NBC Airs Hit Piece on Todd Palin, Sarah Palin's 'Abuse of Power' --10/17/2008
2. Chris Matthews: Obama is Bugs Bunny to McCain's Elmer Fudd
3. CBS's Rodriguez: Joe The Plumber a 'Pawn' of Republican Party
4. New York Times Ready to Blame Racism If Obama Loses
5. 'Holes' in Palin's Logic,' NYT Snickers at Simplistic Patriotism
6. ABC Touts Rabid Anti-Gun Group's Statistics for Firearms Story
Network polls put McCain-Palin ten-plus points behind Obama-Biden and Brian Williams introduced Thursday's NBC Nightly News by asserting "some senior Republicans are getting edgy at the prospect of a long up hill climb in a short amount of time," but Williams and other journalists may not be so confident of an Obama victory -- how else to explain NBC's decision to air hit piece Thursday evening about Sarah Palin's husband Todd? Or maybe it just reflects continued animosity.
With "Palin abused her power" on screen with a picture of Todd and Sarah Palin, from Alaska reporter John Larson related that in the "troopergate" probe "state investigators noted in their report the pressure Todd Palin used to try to get his brother-in-law fired, and that Governor Palin's firing" of public safety commissioner Walter Monegan, "who resisted that pressure, was an abuse of power, though she did not break any laws." Nice caveat there.
Larson framed his story around how, horror of horrors, "state employees testified 'he had significant influence' on government affairs, that he occupied the Governor's office at least half the time." Larson intoned, as if it were some kind of new and damaging revelation: "In fact, in this, his first nationally televised interview" Monegan "told NBC News Todd attended the Governor's closed cabinet meetings."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the shallow story on the Thursday, October 16 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Almost hard to believe that it was just six weeks ago that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin introduced herself to the nation as we watched there at the Republican Convention. Since then, her husband of 20 years, Todd Palin, has received increased attention. We still learn more about him each day. And tonight our report from NBC's John Larson.
JOHN LARSON: When Todd Palin appeared on the national stage, he was unlike any political spouse ever. Blue collar, commercial fisherman, champion snowmobile racing. The rugged "first dude," as he was called, became part of the campaign, even making solo appearances like this one in Maine to thank the National Rifle Association.
After playing an exchange from Wednesday night's presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, Hardball host Chris Matthews thought he was watching an old "Looney Tunes" cartoon, as he chuckled: "Sometimes I think I'm watching Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd here." In this case Matthews believed McCain, in the role of Fudd, was being outwitted, once again, by that "wascally wabbit," Obama.
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: www.newsbusters.org ]
And for those keeping track, Matthews has compared Obama to Mark Twain, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and now Bugs Bunny.
The following occurred on the October 16 edition of Hardball:
(BEGIN DEBATE CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Sometimes I think I'm watching Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd here. You know Bugs Bunny is driving him crazy. He's laughing, running away and Elmer just can't keep, can't keep, can't get his eyes off the guy. Anyway thank you Chuck Todd, thank you Norah O'Donnell. That was an old guy's reference point. Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, okay!
To read about Matthews comparing Obama to Mark Twain: www.mrc.org
To read about Matthews comparing Obama to Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln: www.mrc.org
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber who criticized Obama's tax policy, was upset that McCain mentioned him in Wednesday's debate: "This is the small businessman first mentioned by John McCain, but then referenced repeatedly by both candidates. I had a chance to speak with Joe after the debate and he told me he did not like being mentioned, he feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." Despite that assertion, Rodriguez never offered any audio, video, or even a direct quote of Wurzelbacher saying any such thing.
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
However, in the same sentence, Rodriguez did admit: "...at the same time, he said since he has been thrust into this, he wants America to know that he absolutely disagrees with Senator Obama's tax plan. He says it punishes him for making more money and he even called it Marxist." In the report by correspondent Jeff Glor that followed, such criticism of Obama was backed up as audio of Wurzelbacher talking to Evening News anchor Katie Couric was played: "You know, I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question for once, instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. He [Barack Obama] was almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."
Following Glor's report, co-host Harry Smith talked to Jennifer Boresz, a reporter for the local CBS affiliate in Toledo, Ohio, about her interview with Wurzelbacher. In that discussion, Wurzelbacher explained that he was glad that his concerns were mentioned during the debate: "I'm just glad I could be used to get some points across. You know, hopefully it makes some other Americans go out and really look into the issues and find out for themselves... Your opinion's not given to by your union steward, your opinion's not given to you by MTV. You know, you really got to find out facts." Again, Rodriguez offered no supporting direct statement from Wurzelbacher to back up her assertion that he felt like a Republican "pawn."
On a separate note, in his report on the debate, Jeff Glor once again downplayed the extremism of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers: "For the first time face-to-face McCain brought up the current education professor and former anti-war radical Bill Ayers." On October 7, Glor described Ayers as a "once radical anti-war advocate." These descriptions of Ayers ignore the fact that in 2001 he explained: "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough," or that in 2006 he gave an interview to a communist publication and ardently defended radical professor Ward Churchill, who compared victims of the September 11th attacks to Nazis.
October 8 CyberAlert on Glor's downplaying of Ayers: www.mrc.org
Here is the full transcript of the October 16 segment:
JEFF GLOR: Hey Maggie, good morning to you. This was a lively debate, to say the least. Just three people sitting around a table, maybe forgiven for thinking at times that it was four. If the first two debates were dull, the third was a thriller by comparison.
New York Times reporter Adam Nossiter: "The McCain campaign's depiction of Barack Obama as a mysterious 'other' with an impenetrable background may not be resonating in the national polls, but it has found a receptive audience with many white Southern voters....Other voters swept past such ambiguities into old-fashioned racist gibes." Wednesday's Times devoted nearly two full pages to five chin-stroking stories from across the nation discussing how race will affect the campaign. The subtext: Will white racism cost Obama the election the media has already put in the bag for him?
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Adam Nagourney's "In Privacy of the Voting Booth, Race May Play a Bigger Role" laid the groundwork for blaming an Obama loss on race, though he did admit at the very end that the race issue cuts both ways, an idea almost never raised by the Times:
But it is hard to tell, as Mr. Ickes and Mr. Anuzis said, to what extent voters who are opposing Mr. Obama might seize other issues -- his age and level of experience, his positions on the issues, his cultural and ideological background -- as a shield.
And if Mr. Obama is losing support simply because he is black, that is not a one-sided equation. A crucial part of Mr. Obama's theory for winning the election is turning out blacks in places like Florida and North Carolina, a state that Mr. Obama's advisers view as in play largely because of the significant African-American population.
Entire article: www.nytimes.com
From Lexington, Ky., Shaila Dewan lamented continuing racism among the young in "In Generation Seen as Colorblind, Black Is Yet a Factor." See: www.nytimes.com
While Western-based reporter Kirk Johnson visited a "nearly all-white corridor" in Colorado for "Color Is Secondary In a Part of Colorado." See: www.nytimes.com
Finally, Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter looked for racist comments in Mobile, Ala., and sure enough found some, helping fill out his piece, "For Some, Uncertainty Starts at Racial Identity." Nossiter, who back in May couldn't find any white liberals in Louisiana, conflated racism with legitimate opposition to Obama's politics and background:
The McCain campaign's depiction of Barack Obama as a mysterious "other" with an impenetrable background may not be resonating in the national polls, but it has found a receptive audience with many white Southern voters.
In interviews here in the Deep South and in Virginia, white voters made it clear that they remain deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama -- with his politics, his personality and his biracial background. Being the son of a white mother and a black father has come to symbolize Mr. Obama's larger mysteries for many voters. When asked about his background, a substantial number of people interviewed said they believed his racial heritage was unclear, giving them another reason to vote against him....Other voters swept past such ambiguities into old-fashioned racist gibes. "He's going to tear up the rose bushes and plant a watermelon patch," said James Halsey, chuckling, while standing in the Wal-Mart parking lot with fellow workers in the environmental cleanup business. "I just don't think we'll ever have a black president."
Entire story: www.nytimes.com
In a Tuesday article, New York Times reporter Patrick Healy contended Sarah Palin's "partisan zeal" and "with-us-or-against-us message" could "repel some independent voters," and her speeches have "holes in logic." Does the gaffe machine Joe Biden ever get this treatment from the Times?
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
On the trail in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Healy profiled Sarah Palin's stump speech with a condescending tone in "A Riveting Speaker, Waving the Flag." Here is the thing about Gov. Sarah Palin: She loves America. Really loves it. She loves the smell of cut grass and hay, as she told Ohio voters Sunday. She loves Navy bases, she said in Virginia Beach on Monday morning. She loves America's "most beautiful national anthem," she told a crowd here a few hours later.
Apparently there are people who do not feel the same way about America as Ms. Palin does, she said at campaign rallies over the last two days. Those people just do not get it.
"Man, I love small-town U.S.A.," Ms. Palin told several thousand people on a field in Ohio, "and I don't care what anyone else says about small-town U.S.A. You guys, you just get it."
Ms. Palin did not identify who "anyone else" was. But listening to her campaign speeches three weeks before the presidential election, an informed voter would not need two chances to guess between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. (The posters reading "Barack Bin Lyin" at the McCain-Palin rally in Virginia Beach might be a hint, too.)
Healy estimated the crowd at the Richmond International Raceway as "more than 10,000 people," but the text box knocked that down: "Gov. Sarah Palin addressed 10,000 people on Monday at a raceway in Richmond, Va." A Washington Post blog entry puts the crowd at 20,000. More from Healy:
But Ms. Palin's partisan zeal could repel some independent voters in closely contested states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania; Democratic polling in both states shows Ms. Palin with high negative ratings among independents. Palin advisers say many of these voters do not know enough about her; Ms. Palin is campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday and New Hampshire on Wednesday.
In some ways, Ms. Palin seems like a 2.0 version of George W. Bush -- not the deeply unpopular president, but the plain-spoken and energetic campaigner who rose as a political talent in Texas and solidified his appeal in the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. Hers, like his, is a with-us-or-against-us message, as when Ms. Palin pledges total solidarity with "good, hard-working, patriotic Americans."
The Times questioned why Palin wasn't attacking her own party, portraying her as an empty suit:
Ms. Palin's speeches do not acknowledge that looking at past mistakes is one way to avoid making those mistakes again. And her addresses gloss over some uncomfortable details, like that the most recent big spender in the White House is the Republican now there.
Ms. Palin also rarely ends up in the weeds of policy details on the economy, health care or Iraq. When it comes to generalizing, she can muster awfully strong passion, as in discussing Mr. McCain's ability to get out of a jam.
"He's got the guts to confront the $10 trillion debt that the federal government has run up," Ms. Palin said in Virginia Beach as Mr. McCain looked on with a stiff smile, "and we will balance the budget by the end of our term."
If there are holes in logic or a lack of specifics in Ms. Palin's speeches, her audiences tend to fill the absence with gushing affection.
END of Excerpts
For the article in full: www.nytimes.com
By way of comparison, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign trail has been riddled with gaffes, yet he doesn't get the scrutiny that journalists give every pause or hole in a speech by Palin. The Times has yet to mention Biden's novel explanation to CBS anchor Katie Couric about how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt got on television to talk to America about the 1929 stock market crash. Only two things wrong with the anecdote: FDR wasn't elected president until 1932, and TV wouldn't be introduced to the public until 1939.
Good Morning America correspondent Neal Karlinsky on Thursday passed off the statistics of a liberal, rabidly pro-gun control group during a story on the 2008 election and firearms. Reporting live from Wyoming, he talked to a family who owns a number of weapons and asserted: "Yet time and time again, statistics show that firearm death rates are significantly higher in places with relaxed gun laws."
In very small font, an on-screen graphic cited his source as the Violence Policy Center (VPF). Karlinsky failed to mention that this group's Web site describes itself as "the most aggressive group in the gun control movement" and proudly touted a quote from the National Rifle Association calling the organization "the most effective...anti-gun rabble rouser in Washington." The VPF even has an NRA bashing section on its web page, slurring "NRA family values" and going after the late Charlton Heston. See VPF "about" page: www.vpc.org
And the group's NRA page: www.vpc.org
Would Karlinsky cite the NRA as a neutral, independent source? It's not likely. So, why is it okay to pass off the VPF as one?
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Speaking of the NRA, America's largest gun rights group claims that of states which have lenient, right-to-carry laws, "Violent crime rates since 2003 have been lower than anytime since the mid-1970s. Since 1991, 23 states have adopted RTC, the number of privately-owned guns has risen by nearly 70 million, and violent crime is down 38%." See: www.nraila.org
Of course, Karlinsky featured no opposing data in his piece.
And although he was relatively positive and friendly towards the gun-owning Allan family featured in the segment, at no time did Karlinsky mention the high crime in places that have very strict gun control, such as the District of Columbia.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:36am:
DIANE SAWYER: And when they say they want to hear more about the issue, of course, we've gone out 50 states in 50 days to do just that. Listen to people talk about the issues that matter to them. Sometimes, regionally, sometimes in their very own states. It's an ABC News and USA Today project. And this morning, we're going to look at Wyoming, a hot-button political issue there, firearms. And people in the cowboy state are sticking to their guns as you'll see, ABC's Neal Karlinsky.
NEAL KARLINKSY: In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the buffalo don't just roam, they block traffic. Here among the Grand Teton mountains, overflowing with wildlife, there's one more sure-fire image of the American west. Guns are an indelible part of the culture here. And for families like the Allans, firearms are more a part of daily life than television.
-- Brent Baker