NBC's Mitchell Hails Hillary Clinton: 'Foreign Policy Superstar!' --5/5/2009
2. 'Trollish' Limbaugh, Cheney & Gingrich Turn Off Families to GOP
3. ABC, CBS Blame Conservative Social Positions for GOP Misfortunes
4. Linda Greenhouse Lavishes More Love on a Liberal Justice
5. ABC Features James Carville to Tout Theory of 40 Years of Dem Rule
6. NBC Uses Kemp Obit to Tout Obama as Proof U.S. a 'Great' Nation
In a piece that could've been crafted by Hillary Clinton's PR shop, NBC's Andrea Mitchell, on Monday's Today show, gushed on and on about the Secretary of State's new "role of a lifetime," as a "a foreign policy superstar," and cheered Clinton has the "highest approval ratings of any time in her career." Mitchell's theme throughout her story was that the "anger of the primaries" between Clinton and Barack Obama was long gone and that in her role of Secretary of State she has proven to be a "key asset to Team Obama," as Today co-anchor Matt Lauer observed in the intro. There wasn't a hint of skepticism or negative note in the story as Mitchell threw in soundbites from John Podesta, Joe Klein and presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin who chimed: "She seems to be really enjoying herself, as does he."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following is a complete transcript of the segment as it was aired on the May 4 Today show:
MATT LAUER: And now to what some are calling an unlikely alliance. During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were fierce adversaries. But despite that bitter campaign, Clinton is proving to be a key asset to Team Obama as Secretary of State. NBC's Andrea Mitchell has more on that. Andrea, good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "From Foes To Friends, The Obama-Clinton Team"]
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Matt. Well it did seem at the time to be a risky choice, President Obama's decision to name Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. But so far, it looks like their, that controversial decision is paying off and the two formal rivals have formed a real bond. Where in the world is Hillary Clinton? Circling the globe, more than 72,000 miles in just the first 100 days, but now as Barack Obama's envoy and confidante, speaking for him and his policy, not her own.
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday morning, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
First up, Time magazine's Joe Klein suggested the GOP should moderate on health care because it would finally make them "look sane!" and "bring them into...the mainstream of American politics." Then Newsweek's Fineman charged it was the conservative message of "cut taxes, shrink," government that was the problem: "But it doesn't sell with, with people outside of their base demographic which are white males. There's something about that message that turns off families, that turns off women, that turns off people who think that caring matters about other-, I know that this sounds silly, but caring about other people." And finally Matthews went further saying it's not just the GOP's message but it's messengers who are the problem: "Can you, can you, can they get past the cacophony of Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich? These are sort of trollish figures. These aren't the caring people, are they?"
The following exchange occurred on the May 3 edition of The Chris Matthews Show:
JOE KLEIN, TIME: I think health care is a real litmus test for this party. I mean Mitt Romney is the one guy who has created universal health insurance in Massachusetts. And I've talked to members of the Senate who are Republicans who are willing to go down this road. If the Republicans show some moderation on this issue and don't just say, "no," then it'll be a sign that they might be able to come back.
On ABC's World News on Saturday, and the same day's CBS Evening News, correspondents suggested that conservative positions on social issues were responsible for the Republican party's recent electoral misfortunes, as the two programs filed stories about an appearance in Arlington, Virginia by Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney as part of an effort to rebuild the party's appeal. ABC cited a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showing only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, while CBS cited a Pew Research poll finding the number had dropped from 30 percent in 2004 to 23 percent currently.
After a soundbite of Jeb Bush explaining that Republicans needed to spend more time "listening," "learning," and "upgrading our message," ABC's Rachel Martin contended that "that means moving hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage to the side, and shifting the focus to health care, education and the economy."
And, ignoring the fact that a substantial number of moderate House Democrats have taken conservative positions on issues like guns and abortion to win in their own conservative leaning districts, CBS's Kimberly Dozier more directly charged that conservative positions on such issues by Republicans had hurt the party: "The trio notably avoided controversial touch stones like gun rights or abortion, which are blamed for driving away moderates and independents." Notably, 65 House Democrats recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating their opposition to a new assault weapons ban.
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
But in looking at the results of the ABC poll, one finds that, while 51 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws, with 48 percent opposed; when asked whether they believed stricter enforcement of current laws or the passage of new laws would be more effective in reducing crime, 61 percent answered that "enforcing existing laws" would be more effective.
And while the ABC poll found that 35 percent of Americans choose to identify themselves as Democrats with only 21 percent identifying as Republicans; 35 percent identify as conservative while only 23 percent identify as liberal.
Back to ABC's report, after noting that "There was unified opposition to President Obama's stimulus plan" from Republicans, Martin reminded viewers about Rush Limbaugh's desire for President Obama to fail, without explaining Limbaugh's belief that the country would be harmed if Obama is successful in passing his agenda:
RACHEL MARTIN: But recently, the GOP has been saying a lot of no. There was unified opposition to President Obama's stimulus plan.
Below is a complete transcript of the relevant story from the May 2 World News on ABC, followed by that May 2 CBS Evening News:
DAVID MUIR: We turn now to Washington this evening, where top Republicans have launched an urgent effort to revitalize their beleaguered party. The party was dealt a new blow this week when Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania jumped parties. And in the latest ABC News poll, just 21 percent of Americans say they identify themselves as Republicans. That's the fewest in any ABC News poll in 25 years. Here's Rachel Martin.
JEFF GLOR: In Virginia today, Republicans are regrouping. Following two serious setbacks in the last two national elections, Kimberly Dozier tells us prominent members of the GOP are meeting to retool their message and plot their comeback.
KIMBERLY DOZIER: It's no accident this looks like a campaign stop. Leading Republicans came here to figure out why they lost the last election, and to try and make sure they don't lose the next one. It was standing room only at Arlington's Pie-Tanza's Pizza on a Saturday morning, but GOP membership is in freefall. A Pew Research Center survey found that fewer than a quarter of those polled call themselves Republicans. That's down from 30 percent in 2004. Just this past week, the party lost longtime Senator Arlen Specter, and a congressional seat in New York. This was a message: We hear you.
The New York Times' former Supreme Court reporter, liberal Linda Greenhouse, came out of journalistic retirement (she's now senior fellow at Yale Law School) to write the lead Sunday Week in Review profile of retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, "Justice Unbound -- Washington is only where Souter goes for his 'annual intellectual lobotomy.' At home, he reads history."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Souter was nominated by the first President Bush but disappointed conservatives by often voting with the court's liberal bloc, which may be why Greenhouse wished him such a fond farewell:
David H. Souter had no agenda 19 years ago when he took his seat on the Supreme Court, but he did have a goal: not to become a creature of Washington, a captive of the privileges and power that came with a job he was entitled to hold for the rest of his life. In this, no matter what else can be said about his tenure on the court, he succeeded brilliantly.
Just a few decades ago, this would hardly have been a singular accomplishment. Even the most distinguished Supreme Court justices often disappeared from public view, speaking only through their opinions -- the full texts of which were all but inaccessible to ordinary citizens without access to a law library. But in this media-saturated age, the justices are everywhere. If they are not on book tours, they are opining on the authorship of Shakespeare's plays, or mingling with their peers in Europe, or on C-Span addressing high school students, or at least delivering named lectures at law schools.
None of this held any appeal for David Souter, who after returning home from his Rhodes scholarship at Magdalen College, Oxford, crossed the Atlantic only once again, for a reunion there. Who needed Paris if you had Boston, he would remark to friends. When the court is in recess, he gets in his Volkswagen and heads to Weare, N.H., to the small farmhouse that was home to his parents and grandparents.
Greenhouse took sides on a recent Supreme Court decision:
Constitutional change, he explained, "comes about because judges evaluate significant facts differently," or they "discover some relevance to a constitutional rule where earlier judges saw none." He said that "historians can come to the rescue" by explaining how and why this happens. His ostensible text was the Supreme Court's journey from the "separate but equal" holding of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 to the desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education 58 years later.
But there was an unspoken, and more pointed, subtext: his continued dismay at the court's 5-to-4 ruling two years ago that invalidated the effort by the public schools of Louisville, Ky., to prevent resegregation by use of a modestly race-conscious student assignment plan. The dissenters -- and Justice Souter was one -- viewed the opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. that this once-segregated city lacked any "compelling interest" in preserving its progress toward integration as profoundly ahistorical and as a troubling signal for the court's future approach to government actions that touched on race.
Their fears seemed well founded this past week, during the court's final argument session of the term. The question was whether a central portion of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional, and as the argument progressed, it appeared quite likely that the answer from Chief Justice Roberts and his conservative allies might well be "no."
END of Excerpt
For Greenhouse's piece: www.nytimes.com
Greenhouse likes liberal justices; she wrote "Becoming Justice Blackmun," a biography of the liberal justice who wrote the Court's notoriously flawed opinion on Roe v. Wade. And she clearly loved the ultra-liberal Justice William Brennan, as she wrote in a July 2008 Q&A session on nytimes.com just before her retirement:
Obviously, not every opinion Justice Brennan put his name to will stand the test of time. But many will. A personal note -- I took some time off from the court beat in the mid-1980's to have a baby and cover Congress for a couple of years. When I came back in 1988, Justice Brennan was 82 and the end of his tenure was in sight. He was one of the first people I ran into, in a court corridor. "I'm glad you're back," he said to me. I replied, "I'm glad you're still here." See: www.timeswatch.org
ABC's Good Morning America, which has yet to interview talk show host Mark Levin about his best selling book on conservatism, featured James Carville on Monday to promote "40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation." Co-host Diane Sawyer recited passages from the Democratic operative's tome, "Let me read what you write here. 'Republicans shouldn't be worried. They should be in agony. They should be throwing up.'"
Sawyer continued to read from Carville's book: "Republicans had better get a better policy on prescription drugs and quickly they're going to need a lot more Prozac." An onscreen graphic highlighted past one-party rule and speculated, "Democrats 1932-1968, Republicans 1968-2008, Democrats 2008-2048?"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Sawyer, to her credit, did challenge the thesis of the book, that Democrats will be in power for decades. She skeptically noted, "But, you know, there's people looking at this who say there's a big hole in this argument. And the big hole is the deficit that is building up, the debt that is building up." The GMA co-host added, "In fact, in ten years, per person in America, $2,700 will be spent just to pay the interest on the debt. Not to pay down the debt, but just to pay the interest." Later, she wondered if Democrats are becoming overly confident.
However, Sawyer also gave Carville a free pass to trash the tea party protests that occurred in April. The former Clinton official seethed, "There were a bunch of, like, 75-year-old cranky white guys, mad at everything. It just couldn't have been a better event for the Democratic Party. I hope they come back and tea bag some more." Sawyer offered no retort or comment on Carville's broadside.
A transcript of the May 4 segment, which aired at 7:13am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: We turn now to politics and a somewhat beleaguered group of Republicans, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, who spent their weekend at a Virginia pizza parlor on what they call a listening tour to try to reinvigorate the Republican Party. Someone looking on possibly with a smile at all of this is GMA contributor and Democratic political strategist James Carville who has a challenge for all the Republicans who think they can come back. It is a new book out called "40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation. " 40 more years? Let me read what you write here, "Republicans shouldn't be worried. They should be in agony. They should be throwing up. Republicans had better get a better policy on prescription drugs and quickly they're going to need a lot more Prozac."
In a brief item Monday evening about Jack Kemp's passing, the NBC Nightly News delivered an obit on Kemp's life, but while Brian Williams didn't find room in his 37-second update to mention how Kemp was behind the successful, supply-side Regan tax cuts, he decided it was newsworthy to point out how "Kemp was a conservative purist who, in a letter to his grandchildren months before his death, said the election of Barack Obama was proof that we live in a great country."
So, was Williams just trying to make Kemp look good -- or was he trying to impugn other conservatives who weren't so excited about Obama's victory or, third option, was it a way for Williams to convey to his liberal audience and the Manhattan social circuit that Kemp really wasn't one of those awful conservatives the media so often denigrate? Or all of the above? I ask, you decide.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The short report, in full, from the Monday, May 4 NBC Nightly News:
A private memorial being set for later this week for Jack Kemp, the former star pro quarterback, veteran Congressman from Buffalo, cabinet secretary and Republican vice presidential nominee. Jack Kemp was diagnosed with cancer this just past winter and he died on Saturday. He was remembered fondly by a friend today as "a bleeding heart conservative" who wanted the GOP to be a big tent. Kemp was a conservative purist who, in a letter to his grandchildren months before his death, said the election of Barack Obama was proof that we live in a great country. Jack Kemp was 73 years old.
On Sunday night, ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News ran short item on Kemp's passing, though sans the part about Obama. (Double-overtime NHL playoff hockey meant there was no NBC Nightly News on Sunday in the EDT and CDT zones.) Neither ABC nor CBS mentioned Kemp on Monday night.
A Monday CyberAlert post, "Flashback: In Backhanded Bias, Kemp Choice Spurred 'Haters' Talk," recalled:
Back in 1996, Bob Dole picked him as his vice presidential running mate, and some in the news media exploited the selection of Kemp to deliver backhanded insults about the "haters" who comprised the rest of the Republican Party. CNN's Bill Schneider: "He is a rare combination -- a nice conservative. These days conservatives are supposed to be mean. They're supposed to be haters." And: "Most conservatives these days come across as mean [video of Newt Gingrich] or intolerant [video of Pat Buchanan] or grouchy [video of Bob Dole]. Kemp is tolerant and inclusive. He has an excellent relationship with minorities. He showed real courage two years ago when he came out against Proposition 187, the punitive anti-illegal immigration measure in California. Kemp is not a hater."
ABC's Cokie Roberts: "He's also very inclusive, reaching out to minorities, to women, being for immigration, for affirmative action. And I think that's very important for this particular convention, Peter, and this party, which is seen somewhat dour, and somewhat mean in its ways."
-- Brent Baker