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MSNBC Obsesses Over Palin's Damaging 'Hard Right' Pro-Life Stance --9/3/2008


1. MSNBC Obsesses Over Palin's Damaging 'Hard Right' Pro-Life Stance
Obsessing over Sarah Palin's pro-life position on abortion, MSNBC hosts and reporters on Tuesday night repeatedly raised it and painted it as a detriment to Republicans even though last week with Democrats the channel did not similarly pursue how a solidly left view on abortion might hurt Obama and Biden. By the count of the MRC's Geoff Dickens, between 8 PM and midnight EDT, MSNBC raised abortion at least 16 times, twice with an edge that painted the GOP position as extreme by applying a "hard right" label. Chris Matthews declared "they are going hard right on abortion rights" and later David Gregory asserted: "The abortion platform here is pretty hard right." Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, fretted over how "this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is" that "these delegates are more conservative than even the ones four years ago." Andrea Mitchell described Palin as "very conservative" and pressed a Republican Congressman: "Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?"

2. CNN's Toobin, Channeling Howard Dean, Says GOP 'Not Diverse'
CNN's Jeffrey Toobin echoed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on the subject of "diversity" in the Republican Party during CNN's Tuesday evening coverage of the Republican convention: "I'd just like to make an observation about sort of the night as a whole. Fred Thompson, George Bush, Joe Lieberman -- the Republican Party, are they the party of old, white guys? I mean, this is who the Republican Party put forward first, and the only other people there were wives.... It is not a diverse party. It is not a party where women have had great success."

3. Prime Time Focus on Palin's Deficiencies, Couric: She's 'Turnoff'
Sarah Palin's presumed lack of qualifications and the assumed failure of the McCain campaign to adequately vet her consumed much of the ABC, CBS and NBC prime time hour Tuesday on the Republican convention. CBS's Katie Couric was the most aggressive. A flustered Couric demanded to know from McCain adviser Steve Schmidt how anyone could possibly "compare" Palin's public service with the more experienced Obama: "How can you compare those two?" When Tim Pawlenty later made the same assertion, Couric shot back: "Well, that's according to Republican talking points." She also contended questions about Palin "call into question the vetting process" as she complained: "Why are these kind of things coming out in kind of a drip, drip, drip fashion?" With Pawlenty, Couric, who last week never wondered if the liberal ticket would dissuade anyone, portrayed Palin as some sort of alien creature: "She is against abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. She wants creationism taught in schools. Do you worry that her selection might be a turnoff to some wavering Democrats and independents who might consider supporting John McCain?"

4. CBS Evening News Most Aggressive in Besmirching Palin
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday all focused stories on the media's latest obsession: the inadequacies of VP choice Sarah Palin and John McCain's supposedly rushed and inept vetting process. ABC anchor Charles Gibson, for instance, teased: "The Republicans finally take to the convention floor. Many questions still being asked about John McCain's vice presidential pick." But CBS was the most aggressive in trying to discredit Palin. Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News: "Tonight, new questions about Sarah Palin's past, including whether she once supported a party that wants Alaska to secede from the U.S. How much did John McCain really know about his running mate?" Couric led by insisting, as if the media are simple observers and not participants: "The story that's continuing to get all the attention here -- and elsewhere for that matter -- is Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, and John McCain's judgment in choosing her as his running mate." Couric set up a second Palin story: "The McCain campaign has portrayed Governor Palin as a reformer and opponent of pork barrel spending, but there are some new questions about that."

5. PBS's Shields Slams Palin for Choosing Ambition Over Her Daughter
The gloves came off and the punching of Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin began early in the night on PBS. Just after the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday night, the analyst team of Mark Shields and David Brooks got into a squabble over Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter Bristol. Shields insisted a callous Gov. Palin chose national ambition over "love and consideration for her daughter...By accepting John McCain's offer she guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question."

6. GMA Touts Palin Pregnancy Story, 'Skeleton In the Closet'
ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday aggressively pushed the story about how Sarah Palin's teenaged daughter is pregnant, leading their broadcast with that topic rather than the hurricane that slammed into Louisiana yesterday morning. ABC's David Wright suggested the McCain camp was trying to bury the "skeleton in the closet" by putting the news out as the hurricane hit: "This was a political bombshell, timed to go off on a day when the McCain campaign knew that America would be focused on other news." The confrontational approach further revealed itself in co-host Diane Sawyer's interview with a McCain campaign spokeswoman. Sawyer twice asked when McCain himself learned about the pregnancy, and tried to use the case of Palin's daughter to lobby against abstinence-only education in public schools and suggested that it "was a mistake" not to include the news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy in Friday's introduction of Sarah Palin to the nation.

7. CBS's Early Show Devotes Four Segment to Palin's Family Life
Tuesday's CBS Early Show devoted four separate segments to news that the teenage daughter of McCain running mate Sarah Palin is pregnant with co-host Maggie Rodriguez declaring: "Private lives, pregnancy, and politics. A stunning start to the Republican convention, as delegates grapple with Sarah Palin's family life. I'm Maggie Rodriguez in St. Paul. The bombshell pregnancy announcement that's stolen John McCain's limelight and why some insiders say it may help him." Later, Rodriguez explained: "We've got a couple of storms brewing here in St. Paul, as well. The headline in the local paper calls day one of the Republican National Convention 'A Day of Distractions' for the GOP. The focus not on John McCain, but on Hurricane Gustav and on the political storm involving the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and the revelation that her teen daughter is pregnant."

8. On Today, Matalin Slams 'Hair-on-Fire' Media for Attacks on Palin
Appearing on Tuesday's Today show, Republican strategist Mary Matalin slammed the media for its "hair-on-fire" coverage of Sarah Palin's selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee of John McCain. In particular, she corrected a previous segment by David Gregory which asserted that the Alaska governor had hired an attorney to defend herself against an ethics probe into possible attempts to dismiss a state trooper. Matalin asserted to host Matt Lauer that it wasn't true "that she's hired a lawyer to deal with this trooper issue. The attorney general, state attorney general hired the lawyer." She forcefully added, "That's what they do for the governor. She's an open book on this thing. The press is reacting to these things in sort of a hair-on-fire way because she's new." In his report, Gregory had incorrectly asserted, that Palin "revealed" she had hired the lawyer.

9. Giuliani Scoffs at Blitzer's Claim Obama 'Scrutinized for Months'
In the midst of being pounded by Wolf Blitzer and other CNN panelists about Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin's supposedly inadequate experience, Rudy Giuliani wondered late Tuesday afternoon: "Why did Barack Obama get a pass on his experience? And why is Sarah Palin's experience, which from the executive point of view is considerably more than Barack Obama's, under such scrutiny?" Blitzer retorted: "But who says he's [Obama] been getting a pass? He's been scrutinized for months and months and months." To which, a laughing Giuliani scoffed: "I haven't seen the scrutiny of his experience or his record." Blitzer then, seriously, asked: "Do you read your hometown newspaper, the New York Times?" Giuliani, still trying to get his words out while laughing at Blitzer's premise at the end of the first hour of The Situation Room, lightheartedly suggested: "Maybe that's the problem. I read the New York Times and I haven't seen much scrutiny of Barack Obama in the New York Times."

10. Joy Behar: Speaking on Faith 'Impinging on the Constitution'
A presidential candidate who shares his or her religious beliefs is "impinging on the Constitution" according to View co-host Joy Behar. On the ABC daytime show's Tuesday season premiere, the panel caught up on the many hot button political stories from Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter to sharing religion in a public forum. When Barbara Walters brought up the discussion of Senators Obama and McCain attending a forum with Reverend Rick Warren, Behar declared: "Both of them needed to say that Jesus Christ was their savior. That is very much impinging on the Constitution in my opinion. Why do we need to know who's their savior?" Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd disagreed, wondering what is wrong with them making such a statement.

11. Matthews Retracts Tagging Powell & Rice 'Showcase Appointments'
On Friday's Hardball on MSNBC, the day after he denigrated Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "showcase appointments," Chris Matthews retracted his comment, chalking it up to a bad choice of words, as he contended that he should have called Powell and Rice "high-profile" appointments, rather than "showcase" appointments: "I should have said 'high-level, high-profile' appointments. They were genuine appointments. They were not tokens." And, although Matthews did seem to demean Rice on Thursday by referring to her position of Secretary of State as a "nice title," Matthews on Friday used a different tone: "Nobody on Earth believes that Condoleezza Rice is not this President's chief foreign policy advisor. Or nobody challenges their ability. Personally, I love the guy, although I wish he'd had opposed the war, General Powell. So I used the wrong word. I should have said 'high-level, high-profile,' not 'showcase,' because some people took that as 'token.' And damn it, I certainly didn't mean that."

12. On-Scene Video from St. Paul: Ingraham & Thompson Slam Media Bias
Check out the on-scene reports this week, many with original video, from the MRC's NewsBusters blog team in St. Paul. Tuesday posts, with video include: "Laura Ingraham Slams Media Bias on Palin, Praises NewsBusters," "FNC's Mort Kondracke: Palin is 'Dan Quayle All Over Again,'" "Fred Thompson Slams Media Bias Against Palin as 'Abysmal'" and "Steele Tells NewsBusters Campaign Coverage 'Has Been a Joke.'"

13. Get MRC's Latest Convention Coverage Reports Before CyberAlert
Just as last week, you can get the latest MRC "Convention Watch" analysis before it arrives in the daily CyberAlert. We've created a widget in the center of the MRC home page with the latest headlines for MRC postings, on our NewsBusters blog, about convention coverage. By checking it during the day and night you'll see the stories (and many more that won't fit) which will later be compiled into the once-a-day CyberAlert. So, throughout the day, check the widget at: http://www.mrc.org/


MSNBC Obsesses Over Palin's Damaging
'Hard Right' Pro-Life Stance

Obsessing over Sarah Palin's pro-life position on abortion, MSNBC hosts and reporters on Tuesday night repeatedly raised it and painted it as a detriment to Republicans even though last week with Democrats the channel did not similarly pursue how a solidly left view on abortion might hurt Obama and Biden. By the count of the MRC's Geoff Dickens, between 8 PM and midnight EDT, MSNBC raised abortion at least 16 times, twice with an edge that painted the GOP position as extreme by applying a "hard right" label. Chris Matthews declared "they are going hard right on abortion rights" and later David Gregory asserted: "The abortion platform here is pretty hard right."

Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, fretted over how "this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is" that "these delegates are more conservative than even the ones four years ago." Andrea Mitchell described Palin as "very conservative" and pressed a Republican Congressman: "Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?"

Matthews bemoaned to Tom Ridge that "it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?" To Tim Pawlenty, Matthews demanded: "Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party?"

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

Highlights from MSNBC's Tuesday, September 2 coverage of the Republican convention, as gathered by Geoff:

ANDREA MITCHELL TO PENNSYLVANIA REP. JOE PITTS (8:12 PM EDT):

Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?


TOM BROKAW AND CHUCK TODD (8:20 PM EDT):

TOM BROKAW: And the Republican Party platform, which was passed under the direction of Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, he said they reached out across the country electronically, and otherwise, to put together the platform. When it came to abortion, no exceptions. Rape, incest, didn't make any difference, they were opposed to abortion. That is Senator, pardon men, Governor Palin's position as well but it has not been John McCain's position.

CHUCK TODD: Well what's interesting is that Gary Bauer, the onetime presidential candidate, was, was John McCain's representative on the platform trying to, trying to soothe everything. And they made the decision not to fight these delegates here on this issue. Senator McCain, this platform does not represent Senator McCain's conservatism. He did not make it his party's platform. He made it the Republican Party platform, that he happens to be representing. Stark contrast to Barack Obama who went ahead, changed the wording on abortion, put in a line in there that made pro-life Democrats a little more comfortable. That was not done here. If anything this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is this. These delegates are more conservative -- I had, I had -- than, than even the ones four years ago. Than even the ones eight years ago. I had a state chair tell me that people ran to be John McCain's delegates in places like Michigan and Ohio, after the process, and they were more conservative than the people they were replacing. He's like, this guy goes, "They aren't John McCain Republicans, they just came here."


MITCHELL TO SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER (8:23 PM EDT):

I'm with Arlen Specter of course. Senator you represent a lot of pro-choice women, a lot of liberals, how does Sarah Palin play among your constituents in Pennsylvania?


CHRIS MATTHEWS (8:35 PM EDT):

Bottom line here, they are going hard right on abortion rights.

RACHEL MADDOW: Yes they are bringing back the most divisive social wedge issue that we've got and they are going double-down on it.

[PAT BUCHANAN noted Obama is "hard left" on abortion]

MATTHEWS: And then, and then, but Pat it's further than that. It is further because, not taking any position on this, they are taking a stronger position. Governor Palin supports the abolition of abortion as a right, period! She doesn't just say, throw it back to the states. She says, "If I got any say in this we're gonna outlaw it." Right? Isn't that true?


DAVID GREGORY TO CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN (8:49 PM EDT):

Does this convention represent a move to the center?

You may be talking about governing, but as a matter of campaigning he's moved to the right. The abortion platform here is pretty hard right when it comes to the abortion question with which you have some disagreement, I think, with the party still.


CHRIS MATTHEWS TO TOM RIDGE (9:02 PM EDT):

Governor Ridge the moderate wing of the Republican Party is atrophying right now as you watch on television. Sununu's got a tough race facing him. There's one Republican left in the entire New England delegation of Congress. You're under fire, you're getting smaller and smaller. And tonight it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?


MITCHELL TO CARLY FIORINA, FORMER CEO OF HEWLETT-PACKARD (9:04 PM EDT):

Now she is more socially conservative than a lot of independent women and a lot of Democratic women, Hillary Clinton women. You were trying to reach out to Hillary Clinton women. And what would be the appeal here of Sarah Palin for someone who believes in choice and who, you know, doesn't believe in her views on creationism, intelligent design. She is very conservative, socially.


MATTHEWS TO MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY (9:27 PM EDT):

Well let ask you about this, this whole question of the culture of the Republican Party. Both political parties, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party to win the presidency have to win a majority support of the country, something like 50 percent to win. Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party? Is it gonna work?


MATTHEWS ON ABORTION WITH REP. HEATHER WILSON, OLBERMANN REBUTS WILSON (11:46 PM EDT):

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the very tricky issue or troubling concern of abortion rights. Did it surprise you, that, that came up a number of times tonight? And do you think that will create enough of a majority, going into the election, this November, for the Republican candidates?

REP. HEATHER WILSON: Well the Republican Party is pro-life and, and I think that's an important issue for a lot of folks in the Republican Party. It's also a big contrast with Senator Obama, who is not only pro-choice, or, or but has taken some votes including in the Illinois State Senate against, you know, the Born Alive Act, which is, to me, just incomprehensible. And I, so, so there's a very big difference for folks. And it's important to Republicans.

MATTHEWS: Tell us about that issue, the Born Alive vote, back in the early part of this century, 2002, 2003. What was that about? Why is that worthy of note tonight and Senator Thompson raised that in his discussion, in his speech tonight.

WILSON: Because what it said was if a child, if someone, if someone tries to abort a child and the child, rather than being aborted and born dead, is born alive, then they should be given medical assistance. And it came out of a case where a nurse held a baby while the baby died and was prohibited from providing any life support to that child. And it was just wrong. And it's, and it's, it's, and Senator Obama said, "No let them die." And I, I just find that to be deeply troubling. Very, very troubling and I think a lot of people here did tonight. It's something that really goes to the core of what being pro-life is about.

MATTHEWS: How do you square that deep concern about life and opposition abortion with hosting Joe Lieberman tonight, a very strong supporter of abortion rights, at your convention?

OLBERMANN: To be fair to Senator Obama, Representative Wilson was not complete in that context of what she said. Senator Obama, at no point, said, "Let them die." What he, his argument was, in voting against that measure in the Illinois state legislature, was that extant law, the laws that were already on the books in Illinois, fully covered that horrific situation. And I believe Representative Wilson knows that.

CNN's Toobin, Channeling Howard Dean,
Says GOP 'Not Diverse'

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin echoed Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean on the subject of "diversity" in the Republican Party during CNN's Tuesday evening coverage of the Republican convention: "I'd just like to make an observation about sort of the night as a whole. Fred Thompson, George Bush, Joe Lieberman -- the Republican Party, are they the party of old, white guys? I mean, this is who the Republican Party put forward first, and the only other people there were wives.... It is not a diverse party. It is not a party where women have had great success."

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

During an August 15 interview with NPR, Dean made the following remark about the apparent success of minorities and women in the Democratic Party: "If you look at folks of color, even women, they're more successful in the Democratic Party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the Republican Party." Three years earlier in 2005, he called the GOP a "white Christian party."

For more on Dean's August 15 NPR interview, see "McCain backer takes on Howard Dean over 'white' remark" at: politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

For more on Dean's "white Christian party" remark from June 2005, see "In S.F., Dean calls GOP 'a white Christian party'" by Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle: www.sfgate.com

In the 11:30 PM EDT half hour, host Anderson Cooper had asked Toobin to respond to a comment that had just been made by conservative commentator Amy Holmes, who compared Joe Lieberman's appearance at the Republican convention that night to Zell Miller's famous appearance at the 2004 Republican convention. Cooper, responding to Holmes, remarked to Toobin that "Zell Miller never was going to be [the] vice-presidential candidate for the Democratic Party." The senior legal analyst for CNN replied, "No, that's an understatement. Zell Miller was certainly not close to that."

Toobin then continued on the "problem that the Republican Party has," which, in his view, is its apparent lack of "diversity:"

TOOBIN: I'd just like to make an observation about sort of the night as a whole. Fred Thompson, George Bush, Joe Lieberman -- the Republican Party, are they the party of old, white guys? I mean, this is who the Republican Party put forward first, and the only other people there were wives. I just think that is a problem that the Republican Party has. It is not a diverse party. It is not a party where women have had great success. Sarah Palin, perhaps, will be a -- will be a great exception to that. But -- this is a very different party from the Democratic Party. You look around that convention hall. It's a very different group of people than you see in the Democratic Party. The country's changing -- I'm not sure the Republican Party is.

On August 25, during CNN's coverage of the first night of the Democratic convention, Toobin complained about the lack of "red meat" from the speakers: "There is one big missing piece tonight I think, which is why the American people should throw the bums out. We haven't heard one word about that. We have the most unpopular President in American history, and he's barely been mentioned tonight. I just think that is an extraordinary gap..."

See the August 26 CyberAlert item, "CNN's Jeff Toobin Frets Democrats Didn't Say 'Throw the Bums Out:'" www.mrc.org

Prime Time Focus on Palin's Deficiencies,
Couric: She's 'Turnoff'

Sarah Palin's presumed lack of qualifications and the assumed failure of the McCain campaign to adequately vet her consumed much of the ABC, CBS and NBC prime time hour Tuesday on the Republican convention. CBS's Katie Couric was the most aggressive. A flustered Couric demanded to know from McCain adviser Steve Schmidt how anyone could possibly "compare" Palin's public service with the more experienced Obama: "How can you compare those two?"

When Tim Pawlenty later made the same assertion, Couric shot back: "Well, that's according to Republican talking points." She also contended questions about Palin "call into question the vetting process" as she complained: "Why are these kind of things coming out in kind of a drip, drip, drip fashion?" With Pawlenty, Couric, who last week never wondered if the liberal ticket would dissuade anyone, portrayed Palin as some sort of alien creature: "She is against abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. She wants creationism taught in schools. Do you worry that her selection might be a turnoff to some wavering Democrats and independents who might consider supporting John McCain?"

ABC devoted an entire segment to its panel of Diane Sawyer, Charles Gibson, George Stephanopoulos, Matthew Dowd and Tori Clarke speculating about bad vetting and Palin undermining a McCain theme. Gibson proposed: "There were signs all over Denver, put up by Republicans, saying 'Not Ready '08.' Have they totally throw that argument away? And do they regret losing it, do you think?" Dowd confirmed: "I think they've totally thrown it away..."

NBC reporters pressed interviewees to say whether they really saw Palin as the "best pick." Sitting with First Lady Laura Bush, Brian Williams wondered: "Do you think she's the best pick for Senator McCain, as they say, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?" Williams also raised Palin's family issue, citing: "People who might react negatively to some of the news coming out, her daughter is about to become a teenage mother."

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

"There are a lot of empty seats all around," Ann Curry felt compelled to highlight at the very end of NBC's hour: "Just judging from the din we're hearing on the floor with the speech by Joe Lieberman coming after the speech by Fred Thompson this convention, despite being delayed by Hurricane Gustav, is now brought to life. We do want to point out that if you look around the arena there are a lot of empty seats all around, but we don't expect that to be the case tomorrow night when the Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is scheduled to speak, Brian."

Back to Couric, she pressed McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt: "She hired someone, when she was mayor of Wasilla, to get a lot of money for her town -- I think $27 million, the Washington Post reported. So how does that square with John McCain's philosophy and sort of persona as this maverick reformer?"

Just as last week with the Democrats, ABC, CBS and NBC on Tuesday night showed highlights from pre-10 PM EDT and then most of the speech time from the 10 PM hour. All three networks began their 10 PM EDT/9 PM CDT hours with a re-play of President Bush's speech from the White House, or a delayed broadcast of it. Noteworthy coverage differences:

- NBC's version of Bush featured awkward pauses as he waited for the applause to end, but NBC aired no applause sound. Afterward, Brian Williams blamed technical problems from merging arena video and sound, but ABC and CBS managed to run Bush with arena reaction audio.

- All three cut in and out of Fred Thompson (both live and delayed video) to go to panel discussions and interviews.

- Only ABC did not carry all of Joe Lieberman as ABC carried much of Thompson on delay (more of Thompson than CBS or NBC viewers got), which did not end until two minutes after Lieberman had begun. But then ABC went to an ad break before joining Lieberman in progress. And instead of staying with Lieberman until almost exactly 11 PM EDT when he finished as did CBS and NBC, ABC cut out five minutes early to go to analysis and to show protesters getting tear-gassed outside the building.

# From NBC's 10 PM EDT prime time hour:

Williams to Laura Bush:

- People who might react negatively to some of the news coming out, her daughter is about to become a teenage mother. Your view on what you've learned about her in the last few days.

- The other side is also coming after her on the merits countering the executive experience point by pointing out she was the mayor of a very, very small town and Alaska's relative population.

- Do you think she's the best pick for Senator McCain, as they say, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Ron Allen, on the floor, to Senator Olympia Snowe:

A lot of people look at her background and experience and they see a Governor in her first term, they see a Mayor of a small town in Alaska and they wonder was she really the best choice? Is she really prepared? What do you say to those people who have those concerns?


# Highlights from CBS's September 2 hour, as collated by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

Segment with Senator Lindsey Graham and McCain adviser Steve Schmidt:

KATIE COURIC, REACTING TO SCHMIDT'S ASSERTION PALIN HAS MORE EXPERIENCE THAN OBAMA: So you don't think that Barack Obama's experience as a state senator for eight years and then a U.S. Senator for four years -- how can you compare those two?
STEVE SCHMIDT: Barack Obama was in the United States Senate for one year before he took off -- and Senator Graham will talk about that -- to run for President full time. When he was a state senator, he had no executive decisions. And 130 times, tough votes, he took a pass and voted present. Leaders have to make decisions. Governor Palin makes decisions.
COURIC: So do you think, Senator Graham, governors are better leaders than senators?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think governors, [LAUGHS], having been in the Senate, probably. Governor Palin, I think, really compliments what John wants to do. John has looked at Washington as broken, and it's not something new to him. I was one of 14 senators who voted against the "Bridge to Nowhere." I was scared because I knew what was going to come my way. The governor of Alaska said no to the project.
COURIC: But didn't she initially say yes to the project?
GRAHAM: Yeah.
COURIC: So doesn't that kind of drive a hole into that argument?
GRAHAM: I think, I have earmarked, I confess on national TV. This has been a journey for Alaska and the country. She's seen what's happened in Alaska. John's seen what is happening in Washington. If you wanted to pick somebody that had a record of change, and would tell their own party things they didn't want to hear, she's the best pick John could have made. She's a lot like John.
COURIC: But she did have a change of heart on that "Bridge to Nowhere," correct? I mean, let's just set the record straight.
SCHMIDT: She did. And let's be clear, she killed it at the end of the day. It's okay-
COURIC: After initially supporting it, that's all, I think we should set the record straight on that.
SCHMIDT: There's no question that that's the case, but she killed that bridge, a $230 million bridge to an island with 50 people, one of the great taxpayer ripoffs of all time, and the American people have Governor Palin to thank for killing it.
GRAHAM: If I could say, Katie, Alaska is in turmoil politically. This has caught up with the people of Alaska. They've got a lot of political problems on their hands, and America has caught up with the Congress, and people are frustrated. They're ready to do something different. And Senator Obama hasn't done a whole lot different since I've been around.
COURIC: Let me ask you guys, you mentioned, Steve, all the allegations and some are scurrilous, some, though, questioned her readiness and some of the things that she has done politically which seem to me to be fair game.
SCHMIDT: Sure.
COURIC: I mean, aren't those legitimate criticisms, and don't they call into question the vetting process, which obviously you were a very important part of? But some people wonder, why are these kind of things coming out in kind of a drip, drip, drip fashion?
SCHMIDT: Well, let's talk about what's coming out. The fact that her husband had a DWI 24 years ago when he was 22 years old. Senator McCain thinks that's nonsense, that's not a disqualifier for a Vice President of the United States. We knew that her daughter was going to have a child. Senator McCain offered his love and support for their family. That doesn't disqualify this exceptional leader, and the American people, I think, will angrily reject it. Today, Katie, I've been asked questions that are outrageous by the national media. I've been asked questions about when her amniotic fluid started to leak with regard to her last birth. I was asked whether we would make the genetic tests available because she had a Down's Syndrome child. Members of this campaign went to off-the-record lunches with reporters today, and they were asked if she would do paternity tests to prove paternity for her last child. Smear after smear after smear, and it's disgraceful, and it's wrong, and the American people are going to reject it overwhelmingly when they see her tomorrow.
COURIC: Let me ask you, though, both of you, a couple of questions that I hope you'll deem legitimate.
SCHMIDT: Sure.
COURIC: And that is that she raised sales taxes as mayor, which seems to be against John McCain's philosophy, and that she personally lobbied for some very sizable earmarks. You addressed that briefly. But, you know, she hired someone, when she was mayor of Wasilla, to get a lot of money for her town '€" I think $27 million, the Washington Post reported. So how does that square with John McCain's philosophy and sort of persona as this maverick reformer?
SCHMIDT: You know, Senator Obama has attacked that experience that she was a mayor, degraded it. She's a governor today. But when she was a mayor, she fought for her city, and she did everything she could to make that city a better place, and there are stories in the paper about how much that city grew and developed during her tenure as mayor. She was an effective leader, served on the PTA, and she became the governor. She's going to join John McCain in vetoing every earmark project that comes in a spending bill and stop this outrageous spending in Washington, D.C. She raised sales taxes. That was the right thing to do for that town at that time. It shows that she doesn't adhere to a dogmatic principle. We have to have taxes in the country. Here's the difference: Senator Obama wants to raise everybody's federal taxes, Governor Palin, Senator McCain are going to cut them.

Couric with Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:

COURIC: I know you're an evangelical Christian. To what extent do you think Sarah Palin, the choice of Sarah Palin has energized the Republican base?
GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY (R-MN): Well, I think she, on a whole range of issues, has energized the Republican base, and you can see that in terms of increased donations and energy and enthusiasm, so I think she's hit a home run with the Republican base.
COURIC: But she is against abortion, even in the case of rape or incest. She wants creationism taught in schools. Do you worry that her selection might be a turnoff to some wavering Democrats and independents who might consider supporting John McCain?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think your question from before the break was the right one, which is, if you're voting only on the abortion issue from a pro-abortion standpoint, you probably weren't voting for John McCain to begin with. But from a whole range of other perspectives on other issues, I think women, in terms of who are worried about breaking through that glass ceiling, are going to look at her life story and relate to her life story in ways that go beyond just the abortion issue.
COURIC: And you think her story will trump experience?
PAWLENTY: I think her story is, in part, experience. She's got more experience, as you know, than Barack Obama, so I don't think that's going to be a strong argument.
COURIC: Well, that's according to Republican talking points. I think the Democrats would disagree with that.
PAWLENTY: Well, Katie, I think it's also a fact. She's been the governor of a state, she's been a mayor. In terms of executive experience, it's just a matter of fact that she has more than Senator Obama.

CBS Evening News Most Aggressive in Besmirching
Palin

The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday all focused stories on the media's latest obsession: the inadequacies of VP choice Sarah Palin and John McCain's supposedly rushed and inept vetting process. ABC anchor Charles Gibson, for instance, teased: "The Republicans finally take to the convention floor. Many questions still being asked about John McCain's vice presidential pick." But CBS was the most aggressive in trying to discredit Palin. Katie Couric teased the CBS Evening News: "Tonight, new questions about Sarah Palin's past, including whether she once supported a party that wants Alaska to secede from the U.S. How much did John McCain really know about his running mate?"

Couric led by insisting, as if the media are simple observers and not participants: "The story that's continuing to get all the attention here -- and elsewhere for that matter -- is Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, and John McCain's judgment in choosing her as his running mate." Couric set up a second Palin story: "The McCain campaign has portrayed Governor Palin as a reformer and opponent of pork barrel spending, but there are some new questions about that. Wyatt Andrews now with a Reality Check."

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

From the floor of the Republican convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Couric opened the Tuesday, September 2 CBS Evening News: "The Republicans are holding the first full session of this quadrennial gathering tonight. Yesterday's was abbreviated because of Hurricane Gustav. And after some re-jiggering of the schedule, President Bush will address this convention over a video hookup from the White House. But the story that's continuing to get all the attention here -- and elsewhere for that matter -- is Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska, and John McCain's judgment in choosing her as his running mate."

In that story, Nancy Cordes reported: "After yesterday's revelation that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, questions are flying about how much the McCain campaign knew about other issues like the probe into Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner or reports that she participated in Alaska's Independence Party which has called in the past for the state to secede from the union. " Mark Chryson, former Chairman if the Alaska Independence Party: asserted: "All I know is she was at the convention in '94 with her husband and several hundred other people."

Cordes did at least later note that voter registration records show Palin has always been a Republican.

Couric introduced the next story: "The McCain campaign has portrayed Governor Palin as a reformer and opponent of pork barrel spending, but there are some new questions about that. Wyatt Andrews now with a Reality Check."

ANDREWS BEGAN: "When John McCain introduced Governor Sarah Palin, he presented her as a tough reformer of earmarks, all those direct, often hidden, federal grants for local projects. Palin even claimed she killed off one of the worst earmarks ever, a proposed $233 million bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska, to Gravina island.
PALIN ON FRIDAY: I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to in the no where.
ANDREWS: No thanks to that bridge? Here are the facts. Congress killed off that earmark well before Governor Palin formally abandoned it. And while the bridge is, in fact, a dead project, the state still kept the money. $233 million in federal funds for other transportation needs. The record also shows that two years ago Palin supported the bridge...

PBS's Shields Slams Palin for Choosing
Ambition Over Her Daughter

The gloves came off and the punching of Republican vice presidential pick Sarah Palin began early in the night on PBS. Just after the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday night, the analyst team of Mark Shields and David Brooks got into a squabble over Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter Bristol. Shields insisted a callous Gov. Palin chose national ambition over "love and consideration for her daughter...By accepting John McCain's offer she guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question."

Brooks suggested we don't know enough to judge the Palin family values, and even suggested that the children of vice presidents have had problems, and that the media that usually lays off the children are covering this story in a "big massive way."

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

Shields began by suggesting that people in both parties can agree that making an issue out of candidates' children is "really out of bounds." He then turned around and made the mother's allegedly unseemly ambition an issue: "There is another question though which essentially I've heard expressed here many times today and from calls elsewhere, and that is the decision made by Sarah Palin herself, when knowing her daughter's condition, by accepting John McCain's offer she guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question.
"I mean, Republicans, it's not a partisan question. It's just a question of whether in fact family values, and whether family values collide in this case. All candidates -- David and I have talked about this -- have healthy if not overly healthy ambitions. But there had to be some tension here. The ambition of going on a national ticket, and her love and consideration of her daughter, being known once and for all as 'Aren't you the daughter who was pregnant of the vice presidential candidate in 2008?'"

Lehrer asked Brooks: "Do you share that concern?" Brooks did, but tried to be less partisan: "It's certainly something I've heard about today. To be perfectly honest, I think politicians at this level sacrifice a lot of their family life. Anybody who's running, especially with young kids, whether it's Obama, Chris Dodd, or Sarah Palin, is putting their kids at risk, and they do it because it may be a sense of service, maybe a sense of ambition, but they do it. And if we elect someone on the basis of whether they're good parents, I'm not sure Ronald Reagan would have been elected. I'm not sure that's a very good basis to decide.
"I think the more profound issue for me is I don't know whether Sarah Palin's a good mom or not. I don't have the basis to know what's going on in her family. I have no basis to know how her decision affected her daughter or her sons or any of that. What happens in another's family is a darkness, even if it's your neighbor who's getting divorced. So it's just not something I feel I know about that."

Shields wasn't giving in, and doubled down in underlining what he insisted was Governor Palin's parental cruelty:
"Jim, David is entitled to his opinion. The question of how it affected her daughter is not open to question. It has made her daughter a front-page item for the country. That would not have been the case if Sarah Palin had said to John McCain, '€˜thanks but no thanks. This is a private time for my daughter, an important and terribly difficult time in her life.' I really can only imagine the painful time that girl is going through, not simply to be known and introduced to the nation this way, but also being conflicted about what this pregnancy could do to her mother's career and all the rest of that. So I don't think there's any question the impact it was going to have upon her."

Brooks fought back, and brought in the media's role in blowing the story up:
"I don't know if you can blame Sarah Pain for that. In the last 15 years, we've had vice presidents whose kids have gone through tough times. We've had public figures who kids have gone through tough times. And in general, we in the media have laid off, and laid off those kids. So it gets reported here and there, but not in a big massive way. And now it's being reported in a big massive way, what's on a MySpace page and we're having pictures of this and that, and long pictures and descriptions of the pregnancy and what it means about abstinence education and this and that. I'm not sure Sarah Palin's to blame for that. I think you make a decision. You hope people respect the privacy of your kids. Barack Obama hopes that. Joe Biden hopes that, John McCain hopes that, and I think it's our responsibility to respect that privacy."

GMA Touts Palin Pregnancy Story, 'Skeleton
In the Closet'

ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday aggressively pushed the story about how Sarah Palin's teenaged daughter is pregnant, leading their broadcast with that topic rather than the hurricane that slammed into Louisiana yesterday morning. ABC's David Wright suggested the McCain camp was trying to bury the "skeleton in the closet" by putting the news out as the hurricane hit: "This was a political bombshell, timed to go off on a day when the McCain campaign knew that America would be focused on other news."

The confrontational approach further revealed itself in co-host Diane Sawyer's interview with a McCain campaign spokeswoman. Sawyer twice asked when McCain himself learned about the pregnancy, and tried to use the case of Palin's daughter to lobby against abstinence-only education in public schools and suggested that it "was a mistake" not to include the news of Bristol Palin's pregnancy in Friday's introduction of Sarah Palin to the nation.

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

Sawyer also bristled at how Karl Rove reportedly called Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden "a big blowhard doofus," forcing McCain advisor Nicolle Wallace to confess she didn't know the precise definition of "doofus." Dictionary.com offers various definitions, including "an incompetent, foolish, or stupid person" or a "dolt, idiot, nerd." See: dictionary.reference.com

ABC's George Stephanopoulos actually undercut his network's fixation on the pregnancy, saying he expected that "a lot of people will understand and will forgive this, not consider it a huge political issue and give the family their privacy." But he also darkly suggested further negative stories loomed in Palin's future: "What a lot of Republican operatives and delegates here are asking is what else is out there about Governor Palin?...What does it say about Senator McCain's judgment that he chose someone with no national security experience with so many questions out there who is such an unknown quantity?"

Over the past several days, Good Morning America has taken a generally derisive approach to Palin's candidacy. Yesterday, MRC's Colleen Raezler discovered, reporter David Wright snottily compared Palin to a young "trophy" wife: "The difference in their age sometimes making them an awkward pairing. In small groups, Palin can seem like the young, trophy running mate."

And on Saturday, Wright sarcastically noted that McCain and Palin campaigning "looked a little like father and daughter out for an ice cream." That was just before co-anchor Bill Weir seemed to impugn Sarah Palin as an unfit mother for undertaking a campaign four months after giving birth to a son with Down's syndrome, a line of questioning that ABC's Cokie Roberts quickly rejected as sexist. See the September 2 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Here is how ABC's Good Morning America tackled the Palin story on Tuesday, even as CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today led their broadcasts with Hurricane Gustav. The transcripts below were compiled by the MRC's Justin McCarthy:

DIANE SAWYER: This morning, Republicans hit with a surprise. Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin announces her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant, but plans to marry her 18-year-old boyfriend. Exactly when did Senator McCain find out?...

ROBIN ROBERTS: We will get to Chris and Sam, we should say, in just a bit down in Louisiana, but we're going to begin with the news that is shaking up the political world, the surprise announcement by Governor Sarah Palin that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. ABC's David Wright is in Philadelphia and has the latest for us this morning. Good morning, David.
DAVID WRIGHT: Good morning, Robin. This was a political bombshell, timed to go off on a day when the McCain campaign knew that America would be focused on other news. It's exactly the sort of skeleton in the closet that American presidential campaigns for better or worse have a tendency to force out into the open. Why should it be any of our business that the governor's teenage daughter is five months pregnant? Well, for one thing, Palin wanted to rebut a conspiracy theory being flogged by a liberal website suggesting that the real mother of the governor's infant son with Down's syndrome-
ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: He was born just in April.
WRIGHT: -was her own daughter Bristol who's holding him there.
PALIN: His name is Trig Paxton Van Palin.
WRIGHT: In other words, the website insinuated that Governor Palin had faked her pregnancy to cover for a pregnant daughter, a plot line so gothic it could only be plausible on "Desperate Housewives." That's why the Palins disclosed that 17-year-old Bristol, a high school senior, is pregnant and plans to marry her boyfriend, 18-year-old Levi Johnston. "We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," they said in a statement. "As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood she knows she has our unconditional love and support."
SANDI HUDDLESTON, INDIANA GOP DELEGATE: I felt sympathy. I felt compassion. I know that what they are going through right now is probably something that a lot of other American families have gone through.
WRIGHT: That's exactly the sort of reaction the McCain campaign was hoping for. They say Palin had told them all this before he picked her and McCain did not see it as a deal-breaker. Barack Obama made it clear he won't touch the issue.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Yeah, my mother had me when she was 18, and, you know, how family deals with issues and, you know, teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics.
WRIGHT: It's an interesting milestone. In the '90s another Republican vice presidential nominee famously picked a fight with Hollywood over the pregnancy of a fictional unwed mother Murphy Brown.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE: Bearing babies irresponsibly is simply wrong.

SUSPEND transcript for a reality check: Dan Quayle was rejecting the entertainment media's glorification of single-motherhood. Palin's daughter plans to marry her boyfriend, not raise her alone.

Resume transcript:

WRIGHT: This year's nominee seems to understand that sometimes life doesn't follow the script.
PALIN: Some of life's greatest opportunities come unexpectedly and this is certainly the case today.
WRIGHT: All of this is part of the getting to know you process which can be uncomfortably intimate in American presidential campaigns. The McCain campaign is well aware of the sensitivities. That's why they confirmed to us today that the entire Alaska delegation at the convention has now received media training on how to handle questions about the Palin family.

DIANE SAWYER: Well, as you said, the McCain camp has said Governor Palin told the vetters she had a pregnant daughter, but we wanted to know more about when and how she discussed it with Senator McCain himself. And a few minutes ago we were joined by senior adviser to Senator John McCain Nicolle Wallace. As we know, everybody wants to protect the privacy of a family but there are real campaign issues that have arisen. Let me ask you about the first one. Exactly when did Senator McCain learn about this pregnancy?
NICOLE WALLACE: Well, you know, I think in the vetting process there are all sorts of rather other excruciating intrusions into the personal lives of any politician that subjects themself to that. So the normal vetting process was underway and obviously this was disclosed by Governor Palin and her family. The thing that forced our hand and that it's very unfortunate is that the fervor with which the Democratic leaning blogs and a few in the mainstream media pursued this I think forced the Palin family in an effort to knock down what were really lewd and outrageously false rumors forced them maybe ahead of a schedule that worked best for the family to make this news yesterday about their daughter.
SAWYER: But let me go back and try to ask you again. When did Senator McCain learn about it? Did he discuss it with her in that phone call that they had on the Sunday or in the meeting that they had last week?
WALLACE: You know, we're going to let some things stay private. And I don't happen to know the minute, hour and day that they talked about Governor Palin's daughter being pregnant.
SAWYER: But they did talk about it?
WALLACE: But there certainly -- it was certainly known and it didn't give Senator McCain any pause and I don't think, Diane, that it gives the American people pause that this is a real family dealing with real challenges.
SAWYER: Let me ask you this, though, one of the first rules, as we know, of campaigning is don't surprise your own team. Do you think it was a mistake not to announce this particularly since the campaign viewed it as no problem not to announce it right up front at the time?
WALLACE: Well, I don't know if you had the announcement speech in mind high on Sarah Palin and this is my daughter. I mean, I'm not sure what the question is. This came out pretty quickly after her announcement was made in the introduction to the country and the world. I think that there is a long tradition, one of the last really civil traditions in our politics is that the children of politicians are held harmless and usually not examined and investigated with the fervor that Governor Palin's daughter and children have been examined. So -- and the presumption too that the team didn't know is false. We did know. We all knew. So I think that there's a little bit of an assumption that had we known would we not have chosen the best candidate who's Governor Palin and that's flat wrong.
SAWYER: Abstinence only education as opposed to sex education. As you know "The Journal of Adolescent Health" probably you know in March of this year said that kids who receive comprehensive sex ed in school are 60 percent less likely to be pregnant or to have gotten someone pregnant than those receiving abstinence only education. Do Senator McCain and Governor Palin just think that this is --this is not a statistic to be addressed?
WALLACE: Well, look, this isn't a policy area that I'm a particular expert in, so I can't speak with too much authority here, but I think that there are many levels. I think as a nation we may speak as politicians, we may talk about policy and I think that at the moment we're speaking about parents and families.
SAWYER: You're saying this is not something that should be addressed?
WALLACE: I certainly think that at one level we're talking about this as a family dealing with, you know, I think what will obvious be a challenging situation that forces their daughter to grow up much faster than maybe she would have liked and certainly than they would have liked, but I'm acknowledging my lack of expertise in the area of abstinence policy.
SAWYER: Going to ask one more question on a completely unrelated topic here but Karl Rove yesterday said to a delegation that the vice presidential nominee on the Democratic side, Joe Biden, Senator Biden, is '€˜a big blowhard doofus.' That was his quote. What does Senator McCain think about this from Karl Rove? What does he think about Karl Rove saying things like this?
WALLACE: I think John McCain is his own witness to the character of Joe Biden in that they've been colleagues and friends for a very long time. You know, I was with Senator McCain when Senator Biden was selected and I know he had a very warm conversation with him on the phone congratulating him and welcoming him to the race.
SAWYER: But I saw you laugh. Is this language that should be used about another candidate?
WALLACE: I mean "doofus" -- I'm not sure what the technical definition of "doofus" is, so my laugh was about the word. I've known Karl for a long time and, you know, he does come up with some interesting turns of phrase, so I think that, you know, I can only speak to Senator McCain's feelings and views about Senator Biden and I'm pretty sure he doesn't ever describe him as a doofus.
SAWYER: Nicole Wallace again thanks so much for being with us this morning.
WALLACE: Thank you.
SAWYER: And again, on the issue of abstinence only education, both Senator McCain and Governor Palin have said they believe in abstinence only education, which is why we raised that issue.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Okay, Diane, we're going to turn now to "The Bottom Line" and go to our chief Washington correspondent and host of This Week, George Stephanopoulos, who joins us in St. Paul at the RNC. Let's put a bottom line to this, George. How does this affect the McCain campaign and where does the story go from here?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Robin, it certainly rocked them for the day. I think if it is limited -- if the story is limited to the potential grandchild of Governor Palin, a lot of people will understand and will forgive this, not consider it a huge political issue and give the family their privacy. I think the question is what else is out there? We've seen other revelations about Governor Palin over these last 24, 36 hours that she was a member of the Alaska Independence Party, questions about whether she was a supporter of Pat Buchanan in 2000. Other questions raised about whether she even had a passport before she went to Kuwait last year and has traveled overseas.
The Washington Post reported this morning that even though the McCain campaign portrays her as a crusader against wasteful government spending she sought $27 million in earmarks for her tiny town of Wasilla, Alaska, so there are a lot of questions out there right now. We'll see how the campaign weathers it over the next several days. I think what a lot of Republican operatives and delegates here are asking is what else is out there about Governor Palin? Was the vetting process complete and professional? The McCain campaign, as you saw,insists that it was and finally, what does it say about Senator McCain's judgment that he chose someone with no national security experience with so many questions out there who is such an unknown quantity?
ROBERTS: As you said so many questions still to be answered. A limited schedule yesterday there in St. Paul because of Hurricane Gustav. What's on tap for today?
STEPHANOPOULOS: They are trying to get back on track today, Robin. They will have a convention program tonight. President Bush is scheduled to speak to the convention by satellite between 9:00 and 10:00 Eastern time, and then the prime time program will include former Senator Fred Thompson and Senator Joe Lieberman, of course he was the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats in 2000, now he's coming out for John McCain.

CBS's Early Show Devotes Four Segment
to Palin's Family Life

Tuesday's CBS Early Show devoted four separate segments to news that the teenage daughter of McCain running mate Sarah Palin is pregnant with co-host Maggie Rodriguez declaring: "Private lives, pregnancy, and politics. A stunning start to the Republican convention, as delegates grapple with Sarah Palin's family life. I'm Maggie Rodriguez in St. Paul. The bombshell pregnancy announcement that's stolen John McCain's limelight and why some insiders say it may help him." Later, Rodriguez explained: "We've got a couple of storms brewing here in St. Paul, as well. The headline in the local paper calls day one of the Republican National Convention 'A Day of Distractions' for the GOP. The focus not on John McCain, but on Hurricane Gustav and on the political storm involving the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and the revelation that her teen daughter is pregnant."

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

In the first segment on the issue, in the 7am half hour, correspondent Jeff Glor announced: "Four days ago, hardly anybody knew anything about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now they know a lot, including that news that her teenage daughter is indeed pregnant." Glor concluded his report by seeming to suggest that a planned address by Palin to the Republican convention was cancelled in the wake of the controversy: "Interesting to note that on the original schedule, Sarah Palin was scheduled to speak tonight. That will not happen." However, Glor never explained that while Palin was originally scheduled to give a prime time speech on Tuesday night of the convention, that speech was scheduled before she was named the vice presidential nominee, who traditionally accepts the party nomination on Wednesday, with McCain accepting the presidential nomination on Thursday.

In the 7:30am half hour, Rodriguez talked to Karen Rhoades, a personal friend of Sarah Palin, about Palin's daughter and the vetting process. Rodriguez teased that segment this way: "Ahead this morning, we'll talk to an old friend of the Palins about the rumors, about the pregnancy, and about the woman who's still such a mystery to so many people." Most of the segment allowed Rhoades to give personal insight into Palin, but at one point Rodriguez asked: "There are questions this morning about how thoroughly she was vetted, how much they looked into her background. We haven't found anyone in Alaska who says that they were talked to about her background. Since the announcement has come that she's the nominee, have you heard of anyone there who was asked about Sarah Palin's background?" Considering the announcement was only made Friday, perhaps Rodriguez should give it a bit more time.

In the 8am half hour, Rodriguez talked to Democratic strategist Joe Trippi about the Palin vetting process: "Let's talk about the vetting process, because I know that you've been involved in the past in the running mate selection process when Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro. Do you get the sense that John McCain didn't know everything about her? Everything they were getting?" Trippi replied: "Yeah, absolutely. And I know what it's like when you're on the staff and you have that feeling that, 'boy, we didn't vet this person as much as we should have,' which is clearly the case with Governor Palin, and that's -- that's just a horrible feeling, because you never know what you don't know. You never know if another shoe's going to drop tomorrow, and you just want to stop the bleeding and get on to what you want to fight about, which is to lay down the differences between McCain and Obama. And this -- between the hurricane and Governor Palin, the McCain campaign hasn't been able to do that yet."

Despite Jeff Glor reporting earlier that the McCain campaign new about Palin's daughter being pregnant, Rodriguez went on to ask Trippi: "How could they not know? How could they not thoroughly do their homework? How does that happen?" Trippi explained: "Well, what happens sometimes is the candidate and the campaign are going down one path...and you immediately move to another choice. And that choice -- and this happened in '84 with Geraldine Ferraro -- that choice turns out to be somebody that you just didn't have enough information on, and so you get in this predicament like has happened with Governor Palin." Rodriguez briefly mentioned at the very end of the segment: "And we should add that the McCain campaign insists that she was thoroughly vetted and there have been no surprises to them." Apparently that insistence was not enough for Rodriguez.

Finally, in the 8:30am half hour, Rodriguez talked to teen mother, Kaleigh Larrick, about the issue: "Kaleigh, here in Minnesota, here at the Republican National Convention, there's a lot of support for Sarah Palin, but other people are criticizing her. So, let me ask you, do you think that your parents should be held accountable for your actions?" Larrick replied: "No, because -- I think it was something I did, but I don't regret it."

On Today, Matalin Slams 'Hair-on-Fire'
Media for Attacks on Palin

Appearing on Tuesday's Today show, Republican strategist Mary Matalin slammed the media for its "hair-on-fire" coverage of Sarah Palin's selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee of John McCain. In particular, she corrected a previous segment by David Gregory which asserted that the Alaska governor had hired an attorney to defend herself against an ethics probe into possible attempts to dismiss a state trooper.

Matalin asserted to host Matt Lauer that it wasn't true "that she's hired a lawyer to deal with this trooper issue. The attorney general, state attorney general hired the lawyer." She forcefully added, "That's what they do for the governor. She's an open book on this thing. The press is reacting to these things in sort of a hair-on-fire way because she's new." In his report, Gregory had incorrectly asserted, that Palin "revealed" she had hired the lawyer.

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

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's State Department of Law hired an attorney to represent Palin for charges that she improperly pressured a former public safety commissioner to fire a state trooper who was also Palin's ex-brother-in-law. (This trooper, Mike Wooten, had allegedly made threats against the Palin family.) Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was ultimately dismissed. See Anchorage Daily News for more www.adn.com Unlike Gregory's piece, a story by Kelly O'Donnell in the 7:30 half hour presented the facts correctly.

Tuesday's Today repeatedly hit the theme that perhaps Palin is unqualified and that this allegation, along with the news that the 17-year-old daughter of the Alaska governor is pregnant, portend a bad choice on the part of McCain. In a tease for the program, co-host Meredith Vieira fretted, "And did the McCain campaign thoroughly vet its choice for a running mate?" A minute later, Lauer followed up and derided, "Did John McCain thoroughly vet his candidate for the vice president and how will this affect the race for the White House?"

Later, while interviewing Matalin, Lauer again hit his theme: "But do you agree, that is there a lot more that we now know about Sarah Palin and are we going to know a lot more about her, perhaps on the negative side, before this thing is over?" Clearly, it seems as though members of the media are attempting to quickly turn Sarah Palin into the 2008 equivalent of Dan Quayle.

A transcript of the September 2 David Gregory story and a partial transcript of the Mary Matalin interview:

7am tease
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Baby bombshell. Sarah Palin's 17 year-old daughter pregnant. Will that story overshadow an already delayed Republican convention? And did the McCain campaign thoroughly vet its choice for a running mate?

7:01am
MATT LAUER: Also we're going to talk politics this morning. We're learning that President Bush has rescheduled his speech to the Republican National Convention. He'll do that via satellite from the White House tonight. But all of this comes with this story: Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter Bristol being pregnant. Lot of questions now. Did John McCain thoroughly vet his candidate for the vice president and how will this affect the race for the White House? We're going to talk to two Republican strategists about that story.

7:09
MEREDITH VIEIRA: And now to politics and the hastily rearranged Republican National Convention. It is back on track today, a day after Hurricane Gustav scuttled day one. Tonight's featured speaker is President Bush. But the big story swirling beneath the surface surrounds John McCain's pick for a running mate and her family drama. NBC's David Gregory is in St. Paul Minnesota with the latest on that. Good morning, David.

DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Meredith. Aides say Senator McCain was in fact aware that Governor Palin's 17-year-old daughter was pregnant before he decided to put Governor Palin on the ticket, but this serves as another distraction for the campaign on top of Hurricane Gustav. In Ohio, Senator McCain helped prepare care packages for hurricane victims while his new running mate was forced to unveil uncomfortable family news. Governor Palin's 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant. Palin said in a statement her daughter planned to marry the baby's father, 18-year-old Levi Johnston, adding quote, "Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents." Palin also revealed she has hired a lawyer in response to a widening ethics probe in Alaska focused on whether she pressured and then fired her public safety commissioner because he refused to remove her brother-in-law, a state trooper.
CHUCK TODD (NBC News political analyst): Because she's so unknown and every new piece of information becomes a bigger impact because we didn't know who she was. Wasn't vetted in the public even if she was vetted by the campaign. There's always this danger of reporters and of voters all wondering, well, what else? What else don't we know?
GREGORY: Asked about Palin's daughter, Senator Obama urged the media to back off the story, saying that his own mother gave birth to him when she was just 18.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I Think people's families are off limits and people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics.
GREGORY: Questioned about Palin's background dominated day one of the convention, a low-key affair in light of the hurricane. Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan asked delegates to help victims of Gustav
MIKE DUNCAN: I hope each of will you be generous with both your prayers and your pocketbooks.
GREGORY: The primetime lineup was scrapped but First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain spoke in the afternoon, replacing the night's original headliners, President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH: Events on the Gulf Coast region have changed the focus of our attention and our first priority now, today, is to ensure the safety and the well-being of those living in the Gulf Coast region.
GREGORY: The first lady and Mrs. McCain encouraged delegates to donate money to Gustav victims.
CINDY MCCAIN: This is a time when we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats.
GREGORY: Outside the convention hall a much different scene. Police used pepper spray to control thousands of anti-war demonstrator who took to the streets of St. Paul. As we mentioned at the top, the convention is a go for tonight. President Bush will speak to the convention via satellite from the White House. And there will be a focus on John McCain's biography. Senator Fred Thompson and Senator Joe Lieberman will both speak.

...

7:19am
LAUER: Real quickly, your husband James Carville said yesterday, quote, "There's a lot of water building against the levee of Sarah Palin." Your husband not one to miss a hurricane metaphor there. But do you agree, that is there a lot more that we now know about Sarah Palin and are we going to know a lot more about her, perhaps on the negative side, before this thing is over?
MATALIN: You know, a lot of the things that are coming out about Sarah Palin are patently untrue as in the previous report that she pressured the commissioner. She did not pressure him. He on the record saying he was not pressured, that she's hired a lawyer to deal with this trooper issue. The attorney general, state attorney general hired the lawyer. That's what they do for the governor. She's an open book on this thing. The press is reacting to these things in sort of a hair-on-fire way because she's new. She's new.
LAUER: Right.
MATALIN: She's fresh. She's young. People like her. And for James- that's James' job to say dumb things about the opposition. When a smart guy says dumb things that means he doesn't have much else to say.
LAUER: Spoken like the wife of a smart guy who says dumb things.
MATALIN: Spoken like the opponent of a guy who's scared of this ticket.
LAUER: Goodbye, Mary. Thanks very much. It was nice talking to you.

Giuliani Scoffs at Blitzer's Claim Obama
'Scrutinized for Months'

In the midst of being pounded by Wolf Blitzer and other CNN panelists about Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin's supposedly inadequate experience, Rudy Giuliani wondered late Tuesday afternoon: "Why did Barack Obama get a pass on his experience? And why is Sarah Palin's experience, which from the executive point of view is considerably more than Barack Obama's, under such scrutiny?" Blitzer retorted: "But who says he's [Obama] been getting a pass? He's been scrutinized for months and months and months."

To which, a laughing Giuliani scoffed: "I haven't seen the scrutiny of his experience or his record." Blitzer then, seriously, asked: "Do you read your hometown newspaper, the New York Times?" Giuliani, still trying to get his words out while laughing at Blitzer's premise at the end of the first hour of The Situation Room, lightheartedly suggested: "Maybe that's the problem. I read the New York Times and I haven't seen much scrutiny of Barack Obama in the New York Times."

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

Two MRC studies released in August support Giuliani's assessment of the media:

-- "Editing Reverend Wright's Wrongs: How the Networks Censored and Manipulated Jeremiah Wright Soundbites and Glorified Barack Obama's Race Speech." Go to: www.mrc.org

-- "Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media; How Barack Obama Could Not Have Won the Democratic Nomination Without ABC, CBS and NBC." See: www.mrc.org

And the MRC's TimesWatch site has been tracking all year how the New York Times has gone easy on Obama's background: www.timeswatch.org

The exchange, from the floor of the Xcel Energy Center, at about a minute before 5 PM EDT/4 PM CDT:

RUDY GIULIANI: Why did Barack Obama get a pass on his experience? And why is Sarah Palin's experience, which from the executive point of view is considerably more than Barack Obama's, under such scrutiny?
WOLF BLITZER: But who says he's been getting a pass? He's been scrutinized for months and months and months.
GIULIANI, LAUGHING: I haven't seen the scrutiny of his experience or his record.
BLITZER: Do you read your hometown newspaper, the New York Times?
GIULIANI: I do, that's why I don't see -- I do read it. Maybe that's the problem. I read the New York Times and I haven't seen much scrutiny of Barack Obama in the New York Times.
GLORIA BORGER: But some say the experience argument was your best argument which the campaign made over and over and over again. So the criticism you hear -- not just from democrats but from Republicans -- is that you've essentially given up your best argument.
GIULIANI: We have the ticket in the right order. We've got the most experienced candidate on the top. They've got a candidate with, all right, no experience or little experience on the top...

Joy Behar: Speaking on Faith 'Impinging
on the Constitution'

A presidential candidate who shares his or her religious beliefs is "impinging on the Constitution" according to View co-host Joy Behar. On the ABC daytime show's Tuesday season premiere, the panel caught up on the many hot button political stories from Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter to sharing religion in a public forum.

When Barbara Walters brought up the discussion of Senators Obama and McCain attending a forum with Reverend Rick Warren, Behar declared: "Both of them needed to say that Jesus Christ was their savior. That is very much impinging on the Constitution in my opinion. Why do we need to know who's their savior?" Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd disagreed, wondering what is wrong with them making such a statement.

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

Perhaps Joy Behar should read up on the Constitution before making such a flawed statement on national television as she has already demonstrated a lack of knowledge in the Constitution's history. The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Presidential candidates, as U.S. citizens, enjoy the right to speak or not speak about their own faith. While the First Amendment does prohibit an established religion, it does not prohibit elected officials from proclaiming their beliefs.

Look at a previous post on Behar's clueless opinions about the Constitution: newsbusters.org

Earlier in the discussion, upon the news of the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter, Whoopi Goldberg, a very opinionated abortion rights advocate, while not belittling Palin's daughter's decision to have the baby, opined: "Sometimes having the child is not the best thing for the kid."

A look at how last year Goldberg belittled Hasselbeck's anti-abortion view, see the October 5 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

To Whoopi's credit, she also rebuked some in the media for following around the Palin family and looking too deeply into their private life.

Relevant portions of the September 2 program:

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Now I've said always I didn't think it was anybody's business if their daughter gets pregnant. You know, this is my feeling because I've been there and I've been there on the other side of it when they chase you and they want to know everything. I don't like it. Teenagers are going- and I've said this here too- teenagers, when they want to, they're going to. And you can tell them just say no and you can give them all of the information in the world. You can show them condoms until they're red in the face. Kids are kids, and here kids are children. They're kids, so there you are.

[...]

ELISABETH HASSELBECK: I think it's unfair of people to be diving into her daughter's life. I think it's unfair of people- she is a minor- and I think it's unfair of people to dive into her daughter's boyfriend, the father of her child, her fiance, whom she's going to marry, his websites, his blogs, and whatever he wrote. I think that we should- are you so afraid of the issue of this election, are you so afraid of dealing with the real issues that you need to then be on Facebook on MySpace and their kids?

[...]

GOLDBERG: It really does then take away from this girl being able to sit with her mom and being able to figure out what to do. Her mom says that she believes that right to life, and this girl, this is what she's going to do. That's it. But what I, what I really wish- and this is just me really going slightly off- is that everyone could have the choice to make that decision, that, that doesn't go away. Because God bless Sarah- to have the child or not have the child, and I say this because Sarah Palin is one of those women who has the children and she's got a strong family. But every kid that gets pregnant does not have that. And sometimes having the child is not the best thing for the kid. So I hope that this idea that this girl has made a choice and this one has made a choice stays with us. Because I know a lot of people want to get rid of choice. But I do think it's important to get that.
BEHAR: Right, I don't disagree.
[applause]
HASSELBECK: I don't think that choice is being taken away, but I think that a lot of people are looking down on that she's going to have this child. She's giving this, this child a chance at life.
BEHAR: No one's looking down on her.
HASSELBECK: No, no, there are, there are left wing liberal blogs-
BEHAR: But not at this table, okay?
HASSELBECK: I didn't say it was at this table.

[...]

BARBARA WALTERS: We had, among the many debates, was the debate this summer on the faith of, of McCain and Obama, both of whom have very strong faiths. And, and, technically, that should not be something that interests us in terms of government, in terms of, you know, how much or how little or whatever you believe in God. But, but we have been doing that now, more and more going into one's personality. It may not be the best thing to do. But it's very-
BEHAR: You mean religious faith, going into religious faith.
WALTERS: But we have been going more and more into personality. There was a time when you didn't. You just discussed the subject. But more and more we are interested in the background, where they came from, what they're life was like, what their values were like, which may or may not have anything to do with whether they would be a good president. So you can't- it's very difficult even though it may not be the best thing to say "we will discuss this, but we won't discuss that."
BEHAR: To your point Barbara. On that roundtable on religion that they had-
SHERRI SHEPHERD: Rick Warren's church?
BEHAR: What's his name? Rick Warren. I mean, both of them needed to say that Jesus Christ was their savior. That is very much impinging on the Constitution in my opinion. Why do we need to know who's their savior?
HASSELBECK: Why can't they say-
BEHAR: It's not anyone's business.
SHEPHERD: Why can't they just say it?

Matthews Retracts Tagging Powell & Rice
'Showcase Appointments'

On Friday's Hardball on MSNBC, the day after he denigrated Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "showcase appointments," Chris Matthews retracted his comment, chalking it up to a bad choice of words, as he contended that he should have called Powell and Rice "high-profile" appointments, rather than "showcase" appointments: "I should have said 'high-level, high-profile' appointments. They were genuine appointments. They were not tokens." And, although Matthews did seem to demean Rice on Thursday by referring to her position of Secretary of State as a "nice title," Matthews on Friday used a different tone: "Nobody on Earth believes that Condoleezza Rice is not this President's chief foreign policy advisor. Or nobody challenges their ability. Personally, I love the guy, although I wish he'd had opposed the war, General Powell. So I used the wrong word. I should have said 'high-level, high-profile,' not 'showcase,' because some people took that as 'token.' And damn it, I certainly didn't mean that."

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

As previously documented by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, with video, during Thursday night's coverage of the Democratic Convention, Matthews remarked: "It's important to point out, as we have not so far, Barack Obama was not given this nomination, he won it. He was not offered a nice title like Secretary of State, like Condoleezza Rice got from the Republicans. He was not offered the title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as Colin Powell was, or Secretary of State. He won the nomination of a Democratic Party voting together. He defeated all other opponents and took the prize and took the leadership. He is the chosen leader of the Democratic Party. He is not some popular appointment or a showcase appointment."

For more, and video, refer back to the August 29 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Matthews's revised statement on Friday came as he was introducing a segment with former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari, MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard, and Darragh Murphy of the pro-Hillary Clinton group PUMA. Below is a transcript of Matthews's retraction from the Friday, August 29, Hardball on MSNBC:

I want to say something. I said something last night. I didn't like the way I said it. I want to say it better this time. I think it's very powerful when a political party gets behind somebody because they win the nomination, they beat everybody else, they take everybody else out -- in this case, the important, the powerful, the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. When you win a nomination of political party, it's far more powerful than getting a political appointment, even a very high-level appointment. And I compared the success of Barack Obama last night to the appointments of Condoleezza Rice and General Powell in the other party, in your party. And I used the word "showcase" appointments.

I shouldn't have used that word. I should have said "high-level, high-profile" appointments. They were genuine appointments. They were not tokens. Nobody on Earth believes that Condoleezza Rice is not this President's chief foreign policy advisor. Or nobody challenges their ability. Personally, I love the guy, although I wish he'd had opposed the war, General Powell. So I used the wrong word. I should have said "high-level, high-profile," not "showcase," because some people took that as "token." And damn it, I certainly didn't mean that.

On-Scene Video from St. Paul: Ingraham
& Thompson Slam Media Bias

Check out the on-scene reports this week, many with original video, from the MRC's NewsBusters blog team in St. Paul. Tuesday posts, with video include: "Laura Ingraham Slams Media Bias on Palin, Praises NewsBusters," "FNC's Mort Kondracke: Palin is 'Dan Quayle All Over Again,'" "Fred Thompson Slams Media Bias Against Palin as 'Abysmal'" and "Steele Tells NewsBusters Campaign Coverage 'Has Been a Joke.'"

For all of the "Convention Watch" postings (analysis from the team at MRC HQ and those in St. Paul) on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org

Direct addresses for the posts highlighted above:

For "Laura Ingraham Slams Media Bias on Palin, Praises NewsBusters," go to: newsbusters.org

For "FNC's Mort Kondracke: Palin is 'Dan Quayle All Over Again,'" see: newsbusters.org

For "Fred Thompson Slams Media Bias Against Palin as 'Abysmal,"' check: newsbusters.org

For "Steele Tells NewsBusters Campaign Coverage 'Has Been a Joke,'" go to: newsbusters.org

Get MRC's Latest Convention Coverage
Reports Before CyberAlert

Just as last week, you can get the latest MRC "Convention Watch" analysis before it arrives in the daily CyberAlert. We've created a widget in the center of the MRC home page with the latest headlines for MRC postings, on our NewsBusters blog, about convention coverage. By checking it during the day and night you'll see the stories (and many more that won't fit) which will later be compiled into the once-a-day CyberAlert. So, throughout the day, check the widget at: www.mrc.org

Direct address for all the "Convention Watch" postings on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org

(We have several bloggers in St. Paul posting reports and video all day and night and you can access those posts at the address above.)

Or, of course, to read everything on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

But, we realize that some find a blog, with its many posting -- often several an hour -- a bit intimidating.

So we now have a three-tiered structure:

-- Go to NewsBusters to get everything posted about the conventions by both MRC staff and outside bloggers: newsbusters.org

-- Or, if that's too much, check the "Convention Watch" widget on the MRC home page to see all of the MRC staff postings about convention coverage: www.mrc.org

To read those "Convention Watch" postings in full on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

-- Or, to review just those posting judged "Cyber-worthy" -- the articles culled from all of the NewsBusters convention postings that I judged the most relevant/providing best evidence of media bias -- look at the CyberAlert you receive in e-mail. For the latest CyberAlert online: www.mrc.org

During past conventions, we distributed CyberAlerts twice a day. But now that we have a blog updated throughout the day and night, save for an extraordinary circumstance, there will only be one CyberAlert a day.

If that doesn't satisfy your need for convention coverage analysis in terms of amount or timeliness, look in on the widget on the MRC home page or jump into the NewsBusters blog.

And don't forget about TimesWatch, the MRC's site devoted to the New York Times, which will be documenting how that paper is approaching the conventions: www.timeswatch.org

Plus, the MRC's CNSNews.com has two reporters on site in St. Paul, just as they did last week in Denver: www.cnsnews.com

-- Brent Baker, with the night team: Geoffrey Dickens, Brad Wilmouth and Matthew Balan, plus Michelle Humphrey and Karen Hanna on the DVRs