2. CNN Reporter on McCain: Senator Fending Off Fire From 'Far Right'
3. Olbermann Blasts '24' as Pro-Bush 'Fearmongering,' 'Brainwashing'
4. Letterman's "Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Barack Obama"
Just as when Democratic Senator Barack Obama said he was considering a presidential campaign last October, his announcement Monday -- via a Web video that he has set up an exploratory committee -- unleashed media excitement. The CBS Evening News treated it as one of the two big stories of the day: "I'm Katie Couric. Two major stories tonight: A vicious attack in Baghdad....And Senator Barack Obama takes a big step toward running for President. He says it's time for a change." After that tease, Couric announced: "Hi everyone. He's generated a lot of excitement. And now it looks like Senator Barack Obama is, indeed, jumping into the presidential race. We'll have more about that in a moment."
Over on ABC's World News, which devoted more than four minutes to the topic, anchor Kate Snow trumpeted how "Democratic rising star Barack Obama takes a major step toward a run for the White House." She soon trumpeted how "the presidential race got a major jolt today. The man who could become the first African-American President took a major step toward becoming a candidate." Snow even spun a negative into a positive: "His political resume is rather thin, but in the 2008 race, that could be a plus." NBC anchor Brian Williams teased "a big step tonight for Barack Obama" before touting how "a bit of political history was made today, kind of, when Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama almost declared his candidacy for President."
NBC Nightly News, at least, held it's Obama story to a 1:30 piece from Chip Reid and Williams, unlike ABC and CBS, took 20 seconds to note the opening of an presidential exploratory committee by Republican Tom Tancredo.
Of the coverage aired on the three networks, only ABC's Jake Tapper uttered the "liberal" label in connection with Obama: "In recent trips to key early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama drew praise for presenting fairly traditional liberal views as fresh and inspiring."
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Last October 23, the CyberAlert item, "ABC & NBC Hail 'Remarkable' and 'Exciting' Obama Presidential Bid," recounted the media's excitement after Obaama announced on Meet the Press that he was considering a presidential run: www.mrc.org
That thrill continued, as detailed in the next day's CyberAlert: "For 2nd Night, Nets Trumpet 'Political Phenom' Obama, a 'Sensation' and 'Rock Star.'" Go to: www.mrc.org
The teases and story set-ups on the January 16 evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC:
# ABC's World News with Charles Gibson (4:15 to Obama story)
Kate Snow's tease: "On his mark: Democratic rising star Barack Obama takes a major step toward a run for the White House. Why is a first term Senator causing such a stir?"
Snow's introduction: "To political news now. The presidential race got a major jolt today. The man who could become the first African-American President took a major step toward becoming a candidate. Senator Barack Obama opened an exploratory committee to raise money and hire staff. His political resume is rather thin, but in the 2008 race, that could be a plus. ABC's senior political correspondent Jake Tapper joins us now."
Couric's tease: "I'm Katie Couric. Two major stories tonight: A vicious attack in Baghdad....And Senator Barack Obama takes a big step toward running for President. He says it's time for a change."
Couric at top of newscast: "Hi everyone. He's generated a lot of excitement. And now it looks like Senator Barack Obama is, indeed, jumping into the presidential race. We'll have more about that in a moment."
Couric set up for the Obama story: "Now to the Barack Obama story. After months of speculation, the freshman Senator from Illinois says yes, he does want to be the next President of the United States. The official announcement will come next month. But today he said he's forming an exploratory committee. Gloria Borger is our national political correspondent. Gloria, Obama had a thoroughly modern way of getting his message out today."
Brian Williams' tease: "A big step tonight for Barack Obama. One step closer to running for President. Is it a game-changer for the Democrats?"
The story intro from Williams: "And in this country, a bit of political history was made today, kind of, when Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama almost declared his candidacy for President. Officially, he's forming an exploratory committee, which usually means, unofficially, he's running. Chip Reid will explain all of it for us tonight. He's on the Hill. Chip, what are we seeing here?"
The Web site of Obam exploratory committee: www.barackobama.com
On Tuesday's American Morning, CNN's Miles O'Brien reported on the statement by evangelical leader James Dobson that he could never support Arizona Senator John McCain's bid for the White House. O'Brien twice referred to the comments as attacks from "the far right." Political correspondent Bob Franken went on to characterize the remarks by Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, as "lashing out at Senator John McCain." Franken followed by recounting McCain's sometimes rocky relationship with Christian conservatives. In the process, the CNN reporter simplified and omitted some important facts about the Senator's record. But first, Miles O'Brien led with classic labeling bias: "Senator John McCain takes not-so friendly fire from the far right. Why he is fending off criticism from an evangelical leader?" And, a couple of minutes later: "Senator John McCain is fending off fire from the far right flank this morning. A leading evangelical minister says there's no way he could support McCain for President."
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Illinois Senator Barack Obama announced on January 16 that he would be launching a presidential exploratory committee for 2008. What do you think the chances are that CNN will label Obama, who has a lifetime American Conservative Union score of 8, as a member of the "far left?" See: www.acuratings.org
After being introduced by O'Brien, Franken started the segment by recounting McCain's history with Christian conservatives:
Franken is guilty of some serious simplifications and omissions of McCain's record. He highlighted McCain's "Pat Robertson Republican" remark, but failed to mention other, harsher comments from the same speech, such as this one by the Senator in the February 28, 2000 event: "The political tactics of division and slander are not our values. They are'€" They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party, and our country. Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right."
And, as the MRC's Tim Graham noted in a February 19, 2000 editorial for World magazine, as the media coverage on McCain grew more flowery, his positions seemed to become more liberal:
Perhaps this is something to remember the next time the media start attacking "far right" critics of John McCain.
The night after the four-hour, two-night season premiere of Fox's 24 ended with a "suitcase nuke" being set off by Middle Eastern terrorists in a Southern California warehouse, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann saw a nefarious plot to aid President Bush: "Is 24 just entertainment or is it propaganda designed to keep people thinking about domestic terrorism to keep us scared?" He demanded Tuesday night: "Gripping drama or thinly veiled propaganda?" Olbermann recounted how 24 "featured a mall attack, a would-be suicide bomber on a subway, and a successful suicide bombing on a passenger bus. Not in places where these things have already happened, but in a country called the United States of America. In case you missed the point, the show finished up with a nuclear weapon detonating in a major American city, literally conjuring up the administration's imagery for the war in Iraq, the good old mushroom cloud."
Olbermann then posed a series of absurd questions to Robert Greenwald, producer of the comically bad anti-FNC movie, Outfoxed. His options for Greenwald: "Is 24 propaganda? Is it fearmongering? Or is it a program-length commercial for one political party?" Olbermann soon proposed that "if the irrational right can claim that the news is fixed to try to alter people's minds or that networks should be boycotted for nudity or for immorality," then "shouldn't those same groups be saying 24 should be taken off of TV because it's naked brainwashing?" Suggesting some sort of Fox-White House conspiracy, Olbermann tossed up: "But does this not begin to look at this point like the blurring of the lines here," between fact and fiction, "is deliberate?"
[This item was posted late Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Of course, back in September the premiere hour of CBS's Jericho ended with a nuclear explosion caused by a terrorist attack on America. But that never bothered Olbermann. TV.com's page with a plot summary, and an image of the atomic cloud: "After a nuclear disaster caused by several terrorist attacks destroys most of America, residents of a small Kansas town must come to terms with a new and very different reality." See: www.tv.com
And 24 portraying terrorist attacks hardly started this week with its sixth season. The program, in which each hour matches one-hour of elapsed time in the show that stars Keifer Sutherland as Los Angeles-based "CTU" (Counter-Terrorism Unit) agent "Jack Bauer," debuted in November of 2001. The second season premiered on October 29, 2002 with a season focused on how, according to TV.com, "a Middle Eastern terrorist group known as Second Wave is planning to set off a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles sometime that day." See: www.tv.com
In previous seasons, the hero Jack Bauer manages to prevent the ultimate goal of the terrorists, but setbacks occur along the way. And that's all that happened in Monday night's show. During a raid to capture a group of terrorists, one managed to set off the suitcase nuke taken from Russia, but while it is the biggest attack in 24 history, with 20 hours to go in the series which will air Monday's at 9pm ET/PT through May, it is surely not the much deadlier ultimate goal of the terrorists which Bauer and CTU will strive to thwart.
Olbermann's cited the MRC's NewsBusters blog as part of his rant: "Right-wing Web sites leaving no doubt as to what they think viewers should take away from this fictional attack. Case in point: NewsBusters.org says this scene [of atomic explosion], quote, 'should be required viewing for all media members who question what's at risk and whether there really is a war on terror,' and accuses the media of undermining the Bush administration and, quote, 'downplaying the seriousness of terrorism.'"
Noel Sheppard's posting quoted by Olbermann: newsbusters.org
Mark Finkelstein's post with video of Olbermann quoting from NewsBusters: newsbusters.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down Olbermann's paranoia as expressed on the January 16 Countdown:
Olbermann, in opening teaser: "And the never-ending fictional war waged on TV. Is 24 just entertainment or is it propaganda designed to keep people thinking about domestic terrorism to keep us scared?"
Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:12pm EST: "24 is back. It dropped the bomb literally. Al Gore makes a movie about global warming and gets smeared as a fearmonger. Fox portrays a fictionalized America riddled with terrorists, which helps keep part of the real America convinced we might really be riddled with terrorists. And it wins five Emmies and two Golden Globes? Gripping drama or thinly veiled propaganda?"
Olbermann, during the commercial break: "Suicide bombers in the cities of America, suitcase nuke detonated in Los Angeles. The fear is fictional on the series 24, but is the intent to spark real fear among real Americans? Fear that can be turned into political gain. That's next. This is Countdown."
Olbermann, setting up the 8:17pm EST segment:
From the January 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Little-Known Facts About Barack Obama." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com 10. As a child, was taunted with "Obama's so fat jokes"
9. After finishing Harvard law, served as Doug Llewelyn's understudy on "The People's Court"
8. Follows Bush's weekly radio address DJ-ing the "Barock and Roll Power Hour"
7. Real last name: Obamawitz
6. At Senate hearings, throws on his iPod whenever John Kerry has the floor
5. Played Kenickie in the Senate production of "Grease"
4. Makes immigration speeches as hilarious, uninformed foreigner "Borat Obama"
3. Even Donald Trump can't think of anything nasty to say about him
2. Presides over congressional committee to lower Al Gore's body fat
1. Only running for President to piss off Hillary
-- Often upset as a child because he could never find his name on any toy license plates
-- Posted a parody video on YouTube called: "Barack to the Future"
-- Once walked in on Congressman Foley showing off his legislative branch
-- Five-time winner on Jeopardy's "Guy Named Barack Week"
-- Brent Baker