2. Mitchell in Awe of Cabinet 'Brain Power,' Donaldson Pro-Cuomo
3. Erroneous WashPost Front Page: Obama's 'Team of Moderates'
4. ABC's GMA Frets Over Obama's 'President-Elect Housing Crisis'
5. Behar: Obama Picking Warren = 'Cheney in Charge of Gun Control'
6. CBS's Chen: Leave Caroline Kennedy Alone, Criticism 'Unfair'
7. Leno: Shoe-Thrower Offered MSNBC Show, Letterman: Show on FNC
In an abbreviated edition of Sunday's NBC Nightly News (shorted by golf in the EST/CST), the network still found time to tout as newsworthy how Vice President-elect Joe Biden will chair a "White House Task Force on Working Families." With "Focus on the Middle Class" on screen below a picture of Biden, anchor Lester Holt, referring to ABC's This Week, asserted Biden had "revealed" his function: "In an interview that aired today, the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, revealed his role as the new administration's point man on the middle class." (This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos summarized the interview on Sunday's World News, yet didn't mention the middle class angle.)
NBC reporter John Yang affirmed that "making good on a central theme of the campaign," Biden "laid down a bold political yardstick for economic policy." Viewers then heard a fairly pedestrian clip of Biden on ABC: "Is the middle class no longer being left behind? We'll look at everything from college affordability to after-school programs, the things that affect people's daily lives." Yang then heralded, with "front and center" enlarged on screen from the press release: "Biden will head a cabinet-level task force making sure middle class and working families are 'front and center.'" How reassuring.
The Change.gov press release: change.gov
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From the Sunday, December 21 NBC Nightly News:
LESTER HOLT: In an interview that aired today, the Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, revealed his role as the new administration's point man on the middle class. NBC's John Yang has that story.
JOHN YANG: Making good on a central theme of the campaign, Vice President-elect Biden laid down a bold political yardstick for economic policy.
Sunday Wrap: Mitchell in awe of cabinet 'brain power,' Donaldson pro-Mario Cuomo, ombudsman urges bias fix. Some quick items from the Sunday interview shows and newspapers:
# On Meet the Press, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, who last month hailed Obama's "all-star cabinet," on Sunday trumpeted the cabinet's "meritocracy," and how it's supposedly made up of "superstars," as she gushed over "people with so much brain power and so much education."
# Over on ABC's This Week, during the roundtable's look at Caroline Kennedy as a potential Senator from New York, Sam Donaldson opined that "my preference would be Andrew Cuomo," the liberal Attorney General for the Empire State, because, in part, "I thought his father would make a very good President." That would be the far-left Mario Cuomo.
# In her final column for the Washington Post, outgoing ombudsman Deborah Howell urged the paper to address its lack of political diversity. Since "too many Post staff members think alike," she advised: "Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Mitchell during the panel segment on the December 21 Meet the Press: "It's also a meritocracy. These are superstars, not afraid of strong personalities -- Larry Summers inside the White House -- but people with so much brain power and so much education, and a combination of, of talents here. And maybe it's combustible, but it's clear from people who have been to briefings with him that he listens carefully, but he's also very decisive and he knows what he wants."
The November 24 CyberAlert reported how Mitchell, sounding completely in the tank, hailed President-elect Obama's "all-star cabinet" as she maintained "Obama is determined to pick the strongest, smartest people he can find, knowing that he is facing an economic crisis of historic proportions." See: www.mrc.org
Donaldson on This Week during a discussion about the merits of New York Governor David Paterson naming Caroline Kennedy to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat: "My preference would be Andrew Cuomo. Why? Because he's experienced, he's paid his dues and, but an aside, I thought his father would make a very good President."
In November columns, Howell agreed with readers who saw "a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama" in the paper's campaign coverage and admitted she voted for Obama and "bet" that so did "most" in the Post's newsroom. In August, she determined: "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4."
Now, in her December 21 column, "Resolutions for a Better Post," Howell advised:
The Post is one of the best newspapers in the country -- so much better than the hollowed-out newspapers scattered across the landscape. As my term ends, I'd like to again point out ways that The Post can enhance its accessibility, credibility and appeal to readers in this time of economic stress.
Make a serious effort to cover political and social conservatives and their issues; the paper tends to shy away from those stories, leaving conservatives feeling excluded and alienated from the paper. I'd like those who have canceled their subscriptions to be readers again. Too many Post staff members think alike; more diversity of opinion should be welcomed.
Howell's entire December 21 column: www.washingtonpost.com
The November 17 CyberAlert item, "Howell: 'Most Washington Post Journalists Voted for Obama. I Did,'" recounted:
A week after Washington Post Ombudsman Deborah Howell agreed with readers who saw "a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama" in the paper's campaign coverage, Howell this Sunday admitted she voted for Obama and "bet" that so did "most" in the Post's newsroom: "I'll bet that most Post journalists voted for Obama. I did. There are centrists at The Post as well. But the conservatives I know here feel so outnumbered that they don't even want to be quoted by name in a memo."
In her November 16 column, "Remedying the Bias Perception," Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News for 15 years before joining the Post as ombudsman in 2005, proposed a solution to the liberal dominance in newsrooms which biases coverage: "Are there ways to tackle this? More conservatives in newsrooms and rigorous editing would be two. The first is not easy: Editors hire not on the basis of beliefs but on talent in reporting, photography and editing, and hiring is at a standstill because of the economy. But newspapers have hired more minorities and women, so it can be done."...
Back in August, Howell had already documented the slant at her newspaper: "Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good."
Complete rundown: www.mrc.org
The top-left corner of the Saturday Washington Post carried the decidedly inaccurate headline: "For Obama Cabinet, A Team of Moderates." Reporter Alec MacGillis asserted that Obama finished assembling "a team full of outsize personalities with overlapping jurisdictions and nominees who are known more for pragmatism than for strong leanings on the issues they will oversee." Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle, no strong liberal leanings?
Naming Rep. Hilda Solis (lifetime American Conservative Union voting score: a tiny 2) to the Labor spot wasn't moderate: "The daughter of a union family who has a strongly pro-labor voting record, came as a relief to some liberals who had grown slightly anxious about Obama's commitment to organized labor's agenda....But many of Obama's other picks reflect his apparent preference for practical-minded centrists who have straddled big policy debates rather than staking out the strongest pro-reform positions."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Liberals have "the strongest pro-reform positions." Can't a centrist be a reformer? The Post story starred former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner warning about all this pragmatism as a potential problem: "Pragmatism has its place, but there are limits, as well," said Wehner, now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. "If you aren't anchored to a political philosophy, you get blown about, and government becomes ad hoc and you make it up as you go -- and if you're not careful, you begin to go in circles."
MacGillis featured other experts, like Paul Light (formerly with the liberal Brookings Institution) and Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists (with no liberal or left-wing label for them). She closed the article with Wehner:
Wehner, the former Bush aide, [said] it will be hard to discern all the outlines of the Obama agenda. "They're smart, they're well-educated, they're the upper crust, but the question is, do the parts make a whole, or is the whole less than the sum of the parts?" he said of the incoming team. "As I said somewhere recently, I'd buy somebody a dinner at Le Cirque if someone could define what Obamaism is as a political philosophy. If you don't have a political North Star, you can lose your way, and I'm not sure if these people have it."
Wehner's smart and a real conservative. But is it really going to be unclear that Obama's a liberal? From those first Executive Orders making the foreign policy safe for abortion to a move for massive health "reform," Obama may make Bill Clinton's first two years look quite centrist. But for now, the Washington Post is using its front-page like a free advertisement, trying to sell the public of an incoming Democrats who's way less ideological than George W. Bush.
The December 20 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
On Friday's Good Morning America, anchors and reporters fretted about there being no room in Washington D.C. for Barack Obama. It seems that the President-elect's children start school on January 5 and Blair House, the presidential guest quarters, will not be available until the 15th of that month. News anchor Chris Cuomo worriedly insisted, "I mean, you know, he has got enough on his mind. He is worried about getting his kids situated, which is testament to the Obamas as parents."
Co-host Robin Roberts sympathetically wondered of Obama, "You know, he can't check in early?" An ABC graphic hyperbolically asked, "President-Elect Housing Crisis?" During a tease for the David Wright segment, Roberts labeled the Obamas as like "so many folks" who are "scrambling to find a hotel room."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Towards the end of the piece, ABC's Cokie Roberts appeared briefly to calmly point out, "There are all kinds of fancy hotels in Washington. They are likely to be booked because of the inauguration. But I suspect they'd make some room for the Obama family."
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:16am, follows:
On Thursday's The View, co-host Joy Behar expressed her displeasure at President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren for the invocation at his inauguration: "I don't think it's appropriate. It's like putting, you know, Cheney in charge of gun control. It's wrong....it's just wrong."
The topic of Obama choosing Warren came up during the regular opening "Hot Topics" segment of the ABC daytime program. Whoopi Goldberg, who moderated the segment, introduced the controversy behind this choice: "...[A] lot of folks are opposed to this gentleman: gay -- because he opposes gay marriage, he's anti-abortion -- he's got a lot of different stances. There's a lot of people saying he's a bad choice."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck was the first co-host to come to Warren's defense: "I think he's a great choice. He held the forum -- remember when he did the forum between McCain and Obama during the election? He sat them down and had the faith forum, which I found was great during our times right now. And I think that he'll -- I think he'll do a great job. He's got an incredible following, he's a strong speaker."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Behar responded by immediately bringing up Warren's support for Proposition 8 in California: "But he's spoken out against gay marriage." Hasselbeck countered by trying to read Obama's intention in choosing the pastor: "...I think maybe what President-elect Obama's hoping to do is maybe diminish the sort of -- I don't know, negative cast that's on Christian evangelicals."
Sherri Shepherd then stepped in to defend Obama's decision as Behar continued to question the decision, since she emphasized how "Christian evangelicals did not put Obama in the White House." When both Shepherd and Hasselbeck both pointed out how many Christians voted for the Democrat, Behar made her "Cheney in charge of gun control" line.
Hasselbeck, as you might expect brought up Obama's former pastor: "Who would you rather have -- Reverend Wright?" Goldberg reentered the debate at this point: "...[B]ecause he is using this gentleman to do the invocation does not mean that he stands with them -- all of the man's positions. It's the same argument we tried to explain to people about Reverend Wright. Because you're with somebody, it doesn't mean that just because you're friends, or you spend a lot of time with him, that you feel as they do."
Later, as the five co-hosts continued to debate the Warren pick, Behar asked, "Why not put a rabbi in there?" Shepherd didn't see the point of this suggestion, but Behar shot back, "Why not? This country is not just a Christian nation." Shepherd replied, "The thing about it is Obama is going to, as president -- he's going to do things that -- you can't please everybody. He's going to do things that you don't like, that I don't like..."
Goldberg and Barbara Walters closed out the discussion by defending Obama's decision:
GOLDBERG: Here's the -- here's the bottom line: we didn't -- we did not put him into office to pick a preacher. We put him into office to get our act together in the country and that's his personal pick-
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen came to the defense of would-be New York Senator Caroline Kennedy, who has faced criticism for her lack of experience: "This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone." That comment followed a report by correspondent Meg Oliver, in which Kennedy avoided tough questions from the press: "She quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office...questions mostly went unanswered."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Chen was not so quick to defend Sarah Palin from critics during the campaign. When Tina Fey began impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live in September, Chen remarked: "Tina Fey has just so much material to work with, this is like, probably a dream come true for her." Earlier in September, Chen wondered about Palin's foreign policy experience: "The education of Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor has her first meetings with world leaders as they gather at the U.N. How will she do?"
Check the September 30 CyberAlert on Chen seeing Palin as comedic gold: www.mrc.org
Read the September 24 CyberAlert on Chen describing Palin's foreign policy "education": www.mrc.org
Here is the full transcript of the December 18 segment:
JULIE CHEN: Well, it is official, Caroline Kennedy wants to succeed Hillary Clinton in the Senate. She launched her quest yesterday with a highly anticipated visit to upstate New York. CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver reports.
HARRY SMITH: And it may not be all that simple. It's very interesting. There's a kind of a backlash that's starting to develop for people saying, 'oh, so these seats just go to the elites?' So there's a very interesting to and fro.
Last week, NBC's Tonight Show host Jay Leno took a couple of noteworthy jabs at the anti-Bush mainstream media in America, on Monday joking that the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush was "offered his own show on MSNBC," and on Tuesday quipping that "he was so anti-Bush, at first people just assumed he was an American journalist."
By contrast, CBS's Late Show host David Letterman used the episode to jab Fox News as he cracked on Tuesday that the "hot head" Iraqi journalist with "poor journalistic skills" was "offered his own show on Fox News."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Below are transcripts of the relevant monologue jokes from this week's Tonight Show on NBC and the Late Show on CBS:
# From the Monday, December 15, Tonight Show on NBC, Jay Leno: "Well, the interesting thing was the journalist who threw the shoe was immediately arrested and then offered his own show on MSNBC."
# From the Tuesday, December 16, Tonight Show on NBC, Leno: "As you know, President Bush took a surprise trip to Baghdad over the weekend. At a press conference with the Iraqi premier, a reporter threw his shoes at him, almost hit him. And the guy who threw the shoes, this guy was so angry, he was so anti-Bush, at first people just assumed he was an American journalist."
# From the Tuesday, December 16, Late Show on CBS, David Letterman: "Turns out this guy was a, described as a hot head, described as a hot head, and he's a guy who's an Iraqi journalist, and they say he's a hot head with poor, poor journalistic skills. Hot head, poor journalistic skills. Well, no surprise, today he was offered his own show on Fox News. So go figure."
-- Brent Baker