journalists during George W. Bush's first 100 days in office. In the interview, where Roberts labeled himself an "equal opportunity holder of feet to the fire," the host lamented that "within the first 100 days [of the Bush administration], the Media Research Council [sic] named me the worst White House correspondent because I was so unswervingly tough on the new administration." Roberts, who now hosts CNN's American Morning, crowed about his network's "intense desire" to provide "nonpartisan, non-biased information." He argued that he proved his independence during the 2000 campaign: "President Bush later shook my hand, I think saying thanks for being so tough on the Al Gore campaign."

8. Surprise: Whoopi Goldberg Decries Anti-Palin Vitriol
Sarah Palin found an unlikely voice defending her from constant vicious attacks on the left: View co-host Whoopi Goldberg. On Wednesday's show, in sharing her experience meeting John McCain and Sarah Palin, Elisabeth Hasselbeck expressed regret about all of the hate the Alaska Governor received and added: "She's a good woman and regardless of what you think, she is." Whoopi Goldberg surprisingly concurred. Noting past attacks on Hillary Clinton, she decried such attacks on Sarah Palin, observing a pattern of vitriol towards strong women. When Joy Behar attempted to play the equivocation game, holding Governor Palin responsible for words from one random supporter, Goldberg replied "that doesn't justify crappy behavior from anybody." Goldberg continued noting "everybody when you meet them as something redeeming." Behar then retracted with a weak, "I'll accept that."

9. 'W' Movie Star Josh Brolin Blinks 'Vote for Barack Obama'
Appearing on Tuesday's Late Show, Josh Brolin, who plays George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 'W' movie set to open this weekend, blinked "Vote for Barack Obama." Picking up on a monologue joke earlier in the program by David Letterman about how Sarah Palin's blinking is conveying "coded messages," immediately upon sitting down Brolin pointed to his face as he urged Letterman and viewers: "Watch this." He blinked several times, then asked: "You know what that is?" Brolin smugly answered his own question as he smiled and raised his fist in self-satisfaction to audience applause: "Vote for Barack Obama."


McCain Too Sarcastic and Too Conservative,
Obama in Center

The take of television journalists and commentators after the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night: Barack Obama conveyed an "appeal to the center" while a "sarcastic" John McCain showed "disdain and contempt" and was hurt by being too much of a right-wing "ideologue" whose "worst moment" came when he raised the name of William Ayers. Also noteworthy: On NBC, Ann Curry pressed six undecided voters to "raise your hand if you know of people, and be honest here, who may not vote for Barack Obama because of his race." And NBC anchor Brian Williams asked Hillary Clinton to assess Sarah Palin: "Is Governor Palin qualified to be Vice President or President?" (On Nightline, George Stephanopoulos went three for three for the Democrat -- four for four if you add in Biden over Palin -- in declaring Obama the "winner." See #2 below)

CBS's Jeff Greenfield shared how "the question I have...is whether or not McCain at some point in this debate went beyond assertiveness into a more negative, almost sarcastic portrayal." Katie Couric soon hit Dan Barlett with the same charge. Over on ABC, Stephanopoulos argued McCain citing Ayers was "one of his worst moments in the debate, because Obama seemed to be inviting him to talk about issues that people are talking about back home. Instead he went on the attack." Chuck Todd, on NBC, conceded McCain supporters "are going to be very excited about his performance tonight," but he hailed how Obama "would try to mention something that seemed to appeal to the center, whether it was charter schools" or abortion "he tried everything he could to go into the middle."

At the top of the midnight EDT Hardball on MSNBC, Newsweek's Howard Fineman scolded McCain for "arguing about the size of government and saying that Barack Obama was a big taxer and a big spender." Fineman contended Obama is no liberal since his proposals are "very carefully constructed not to be like that" and "the American people are tired of ideologues. And McCain came off as a very earnest and focused ideologue and that's not what the American people seem to want." Politico's Roger Simon chipped in that McCain's problem is "that he's deep into this movement Republicanism" and so, Simon mocked, "he's talking about oh, 'Barack Obama wants to spread the wealth.' That's some bad thing?" Fineman summarized: "He was speaking to the readers of the National Review and not to the undecided voters."

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

Earlier, in the 10:30 PM EDT half-hour following the debate, Chris Matthews maintained McCain's abortion talk turned off potential voters: "Well I believe that it was a big mistake made by John McCain tonight with regard to abortion rights. If his goal was to win over the Hillary Clinton voter or older women or younger women in Florida, or in southeastern Pennsylvania, I think he blew it tonight. You can't belittle the health exception."

A little past 11 PM EDT on CNN, Gloria Borger complained about McCain's "facial expressions, those grimaces" and David Gergen fretted "the looks and the disdain and the contempt and the anger that he felt was palpable."

Obama won the debate according to the CBS and CNN surveys. In the CBS News/Knowledge Networks poll of 500 uncommitted voters, 53 percent picked Obama as the winner, 22 percent went with McCain and 24 percent called it a tie. The CNN/Opinion Research poll had Obama as the winner by 58 to 31 percent.

Fuller versions of the quotes from the coverage after the Wednesday, October 15 debate:

# ABC News:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I think he did make a tactical mistake halfway through the debate. You're talking about, Senator Obama was talking about, listen, let's talk about issues that matter to people out there, not the different charges we're making against each other. After he did that, Senator McCain, unprompted, brought up the issue of Bill Ayers. I think that is a point that is likely to be one of his worst moments in the debate, because Obama seemed to be inviting him to talk about issues that people are talking about back home. Instead he went on the attack. And I think that will be looked to be a mistake in this debate.

# CBS News:

JEFF GREENFIELD: Yeah, it was the degree to which Senator McCain, from the get-go, wanted to make the case about Barack Obama's character. Talking about reneging on public financing, not telling the truth about ACORN and saying to people "look beyond his eloquence to see what he's really saying." This was how I think McCain was trying to make the case that the man who now leads in the polls is not ready.
And the question I have -- and we'll hear from our voters and we'll see in the polls -- is whether or not McCain at some point in this debate went beyond assertiveness into a more negative, almost sarcastic portrayal. I thought Obama was a little bit on the defensive in the first part of the debate and as the debate went on became more like the Obama of the first two debates when they got into policy arguments. So clearly we saw what McCain's strategy was. Whether or not that's going to work, as I keep saying, we're not going to know tonight, we're going to know in the next 48 or 72 hours.

....

COURIC TO DAN BARTLETT: What did you think of his tone? Was he respectfully pugnacious or did he cross the line towards the end, as some people seem to think he was sort of rolling his eyes when Barack Obama was responding and sort of making some sarcastic comments. Do you think that was all sort of within the respectful category for Senator McCain?

# NBC News:

TOM BROKAW: I'm always reluctant, as you know, to declare a winner in all of these. Tonight I'm going to break with that precedent. And Joe, you're the winner. Joe plumber.

....

CHUCK TODD: John McCain spent a lot of time on issues that his base cares about and that Republicans -- I think there are going to be Republican supporters of John McCain are going to be very excited about his performance tonight. The question is, how did he do in the middle? It was interesting to watch Obama tonight. At every moment he had, he would try to mention something that seemed to appeal to the center, whether it was charter schools or something else talking about abortion in terms of ways of not just assuming that his position is the right position. He tried everything he could to go into the middle, it seemed tonight. While McCain, while again, I think his supporters are going to be very excited about his performance, they're going to be glad he was aggressive tonight, showing that he's not going to go down without a fight. The question is, how did he do in the middle? And I think that's going to be the thing I'm looking for to see these various focus groups and polls and we see how they react to this debate tonight."

Ann Curry with six undecided voters in Leesburg, Virginia:

CURRY: Raise your hand if you know of people, and be honest here, who may not vote for Barack Obama because of his race. Be honest here. Be honest here. That's only three. Raise your hand if you believe that people may not vote for John McCain because of Sarah Palin? Six. That's surprising. Now why is that, Joan?
JOAN: I think the general public at large thinks that she's not qualified or doesn't have the experience.
CURRY: So you think that the six of you believe that she's been more of a liability than a help to John McCain?
MULTIPLE VOICES: Absolutely.

....

WILLIAMS TO HILLARY CLINTON: Senator, quick question, is Governor Palin qualified to be Vice President or President?


# CNN, 11:04 PM EDT:

GLORIA BORGER: I think if McCain made any mistakes this time, I think he made all the points he wanted to make on substance, but again it's those facial expressions, those grimaces. Sometimes you could tell how angry he is at Barack Obama, how much he doesn't like Barack Obama. And in each of these three debates he's been unable to hide his kind of personal feelings.
ANDERSON COOPER: It is interesting to see both men, when they do look at each other -- I mean, John McCain did look at Barack Obama this time around -- Barack Obama seemed to smile a lot more, John McCain kind of shake his head, laugh even some times at some of the attacks. John McCain seemed to seethe at times and it certainly looked, I mean I think you can fairly say with some contempt at times. Does all that matter?
DAVID GERGEN: Yes. It matters a great deal. I think very importantly there were a lot of rumors that John McCain was going to try to goad Barack Obama into some kind of outburst and he never unnerved Obama the whole time. I thought one thing -- as flat as Obama was at times, he never lost his cool, he never lost his steadiness, whereas McCain seemed at times, thee were times he brought back memories of Bob Dole in 1996. And that was, as we remember, a disastrous time for Bob Dole. I don't think McCain went that far, but the looks and the disdain and the contempt and the anger that he felt was palpable throughout the middle section of the debate.


# MSNBC, 10:30 PM EDT half hour (MSNBC and Hardball quotes caught by the MRC's Geoff Dickens):

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well I believe that it was a big mistake made by John McCain tonight with regard to abortion rights. If his goal was to win over the Hillary Clinton voter or older women or younger women in Florida, or in southeastern Pennsylvania, I think he blew it tonight. You can't belittle the health exception, with regard to abortion. You cannot belittle a woman and her doctor saying there's a health reason for an abortion, even in late term. You can't belittle it. You can't simply say only her health would permit, or rather her, her possible death would permit an abortion. The health exception is in Roe v. Wade you cannot belittle it, you cannot characterize it in any diminutive way. He did that tonight. It's gonna kill him with pro-choice women across the board.


# Hardball at midnight EDT:

HOWARD FINEMAN: McCain did a great job tonight stating a case for a debate that might have taken place 20 years ago. It seemed that he was arguing about the size of government and saying that Barack Obama was a big taxer and a big spender. There a few problems with that. First of all, Obama's proposals aren't like that, number one. They're very carefully constructed not to be like that. Number two, Obama, as a person, personally, doesn't come off like a wild-eyed character. And number three the American people are tired of ideologues. And McCain came off as a very earnest and focused ideologue and that's not what the American people seem to want at this point.
MATTHEWS: Did he come across the way that Rahm Emanuel, one of the top Democratic leaders from Illinois portrayed him tonight, on Keith's show, before, before the debate tonight. He said, "He's a grumpy old man in slippers?" Is he that guy? The Mr. Wilson from the "Dennis the Menace," comics?
FINEMAN: Get your newspaper off my lawn!
MATTHEWS: Is he Simpson, Homer Simpson?
ROGER SIMON, POLITICO: His real problem tonight is the one Howard identified, that he's deep into this movement Republicanism now because he has to keep the base close to him because that's the only people who are close to him, so he's talking about oh, "Barack Obama wants to 'spread the wealth.'" That's some bad thing? "He wants to save the life of the mother!"
FINEMAN: He was speaking to the readers of the National Review and not to the undecided voters.

Stephanopoulos Goes 4 for 4 in Declaring
Democrat the Winner

Though he decided "this was John McCain's best debate," Democratic operative-turned ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos made it a "clean sweep for Barack Obama" as he declared on Nightline after Wednesday's third and final presidential debate: "He has won every debate." Add in the VP debate, which Stephanopoulos gave to Joe Biden over Sarah Palin, and Stephanopoulos has awarded all four debates this year to the more liberal candidate. He justified his latest assessment: "He won tonight by staying cool under pressure. He won tonight by parrying the attacks of John McCain. The only thing that John McCain could have really done tonight to change the tenor of this campaign was to get under Obama's skin, to force him into an error. That did not happen tonight. Another win for Barack Obama."

Anchor Terry Moran predicted "you're going to get some heat for this, George, you called all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate for Obama-Biden." But instead of suggesting that just might show some bias on the part of Stephanopoulos, Moran presumed it meant Stephanopoulos' evaluations presage the electorate: "Does that mean this thing is over?" Stephanopoulos replied: "I don't know if it's over. Right now, Barack Obama would win, I think, more than 300 electoral votes, if the election were held today. He's well ahead right now."

Issuing his "Nightline Report Card," Stephanopoulos awarded both an A on "strategy," an A for Obama and an A-minus to McCain on "style" and a B grade for both on "accuracy."

On "style," Stephanopoulos chastised McCain:

Barack Obama won the battle of the split screens tonight. You look at those reaction shots for John McCain. The rolling of the eyes, he seemed exasperated by Barack Obama. He seemed on the edge of anger sometimes, a little bit over the top. Obama, on the other hand, remaining cool again under pressure, smiling under the attacks. That's the demeanor he's had through these debates. I think it served him very well tonight. I also think that McCain made a key mistake about halfway through the debate when they were talking about the tone of the campaign. Obama says, "Let's get back to the issues that matter to the people at home," and then, unprompted, McCain brings up the issue of the former member of the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers.

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

The three previous winner declarations from Stephanopoulos, in date order:

# The September 29 CyberAlert item, "In 'Nightline Report Card' Stephanopoulos Gives Obama the Win," recounted:

Awarding Barack Obama two grades of A-minus and one B-minus while presenting John McCain with two grades of B-plus and one B-minus, at the end of his "Nightline Report Card" segment on Friday night, ABC's George Stephanopoulos declared Obama the "winner" -- with a big illustrative check mark on screen: "Bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change. His number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage. He was a credible commander-in-chief, that he could hold his own on national security. He did that tonight. He gets the win."

Full rundown: www.mrc.org

October 3 posting, "Stephanopoulos Again Declares the Liberal the Debate Winner," reported:

Six days after declaring Barack Obama the winner of the first presidential debate, following Thursday's VP debate George Stephanopoulos again decided the liberal Democrat in the debate, this time Joe Biden, was the winner -- but in assigning his "Nightline Report Card" grades he gave both Biden and Sarah Palin the same overall assessments: each got one A, one A-minus and one B. Asked by anchor Terry Moran to name "the winner," Stephanopoulos argued: "Joe Biden, but boy, was this close. I think that Governor Palin did an awful lot to help herself tonight. There is no question that she beat expectations, that she was fluent, that she showed she could stand up there on the stage. She laid a couple of attacks there against Barack Obama, but going back to my first point on overall strategy, right now, this is a race where if John McCain cannot convince the country that he's going to take it in a different direction from President Bush, he simply cannot win..."

Complete rundown: www.mrc.org

October 8 item, "Stephanopoulos Goes 3 for 3: Again Declares Democrat the 'Winner,'" reported:

Deciding "Obama is two for two," ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who last Friday called Joe Biden the winner over Sarah Palin, declared Barack Obama "definitely won" over John McCain in the second presidential debate, just as he had determined following the first one -- and that makes it three times out of three debates the Democratic operative turned ABC journalist has picked the liberal Democrat. In Tuesday's "Nightline Report Card," Stephanopoulos trumpeted Obama's performance: "He definitely won tonight. I think, again, he showed over the course of this debate, over the course of the two debates, he is answering the number one question Americans have about him. Does he have the experience it takes to serve effectively as President? Over the course now of three hours of debates, he is answering that question minute by minute."

More: www.mrc.org

Transcript of the "Nightline Report Card" segment on the Wednesday, October 15 Nightline, as provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who corrected the closed-captioning against the video:

TERRY MORAN: So this third and final presidential debate is in the books. So who came out on top? Our chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos joins us once again for the "Nightline Report Card." All right, George, this was a scrap, a real good one. Let's start with the main issue here, strategy. What's the grade there?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Both candidates did well. "A" for Barack Obama, "A" for John McCain. This was John McCain's best debate. He was pressing the issues, as you said. He was putting Barack Obama on the defensive, especially on the issue of taxes right at the beginning. He had a clear break from President Bush when he said, "If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have done that four years ago." But probably the most interesting move he made was when he introduced this new character, Joe Wurzelbacher the plumber, into the debate.
JOHN MCCAIN CLIP #1: Of course, I've talked to people like Joe the plumber.
MCCAIN CLIP #2: Now, my old buddy Joe the plumber is out there.
MCCAIN CLIP #3: I want Joe, you, to do the job.
MCCAIN CLIP #4: Hey, Joe, you're rich. Congratulations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Joe Wurzelbacher is not only rich, he's also famous now, and he's going to basically become John McCain's chief surrogate out on the campaign trail in these final couple of weeks. But, look, Barack Obama handled this all very, very well. He was cool under attack. He explained away every attack, responded well, and again, on the issues where he has, I think, a big advantage over John McCain right now, on the economy, overall, on health care, on education, he did especially well explaining his positions and connecting, I think, with voters back home.
MORAN: So "A"s on strategy. This was a different format tonight, the two men sitting inches away from each other, trading those accusations. Style, what are the grades on style?
STEPHANOPOULOS: "A" for Barack Obama, "A minus" for John McCain. And I think that's because Barack Obama won the battle of the split screens tonight. You look at those reaction shots for John McCain. The rolling of the eyes, he seemed exasperated by Barack Obama. He seemed on the edge of anger sometimes, a little bit over the top. Obama, on the other hand, remaining cool again under pressure, smiling under the attacks. That's the demeanor he's had through these debates. I think it served him very well tonight. I also think that McCain made a key mistake about halfway through the debate when they were talking about the tone of the campaign. Obama says, "Let's get back to the issues that matter to the people at home," and then, unprompted, McCain brings up the issue of the former member of the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers.
MCCAIN: Mr. Ayers, I don't care about an old washed up terrorist, but, as Senator Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There were dial groups done by many organizations, having undecided voters watching the debate. When John McCain did that, brought up Bill Ayers on his own, they went south very, very quickly.
MORAN: That Bill Ayers attack just hasn't seemed to work for him at all. And, finally, accuracy. What are the grades?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Two "B"s. "B" for Barack Obama, "B" for John McCain. For McCain, I think he misstated Barack Obama's position on health care when he said people like Joe Wurzelbacher would be fined, small businesses would be fined. He also misstated how extensive the McCain, the Obama tax cuts would be, how many small businesses would be affected by the tax increases, excuse me. Barack Obama, wrong when he said that all of John McCain's ads have been negative. Also wrong when he underplayed his connections to the community organizing voter registration group ACORN. Both within the bounds of normal behavior for politicians, but not "A"s.
MORAN: All right, so, bottom line, who won the third and final debate here, George?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Clean sweep for Barack Obama. He has won every debate. He won tonight by staying cool under pressure. He won tonight by parrying the attacks of John McCain. The only thing that John McCain could have really done tonight to change the tenor of this campaign was to get under Obama's skin, to force him into an error. That did not happen tonight. Another win for Barack Obama.
MORAN: Now, you called, you're going to get some heat for this, George, you called all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate for Obama/Biden. Does that mean this thing is over?
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know if it's over. Right now, Barack Obama would win, I think, more than 300 electoral votes, if the election were held today. He's well ahead right now. There are about 2 1/2 weeks left. We'll see what happens in those final 2 1/2 weeks. You know, if you look back at these debates, though, I think you will see, and this is a judgment that's pretty much been confirmed by every poll, both on the debate nights, but also in subsequent polling. People have come away from these debates, voters both undecided and Democrats, have come from these debates saying they are more reassured by Barack Obama. I think he may look back and say this is where he sealed the deal, but, of course, we still have 2 1/2 weeks left.
MORAN: George Stephanopoulos, grading the debates for us throughout, calling for the Democrats. Thanks very much for that, George.

CBS Uses Rich to Warn McCain Away from
Raising Ayers in Debate

CBS political correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who after last week's second presidential debate lashed out at John McCain for referring to Barack Obama as "that one" ("Was it demeaning? Was it an insult?"), just over two hours before the third and final debate suggested McCain should not bring up Williams Ayers or Jeremiah Wright -- and he used far-left/conservative-hating New York Times columnist Frank Rich, who he at least tagged a "liberal," as one of his experts. Citing Ayers and Sarah Palin's attack on Obama for "palling around" with him, Greenfield asked: "Is all this fair game? Yes, says a conservative writer." That would be National Review's Byron York, but Greenfield countered him with two others, asserting: "It's dangerous, argues a liberal columnist."

October 8 CyberAlert with Greenfield's comments after the last debate: www.mrc.org

Frank Rich presumed Greenfield (who could be seen talking to Rich) shares his views ("You or I may not agree with it") as he scolded McCain: "If he wants to say your association with Jeremiah Wright or with William Ayers because they're too left wing or anti-American, whatever. That's all fine. You or I may not agree with it, but it's different from calling someone an -- being involved with active terrorists, palling around with terrorists. That's the line."

Greenfield followed with how "a one-time Ronald Reagan speechwriter says the tone strikes a discordant note." That would be Peggy Noonan.

Surprisingly, anchor Katie Couric told Greenfield "a lot of people are wondering" if McCain will "bring up Reverend Jeremiah Wright?" Greenfield noted "the relationship between Obama and Wright was much closer and much longer than the Ayers/Obama relationship," but "McCain has ruled out that out-of-bounds, possibly because he thinks it would be playing the race card." Greenfield added that "to bring it up now...on a day when the Dow has lost, oh, I don't know, a trillion or so dollars of America's wealth, that may not be what Americans want to hear about."

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

The story on the Wednesday, October 15 EDT/CDT edition of the CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Jeff Greenfield, our senior political correspondent, has been covering debates since 1980 but he's been a student of them far longer. He has more now about the danger of going negative.

JEFF GREENFIELD: If Senator McCain does bring up Bill Ayers tonight would that contradict a promise he made just a few days ago?
JOHN McCAIN, ON SUNDAY: I respect Senator Obama. We will conduct a respectful race and make sure that everybody else does, too. And that's important. But there are stark differences between us.
GREENFIELD: And will his tone be as tough as his running mate's was?
SARAH PALIN, OCTOBER 4: Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.
JEFF GREENFIELD: And is all this fair game? Yes, says a conservative writer.
BYRON YORK, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think, if anything, they should have pressed earlier and with greater force on Obama's associations.
GREENFIELD: It's dangerous, argues a liberal columnist.
FRANK RICH, NEW YORK TIMES: If he wants to say your association with Jeremiah Wright or with William Ayers because they're too left wing or anti-American, whatever. That's all fine. You or I may not agree with it, but it's different from calling someone an -- being involved with active terrorists, palling around with terrorists. That's the line.
GREENFIELD: A one-time Ronald Reagan speechwriter says the tone strikes a discordant note.
PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Throwing away lines like "palling around with domestic terrorists" is vulgar. It's vulgar. It's not high enough for a presidential or vice presidential candidate.
GREENFIELD: And there's a purely tactical question here. Do such attacks work? If the polls are any indication, McCain's campaign has wound up hurting him far more than Obama. If he needs an argument to change minds, this may not be it, Katie.

COURIC: But a lot of people are wondering right now, with just hours to go, will John McCain bring up Reverend Jeremiah Wright or will he just not go there? What do you think?
GREENFIELD: You know, the relationship between Obama and Wright was much closer and much longer than the Ayers/Obama relationship. But McCain has ruled out that out-of-bounds, possibly because he thinks it would be playing the race card. To bring it up now 20 days out after having not raised it for months is very problematic and on a day when the Dow has lost, oh, I don't know, a trillion or so dollars of America's wealth, that may not be what Americans want to hear about. But his most earnest supporters are saying "that's what you've got to do." Really interesting dilemma for him.

CNN's Toobin: Obama 'Doesn't Have an
Affiliation with ACORN'

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin brushed aside the issues of Barack Obama's affiliation with left-wing terrorist William Ayers and the liberal group ACORN during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday's Situation Room program: "Who cares about ACORN? Who cares about Bill Ayers? I mean, I just don't get this. What is the point of raising that?" When CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger countered by trying to show the relevance of these affiliations, that "he has given lots of different stories on Ayers, and that his affiliation with ACORN, as a group that they think now has been discredited," Toobin went further: "But he doesn't have an affiliation with ACORN." When both Borger and host Wolf Blitzer affirmed that he did have ties to the organization, Toobin backtracked: "...I stand corrected on that, but I just don't see why that is going to move voters?"

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

Toobin must not be watching his own network, for CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin outlined on October 6 how "the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said," including how the two worked together on the board of the Annenberg Challenge Project and the Woods Foundation, and how Obama's political career began during a meeting at Ayers's house. While the network omitted ACORN's name from an October 9 news brief about a raid on the organization's Las Vegas office, the Las Vegas Review-Journal's story about the raid acknowledged how ACORN "has a liberal political agenda and ties to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama."

For more on Drew Griffin's report on Obama's connections to Ayers, see the October 8 CyberAlert item, "CNN's Griffin Does a Real Fact-Check on Obama/Ayers Connection," at: www.mrc.org

For more on CNN's omission of ACORN's name from a news brief on their American Morning program, see the October 10 CyberAlert item, "CNN Omits ACORN's Name From Brief on Voter Fraud Raid in Vegas," at: www.mrc.org

For the Las Vegas Review-Journal's story about the raid on ACORN's Nevada office, see the October 9, 2008 article by Molly Ball, "Voter Registration Fraud: Activists Defend Actions," go to: www.lvrj.com

The issues of Ayers and ACORN came up after Blitzer played a clip of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin stated how the issues are "fair game" in the presidential campaign. After his "who cares" statements and being corrected by Borger and Blitzer, Toobin later conceded that "she's [Palin] right. Those are legitimate questions. I don't think that's negative campaigning at all to raise those questions. The way -- the problem is how do you do that in such a way that resonates with voters to make you want to support your candidate?"

The transcript of the relevant portion of the roundtable discussion, which began 34 minutes into 6 pm hour of Wednesday's The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: All right, listen to Sarah Palin today. She gave an interview to our affiliate in New Hampshire, WMUR. I'm going to play this little clip.
SARAH PALIN: I do not think it's negative or mean-spirited at all, not whatsoever, when you call someone out on their record, and of course, when we talk about Barack Obama's associations that he has had in the past, and maybe has today -- when we talk about ACORN, when we talk about Bill Ayers. Those things -- they're fair game. In fact, Barack Obama even has kind of called John McCain out on this recently, saying -- hey, you know, if you've got something to say, say it to my face in the debate. So we'll see tonight if John McCain does that.
JEFFREY TOOBIN: Who cares about ACORN? Who cares about Bill Ayers? I mean, I just don't get this. What is the point of raising that?
GLORIA BORGER: Their point is trying -- well, their point is trying to show that Barack Obama is not truthful, and that he has given lots of different stories on Ayers, and that his affiliation with ACORN, as a group that they think now has been discredited. And that's what they're trying to do-
TOOBIN: But he doesn't have an affiliation with ACORN.
BORGER: But, but -- well, he does. I mean, he does. I mean, it's, it's-
TOOBIN: Well, they are supporting him.
BORGER: Yeah, exactly.
TOOBIN: But he doesn't -- authorize their work.
BORGER: He's not directing them.
TOOBIN: He's not in charge of them.
BORGER: Guilt by affiliation.
BLITZER: During -- during the primary season, they did subcontract some voter registration work with a subsidiary of them.
TOOBIN: Subsidiary of ACORN -- yeah.
BLITZER: David Axelrod was just on the show the last hour and he told us.
TOOBIN: That's right, and I stand corrected on that, but I just don't see why that is going to move voters?
CANDY CROWLEY: Well, I think it does move some voters. I mean, if you are really sitting there in the middle and haven't decided, it says one of two things -- you don't know Barack Obama that well, or you're a little turned off by John McCain. I mean, what he has to do is go back to what used to be the problem with Barack Obama, which is you don't really understand who this guy is. And he has to do that on policy and he has to do that on association, and by the way --
BLITZER: She's raising -- Sarah Palin -- serious questions about Barack Obama, about his past associations, and maybe, his associations that he has today. She said that.
TOOBIN: Clearly -- she's right -- I mean, she's right. Those are legitimate questions. I don't think that's negative campaigning at all to raise those questions. The way -- the problem is how do you do that in such a way that resonates with voters to make you want to support your candidate?
BORGER: Well, first of all the moderator has to ask the question, because I don't think -- as Dana's [Bash] reporting, that he's going to raise it first.
BLITZER: That would be Bob Schieffer.
BORGER: If he is asked by Bob Schieffer tonight about Bill Ayers, he's going to jump to the bait, and I guarantee you Barack Obama has his answer.
TOOBIN: He's been waiting. He's been waiting for three debates.
BORGER: We have alredy heard it essentially from all of his spinners, but he's got to talk about policy, and be clear and direct. This is McCain -- this is where I disagree with you. We have fundamental differences and lay it out. Lay it out.
CROWLEY: Well, also say -- also lay out Obama's record --
BORGER: Right.
CROWLEY: Which he has been trying to do on the stump, which is, well, he tells you that he is going to cut taxes, but let's take a look at this.
BORGER: Exactly, exactly.
BLITZER: Guys, hold on for a moment because we have to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation, including fighting to be the underdog -- why the candidates see an advantage in coming from behind. We're back with the '€˜best political team on television.'

When the subject of Ayers came up again during the Election Center program, 46 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour, or about 14 minutes before the start of the presidential debate, Toobin again acted like it was a non-issue. Candy Crowley partially agreed with Toobin, that it was a "passe issue:"

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Can I ask -- can I ask a question about Bill Ayers -- if they raise it, so what? So what?... I mean, what is it going to accomplish? Do you think anyone out there is going to change their vote because of a mention of Bill Ayers? It just seems like this phony issue that has been -- there's more of a press interest than public interest.
CROWLEY: It's probably less of a phony issue than a passe issue. This might have had some resonance had he done it early on, and he had a whole, you know, springtime to begin to, you know, chip away. The problem is, that the economy just came down on him.

CNN's Sanchez Highlights 'Defecting'
Conservatives Against Palin

During Wednesday's 3 PM EDT Newsroom program, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez tried to portray that there were many so-called conservatives who were "defecting," in his words, from John McCain over his selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. His list of conservatives, which he read prior to an interview of National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru, included homosexual activist Andrew Sullivan, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and satirist Christopher Buckley, who recently left National Review over his endorsement of Barack Obama. Sanchez later backtracked from this labeling after Ponnuru pointed out that "a lot of those people who are critical of Palin are not defecting from McCain:" "I'll take it back. Let's take out the word 'defection,' and just say Republicans who have been critical of John McCain. Is that more fair?"

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

After this correction, Ponnuru stated how "a lot of conservatives have had concerns about the selection of Palin. It's also true that some people who are already against McCain have seized on Palin. Andrew Sullivan, for example, has been on a pro-Obama tear for about three years now" (Sullivan and Ponnuru have been clashing over various topics during the past several years). Sanchez then asked about the National Review editor's own words about Palin: "You say that she has been governor about two minutes. This is what you wrote right after she was selected, and you told our producers that you're sticking with that. Look, a lot of folks would say to you, Ramesh -- yeah, that's why we like her, because she's not inside the Beltway, man...."

Ponnuru responded by criticizing an inconsistency in the McCain campaign's tactics:

PONNURU ...I think that the peculiarity of the McCain campaign is that they often make these gestures and then, they don't follow through on them. The Palin pick, to the extent it made sense, made sense in the way of portraying McCain and Palin as reformers willing to take on their own party, but -- because Palin, of course, does have a record of doing that. But then they put her into this traditional attack dog role, where she is basically going around tearing down Obama, which is a perfectly fine traditional role for a vice presidential candidate to take, but it does not help her or McCain present themselves as reformers, and makes it harder for her to close the sale on her readiness to be vice president.

Sanchez and Ponnuru concluded the interview by discussing the supposed "20% in the middle who are quote, 'undecideds,' or moderates, or whatever the term is being used today to describe those people," and how Palin has factored into reaching out to these people. Sanchez hypothesized that Palin's job was to solidify the Republican base, and that it was McCain's job to reach out the moderates. Ponnuru replied, "...[I]f Senator McCain loses, it's not going to be because of Governor Palin. It's going to be because he... wasn't able to overcome the strong headwinds against any Republican this year" and that Palin's attempt to raise doubts about Obama among these moderates "has not been as successful as it would be under normal circumstances because of this financial crisis."

About an hour and a half before the segment, Ponnuru wrote on The Corner portion of his publication's website about how CNN's booker wanted him to focus on Palin's negatives during the segment: "I was invited very recently to appear on a cable-news show to talk about Sarah Palin. The booker very nicely said, 'I understand you've written about the pros and cons. We were hoping you could come on and talk about the cons.'...We'll see how it goes. All that by way of saying that sometimes the story of how conservatives get into the mainstream media really is a right-wing parodists' idea of that story."

For Ponnuru's item on National Review Online's 'The Corner' about his then-upcoming appearance on CNN, see 'The Media Game:' corner.nationalreview.com

The full transcript of the Sanchez/Ponnuru segment, which began 28 minutes into the 3 pm Eastern hour of Wednesday's Newsroom program:

RICK SANCHEZ: ...And, by the way, let's talk now about what many are doing in the conservative camp -- those who are quote, 'defecting,' so to speak, from John McCain's campaign. In fact, I've got a list for you. I'll take you through them. First, Andrew Sullivan -- put it up, he says -- obviously, he's from Atlantic magazine, a conservative. He says, 'Palin has helped McCain among conservatives, left Democrats unfazed, but moved the undecideds against him quite sharply.' Remember, that is Andrew Sullivan -- conservative. Let's go to Mike Murphy -- conservative, former McCain strategist: 'bad strategic choice,' referring to Palin. David Frum, National Review -- he says, 'a bold pick, [and] probably a shrewd one. It's not nearly clear that she is a responsible pick or a wise one' -- David Frum, conservative. David Brooks, New York Times columnist -- quote, 'represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.' Let's go to Christopher Buckley, formerly of National Review -- actually left over this. 'What on earth can he, [McCain] have been thinking.' By the way, I believe that's the wrong picture. That's his dad in that picture, if I'm not mistaken. And Peggy Noonan, overheard -- she was a Reagan speechwriter, as you know -- overheard during an MSNBC broadcast saying, 'It is over.'
Let's bring into this conversation now Ramesh Ponnuru -- he's a senior editor of the National Review. You are, fair to say, a conservative, right?
RAMESH PONNURU: Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: Is it fair to blame Sarah Palin, as so many of these people are doing?
PONNURU: Well, I'm a little unclear about the concept behind this segment, because in fact, a lot of those people who are critical of Palin are not defecting from McCain. They're just critical of the selection. I mean, David Frum, for example --
SANCHEZ: That's a fair point. All right, I'll tell you what --
PONNURU: Still supporting the McCain ticket.
SANCHEZ: I'll take it back. Let's take out the word 'defection,' and just say Republicans who have been critical of John McCain. Is that more fair?
PONNURU: Sure. There are -- it is certainly true that a lot of conservatives have had concerns about the selection of Palin. It's also true that some people who are already against McCain have seized on Palin. Andrew Sullivan, for example, has been on a pro-Obama tear for about three years now.
SANCHEZ: Let me ask you about your own comment. You say that she has been governor about two minutes. This is what you wrote right after she was selected, and you told our producers that you're sticking with that. Look, a lot of folks would say to you, Ramesh -- yeah, that's why we like her, because she's not inside the Beltway, man. She's outside, and that's what we like about her. That is what McCain told us in the beginning, was it not?
PONNURU: Well, that's right. I mean, I think that the peculiarity of the McCain campaign is that they often make these gestures and then, they don't follow through on them. The Palin pick, to the extent it made sense, made sense in the way of portraying McCain and Palin as reformers willing to take on their own party, but -- because Palin, of course, does have a record of doing that. But then they put her into this traditional attack dog role, where she is basically going around tearing down Obama, which is a perfectly fine traditional role for a vice presidential candidate to take, but it does not help her or McCain present themselves as reformers, and makes it harder for her to close the sale on her readiness to be vice president.
SANCHEZ: Let's just do numbers here if we can.
PONNURU: Sure.
SANCHEZ: Are you ready? 40% of the American people are conservative Republicans who like McCain. Let's just take that guess. 40% of the American people are Democrats and liberals who are going to vote for Obama no matter what. Then you got that 20% in the middle who are quote, 'undecideds,' or moderates, or whatever the term is being used today to describe those people. Her job was to solidify that 40% at the top. She has done her job, and you could argue she has done it well. Isn't it up to John McCain to get that other 20%? He's the guy who's supposed to be a moderate -- he's supposed to be the maverick, right?
PONNURU: Well, sure. Look, if governor -- I mean, if Senator McCain loses, it's not going to be because of Governor Palin. It's going to be because he himself did not come up with a compelling rationale for his candidacy, and wasn't able to overcome the strong headwinds against any Republican this year.
SANCHEZ: It's interesting you would say that, because it does fall contrary to at least some -- some of what she -- what some people are saying. You believe that she has done her job then -- that she has gotten the 40% she was supposed to solidify.
PONNURU: She's done that. She's also with -- among that other 20%, been trying to raise doubts about Senator Obama --
SANCHEZ: But it hasn't worked?
PONNURU: I think that it has not been as successful as it would be under normal circumstances because of this financial crisis.
SANCHEZ: Ramesh Ponnuru, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
PONNURU: You're welcome.
SANCHEZ: Good job.

October Surprise: CNN Gives Bush-Bashing
Comic His Own Show

Right before the election, CNN is giving a Bush-bashing comedian a weekend show where he can spout off about "politics, entertainment, sports and popular culture," Variety reported Tuesday night.

Back in March 2006, D.L. Hughley slammed President Bush during an appearance on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: "If I hear one more person tell me how this man is a man of faith, I think I'll lose my mother-f***ing mind....When thousands and thousands of people were being, dying in New Orleans, this son of a bitch didn't do sh*t, and that's very un-Christlike to me."

Explaining why CNN is now giving Hughley the 10pm ET slot on Saturdays (repeating on Sundays), CNN President Jon Klein told Variety: "D.L. is a very thoughtful, well-informed guy with unpredictable views, and I've always admired his comedy." (Klein, you might remember, was the one who cancelled Crossfire in order to raise the level of discourse on CNN.)

The show debuts October 25, which gives Hughley two weekends to rant about Republicans before Election Day.

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

Here's a short excerpt from the Variety article:

CNN is diving into the increasingly crowded arena of news-driven comedy, tapping comedian D.L. Hughley to host a show that will offer a skewering take on news and events.

The show, set to air on Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET beginning Oct. 25, will feature Hughley and guests riffing on politics, entertainment, sports and pop culture.

Move is a clear bid by CNN to tap into the younger auds who get more of their news from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" than they do from mainstream news outlets.

Show will include one-on-one interviews with newsmakers and the reporters covering them.

"D.L. is a very thoughtful, well-informed guy with unpredictable views, and I've always admired his comedy," said CNN/U.S. prexy Jon Klein. "The basic premise of the show is, what if a guy like him was let loose in the CNN building for a weekend after the lights went off?"

END of Excerpt

For the Variety article: www.variety.com

The March 6, 2006 CyberAlert item, about Hughley's foul-mouthed rant against President Bush, recounted:

Actor/comedian D.L. Hughley, the star of the 1998-2002 ABC sit-com, The Hughleys, and the host of Comedy Central's Weekends at the DL, which is now on hiatus, launched some derisive tirades against President George W. Bush while a guest panelist Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

After Hughley charged that Bush "has spent, and the Republican Party have spent, the last five years making us ignorant and afraid," he mockingly suggested that the "J.J." character, from the 1970s sit-com Good Times, "could run the country better than this guy!" When host Bill Maher remarked that "what scares me about a guy like George Bush" is the "certitude" he has because of his faith which means that "no matter how low his approval rating goes, he doesn't care because he sees himself as a messianic figure," Hughley launched this rant:

"If I hear one more person tell me how this man [President Bush] is a man of faith, I think I'll lose my mother-f***ing mind [audience applause]. Let me tell you why. I'll tell you why. He left his ranch in Crawford to see about one woman, Terry Schiavo, he left his ranch early. But when thousands and thousands of people were being, dying in New Orleans, this son of a bitch didn't do sh*t, and that's very un-Christlike to me [applause]. To me, Christ certainly cared more about the poor than he did Halliburton."

For the full CyberAlert report, with video: www.mrc.org

Six months earlier Hughley's Comedy Central show featured an angry rant from a guest. The September 12, 2005 CyberAlert item, "Bush 'Is a Moron!...He's an Idiot...Cheney is Evil....Impeach!'" reported:

Some calm and dispassionate political analysis Saturday night on Comedy Central's Weekends at the DL. Actress/comedian Kathy Griffin delivered not comedy but her vitriolic personal opinion as she shouted, to loud audience applause while she gesticulated with her arms: "The President is a moron! I'm saying it. I don't care. He's an idiot. Cheney is evil. I'm sick of, impeach them, get them out! I hate them! I hate them. Get them out. They got to go!"

She later pleaded: "What is it going to take for you people? Get Bush out! Impeach! Out! Out! Out!" Griffin also denounced FNC's Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity: "He and Hannity can suck it. I hate those two idiots! Those liars."

For the full rundown: www.mrc.org

CNN Host: I'm Not Biased; Whines About
'Media Research Council'

CNN anchor John Roberts complained in an October 15 interview to Media Life magazine about the "Media Research Council" (he meant Media Research Center) giving him an award in 2001, when he was still with CBS, for being one of the most liberally biased journalists during George W. Bush's first 100 days in office. In the interview, where Roberts labeled himself an "equal opportunity holder of feet to the fire," the host lamented that "within the first 100 days [of the Bush administration], the Media Research Council [sic] named me the worst White House correspondent because I was so unswervingly tough on the new administration." See the Media Research Center report on Bush's first 100 days for more: www.mediaresearch.org

Roberts, who now hosts CNN's American Morning, crowed about his network's "intense desire" to provide "nonpartisan, non-biased information." He argued that he proved his independence during the 2000 campaign: "President Bush later shook my hand, I think saying thanks for being so tough on the Al Gore campaign."

Of course, this is the same journalist who began a May 5 interview with Senator Barack Obama by saying he would not press the Democratic Senator about his ties to radical preacher Jeremiah Wright. Roberts groveled: "I want to just stipulate at the beginning of this interview, we are declaring a Reverend Wright-free zone today." See a May 6 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

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

The "non-biased" journalist added, "So, no questions about Reverend Wright. Our viewers want us to move on, so this morning we're going to move on." Roberts then asked, "Is that okay with you?" Not surprisingly, it most certainly was "okay" with Obama.

On August 29, Roberts speculated that Governor Sarah Palin might not be able to balance both being a mother and Vice President: "The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?" See a September 2 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

In the Media Life interview, the CNN host pointed out that he lives in Virginia, which does not register political affiliations of voters. He contended: "But if there were, I would be a certified independent. I adhere to no party ideology, I'll vote for the person who I believe is best for the country and can best address the concerns I have going forward." See Media Life for the whole interview: www.medialifemagazine.com

A collection of some of the 2001 quotes that caused the Media Research Center to label Roberts, and his (then) fellow CBS colleagues, the worst White House correspondents can be found below. Highlights include Roberts asserting that America in 2001 was "still paying the bill" from Ronald Reagan's tax cuts. (This was during the debate over President Bush's proposed tax cut.)

He also dismissed Bush's claim to being a uniter for advocating restrictions on abortion, among other issues:

A Uniter Would Not Back Conservative Policies

"The Bush White House packaged in its first week an image of the President as a uniter. But Mr. Bush's message has often been at odds with the mission: The Ashcroft nomination, new restrictions on abortion counseling, plans for school vouchers, an in-your-face attitude that has Democrats reluctant to let down their guard." -- Reporter John Roberts, January 26 CBS Evening News.

Still Paying Reagan's Bill

"Democrats, collaborating on a smaller tax cut proposal, have vowed to fight the Bush plan, targeting it as a budget buster that caters to the rich....On the Republican side, Mr. Bush faces a different problem. Already they're talking up adding more tax cuts to his plan. And then, there's the lobbyists who wonder why Mr. Bush gave nothing to corporate America. Critics charge the bill could eventually top $3 trillion....Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice can't forget the last time Congress went on a tax cut spree in 1981. America is still paying the bill." -- CBS White House correspondent John Roberts, February 5 CBS Evening News.

On February 28, 2001, the same day CBS released a poll finding 67 percent of voters supported the Bush tax cut, Roberts and CBS Evening News host Dan Rather focused on those who dismissed the concept:

CBS Found 67% Want Bush's Tax Cut, But...

Dan Rather: "President Bush insists what the economy really needs is his major tax cut. Democrats and some independent economists believe the Bush push is risky business...." CBS News reporter John Roberts: "...The debate now is over which way to go: Mr. Bush's plan or the Democrats' proposal for smaller targeted tax cuts. At the Stage Right Cafe in Omaha, where the sarcasm runs as strong as the coffee, they've heard all the talk about tax cuts." Woman: "Some people think it's too small. Some people think it's too big. And some people think it's just right. Isn't that what it was?" Roberts: "What do you think?" Woman: "I think it could probably be reduced." Roberts: "Jan Dill believes if Mr. Bush can hold the line on spending, his tax cut could work, but Sue Kilgarin fears the President is rolling the dice on eight years of success just for political gain." Kilgarin: "I think a big tax cut is just a real feather in someone's cap." -- February 28 CBS Evening News story the day CBS News released a poll which found 67 percent support for Bush's tax cut, a result the Evening News failed to report.

Surprise: Whoopi Goldberg Decries Anti-Palin
Vitriol

Sarah Palin found an unlikely voice defending her from constant vicious attacks on the left: View co-host Whoopi Goldberg. On Wednesday's show, in sharing her experience meeting John McCain and Sarah Palin, Elisabeth Hasselbeck expressed regret about all of the hate the Alaska Governor received and added: "She's a good woman and regardless of what you think, she is."

Whoopi Goldberg surprisingly concurred. Noting past attacks on Hillary Clinton, she decried such attacks on Sarah Palin, observing a pattern of vitriol towards strong women. When Joy Behar attempted to play the equivocation game, holding Governor Palin responsible for words from one random supporter, Goldberg replied "that doesn't justify crappy behavior from anybody." Goldberg continued noting "everybody when you meet them as something redeeming." Behar then retracted with a weak, "I'll accept that."

[This item, by the MRC's Justin McCarthy, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

If The View moderator did not surprise enough, she countered Behar when Behar blamed the "mess" on Bush and Republicans. Goldberg declared "all of Washington has a hand on this," reminding Behar that Democrats controlled Congress for the last two years and neither party has "been able to get jack booty done."

The relevant transcript follows from the October 15 show:

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: You know what's interesting, for all the attacks that she's under, when you actually talk to the person, she is incredibly nice, down to earth. And it makes- I said to her I really feel bad that there are all these attacks out there on her, "abort Palin" signs being painted on the sidewalks. You know, she's a- she's a good woman and regardless of you think, she is.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Yeah, it's horrible that she has gotten this much and- gotten this much rage in such a short amount of time. And I guess people don't remember that when Hillary was running because maybe she ran- she had been out there longer and it was easier to take those same kind of ugly pot shots. You know, there's something about strong women or women running that brings out the worst in people whether it's on the Democratic side or the, or the Republican side, the point of the fact is, it's crappy.
JOY BEHAR: But she says things that are inflammatory on the stump also. And somebody yelled out the other day when she was speaking "kill Obama." And she should be the one to say "do not speak that way about a senator of the United States." [applause] And she doesn't. She does not!
GOLDBERG: No she does not, but you know what Joy? That does not justify- I'm sorry- that does not justify crappy behavior from anybody. Yes that's what she should have done. [applause] But it doesn't make the- I'm sorry- it doesn't make the shirt wearing on our side or their side or anybody else's side, or the ugly things that have been saying- said about not them as candidates, but them as women. This has been going on now for over a year with female candidates and quite honestly I'm sick of the "abort this" and "abort that" and "this one's a pig" and "that one's a pig." Everybody, when you meet them one on one has something redeeming.
[applause]
BEHAR: Yeah, yeah, fine.
GOLDBERG: Everybody.
BEHAR: I'll accept that. I'll accept that.

[...]

BEHAR: Obama is ahead in the polls and he's already starting to say "listen, if I win, remember this is going to be a tough job. People are going to have to make certain sacrifices." They've screwed the country up for the past eight years and now he's going to have to clean it up.
GOLDBERG: Why-
BEHAR: So be in reality.
HASSELBECK: He was part of the mess.
BEHAR: Be in reality.
[applause]
HASSELBECK: He was part of the mess.
GOLDBERG: You know what? All of Washington, all of Washington-
BEHAR: No, McCain was part of the mess.
GOLDBERG: All of Washington has a hand in this. Every senator, every congressman, every one in the House, every president [applause] vice president, has a hand in what has gone on in the last eight years. People said they fought against stuff. They didn't fight hard enough. People said they were in it. You know, there was six years for the Republicans and two years for the Democrats and nobody's been able to get jack booty done. You know?
BEHAR: Alright, but, you know, if you blame everybody, you blame nobody, so you've got to start to say-
GOLDBERG: No, we blame everybody. It's like the, it's like the-
BEHAR: You can't throw them all out.
GOLDBERG: No it's not. It's like you pointed out the other day. People have to take responsibility. We were talking about the economy. You said at some point we also are responsible. It's the same way there. It's not enough to point at one party or the other party and say "you did it," "you did it."
BEHAR: Oh, I'm not doing that.
GOLDBERG: But I'm saying, look they're all culpable for this and we have to check it out.

'W' Movie Star Josh Brolin Blinks 'Vote
for Barack Obama'

Appearing on Tuesday's Late Show, Josh Brolin, who plays George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 'W' movie set to open this weekend, blinked "Vote for Barack Obama."

Picking up on a monologue joke earlier in the program by David Letterman about how Sarah Palin's blinking is conveying "coded messages," immediately upon sitting down Brolin pointed to his face as he urged Letterman and viewers: "Watch this."

He blinked several times, then asked: "You know what that is?" Brolin smugly answered his own question as he smiled and raised his fist in self-satisfaction to audience applause: "Vote for Barack Obama."

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

Stone asked Brolin to play Bush because, in part, he's "mean," Michael McIntee recounted in his Wahoo Gazette re-cap of the October 14 Late Show: "Josh plays George W. Bush in the Oliver Stone film, W. Oliver approached Josh and said he would be perfect for the part, with the desired look of 'ranchy, bucolic, American and mean.'" See: lateshow.cbs.com

Site for the movie: www.wthefilm.com

IMDb's page for Brolin: www.imdb.com

-- Brent Baker