NBC Nightly News Runs Second Favorable Obama Interview Excerpt --5/2/2008
2. CNN Tosses Wright Softballs at 'Steely-Tough' Michelle Obama
3. ABC's Charles Gibson: GOP Owned 'Quote, Issue of Patriotism'
4. Letterman's 'Top Ten Surprising Facts About Barack Obama'
An evening after the NBC Nightly News showcased Michelle Obama's plea to move on from focusing on Jeremiah Wright because talking about him "doesn't help kids out there," on Thursday night the newscast again provided a platform for Barack and Michelle Obama to advance their efforts to show humility and paint media coverage as unfair. Setting up a second night of excerpts from the interview the couple conducted with Meredith Vieira for the Today show, anchor Brian Williams explained how "both went out of their way to say they understand that a lot of Americans are right now trying to figure out just who Barack Obama is."
The excerpt began with Barack Obama maintaining "it's understandable" to "raise questions" about him because he's an African-American named Barack, "so if I don't wear a flag pin, that becomes a cause for concern," but "if John McCain doesn't wear a flag pin, look, he's a war hero."
That prompted Vieira to empathize: "So you're treated differently, then, you think?" And to wonder to Michelle Obama: "So you never sit there and get upset about these?" Barack Obama interjected that "she stops reading the newspapers during certain spans of time" before she quipped, during loving back-and-forth joshing: "I take the paper and I ball it up and I throw it in a corner!"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Most of the portion of the interview Nightly News excerpted Thursday evening had not aired on Thursday morning.
(The MRC's Tim Graham provided this summary of the interview segment run Thursday morning:
The May 1 CyberAlert item, "NBC Highlights Michelle Obama's Spin: Talking About Wright 'Doesn't Help Kids,'" recounted:
The Obama campaign has chosen NBC's Today show as the venue to try to move beyond the Jeremiah Wright controversy and a preview aired on Wednesday's Nightly News, of the session to air Thursday morning, showcased Barack and Michelle Obama making their case. While Meredith Vieira apparently did ask Barack Obama why he had not denounced Wright sooner, Nightly News viewers heard Barack Obama boast in response that he had resisted doing the "politically expedient" and Michelle Obama resorting to a plea reminiscent of the Clinton era:
"We got to move forward. You know, this conversation doesn't help my kids, you know. It doesn't help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we're going to better fund education."
For the previous CyberAlert article in full: www.mediaresearch.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the segment on the Thursday, May 1 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We have more tonight from my colleague Meredith Vieira's interview with Barack and Michelle Obama. As part of the interview, which debuted today on NBC, both went out of their way to say they understand that a lot of Americans are right now trying to figure out just who Barack Obama is.
BARACK OBAMA: Let's be honest. You know, here I am, a African-American named Barack Obama, right, who's running for President. I mean, that's a leap for folks. And I think it's understandable that my political opponents would say, you know, he's different, he's odd, he's sort of unfamiliar, and what do we know about him? And to raise questions. So if I don't wear a flag pin, that becomes a cause for concern. If John McCain doesn't wear a flag pin, look, he's a war hero. And I understand why I don't think anybody is going to question about McCain's-
[The MRC's Tim Graham posted this item Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Rev. Wright impersonated Kennedy in a nasal voice, as when a black comedian cracks wise about a stereotypical white person:
In 1961, it's been all over the Internet now, John Kennedy could stand at the inauguration in January and say, "isk not what your country can do for you, isk rather what you can do for your country." How do you spell isk? Nobody ever said to John Kennedy that's not English, "isk." Only to a black child would they say you speak bad English. Kennedy got killed. Johnson stepped up to the podium and Love Field, we just left Love Field. And Johnson, said [slurring, lower voice] 'my fulla-Amurrikans." How do you spell fulla? How do you spell Amurrikan? Nobody says to Johnson you speak bad English.
Ed Kennedy, today, those of you in the Congress, sister [Rep. Carolyn] Kilpatrick. You know, Ed Kennedy today cannot pronounce cluster consonants. Very few people from Boston can. They pronounce park like it's p-o-c-k. Where did you "pock" the "cah"? They pronounce f-o-r-t like it's f-o-u-g-h-t. We fought a good battle. And nobody says to a Kennedy you speak bad English. Only to a black child was that said.
CNN also avoided the other controversy emerging from Wright's Detroit speech, that black children and white children learn with different parts of their brains. But the first question remained: Was it classy for Obama's (just-retired) minister of two decades to mock the Kennedys, who endorsed Obama to great media fanfare? Is it funny to remember what President Johnson said as the nation was rocked by a president's assassination? This certainly would not be avoided if the speaker were connected to the Bush White House or the McCain campaign, or if the speaker were a major conservative talk-radio host. CNN's Malveaux began:
Mrs. Obama made no comment on Wright in any way, no statement about the offensiveness of any of his remarks, but just asserted old talking points about how "Barack's race speech was one of the most powerful, emotional speeches that he's written in his life. And I think the response to that speech spoke for itself. That wasn't a speech of a political opportunist." The answer went on for about two minutes. The interview continued:
MALVEAUX: Let me ask you about this. I mean, how painful was that? This is somebody who you confided in.
MALVEAUX: There are some people who I spoke with who have been trying, on your behalf, on your husband's behalf, to close this and to go to him and say, look, you know, this is enough. Enough is enough. One of the people I spoke with said, we're trying to establish a detente here. But they also describe him as someone who is vindictive, and perhaps there is no buttoning up when it comes to whether or not he's going to come out and talk again. Do you feel confident that you -- you can move forward, that -- that he is not going to speak out again? Or do you think this is something that is going to dog him in the election?
Mrs. Obama looked Malveaux in the eye and insisted the press needed to lay off: "Barack and I and our campaign, we are going to, with everything in our power, if allowed to by the press, to move forward."
So Malveaux turned to Caroline Kennedy, saying "I want to turn -- I want to turn the corner here. I want to turn the page." Mrs. Obama cracked with a smile, "No, you don't." And so Malveaux tried to flatter her: "Well, you know, you...You're nicknamed the rock behind Barack. And there's -- there's a reason. I know -- I know you can handle all of -- all of the questions that we're going to throw at you." She then asked Caroline Kennedy two horse-race questions about how Obama can improve his standing among women and white "working class" folks.
This Michelle Obama, fearlessly intimidating CNN's reporter on the Obama campaign was hailed by CNN anchor Campbell Brown at the show's beginning, filling in for Cooper:
After this first segment of the interview -- the only segment where Caroline Kennedy spoke -- Brown interviewed Malveaux about Mrs. Obama, and Malveaux dutifully repeated every move-forward spin Mrs. Obama had just used, as if she were reading a press release:
Then, after a commercial break, the taped interview continued with the question of whether America was too racist for Obama to win: "Michelle, there's been talk about really winning over the blue-collar white families in the contests ahead. There's an 800-pound elephant in the room, too, which is that this race, a lot of people see as becoming more racially polarized. Do you think that, at a certain point, Barack Obama can work as hard as he can, and he can give him message to people, but there's always going to be a group where they're going to look at him, and they're not going to give their support because of his race, because he's black?"
Hold it. If voters -- Democratic primary voters -- now choose Hillary over Obama, based in part on the controversies over Rev. Wright and the bitter-people-clinging-to-guns-and-religion comments, why would CNN describe that as Obama rejected "because he's black"? Mrs. Obama argued that her husband was popular and a unifier:
So America needs to accept Obama, so it can show "growth" and embrace the "truth." Malveaux went really soft at the end:
"Are you still confident that your husband can win?"
"This has been a very long campaign of 16 months. Barack Obama says on the trail -- he kind of jokes, and he says, people -- babies have been born, and they're walking now...and he's still running in this race. What is the most trying, what is the most difficult thing about -- about being in the race now, the toll that it's taken on your family?"
"Do you -- do you think that your husband has been treated fairly? Are you surprised at how nasty this race has gotten?"
"And, Michelle, I under -- I understand, win or lose, that [daughters] Sasha and Malia get a dog...But of them is allergic to the dog...How are they holding up?"
It was almost comical for Brown and Malveaux to repeat the move-forward talking points when the interview was finished, after it commanded the first half-hour of the program:
BROWN: Suzanne, this was a lengthy interview. You spent a lot of time with her. You guys covered a lot of ground. What did you find about her to be the most striking thing to you?
A lot of ground? CNN didn't ask Mrs. Obama a single question about policy matters. It was all horse-race politics, scandal-dampening spin, and tired questions about how hard and nasty the campaign trail is.
On Thursday's Good Morning America, guest host Charles Gibson featured far-left author and creator of the Huffington Post Web site, Arianna Huffington, to promote her angry new book about "lunatic fringe" conservatives. Gibson, who was a moderator in the April ABC debate that liberals have decried as unfair to Barack Obama, brought up some of the issues mentioned in the debate, such as the Senator's refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin.
Speaking of Republicans, he asserted: "They owned, have owned, the, quote, 'issue of patriotism' for some time now." Taking Gibson's cue, and, at the same time, launching an attack on media outlets that supposedly are unfair to liberals, Huffington used the same qualifier: "But the media have helped them own the, quote, issue of patriotism." And although Gibson did occasionally challenge the conservative-turned liberal, he also let her get away with contradictions. As already noted, Huffington chided the media for focusing on alleged distractions, such as flag pins and Reverend Jeremiah Wright's controversial statements. However, in the same segment she frothed over the "lunatic fringe" who "basically, don't believe in evolution but believe in torture."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
It should also be pointed out that, although Gibson mentioned that Huffington had switched parties, he never actually labeled her a liberal. And a reasonable retort to her contention that the media are doing the bidding of conservatives would be to simply point that she's on Good Morning America discussing the issue.
Gibson also offered his theory as to how the country operates politically: "Let me propose a theory to you and get your reaction to it...This country, basically, in its history has been centrist. And yet, we've gerrymandered ourselves into a situation where 90 percent of the seats in Congress really are safe for the Republicans or safe for the Democrats. So, in order to get nominated, you have to be more liberal if you're going for a Democratic seat or more conservative if you're going for a Republican seat. And what we've wound up with in Washington is gridlock. Because the extreme sides of both sides of both parties control their party."
First off, congressional seats may be reapportioned to benefit the incumbents, but isn't that done more to benefit the party, rather than ideology? Secondly, if the "extremes" control the Republican Party, how did Senator John McCain end up with the GOP nomination?
To be fair, Gibson did challenge some of Huffington's points. He called her out by saying: "Words matter and lunatic is a very pejorative term." When Huffington trotted out the liberal canard that McCain is devoted to endless war in Iraq, Gibson dismissed that entirely: "But, you know that's not correct. I mean, it's not endless war in Iraq. He's talking about troops in Iraq in the same way we have troops in Korea or the way we have troops in many other places."
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:43am on May 1:
CHARLES GIBSON: Arianna Huffington is with us. She is a political pundit. You know her well. You may not agree with her, but she is always outspoken. You always know where she stands. And this Republican turned Democrat actually is now taking on in a new book what she calls the lunatic fringe. Her new book is "Right is Wrong." And I can, sort of, sum up, I think, the thesis of the book if I rename it "The Right is Wrong." But joining us now is Arianna Huffington. So, I'm right, right? That is essentially your thesis. That the right has captured American government. And, to some extent, I know you have a thing. You think they've taken on the media as well or taken over the media as well. But, basically, you feel that this country has been captured by the more extreme wing of the Republican Party?
From the May 1 Late Show with David Letterman, as read on the show by Barack Obama from South Bend, Indiana, the "Top Ten Surprising Facts About Barack Obama." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. My first act as president will be to stop the fighting between Lauren and Heidi on "The Hills"
9. In the Illinois primary, I accidentally voted for Kucinich
8. When I tell my kids to clean their room, I finish with, "I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message"
7. Throughout high school, I was consistently voted "Barackiest"
6. Earlier today I bowled a 39
5. I have canceled all my appearances the day the "Sex and The City" movie opens
4. It's the birth place of Fred Astaire (Sorry, that's a surprising fun fact about Omaha)
3. We are tirelessly working to get the endorsement of Kentucky Derby favorite Colonel John
2. This has nothing to do with the Top Ten, but what the heck is up with Paula Abdul?
1. I have not slept since October
To watch video of Obama reading the list, click on the video camera icon on this page: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker