2. Good Morning America Gushes Over 30 Day Anniversary of Obama Win
3. CBS's Schieffer: Obama Cabinet 'Bunch of Flaming Moderates'
4. CNN's Cho Tries to Expose 'Rahmbo' Emanuel's 'Nice Guy' Side
5. Chris Matthews: It's 'Really Hard' to 'Salute Sarah Palin'
6. Only NBC Nightly News Notes Fewest Ever Monthly Deaths in Wars
7. Lily Tomlin: When You Say 'Zoo,' Elephants Hear 'Guantanamo Bay'
Unveiling President-elect Barack Obama as her "Most Fascinating Person of 2008," Barbara Walters wrapped up her Thursday night prime time special by championing how Obama "has redeemed the American promise that an individual can make his own destiny and create a new world." (Obama hasn't even taken office, yet he's already managed to "create a new world"?) She then presumptuously gushed: "We are all members of that new world now, and that for us makes him the Most Fascinating Person of 2008. Good luck, Mr. President."
The other nine honorees in her special, Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008, were revealed in advance: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Will Smith, Frank Langella, Miley Cyrus, Thomas Beatie and Michael Phelps. The ABC News page for the program: abcnews.go.com
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The December 13, 2006 CyberAlert item, "Walters Honors Pelosi as 'Most Fascinating' Person of 2006," recounted:
Barbara Walters ended her Tuesday night ABC News countdown special, The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2006, by touting, near the end of the 10pm EST/9pm CST hour, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the "most fascinating person of 2006." The Web page promoting the special listed the first nine profiled, but not Pelosi, as its text ended with a plug: "Who is the Most Fascinating Person of 2006? Tune in Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET to find out."
Walters celebrated Pelosi's victory: "We picked our most fascinating person on election day this past November. Next month, Congress will get a Speaker of the House unlike any before. Our most fascinating person of 2006: Mother of five and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi. In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the most powerful woman in America. She will assume office as the first-ever female Speaker of the House, two heartbeats from the presidency." Walters soon pleaded to Pelosi: "You've talked about sometimes using your mother-of-five voice. Now I sit here, and you're very gentle. Talk to me in the mother-of-five voice." She also asked Pelosi to confirm that she thinks President Bush is "incompetent and irresponsible and not a leader?"
In her 1994 special, however, Walters did not make the then-incoming House Speaker after a party change, Newt Gingrich, her "most fascinating person of 1994." That honor went to Nelson Mandela on the December 13, 1994 show and Gingrich was not one of the other nine, a list which included Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Rupert Murdoch (for getting NFL games on Fox), Barbra Streisand and Jimmy Carter ("In his post-White House years, he seems to have left the mark that alluded his presidency and brought the role of ex-President to a new state of grace").
Full rundown: www.mrc.org
From the end of the Thursday night (December 4) at 10 PM EST Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2008:
BARBARA WALTERS: His belief that there is a place in America for someone who transcends the usual labels has brought us all to this place:
Sounding like junior high students reveling in their first romance, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer and ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos on Thursday celebrated the one month anniversary of Barack Obama's election as president. While talking to the former Clinton aide-turned journalist, Sawyer cooed: "Well, speaking of the President-elect, kind of an anniversary today. 30 days since he was elected."
She continued in a bubbly tone: "So, it's time to launch the first annual, ever, 30-day George Stephanopoulos presidential election awards." Stephanopoulos, of course, had nothing but praise for Obama. He enthused: "So, it's hard to imagine this first month going much better for the President-elect." He also lauded the Democrat for handling "the transition with the same kind of precision and discipline that he managed to show during the campaign."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Now, Stephanopoulos did point out concrete things that Obama has done, such as appointing a cabinet faster than Presidents Clinton, Carter and Reagan. But he also praised the President-elect for seemingly minor, routine things, such as meeting with his defeated rival. The "This Week" host argued, "That early meeting with Senator John McCain, his opponent, setting the tone."
During the 2008 campaign, Stephanopoulos had similar high praise for Obama. As the MRC's Brent Baker noted on October 16, 2008, he declared Obama the winner in every presidential debate. See an October 16 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org
A transcript of the December 4 segment, which aired a 7:09am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: Let's turn, now, to George Stephanopoulos about the bottom line on all of this. And auto bailout. The unemployment. These new numbers coming out. George, let's start with the whole question of the bailout. Those potential layoffs are just horrific. And yet, it is a huge cost for the benefits. What's going to happen?
On Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed the Obama transition with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, who contended: "A lot of people said this is going to be a very extremist President and all that, that he's a very liberal Democrat, but as we have seen in appointment after appointment, he's hewing to the center. He's picking a bunch of flaming moderates here, when you come right down t it. Now some liberal Democrats may not like that, but he's getting praised generally across the board here." Smith agreed: "Yeah, Bob, I would guess that the only people who really feel like they have their feathers ruffled are, maybe, the liberal Democrats."
In reality, Obama's pick for Secretary of State, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting score of 9. Obama's pick for Commerce Secretary, New Mexico Governor and former Congressman Bill Richardson, had an ACU score of 18 while in Congress. Obama's chief of staff, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, has a score of 16. One would think that "a bunch of flaming moderates" would have ACU ratings around 50, voting liberal only about half the time, not 80% of the time or more. Obama's Attorney General pick, Eric Holder, helped pardon convicted tax evader Marc Rich as Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton. Finally, Obama's Homeland Security pick, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, was an attorney for Anita Hill, who claimed to be sexually harassed by then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
See ACU scores here: www.acuratings.org
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In a report that preceded Schieffer's analysis, correspondent Chip Reid explained how Hispanics were upset that Obama had not named any Latinos to his administration beyond Bill Richardson. However, Reid did find that: "...the cabinet makeup is garnering some unexpected praise from other groups." A clip of former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber was played: "Republicans are very happy with these choices. They think it means a more centrist, in some cases even conservative, Obama Administration."
Schieffer also remarked on how well the Obama transition was going: "And I also have to say I think it's going very, very well...this transition, Harry -- and I've watched a lot of them -- is going more smoothly than any that I can recall. I mean, you haven't had any embarrassing gaffes so far, the leaks that have come, have all come true. I think this is one of the better transitions that we've had."
Schieffer brushed aside the concerns of Hispanics that Reid had reported: "You heard these complaints from various Hispanic spokesmen. That is really the only real blip here, the only real problem that we've seen surface as Barack Obama's begun to name his cabinet. And my sense is, and what I hear is, that will be taken care of." Schieffer also ignored the melodrama that preceded Hillary Clinton's nomination involving Bill Clinton's international financial dealings. He also left out Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's recent open mic gaffe about Obama's Homeland Security pick, Janet Napolitano, saying she had "no life." That gaffe was discussed in the 7:30AM half hour of the show.
Smith later joined Schieffer in praising Obama's smooth transition: "...every time I turn on the news, the only person I'm really seeing, the only person who looks like they have their hands on the wheel, it looks like the president-elect." Schieffer responded: "Well, again, you know, throughout this campaign, as you saw in debate after debate, the thing that seemed to impress people, it certainly impressed me, was the composure of Barack Obama. People want a president that they can be proud of, they want a president that they feel comfortable with in time of crisis. We have yet to see Barack Obama show any sense of being rattled."
Here is the full transcript of the December 4 segment:
HARRY SMITH: President-elect Obama has selected New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as his commerce secretary. And while there is diversity in Mr. Obama's cabinet, some Latinos complain it is not diverse enough. CBS News correspondent Chip Reid is in Washington with more. Good morning, Chip.
CHIP REID: Well, good morning, Harry. Barack Obama says diversity is important, but he says his number one criterion is getting the best person for the job. He says that's exactly what Bill Richardson is. During the campaign, presidential hopeful Barack Obama spoke the language of the Latino community, literally.
SMITH: Chip Reid in Washington this morning. Thank you so much. Joining us now is Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of Face the Nation. We're going to talk about the transition here, Bob. And people often -- so often talk about the first 100 days of an administration. Has not this first 100 days already started for the Obama group?
During a report on Thursday's American Morning, CNN correspondent Alina Cho used personal anecdotes in attempt to show how Barack Obama's Chief-of-Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel has "softened over the years." Cho cited the outgoing Illinois Congressman's unnamed rabbi, who said he is "really just a nice guy, intensely spiritual, even polite." She also stated how despite being labeled a "street fighter with a killer instinct," Emanuel also has more of sensitive side: "His congressional colleagues say he's the kind of guy who will chew you out then send you a cheesecake."
A clip of comedian Andy Samberg doing an impression of Emanuel on Saturday Night Live preceded Cho's report, which began 18 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. The correspondent began by bringing up Emanuel's notorious use of "colorful language," which Samberg parodied in his sketch. She also contrasted the "street fighter with a killer instinct" imagery with his rabbi's "nice guy" label.
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Cho later played two clips of Emanuel's rabbi, whose name is never given. He described the Obama aide as "a very polite, well-liked, beloved person." He also gave an account pointing to how religiously devout Emanuel is. Cho also related the prominence of Emanuel and his two brothers, with one being a "super Hollywood agent" and the other, "Zeek" (short for Ezekiel), who is a "Harvard-educated top oncologist at the NIH."
Towards the end of her report, the CNN correspondent repeated the point of another unidentified associate of Emanuel, who sang his praises: "He gets the big picture, but he also sweats the details, and he is absolutely relentless."
The full transcript of Alina Cho's report from Thursday's American Morning program:
ANDY SAMBERG, PLAYING RAHM EMANUEL (from Saturday Night Live): Hello. I'm Rahm Emanuel, one-time congressman of Illinois's Fifth District and now White House Chief-of-Staff designate for President-Elect Barack Obama. I should say to anyone thinking about crossing me, I will (beep) end you. You will never even see it coming. One day you will be here and the next day you will (beep) disappear. I'm sorry. Did you (beep) say something? Are you (beep) sure? Yeah -- you better be (beep) sure.
On Thursday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews actually praised Sarah Palin for her ability to draw a crowd and even pegged her as the early frontrunner for the GOP nod in 2012: "Who's gonna beat her?" However, the MSNBC host later admitted giving Palin that much credit took a lot out of him as he confessed to a guest panelist: "This is really hard to do this, to salute Sarah Palin."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following exchange occurred during a segment with the Politico's Roger Simon and Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman on the December 4 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: As a student of politics, you guys are too, inevitably the man, in this case the woman, who gives that "Someday we'll win, we'll win this thing back again, even though we lost year," was Goldwater in '60, Reagan in '76. They all go to the convention, they give that crie de guerre, that call for, you know, call, war cry, and they all do it in the same way. "We're gonna lose this year but some day we're gonna come back." Goldwater came back and got the nomination, Reagan came back and got the nomination. Both from the right wing of the Republican Party. She could do it.
Of the broadcast network newscasts Thursday evening, only the NBC Nightly News took a few seconds to note some more good news from the war front as fill-in anchor Lester Holt reported "combined deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan in November" stood at eleven, "the lowest total since the U.S. invaded Iraq." ABC's World News devoted more than two minutes to LBJ tapes, which showed him "anguished about the Vietnam war," while the CBS Evening News also had no time for the improving news out of Iraq and Afghanistan as the program aired a full story on how the recession is impacting the rich in Beverly Hills who, in Katie Couric's formulation, are being "forced to hawk what they own to pay what they 90210."
Thursday's USA Today highlighted the few deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan with a front page article, "U.S. combat deaths hit record low: 11 troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in November." Ten U.S. service members were killed in Iraq, one in Afghanistan. See: www.usatoday.com
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
After a story on how "military re-enlistments are sharply higher and the weak economy is being cited as one of the main reasons," Holt consumed 20 seconds on how: "With the violence in Iraq down and winter coming on in Afghanistan, there were fewer American combat deaths in those two wars last month. Combined deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan in November, eleven, the lowest total since the U.S. invaded Iraq. The highest toll came four years ago: 129 deaths in November 2004."
NBC made up for neglecting to report the then-fewest U.S. combat deaths in Iraq, 19, back in early June. For the June 3 CyberAlert post, "NBC Nightly News Spikes News About Fewest Troop Deaths of War," go to: www.mrc.org
Sometimes you have to laugh at the overwrought emotion that Hollywood celebrities bring to their causes. In a story on Thursday's Today (in the supposedly hard news 7am half hour), KNBC reporter Robert Kovasic reported on a debate in Los Angeles about whether to spend $40 million to renovate and enlarge the elephant compound at the Los Angeles Zoo, or instead create a 100-acre elephant preserve just outside the city.
MRC's Geoff Dickens caught this soundbite of actress Lily Tomlin wailing about the plight of the elephant in the zoo: "The word, 'zoo' is sort of elephant-speak for Guantanamo. They're really, they are suffering and being tortured."
The elephant, Billy, was shown alternately munching on a leaf, walking near a pond, and sticking his truck over the fence at tourists with cameras -- which is, I believe, an existence very similar to terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Here's the relevant portion of the story from the December 4 Today:
ROBERT KOVASIC (KNBC REPORTER): The nation's second largest city has one very large problem, an Asian elephant named "Billy." Billy's become the poster pachyderm for Hollywood animal lovers, like Halle Berry, Goldie Hawn, Kim Basinger and Bob Barker, who believe Billy or any other elephant should not live in a zoo.
-- Brent Baker