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MSNBC Anchor Frets: Why Hasn't Obama's Election Ended Terrorism? --12/2/2008


1. MSNBC Anchor Frets: Why Hasn't Obama's Election Ended Terrorism?
File this one under "Deluded Expectations." During MSNBC's coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, daytime anchor Alex Witt seemed frustrated that the election of Barack Obama 23 days earlier -- and the accompanying "global outpouring of affection, respect, hope" -- had not caused an end to terrorist violence. Talking with correspondent John Yang, who was covering the Obama side of the story, Witt conceded that while "you certainly can't expect things to change on a dime overnight....There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought -- at least hoped -- would be dampered down. But in this case it looks like Barack Obama is getting a preview of things to come."

2. CBS's Couric: Cabinet Picks 'Inoculate' Obama from Criticism
Following coverage of a Monday morning news conference in which President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric observed: "Two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates." She then asked political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "In a way, this inoculates President-elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?" Greenfield agreed: "Yeah, I think so." Greenfield went on to explain: "If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy."

3. Matthews Panel Frets GOP Will Fight Obama's 'Great Things'
On Sunday's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, host Matthews led the panel in a discussion over whether conservatives would choose to cooperate with the Obama administration in making "historic changes" to repair the economy, rather than stand in opposition to his programs. The premise of the discussion seemed to be that times are too serious for conservatives to dare dissent from Obama's plans. At one point, David Ignatius of the Washington Post suggested that "thoughtful" Republicans will work with Obama as he referred to John McCain's concession speech: "I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book." As he teased the show, Matthews wondered if Republicans would try to stand in the way of Obama accomplishing "great things," or if they would see the light and cooperate: "Will the mountain of crises our country faces make Barack Obama do great things? And with all the crises, will even Republicans see historic steps are required?"

4. CNN's Bernstein Attacks Cynicism of Press, GOP on Hillary Pick
A year ago, author and Hillary Clinton biographer Carl Bernstein said he was hired at CNN for Campaign 2008 to "examine the real lives and records" of the presidential candidates "and their political machines." But now that the campaign is over, Bernstein announced on Tuesday that the media needs to "ratchet down our own cynicism" and ponder the smarts and "sheer star power" Hillary Clinton can bring to the State Department. Bernstein also attacked Republicans for issuing a critical press release: "The Republicans are in very rough shape right now. And putting out the kind of statement they did this afternoon, the idea, the old cliche about politics stopping at the water's edge before this gentleman even gets a chance to be President of the United States, was quite extraordinary." As if the Democrats didn't criticize President Bush on foreign policy?

5. ABC Ignores Party ID of Dem Mayor Accused of Racist Remarks
Over the course of two segments and seven minutes, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer on Monday completely ignored the party affiliation of the Kansas City mayor embroiled in a lawsuit over racist remarks and charges of nepotism, at no point identifying Mayor Mark Funkhouser as a Democrat. The only designation of Funkhouser came in the form of a bland, onscreen graphic: "Mayor Mark Funkhouser (Kansas City, Missouri)."


MSNBC Anchor Frets: Why Hasn't Obama's
Election Ended Terrorism?

File this one under "Deluded Expectations." During MSNBC's coverage of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, daytime anchor Alex Witt seemed frustrated that the election of Barack Obama 23 days earlier -- and the accompanying "global outpouring of affection, respect, hope" -- had not caused an end to terrorist violence.

Talking with correspondent John Yang, who was covering the Obama side of the story, Witt conceded that while "you certainly can't expect things to change on a dime overnight....There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought -- at least hoped -- would be dampered down. But in this case it looks like Barack Obama is getting a preview of things to come."

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

It almost seems like a parody of liberals' blind worship of Obama to actually expect that The One's election would mean terrorists hanging up their bomb belts, peace around the world, lions lying down with lambs, and so forth. For his part, Yang delicately pointed out the more valid concern that "the enemies of the United States, those who don't care for the United States no matter who's leading it, would try and test the United States" during the transition from Bush to Obama.

Here's the full exchange, that took place at about 2:55pm EST on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, after Yang reported on how Obama was being fully briefed by the Bush administration on the terrorist attacks:

ALEX WITT: You know, John, and it's interesting because there are many who had such an optimstic and hopeful opinion of things, and you certainly can't expect things to change [snaps fingers] on a dime overnight, but there are many who suggested that with the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration there would be something of a lull in terrorism attacks. There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought -- at least hoped -- would be dampered down. But in this case it looks like Barack Obama is getting a preview of things to come.
JOHN YANG: He's -- it's a rude awakening, a very, sort of, sober reminder of what he's going to be facing in just a few weeks. And there is some concern also, there had been some concern, that during this period, during this, the transition period, between Election Day and Inauguration Day, that the enemies of the United States, those who don't care for the United States no matter who's leading it, would try and test the United States, would try to take advantage of this period, and I think that may be one thing that we're seeing right now.
WITT: Okay, John Yang there in Chicago, following President-elect Barack Obama's Thanksgiving Day dinner having been interrupted by all of this news from Mumbai. John, thank you very much.

CBS's Couric: Cabinet Picks 'Inoculate'
Obama from Criticism

Following coverage of a Monday morning news conference in which President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric observed: "Two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates." She then asked political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "In a way, this inoculates President-elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?" Greenfield agreed: "Yeah, I think so." Greenfield went on to explain: "If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy."

Couric followed up: "What about the confirmation process? Do you think there will be tough questions for Senator Clinton?...any road blocks during that process?" Greenfield responded: "One interesting thing is there are no -- I'll use this term -- fire-breathing conservative Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nobody who's looking to make points going after Bill Clinton."

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

Here is the full transcript of the exchange from just before 11:30 AM EST on December 1:

KATIE COURIC: Saying that he likes strong personalities, strong opinions, and assuage group-think, President-Elect Obama has, after much speculation, named his national security team, including two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will continue in his role at the Pentagon. Our senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield is here. And Jeff, in a way, this inoculates President-Elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?
JEFF GREENFIELD: Yeah, I think so. A lot of people said picking Hillary Clinton protects him from, say, Bill Clinton free-lancing, but I think your point is broader. If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy.
COURIC: What about the confirmation process? Do you think there will be tough questions for Senator Clinton? Richard Lugar -- Senator Lugar over the weekend said there were legitimate questions to ask about Bill Clinton and, of course, in order for her to even be nominated as secretary of state he had to disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997 and all contributors going forward. So do you think that they're going to run into any road blocks during that process?
GREENFIELD: They're going to run into some tough questions because Senator Lugar, who said he's going to support Senator Clinton's nomination, said we do have legitimate questions. One interesting thing is there are no -- I'll use this term -- fire-breathing conservative Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nobody who's looking to make points going after Bill Clinton. And Richard Lugar himself, the ranking Republican, is a relative moderate. So I think that there'll be tough questions, but I don't think it's going to be a kind of, you know, blood bath attack on the former president.
COURIC: And the confirmation hearings are expected to take place before the Inauguration.
GREENFIELD: Sometime after January 6th. And remember, Joe Biden was the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so we don't know who the new chair is even going to be. But yeah, they want this team up and running, they've got enough Democrats to say 'alright, we're going to get these people in place so that they can be ready to go on January 20th.'
COURIC: Alright, Jeff Greenfield. As always Jeff, thanks so much. There will be more, of course, about the Obama cabinet on your local news on this CBS station and on tonight's CBS Evening News. Until then, I'm Katie Couric in New York. I'll see you later.

Matthews Panel Frets GOP Will Fight Obama's
'Great Things'

On Sunday's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, host Matthews led the panel in a discussion over whether conservatives would choose to cooperate with the Obama administration in making "historic changes" to repair the economy, rather than stand in opposition to his programs. The premise of the discussion seemed to be that times are too serious for conservatives to dare dissent from Obama's plans. At one point, David Ignatius of the Washington Post suggested that "thoughtful" Republicans will work with Obama as he referred to John McCain's concession speech: "I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book."

As he teased the show, Matthews wondered if Republicans would try to stand in the way of Obama accomplishing "great things," or if they would see the light and cooperate: "Will the mountain of crises our country faces make Barack Obama do great things? And with all the crises, will even Republicans see historic steps are required?"

He also referred to the "radical right" trying to "turn Barack Obama into an international terrorist" during the campaign, and contended that the real terrorists are now "waging preemptive war" because of Obama, and asked: "Could they really be scared of this guy?"

Matthews started the show by quoting Bill Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard as Kristol wrote of giving Obama "the benefit of the doubt" and expressed hope that his presidency would be successful. Matthews then set up the first question for NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker: "Will this man, the new President of the United States, get a break, in terms of partisan politics, because the challenges are so big?"

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

After Whitaker theorized that congressional Republicans would be willing to work with Obama while the "Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican Party" would "make his life difficult from the very start," Matthews turned to Katty Kay of the BBC. Kay relayed that people she talked to during visits to Indiana and North Carolina complained that "we don't want them fighting anymore," and contended that "if that's the message coming out from across the country, I think that will filter into Washington, that this is not a time for partisanship."

Ignatius suggested that "thoughtful" Republicans would work with Obama, as he cited McCain's concession speech: "I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book. But, you know, there are still these deep fissures and anxieties in the party. The party doesn't know what direction it's going. I think they'll give Obama some room in the beginning because they have to, because the crisis is so serious. But it's not going to last that long."

The panel also discussed the likelihood that cultural issues like abortion and gay rights would take a backseat in the minds of voters during time of economic problems. Matthews contended that the Clinton administration had "a lot of brain power," but they were hurt early on when they tried to change the policy on gays in the military. Matthews: "Well, those are, those kinds of issues have brought really bad news to a lot of, we had the Clinton administration. With all the brain power they had, they had a lot of brain power, they were stymied. Right, David? All of a sudden, they got this gays in the military that hit them right between the eyes. They didn't want to bring it up, but it came up as the first issue."

The panel spent a little time discussing problems Obama might have in being pressured by the far left. After bringing up some of the hopes of the labor unions, Matthews posed the question: "Who's going to break it to the blogosphere? They don't like anything that looks like a give to the right. Where are they going to be in this thing? Are they going to give him a break if he doesn't go hard left, or if he doesn't do what they want?"

Whitaker and Ignatius both believed the far left would give Obama problems, with Whitaker theorizing that Obama could have an opportunity for some "Sister Souljah moments" to distance himself from the fringe: "I think that Obama has to worry as much about the far left as he does about the far right. But, look, you know, I think that it could be a plus for him in some ways because I think they are going to give him what you might call Sister Souljah moments, when he can stand up to them."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, November 30, Chris Matthews Show:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, IN OPENING TEASER: Can this be the big one? Times are desperate. Will the mountain of crises our country faces make Barack Obama do great things? And with all the crises, will even Republicans see historic steps are required?
The honeymooners: Will Obama's focus on the economy postpone the inevitable culture wars as long as Obama doesn't hit the eventual trip wires on gay rights and abortion? Will critics on the right give him his honeymoon?
And finally, isn't it ironic? The radical right tried during the campaign to turn Barack Obama into an international terrorist, but now it's Obama who has the real terrorists waging preemptive war. Could they really be scared of this guy?

...

MATTHEWS: First up, on this Thanksgiving weekend, Americans are deeply worried about America's future in ways they haven't been even during the roughest times of recent years. Not only are layoffs hitting every business, but also, it seems, nearly every family. The financial world is on life support, and the country is still stuck in two wars. What a mountain of problems for our new president. The problems are so enormous that even Obama's political rivals may give him the room he needs to do big things. Conservatives like Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, an outspoken critic of Democrats, recently wrote, "We pledge our willingness to give him the benefit of the doubt in cases of uncertainty. We hope President Obama's policies and decisions will strengthen the nation he will now lead." Mark, is it true? Will this man, the new President of the United States, get a break, in terms of partisan politics, because the challenges are so big?"
MARK WHITAKER, NBC NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Chris, the mantra we're hearing out of the transition in Chicago is never let a big crisis go to waste, by which they mean that they think that the straits that we're in right now are going to give them cover not only to have a very big agenda coming out of the gates, but also a certain amount of cover with both the right and the left to give them time to grapple with these issues. I think what you're going to see on the right, really, are two camps. One in the media and I think on Capitol Hill that is going to be willing to work with them. Rahm Emanuel has already been in town several times talking to Republicans, giving them his cell phone number. But I think you're also going to see another camp, probably what you might call the Rush Limbaugh wing of the Republican Party, on talk radio that I think is going to start to make his life difficult from the very start, and you see it already.
MATTHEWS: Do you sense there will be this honeymoon period? Because some presidents don't get a honeymoon.
KATTY KAY, BBC WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and I think it'll come as much from the attitude in the country. And we saw it during the campaign to some extent, that people really are fed up with the idea that Washington is not achieving things, with the idea that there has been incompetence in Washington. I remember traveling in Indiana and North Carolina, the one thing everyone said to me is that, `We don't want them fighting anymore. We want things done because we are feeling this now.' And if that's the message coming out from across the country, I think that will filter into Washington, that this is not a time for partisanship. People are really scared. Economists that I speak to are really scared of where this could go. And if you aren't focused on big issues of unemployment, big unemployment, financial crises, the kinds of things we talk about around the world, I, but particularly with the economy as it is, there is not an appetite for fighting, and I think Republicans are hearing that.
MATTHEWS: If we get to a stock market drop that really keeps dropping, with no ratchet effect, it just keeps falling like an elevator, if we get to an unemployment rate that reaches up to 10 points, do you sense the politics will coalesce around the leader?
DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think the country will come together. The problem here is that the honeymoon is a hurricane. The honeymoon is a period of great stress for the country. I thought that John McCain set the tone for thoughtful Republicans in his concession speech election night, where he reached out to Obama. He was remarkably generous. One of the best speeches he's ever made, in my book. But, you know, there are still these deep fissures and anxieties in the party. The party doesn't know what direction it's going. I think they'll give Obama some room in the beginning because they have to, because the crisis is so serious. But it's not going to last that long.
MATTHEWS: Ceci, you cover the Hill. Let me ask you about the facts on the ground, as they say. On the ground, you've got Mitch McConnell, who managed to get reelected as Republican leader. You've got John Boehner still there. He fought off that fight from Lungren. They're the leaders. Are they going to play ball and try to let the, at least the new team in town get some hits before they attack?

...

KAY: I think a little more broadly, Chris, what we saw happen during the election campaign, that when you have a really big economic crisis, that trumps cultural divisions. And if there was going to be an attack against Obama, for example, on a Supreme Court nomination or some kind of cultural issue from the right, those issues are simply not getting the play in the country that pocketbook issues are getting.
MATTHEWS: Well, those are, those kinds of issues have brought really bad news to a lot of, we had the Clinton administration. With all the brain power they had, they had a lot of brain power, they were stymied. Right, David?
IGNATIUS: They were.
MATTHEWS: All of a sudden, they got this gays in the military that hit them right between the eyes. They didn't want to bring it up, but it came up as the first issue.
IGNATIUS: They ran into the wall of cultural politics, wedge issues, right in the beginning. You want to think, I want to think, that one of the lessons of this election season is that the politics of division don't work, that one of the things that hurt McCain and Palin was that they were just too divisive, and the country's sick of that. And so you'd think, you'd want to think the Republicans would get that message, and they'll be more careful on these wedge issues, that that's going to be less important going forward for the Republicans than it's been.
KAY: And it's very hard in this climate to see people getting as exercised about gays in the military as they did in 1992.

...

MATTHEWS: Who's going to break it to the blogosphere? They don't like anything that looks like a give to the right. Where are they going to be in this thing? Are they going to give him a break if he doesn't go hard left, or if he doesn't do what they want?
WHITAKER: I think that Obama has to worry as much about the far left as he does about the far right. But, look, you know, I think that it could be a plus for him in some ways because I think they are going to give him what you might call Sister Souljah moments, when he can stand up to them.
MATTHEWS: Right.
WHITAKER: I've been talking to some veterans of those early Clinton wars who think that particularly this issue, the card check push by the labor unions to change the rules on organizing could be a moment for him, either by delaying that, standing up to the unions, of positioning himself more in the middle and making it harder for the far right to position him the way they tried to during the campaign. It's a predictable-
MATTHEWS: You see that, David?
IGNATIUS: This is where the economic crisis, you know, ends up being crucial because people are angry. The country's furious, and a lot of these really divisive issues, I think, will come from the left, not from the right, and they'll come from unions, from working people who are enraged at bailouts for big banks and wealthy executives, and the pressure on Obama to check some of what he'd like to do on the economy, I think's going to be very strong from angry people.
MATTHEWS: And you say the left is going to fight anything that looks too conciliatory?
IGNATIUS: It's been obvious now the past few weeks that the, that the anger in the country is working its way through Congress and it's, you know, bailouts may make sense in a macroeconomic sense, but they're increasingly tough politics.

CNN's Bernstein Attacks Cynicism of Press,
GOP on Hillary Pick

A year ago, author and Hillary Clinton biographer Carl Bernstein said he was hired at CNN for Campaign 2008 to "examine the real lives and records" of the presidential candidates "and their political machines." But now that the campaign is over, Bernstein announced on Tuesday that the media needs to "ratchet down our own cynicism" and ponder the smarts and "sheer star power" Hillary Clinton can bring to the State Department. Bernstein also attacked Republicans for issuing a critical press release: "The Republicans are in very rough shape right now. And putting out the kind of statement they did this afternoon, the idea, the old cliche about politics stopping at the water's edge before this gentleman even gets a chance to be President of the United States, was quite extraordinary." As if the Democrats didn't criticize President Bush on foreign policy?

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

Bernstein's remarks about his hiring at CNN came a year ago on the TVNewser blog: www.mediabistro.com

In the 1 pm hour of CNN's Newsroom on Monday, anchor Betty Nguyen asked Bernstein if Hillary was a good fit with Team Obama:

BERNSTEIN: I think so. You know, we have to wait and see. But she's a very smart, logical choice to be his secretary of state. There's no one in America whose has more sheer star power around the world to carry the message of his presidency and of America rejoining the world.
NGUYEN: But are they on the same page?
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. There's no question about that. The differences between them have never been major. There is a difference in terms of voting on the war originally. But even in the campaign, there were nuance differences between them and she would never take this job and he would not offer unless they were on the same page. I think we can make much too much of their differences in the post-election atmosphere. What's important here is to remember who Hillary Clinton is. She's sui generis, one apart from everybody else in our political culture. She doesn't want to go back to the Senate really and be one of 100 senators.
NGUYEN: But are you sure? I mean, what does she stand to gain by serving as Secretary of State, instead of just going back to the Senate?
BERNSTEIN: First of all, I think it's time for us to ratchet down our own cynicism a little bit. It's not just about what she might gain. It's also about how she said, how she might serve the country. Whatever you say about the Clintons, there's no question about their commitment to public service to this country. And she can be much more effective in the State Department, an office of huge power, huge authority, helping the president to set policy. He was very careful to say today, that the vision would be his own. And yet, she will contribute a strong voice, which is what he said he was asking for.
But your question presupposes something that really surprised me today. And that is a statement that the Republican National Committee put out, calling into account all of the differences between Obama and Hillary Clinton, as expressed in the campaign. And I said to myself, what is this. Can you imagine if the Democrats had put out such a statement when Colin Powell was named Secretary of State by George Bush. And here was this new President-elect with a bipartisan team of national security advisors up there. And the Republican National Committee was putting out this campaign statement-

When Colin Powell was nominated by Bush on December 16, 2001, it was greeted favorably as Bush adding a star and naming the first black Secretary of State. But that's not to say all the press notices were favorable, even if the Democrats weren't hostile. For example, Bernstein's old newspaper, The Washington Post, ran a story headlined "Powell Selection Viewed Warily; Some Black Voters Praise the General While Doubting Bush." Nguyen wondered if this nod marked the end of Hillary's presidential hopes:

NGUYEN: But Carl, can you just simply ignore the differences and say absolutely, they're going to work hand in hand? Which indeed, that is what she has pledged to do. But, at the same time, this is the woman who wanted to be president. Does this diminish her chances of ever becoming president?
BERNSTEIN: I think that the question of -- first of all, what diminished her chance of ever becoming president were Barack Obama winning. And I think that it's time for those of us in the press to start looking at the page in front of us instead of 12 pages ahead. And the same for the Republican National Committee. I would imagine that they're -- you know, the Republicans are in very rough shape right now. And putting out the kind of statement they did this afternoon, the idea, the old cliche about politics stopping at the water's edge before this gentleman even gets a chance to be president of the United States, was quite extraordinary. And I would think that people like Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders in the Senate, who know Hillary Clinton, are going to take a step back and say, wait a minute, this is not where we want to be right now. We want to wish this guy well. There will be plenty of time in the future to run against Democrats. But before he even takes the Oath of Office, this is irresponsible and not what we want to see from one of the two major political parties, especially given the perilous situation in the United States in the world today in many regards and the threats of terrorism, et cetera, et cetera.

This notion of politics stopping at the water's edge sounds noble, but the last eight years have amply demonstrated (and quite egregiously by candidate Obama) that Democrats haven't believed in going easy on criticizing the Bush foreign policy. For Bernstein to fulminate about the "extraordinary" nature of this opposition looks odd. It doesn't even match the kind of Cabinet evaluations Carl Bernstein was doing eight years ago. A quick Nexis search finds Bernstein pounding away on the CNBC show Rivera Live on January 8, 2001. He attacked the right-wing extremism of the Bush nominees:

BERNSTEIN: I think that one of the things that the president-elect has done is that he has named a highly ideological Cabinet in terms of three important officers--the secretary of Labor, the attorney general and there--and there are others, obviously. And these are the kind of appointees that Pat Buchanan would have appointed, the other one obviously being the environmental protection -- not-
RIVERA: John Ashcroft.
BERNSTEIN: The -- the Interior-
RIVERA: Ashcroft -- the attorney general.
BERNSTEIN: Right. The -- correct. That -- these are the kind of appointments that Pat Buchanan would have made, and it says something, it seems to me, about the kind of compassionate conservatism we were going to see. We have a secretary of Labor-designate who doesn't believe in the minimum-wage law and who -- who really is -- has real dislike for the labor movement. This is -- this is not a good situation.

Later, he added: "We have in, in three positions especially, a kind of hard-right ideology that, that comes really from the fringe of the party."

ABC Ignores Party ID of Dem Mayor Accused
of Racist Remarks

Over the course of two segments and seven minutes, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer on Monday completely ignored the party affiliation of the Kansas City mayor embroiled in a lawsuit over racist remarks and charges of nepotism, at no point identifying Mayor Mark Funkhouser as a Democrat. The only designation of Funkhouser came in the form of a bland, onscreen graphic: "Mayor Mark Funkhouser (Kansas City, Missouri)."

Funkhouser has been battling his own city council since they passed a law barring his wife from working at city hall. Additionally, as Sawyer explained, a former city employee has filed a lawsuit "accusing the mayor and his wife of making racist remarks," such as referring to the African American woman as "mammy." A November 21 Wall Street Journal article, from which the GMA segment was based, managed to label Funkhouser a Democrat in the second sentence. See Wall Street Journal: online.wsj.com

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

The only way GMA viewers would have any inkling of the politician's party status is when the mayor's wife, Gloria Squitiro, indirectly raised the subject. Decrying the nepotism charges, she exclaimed: "Thank God for Hillary. She paved the way for Michelle and, you know, we're not going to have to sit there and worry about where Michelle sits during the day because of Hillary."

Ignoring the party identification of Democratic mayors involved in controversy is a ubiquitous occurrence on the big three networks. CyberAlert has frequently documented the occasions in which the evening news shows skipped over the fact that scandal-ridden former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was a Democrat. On August 7, when a Michigan judge ordered the mayor be sent to jail, only CBS and Fox News mentioned his party affiliation. See a August 8 CyberAlert posting for details: www.mrc.org

A transcript of the first segment, and a partial transcript of the second, both of which aired December 1 at 8:05am, follows:

DIANE SAWYER: And now a story we first saw in the Wall Street Journal about husbands and wives working right next to each other in the workplace. You're about to meet a big city mayor who's actually got people talking and battling because he wants to keep his wife right next to him in city hall as a volunteer personal assistant right there with him. One of its local newspapers actually withdrew its endorsement of him because of it. Why? What's going on? Not everyone thinks it's a good idea. Take a look. City hall has been a little less loving lately for Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser without one key aide, his wife Gloria, one time birthing coach who master-minded his mayoral campaign with catchy ads like this.
ABC GRAPHIC: Mayor Under Fire for Nepotism: Does He Love His Wife Too Much?
[Clip of people singing "We want the Funk."]
SAWYER: After the election victory, she came to work with him every day, a volunteer personal assistant.
MARK FUNKHOUSER: This is the booth. This is the chair that she will be sitting in again when she comes back.
SAWYER: But not if the city council can help it.
ED FORD (Kansas City Council): The mayor makes every day bring-your-wife-to-work day.
DIANE SAWYER: In September, after a former city employee filed suit, accusing the mayor and his wife of making racist remarks, creating a hostile work environment, the council passed a law banning elected officials from having family members volunteering in their offices
FORD: The problem is when ever you have to supervisor a family member, loved one, your wife, it's- you can't be objective.
MAYOR MARK FUNKHOUSER (Kansas City, Missouri): They think that they can pass a law that determines who can and cannot come and talk to me in my office. I don't think that's legal. I don't think it's constitutional.
SAWYER: Funkhouser insists his wife makes him more effective as mayor. He's even suing the city to get her back. For the time being, the two spending much more time at home as family and as mayor and volunteer. Though city employees think he's on thin ice with the law on their side.
FORD: The mayor will be lucky to finish his current term because I think he will face the threat of a recall or removal from office because of nepotism issue.
...
SAWYER: What about this lawsuit, though? Talking about racially insensitive remarks, including an African-American woman in the office being called mammy?
GLORIA SQUITIRO (Mayor's wife): I have never used a racial slur in my life. My parents are Italians. They grew up in the '20s in New York City when there was a real hate going on for Italians then. I was not raised to use derogatory words. If I would ever have uttered a racial word in my house, my mother would have smacked me so hard, my teeth would have rattled.
SAWYER: Let me ask you this though, if it's causing such a ruckus- I just whacked him Robin over here accidentally. Sorry- If it's causing such a ruckus, why not just give your advice from home and do the things that you've been doing, you've been a birthing coach. Why not just do it at home?
SQUITIRO: Well, because we feel like most political spouses do what I do. They just tend to keep it hidden. And we're not willing to compromise our honesty to the people of Kansas City to do it that way. I think political wives are coming out of the closet. Thank God for Hillary. She paved the way for Michelle and, you know, we're not going to have to sit there and worry about where Michelle sits during the day because of Hillary.
SAWYER: Mr. Mayor, you willing to lose the job over this?
FUNKHOUSER: You know, I don't think I'm going to lose the job. I think this is a whole lot of ado about nothing. You know, Kansas City is a dynamic city. It's got a great, revitalized downtown. It's world class animal health, life sciences industry. It's got thriving arts community, world class engineering firms. But, we've got issues. We've got financial issues which are aggravated by the global economy. We've got conditions in the urban core that threaten the overall vitality of the city. I'm the guy to deal with that stuff.
SAWYER: You're going to dig in on this, though? You're not backing down?
FUNKHOUSER: You know, I- You know, I've got determination. I've got tenacity. And I think Kansas Cityians has wanted a stand-up guy who sticks with what he believes in.
SAWYER: All right. I thank the two of you for being with us. I guess the Lamaze coach version of just breathe and see what happens here?
SQUITIRO: We're going to breathe. And Kansas Cityians are a tough lot. They're going to breathe too. And we're going to see our way to the end, standing tall.

-- Brent Baker