Obama and Liberals Whine: ABC Contrite and CBS Shares His Pain --4/18/2008
2. Hume Recites How 'ABC News Getting Hammered By Liberal Media'
3. ABC's Wright Spins Obama Tie with Terrorist as Just a 'Neighbor'
4. Tony Snow's Remarks in Accepting 'WFB Award for Media Excellence'
In a bunch of presidential debates this season the Republicans have come under tougher scrutiny than the Democrats, but the mainstream media didn't care. However, when Barack Obama and some left-wing journalists (see item #2 below) complained about questions to him during Wednesday's debate on ABC, the network evening newscasts found the kvetching newsworthy. CBS plastered "Debate Backlash" on screen as Katie Couric touted an upcoming Thursday night story.
CBS reporter Dean Reynolds explained: "He was even grilled about his flag pin, or lack thereof. A series of questions that aides say left him dispirited. But the debate, hosted by ABC News, came in for scathing criticism. Its own Web site logged more than 15,000 hits, most of them negative." Reynolds concluded by feeling Obama's pain: "Obama said today that what you saw during the debate was the rollout for the Republican campaign against him in the fall. So it must have been painful for him to have it come out during a debate with a fellow Democrat."
ABC hardly stood by Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos. David Wright cited "a grueling round of questions focused on issues such as Obama's patriotism, and his more controversial friends" -- though Wright only highlighted Jeremiah Wright and ignored William Ayers. After a clip of Obama complaining about how it was "45 minutes before we heard about health care. 45 minutes before we heard about Iraq. 45 minutes before we heard about jobs," Wright ran four comments, three of the four critical of ABC: "Today, in Philadelphia's Redding market, we met plenty of others who shared those views." A man declared: "I felt they wasted a whole hour, a good hour, talking about nothing." Wright then read this e-mail: "This so-called debate will be shown to my communications students as an example of what shoddy journalism looks like."
Wright concluded by helpfully promoting a far-left publicity effort: "There's now an organized campaign by the liberal group MoveOn and others to send a message to ABC." A message ABC News and Wright himself delivered by framing an entire story around their agenda.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Unlike ABC's Wright, CBS's Reynolds did inform viewers about William Ayers, referring to "the radical urban terrorists who used to be his neighbors in Chicago." Viewers then saw Stephanopoulos asking: "Can you explain that relationship for the voters and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?"
On the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams noted the complaints in his story set up: "Last night the questioning became part of the story. So much so that Obama today said it was a preview of the Republican attack that he expects in the fall campaign." Reporter Ron Allen cited "Obama's dealings with a radical 60s activist, William Ayers, from a notorious anarchist group," but Allen limited focus on the debate questions to this:
RON ALLEN: Obama mocked the debate as a preview of the GOP campaign against him.
# Journalists and the broadcast network evening newscasts didn't consider it newsworthy when Republicans were hit with questions from the left, particularly in debates held by MSNBC and CNN. A look through the archive, starting with the May 3, 2007 GOP debate on MSNBC, recounted in the CyberAlert posting, "Question During Debate: 'What Do You Dislike Most About America?,'" which reported (with video):
In a debate packed with silly questions and ones matching left-wing attack points on GOP candidates, in the first "Interactive Round" of questions submitted by the public on Politico.com, a co-sponsor of the debate, Mitt Romney got the most bizarre. The Politico Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, a Washington Post political reporter before jumping to The Politico earlier this year, found this one worth posing: "Daniel Dekovnick [sp phonetic] from Walnut Creek, California wants to know, 'What do you dislike most about America?'" Romney responded: "Gosh, I love America. I'm afraid I'm going to be at a loss for words..."
The "Interactive Rounds" at the Republican presidential debate, from the Ronald Reagan Library in California and carried live on MSNBC, became an opportunity to raise hostile questions from a left-wing agenda or meant to embarrass the candidates (What's the difference between Shia and Sunni?, How many have been killed or injured in Iraq? etc.)
Some of the other questions VandeHei chose to ask during the same round, about 25 minutes into the debate, in which he posed the whopper to Romney: To Rudy Giuliani, "Bradley Winter of New York would like to know if there's anything you learned, or regret, during your time as Mayor in your dealings with the African-American community?"; to Mike Huckabee, "Thousands of reputable scientists have concluded, with almost certainty, that human activity is responsible for the warming of the Earth. Do you believe global warming exists?" Later, to Tom Tancredo: "Will you work to protect women's rights, as in fair wages and reproductive choice?"...
For the full rundown: www.mrc.org
Chris Matthews couldn't help himself during the GOP debate in Michigan, as he returned to his "No blood for oil," rant, when he essentially asked Republican candidates if they thought the U.S. would have invaded Iraq if it didn't need the oil. On CNBC's live 4-6pm EDT carriage of Tuesday's Republican debate, the Hardball host asked Ron Paul: "Congressman Paul would you, would we have gone to war in Iraq if we weren't so dependent on Middle East oil?"
Matthews then repeated that same question to Sam Brownback: "Do you believe that, Senator Brownback, that we would've gone to war in Iraq if we weren't so dependent on Middle East oil?"...
For more: www.mrc.org
Describing the agenda of questions CNN chose to pose, during its Wednesday night Republican presidential debate with YouTube, as "completely different" from those forwarded to Democrats in July, Fred Barnes, on Thursday's Special Report on FNC, cited the contrast in questions about the military and Iraq as demonstrating how CNN picked the questioners to "screw Republicans" and "boost Democrats." Mara Liasson of NPR echoed the sentiment, recalling that the questions put to Democrats "were about global warming and health care and education, all kind of Democratic issues" and so they "weren't challenging the basic principles of the Democratic Party," but "there were lots of questions last night that were" meant to undermine GOP principles.
Earlier in the day, on The Weekly Standard's Web site, Barnes, Executive Editor of the magazine, hypothesized: "I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded." He asserted that the YouTube video submission questions CNN decided to air reflected "the issues, in the view of liberals and many in the media, on which Republicans look particularly unattractive."
Referring to how CNN put retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr, a member of Clinton's steering committee on gay and lesbian issues, in the audience for a follow-up after his YouTube video asking why gays can't serve in the military, Barnes observed on FNC: "He ambushed the Republican candidates who they knew were going to be against gays in the military, which he was for, and they handed him the mic so he could embarrass them, make them feel squeamish, or that was the attempt. Remember the CNN debate in Las Vegas where they had a soldier get up with his mother and he talked, but did he challenge the Democrats who were against the war? No. He was against the war, too. He ratified their position. So you can see the completely different ways CNN handled that. One to screw Republicans, one to boost Democrats."...
For the entire CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org
During Monday night's CNN/You Tube Democratic presidential debate, the candidates were hit with questions from the left over the right by nearly a 3-to-1 margin: 17 liberal questions posed in You Tube clips versus six conservative clips. With CNN's You Tube forum with Republican presidential candidates set for September 17, CNN has eight weeks to ensure an equal approach of of pushing each party from the direction of its base, so Republicans should be pressed from the right by about 3-to-1 over from the left. But if most of the questions to Republicans also come from the left, the CNN/You Tube debates will have served as little more than prime hours dedicated to advancing liberal causes.
Amongst the questions from the left at Monday night's event, one about reparations ("African-Americans ever going to get reparations for slavery?"), Katrina ("Do you believe the response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina would have been different if the storm hit an affluent, predominantly white city?"), getting out of Iraq ("How many more soldiers must die while these political games continue in our government? Is the reason that we are still in Iraq and seemingly will be for some time due to the Democrats' fear that blame for the loss of the war will be placed on them by the Republican spin machine?"), "free" health care ("What would you, as President, do to make low-cost or free preventative medicine available for everybody in this country?") and two advocating same-sex marriage....
For all the liberal and wacky questions: www.mrc.org
And remember the snow man?
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide transcripts of the Thursday, April 17 CBS and ABC stories:
# CBS Evening News
KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER: And after the debate, the Obama backlash:
COURIC: Turning to politics and the fallout from last night's debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Obama took a bruising, and some supporters say he was not treated fairly. Dean Reynolds is in Greenville, North Carolina, tonight. Dean, how is the candidate doing the day after?
CHARLES GIBSON: Next, we turn to presidential politics, a day after last night's contentious Democratic debate. Both candidates were back campaigning today. Both showed last night they could take a political punch. But many of the blows today were being aimed at the debate itself and the questions asked. ABC's David Wright joins us tonight from Philadelphia. David?
DAVID WRIGHT: Good evening, Charlie. As you can imagine, the debate was the talk of the town here today, not all of it positive. The consensus is that Barack Obama had a rough night. At a town hall meeting in North Carolina today, Obama shrugged off last night's confrontation.
Reporting that "ABC News is getting hammered by the mainstream and liberal media," as if they aren't the same, FNC's Brit Hume led his Thursday "Grapevine" segment with examples of the left-wing outrage over Barack Obama being pressed at Wednesday's debate on subjects the media consider off limits. Hume highlighted how "the left-leaning Washington Post TV writer Tom Shales said anchors, quote 'Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos turned in shoddy, despicable performances,'" and how Greg Mitchell, Editor of the Editor & Publisher trade magazine, "said it was quote, 'perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years.'" Naturally, Keith Olbermann brought him aboard Thursday's Countdown to expound further.
Hume also cited Walter Shapiro at Salon.com, a veteran of Time magazine and USA today, who asserted that "what he called the 'fizzle in Philly...could have convinced the uninitiated that American politics has all the substance of a 'Beavis and Butt-Head marathon.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Hume's Thursday, April 17 Grapevine item on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume:
ABC News is getting hammered by the mainstream and liberal media for its execution of last night's debate between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in which Obama was grilled at length about the recent controversies affecting his campaign.
The left-leaning Washington Post TV writer Tom Shales said anchors, quote "Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos turned in shoddy, despicable performances," that dwelled on what he called "specious and gossipy trivia."
Greg Mitchell at the liberal Huffington Post Web site said it was quote, "perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years."
Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic's Daily Dish blog called it quote, "petty, shallow, process-obsessed...utterly divorced from the actual issues that Americans want to talk about." Walter Shapiro at Salon.com said what he called the "fizzle in Philly...could have convinced the uninitiated that American politics has all the substance of a 'Beavis and Butt-Head' marathon."
But ABC was not without its defenders, the New York Sun said the debate was quote, "Charles Gibson's finest hour." Stephanopoulos told The Politico newspaper quote, "we asked tough but appropriate questions."
For the Shales rant in full: www.washingtonpost.com
For Mitchell's diatribe: www.editorandpublisher.com
On Thursday's Good Morning America, noted Barack Obama sympathizer David Wright spun the Senator's connection with William Ayers, a former member of the terrorist Weather Underground, as nothing more than a "neighbor" relationship. The ABC reporter, covering the highlights of Wednesday's Democratic debate, asserted that Obama faced questions "about a neighbor of his who was once a member of the violent Weather Underground." (Thursday night on World News, Wright didn;t even mention Ayers, see item #1 above.)
Of course, Obama's campaign has previously described the Ayers/Obama relationship as "friendly." Additionally, in 2001, Obama accepted a $200 donation from him and has also appeared jointly on academic panels with Ayers. During the debate, co-host George Stephanopoulos claimed, "An early organizing meeting for [Obama's] state senate campaign was held at his house." It would seem as though describing the relationship simply as neighborly is a minimization at best.
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Over on The Early Show on CBS, reporter Dean Reynolds also used the "neighbor" phrase, but the report went on to mention that Obama and Ayers also served on a board together.
ABC also provided an example of onscreen graphic bias. During the opening tease for the show, co-host Robin Roberts played a clip of Hillary Clinton answering a question as to whether Obama can win. She replied yes and repeated the answer twice. ABC's graphic proved to be far more excited: It read: "Yes, Yes, Yes!!!"
Finally, while discussing the possibility of a Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket, Wright hopefully observed, "The evening began with a question about the dream team." Clearly, the two Democrats running together is something Good Morning America would approve of. On March 6, co-host Diane Sawyer asked Democratic strategist James Carville about the subject. She cooed: "Let me go to the other dream solution." See a March 7, 2008 CyberAlert for more on the "dream" ticket: www.mrc.org
Wright, it should be pointed out, has repeatedly bashed Senator Clinton at the expense of Obama. In late February, he slammed a debate performance by the former first lady for having "an absolute clunker of an attack line." On April 1st, after noting that the Clinton campaign was low on cash, he snidely observed that included "a debt of $292,000 for health insurance premiums for her campaign staff. Ironic for a candidate promising health care for everyone." For a wrap up of Wright's Clinton bashing, see an April 2, 2008 CyberAlert post: www.mrc.org
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:02am on April 17:
Snow lamented "the failure of the press to shake off maybe the greatest bit of laziness that you see often in journalism, it's what I call 'facile cynicism.'" He elaborated: "Our press too often is missing the truly grand stories of triumph and sacrifice, of Yankee ingenuity and transcendent kindness. They portray failure as success and success as failure, and wonder why the readers, listeners, and viewers are going away."
Citing America's greatness, Snow contended: "The belief in freedom, let me say, nothing, nothing -- are you listening Barack Obama? -- nothing is more certain to produce hope and change. Our creativity, our daring, our decency, our goodness, our joyousness, and our ambition -- these are the materials and mortar on which we build our shining city on the hill. We need those now to rebuild America's place, America's destiny as the light and the inspiration of the world."
For video and audio of Snow's acceptance address: www.mrc.org
For all the events of the evening: www.mrc.org
Now, the text of Snow's remarks, as transcribed by the MRC's Kyle Drennen:
Thank you very much. Thank you so much.
First, it's just a delight to see the room packed tonight and I want to thank Brent and the MRC for what they've done for many years. Not only to make us laugh, but to make us think. I do have to explain one thing. You probably feel that you're in close quarters tonight. That's because we had actually concocted a surprise we were going to try and pull on you tonight. The idea was I would come up here, this curtain rises and my, the rock band I'm in is standing there, and we play a couple of tunes.
Well, it turns out one of our guitarists is off on business in New York. Well, that was okay, we're ready to go. But earlier this week, another one got called away to business in Kazakhstan. That's a pretty good excuse.
So as a result, I'll tell you what we're going to do. I've made this promise to Brent. Next year we'll come back with a band, and we'll absolutely entertain and we will have a great time. Again, I want to thank you so much for the honor and I'm going to talk in a minute about Bill Buckley. But I do want to thank Brent because, I'll tell you what, when MRC started, it was back in those days when conservatives -- we still felt ourselves embattled, we didn't feel that we had voices and we certainly looked with frustration on what we saw on the television screens, or heard on radio, or saw when we opened up the newspapers.
Well, we'd bitch and moan, but we didn't do anything about it, did we? Until Brent and a hardy band started doing the very difficult business of poring through news clips, and radio, and video. I'll tell you, it used to be when I was -- well in fact I'll be doing it again -- when I was writing columns and other things, if I needed a news clip, I'd call MRC. These guys are an extraordinary resource.
And Brent I want to thank you on behalf of all of us who've labored in the vineyards for these many years.
To Mark Levin, for the 'pants off, hat on' image, which will haunt me certainly through the night, thank you for that.
I'm going to give you a few brief comments. First, I love to be here because you love to laugh. Laughter is maybe the most important and underrated ingredients in politics. If you cannot laugh at politics, you are not alive, or you're not paying attention.
The business of exposing bias is a little bit like serving as a parole officer at a juvenile detention facility. The misdeeds seldom change, the miscreants seldom learn, but you still have to do your best to encourage good behavior. And you have to do it in such a way that you don't lose your temper or your mind.
Now, I love your determination, I love your creativity, your terrier-like refusal to let the press get away with things that violate the canons of journalism. But while I'm at it, I want to take a moment to talk about what is the most indefensible lapse of all. And we've seen several examples of it tonight. That is, the failure of the press to shake off maybe the greatest bit of laziness that you see often in journalism, it's what I call 'facile cynicism.'
It's the attitude that, when you look at American life, you look at it with a sense of boredom; you're surrounded by people who are mediocre; the politicians are boring; oh, you look at it with a yawn. There's a kind of an Olympian look down at the people that fails to acknowledge that even now, in a time when we are riven by disagreements about a war and when we are anxious about our economy, this is still the world's dream machine.
Tonight we will hear of yet another soldier who has fallen in battle in this country and, if you've talked to people who've been in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you've heard the stories, you realize that the special thing about this country is we have young men and women who will expend their lives so that others can be free. And when they return they don't talk about the gore of war -- they talk about the fact that they have planted seeds of hope in places that before have not seen hope. They have shared with captive nations the power of the American dream. When somebody looks at the war and does not report these, they are missing some of the big stories.
When somebody looks at the economy today and gives me numbers, they're missing the fact that we are living on top of a volcano. And if you don't feel it -- I'll tell you what, if you don't believe it, look at your kids' Christmas lists. If you understand any of that stuff, you're a better person than I am.
But the fact is that this economy, each and every year, below the surface is churning with creativity. The Dallas Fed a couple of years ago did a study, found out that, that in the year 2006, they estimated that new information going into the global economy was the equivalent of 37,000 Libraries of Congress, or 629 billion volumes.
We're sitting on a volcano. There's excitement out there. Your kids feel it. If you look at them, you watch them text messaging hundreds of times a day -- I don't know how they do it -- but you look at it, and you look at a younger generation that is entrepreneurial, and is enterprising, and is excited, and is filled with the joy of creation, and it is our job to liberate them.
And it's also the press's job to cover that miracle that is born every day. Larry Kudlow, I want to single you out because of all the people who write about this stuff, nobody does it better, nobody does it more reliably. I want to thank you; I steal from you all the time.
Our press too often is missing the truly grand stories of triumph and sacrifice, of Yankee ingenuity and transcendent kindness. They portray failure as success and success as failure, and wonder why the readers, listeners, and viewers are going away.
Second, I cannot tell you what an honor it is to receive an award named after Bill Buckley. Bill was our happy warrior, in the manner of a young child or a holy man. He took endless joy in a world that never ceased to yield up new delights, many of which he captured and immortalized with his unparalleled and personal prose. He rejoiced in discovering new talent as well.
Quick show of hands, how many people here got a start in the business because of Bill Buckley? How many? Just a quick show -- I mean you're going to see -- don't be bashful, but many people in the business will tell you that. Bill had this ability to look at young people with a sense of wonder and to pluck them out and to give them opportunities and hope.
What he wanted to do was to introduce bright young minds to the world and at the same time introduce the world to brilliant young men and women. It never occurred to him that he might be minting competitors; he was too generous for that. As a matter of fact, Bill's courtliness, grace, generosity, and selflessness, set an example we all ought to follow in our lives.
Realize that there is plenty of success to go around -- you make more of it, you don't try to hoard it. The same for his gift of friendship, which like everything else I've mentioned, really illustrated his relish of life among God's children.
Third, we need to learn from Bill that life is too short for rancor. There's a time when fury seems thrilling -- Keith [Olbermann] -- maybe even profound, but as we mature we start to see boisterous anger as nothing more than bratty exhibitionism. If we want to convert people, let's do it the right way. Let's make our case plainly, happily, confidently. After all, we do have truth on our side.
And here's the most powerful source of truth: It's our belief in liberty. You see, if you believe in freedom, you believe that each and every individual on this planet has been invested by God with an unbreakable dignity, and that dignity is something that you want to nurture and grow so you set them free to go ahead and explore their dreams within a regime of freedom. You say, we will try to protect you from fraud and all of these things, but we want you to be the creative engine.
And as a result, the United States of America is the one place where no matter how humble your birth, you still have the possibility to become an engine of destiny.
The other thing is, we're daring. We're brash. We don't want a planned world, we like a world that is full of surprise, full of excitement, full of the unexpected innovation, full of the invention nobody expected - for me, cancer cure, come on, let's go guys. But the fact is that the rare combination of freedom, and decency, and commitment in the American heart and spirit has us look to do things that nobody else wants to do, to extend the boundaries of life and the blessings of liberty. Bin Laden may be trying to figure out other ways to blow up people, but we're trying to figure out new ways to make people appreciate the joy and blessings of life.
So the belief in freedom, let me say, nothing, nothing -- are you listening Barack Obama? -- nothing is more certain to produce hope and change. Our creativity, our daring, our decency, our goodness, our joyousness, and our ambition -- these are the materials and mortar on which we build our shining city on the hill. We need those now to rebuild America's place, America's destiny as the light and the inspiration of the world.
So as we celebrate tonight, let's just remember a few things: the country needs our talents, it needs our passions, our principles, and our example. And let's honor Bill Buckley not with sappy reveries, but by leaping onto the barricades, standing athwart history and shouting as he did in his mature years: 'Bring it on!'
It's an exceptional moment, I cannot tell you how much I cherish not only this award, but also having known Bill and to have you as friends. That's what it is all about. So, God bless you, and God bless America, and thank you very much.
-- Brent Baker