2. Williams Pleased Obama, Unlike Bush, Admitted He 'Screwed Up'
3. CBS's Katie Couric Praises Barack Obama as the 'Anti-Bush'
4. On Regis, Couric Defends Daschle and Obama, Snarls at Critics
5. Williams Urges Obama to Copy Douglas in 'The American President'
6. On Hardball: '100,000 People Dead' Because of 'Creepy' Cheney
Appearing on Wednesday's Good Morning America, former top Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos assured viewers that Barack Obama can now move on from his multiple failed cabinet officials. Referring to individuals such the (now) former Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle, who resigned on Tuesday due to tax problems, Stephanopoulos asserted that "the good news is, even though the President was forced to apologize so many times yesterday, is that these nominees now are gone. They've chosen to withdraw. So, the President can move on."
He added: "This was running the possibility of really hurting his reformist image. He can move on from that." Of course, just three days ago, on Sunday's GMA, Stephanopoulos touted a different message. He allowed that Daschle's nomination might be slowed down, but also predicted, "I don't think it's going to imperil it, though." He also forecast: "The key is going to be those Republicans and, of course, is this the last of the bad news for Senator Daschle? If he gets some Republican support, this is the last of the bad news, I believe he will be confirmed."
Back on November 24, Stephanopoulos enthused over the greatness of Obama's unfolding cabinet. Talking to GMA co-host Robin Roberts, he raved: "We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes." See a November 25 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mediaresearch.org
In fairness to ABC, Wednesday's Good Morning America did portray the resignation of Daschle and Nancy Killefer, who had been nominated to the new Chief Performance Officer position and also had tax problems, as a "real stumble," according to co-host Roberts. The show also featured clips of everyday Americans complaining about the tax problems of Obama nominees.
"So, we wanted to let you sound off on paying taxes, playing fair and the Obama nominees who did not," Roberts explained. In a previous segment, reporter Jake Tapper lectured the President, "Lesson one, just because you're cool with the cabinet nominee's problems does not mean the American people will be."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
(Thanks to MRC intern Mike Sargent for transcribing the Sunday George Stephanopoulos segment.)
A transcript of the February 4 segment, which aired at 7:03am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And as you just saw in Jake's piece, people, of course, critical of politicians who do not pay taxes, especially as tens of millions of Americans prepare to write a check to the IRS in the next few months. So, we wanted to let you sound off on paying taxes, playing fair and the Obama nominees who did not.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, apparently still bristling over former President George W. Bush's failure to admit mistakes (at least in media interviews), twice in 24 hours felt it newsworthy to contrast Bush's reticence with President Barack Obama's "I screwed up" admission over the Tom Daschle nomination. On Tuesday's Hardball, following his interview with Obama, Williams relayed how the White House staff was "very proud that the President used three words today that we did not hear in that setting on the record over eight years of the last administration."
Then, at the start of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Williams adopted the White House line as his own: "Yesterday, in the Oval Office, the President told us in the interview that he 'screwed up.' That's not something we're used to hearing from our President in recent years."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Williams led the February 4 newscast: "Good evening. This was a different day at the Obama White House. Yesterday, in the Oval Office, the President told us in the interview that he 'screwed up.' That's not something we're used to hearing from our President in recent years. He was talking about the tax problems of some of his nominees. But today, when he took on the topic of the economy, he took on the Republicans, reminding them he was the one elected President, and warning everybody of catastrophe if this economic fix isn't approved. We'll begin there tonight with our chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd."
Appearing on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric discussed her White House interview with President Obama regarding the withdrawal of recent cabinet nominees: "He is surprisingly relaxed...extremely comfortable, very focused. It's very different than sort of the buttoned-up Bush White House...he said to every person who interviewed him...that he 'screwed up,' he 'messed up.' And I think he really is trying to be the anti-Bush because President Bush was so criticized for never saying, you know, 'I made a mistake.'"
On Tuesday's Evening News, Couric had portrayed Obama as a victim. Early Show co-host Harry Smith agreed with Couric and pointed out another criticism of the Bush administration: "There was also criticism of too much loyalty." Like Couric, Smith then praised Obama for being the "anti-Bush" and throwing Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Daschle under the bus: "...and here was Tom Daschle, who had been his mentor all these-" Couric interjected: "And he's been working on health care, by the way...for many, many months...And really focused on it. You know, President Obama reiterated that he thought Tom Daschle was the right man for the job, it was an honest mistake."
February 4 CyberAlert on Couric seeing Obama as a victim of "Washington culture": www.mediaresearch.org
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Later, Smith did suggest a certain disillusionment with Obama: "Two weeks in, is it -- you -- I'm not sure you can really say the honeymoon is over, but this is so much different, already now, than it was two weeks ago." Couric replied: "Well, I think the Republicans, Harry, are slightly emboldened by these missteps when it comes to these appointments with Tim Geithner, and Bill Richardson, and now Tom Daschle. And I think that, you know, they are loaded for bear, they are joining forces, and I think they do have some serious policy differences with this bill." Smith later concluded: "Republicans can also say, 'is this really building the safety net or is this really stimulus?' And maybe that conversation is actually going to take place now."
Prior to the discussion with Couric, correspondent Bill Plante reported on Daschle's withdrawal: "The president is basically trying to turn the page by saying that it was his fault, that he and his top advisors just didn't get it when it came to how the public would perceive the Daschle tax problem." At the end of the report, Plante cited historian Charles Cushman of George Washington University: "If President Obama and his team move quickly, and the new nominees are clean, clearly vetted, and ready to go, then it's just a momentary hiccup." Plante added: "Well, they hope it's just a hiccup, but this could be a major setback in their plans to try to get health care reform."
Fresh from her interview with President Obama, CBS anchor Katie Couric appeared on Wednesday's Live with Regis and Kelly. She defended Tom Daschle's tax evasion: "But in fairness to him, and I don't know all the ins and of it, but he was given a limousine by a private equity fund that I guess he was consulting for, and I don't think he realized perhaps" it was taxable income. She agreed with Kelly Ripa that losing Daschle is a big blow: "I think he's really well liked, he's very knowledgeable on health care."
Couric also protested New York Post and Daily News photos of Obama, where he looked glum at the bad Daschle news: "That was an unfair picture. He was in a second grade class -- listening to a second grader. It makes it sound as if one of his Cabinet, or officials was telling him really bad news." Couric also whacked at her critics: "I always try to be sanguine about it and think, you know, always, it says more about the person who's writing it than often it does about the subject, about their own issues."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Regis began with the common assumption that Tom Daschle should have been much more forthcoming with the Obama transition team than he was:
REGIS PHILBIN: Why don't they tell him when the get-go, when they hear a little rumor that they might be nominated for something. If they have a problem, why don't they come clean and say 'don't even get involved with me'?
Regis asked about how Obama was handling the stimulus bill, and Couric explained he was trying to take out "what could be construed as partisan pet projects" out of the legislation (Philbin interjected "It's called pork!"), and then Couric volunteered how cool Obama is:
COURIC: But he's so relaxed, you guys. You know?
After a commercial break, the trio of TV stars returned to discuss Katie's new Barbara Walters-style interview show with musical stars to air before the Grammy Awards. But first, Regis asked about the bad press of the last few years:
PHILBIN: Everybody loves Katie Couric. And incidentally, how are things now with your anchoring? In the beginning, the papers every day.
Brian Williams revealed Wednesday afternoon that in a question he didn't get to with President Obama the day before, he wanted to ask Obama if he is "ever tempted" to start over again with the stimulus bill "and give a stemwinder combination fireside chat/speech to the nation," just as did "Michael Douglas and the crime bill" in The American President movie, "and just say, 'look, here's what we got to do. I went wrong. It got loaded up. Now we're going to do the real thing?'"
In that 1995 film, in which Douglas played Democratic President "Andrew Shepherd," after compromising with Congress, he returns to his left-wing sensibilities and, in the climatic point of the movie cheered by liberal film-goers, walks to the press room where he delivers an impassioned lecture -- which earns affirmative nods from the journalists -- praising the ACLU, pushing for extreme action on global warming and promises, in the portion Williams admired, "to get the guns." President Shepherd:
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Williams at about 1:06 PM EST Wednesday during the MSNBC hour anchored by Andrea Mitchell, who, as Williams spoke, could be heard calling The American President her "favorite" movie:
The President apparently, when he had the leadership over, put the staff in the cabinet room, brought the leadership into the Oval Office and said to them, "get the junk out of this bill. Get the junk out of this so we can sell it to the nation as pure stimulus." Never going to happen, of course, not with 535 people wanting a little something extra in there. But of course, it's very pleasing.
A question I had for him yesterday, and I ran out of time -- it was kind of like pictures with Santa in the Oval Office, you didn't get much time with the big man -- was: "Are you ever tempted," and this kind of borrows from the Aaron Sorkin's American President with Michael Douglas and the crime bill, "are you ever tempted to scrap it, throw it in the drawer and start again and give a stemwinder combination fireside chat/speech to the nation and just say, 'look, here's what we got to do. I went wrong. It got loaded up. Now we're going to do the real thing?'"
A reprint of the May 24, 1999 MRC CyberAlert item about the movie's liberal plot line:
Monday night at 8:30p ET/PT, 7:30pm CT/MT, CBS will broadcast the 1995 movie The American President. It couldn't be more timely for liberals with its advocacy of gun control.
Read no further if you plan to watch the movie and don't want to know the plot ahead of time.
As reported in the May 14 CyberAlert last year, Rob Reiner directed and produced the film starring Michael Douglas as Democratic President "Andrew Shepherd," a widow with a teenage daughter. Just like Clinton sans Hillary. He falls in love with environmental lobbyist "Sydney Ellen Wade," played by Annette Bening. At one point in the Oval Office "Wade" lectures "Shepherd": "Global warming is a calamity, the effects of which will be second only to nuclear war..."
The unmarried President carrying on an affair provides an angle for the Republican candidate for President to attack. The Republican: Senator "Bob Rumson" from Kansas. Sound familiar? Richard Dreyfuss plays "Rumson," an odious man bent on twisting the facts to make character an issue.
Naturally, by the end of the movie the wavering "Shepherd" comes to his senses and becomes a forceful liberal. Motivated by losing "Wade" who is disappointed by his compromises, "Shepherd" goes to the press room and delivers a lecture fulfilling a liberal's dream, denouncing "Rumson's" character attack on "Wade" for once having been at a South Africa protest where a U.S. flag was burned, praising the ACLU, advocating huge cuts in emissions to solve the global warming problem and demanding the end of gun ownership. Here are some excerpts:
- "Yes, I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is why aren't you Bob? Now this is an organization whose sole purpose is to defend the bill of rights, so it naturally begs the question why would a Senator, his party's most powerful spokesman and a candidate for President, choose to reject upholding the Constitution?"
- "White House resolution 455, an energy bill requiring a 20 percent reduction in the emission of fossil fuels over the next ten years. It is by far the most aggressive stride ever taken in the fight to reverse the effects of global warming."
- "The other piece of legislation is the crime bill. As of today it no longer exists. I'm throwing it. I'm throwing it out and writing a law that makes sense. You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security and I will go door-to-door if I have to but I'm going convince Americans that I'm right and I'm going to get the guns."
Internet Movie Database page for the film: www.imdb.com
On Wednesday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews led a not-so-balanced panel of lefties that included Mother Jones's David Corn and Salon's Joan Walsh, in hammering Dick Cheney's concerns, relayed in an interview with Politico, about the Obama administration's softer stance in the war on terror. The Hardball host led the attack on Cheney as he charged the former Vice President: "Was wrong in a way that was lethal. 100,000 people dead including 4,000 Americans are dead, something like 15,000 wounded because he was wrong."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday evening, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Walsh piped in: "We have a situation where it's vintage Dick Cheney. It's dark, it's dire, it's creepy, it's kooky, it's very scary, but there's absolutely no evidence. And so you're right to point to the fact that this is a man who's gotten everything wrong. There was no connection between the 9/11 hijackers and Saddam Hussein. There was, there were no weapons of mass destruction. We were not greeted by a mushroom cloud as the smoking gun. He got everything wrong, thousands are dead and now he's back."
And for his part Corn wondered: "How detached from reality is he?"
Then Matthews, parroting a line his NBC colleague Tom Brokaw made on Inauguration Day, remarked: "He does seem like a character out of Dr. Strangelove." See: www.mrc.org
The following exchanges were aired on the February 4 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned of possible terror attacks in an interview with three Politico newspaper reporters. We have audiotapes from that interview from yesterday and we're gonna review them with David Corn of Mother Jones magazine and Joan Walsh of Salon. Here's, welcome Joan. Well here's Vice President Cheney '€" by the way he's back, in just two weeks now -- on the threat to the United States security that he sees coming.
To read and hear the Cheney interview that got the Hardball panel in a tizzy: www.politico.com
-- Brent Baker