2. CNN Producer Pitched 'Video Strategy' to Obama Campaign, Got Job
3. NY Times: 'Obama Does Indeed Look Like a Fiscal Conservative'
4. Maher Frets Obama 'Moving to Center,' Need Clinton 'Ruthlessness'
5. ABC's McFadden Goads Rick Warren Over 'Sham Operation,' GOP Views
CBS News reporter Dean Reynolds, who on Tuesday night centered a story on how "Obama is pivoting toward a more combative style, rebuking the Republicans for habitually turning differences over policy into questions about patriotism, a habit he said John McCain has readily embraced," on Wednesday night countered John McCain's assurance he is "not questioning" Barack Obama's "patriotism, I am questioning his judgment." After playing that soundbite from McCain in story pegged to how a new CBS News poll found McCain has cut Obama's lead in half since two weeks ago, Reynolds retorted: "Yet the McCain campaign continues to run ads attacking Obama on a personal level, belittling him as a shallow celebrity and describing him as fussy, hysterical, or testy. And while Obama's been fighting back lately, our poll found a majority believes McCain spends more time attacking Obama [52%] than explaining what he would do as President [38%]."
Reynolds then concluded by acknowledging that "with the race getting closer, there's a sense that whatever voters may think about it" -- and, though he didn't say it, journalists -- "McCain's strategy may be helping him catch up."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The CBS News/New York Times survey put Obama up 45 to 42 percent, half the 45 to 39 percent lead of two weeks ago: www.cbsnews.com
(A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reported on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News had the identical results, 45 to 42 percent, down from a six-point spread a month ago. NBC News political director Chuck Todd pointed out that Obama is up 55 to 38 percent among those 18-34, but with those 35 and older McCain up by one point, 43 to 42 percent.)
The August 20 CyberAlert item, "CBS & NBC Trumpet How 'Barack Obama Fights Back' on Patriotism," recounted:
CBS and NBC led Tuesday night with speculation over the VP picks, but moved quickly, without citing any proof of John McCain's supposed scurrilous attack on Barack Obama's patriotism, to Obama condemning McCain for questioning his patriotism.
"Patriot games," CBS Evening News anchor Harry Smith teased, "Barack Obama fights back." Viewers then heard a clip of Obama before the VFW: "I will let no one question my love of this country." Reporter Dean Reynolds described how "Obama is pivoting toward a more combative style, rebuking the Republicans for habitually turning differences over policy into questions about patriotism, a habit he said John McCain has readily embraced." CBS ran two Obama soundbites, yet on Monday, when McCain addressed the VFW, CBS didn't show a second of him. Reynolds soon asserted that McCain and Republicans "had the stage to themselves last week while Obama vacationed." Certainly not on the CBS Evening News which spent the week puffing Obama...
For more: www.mrc.org
The latter part of the Reynolds story on the Wednesday, August 20 CBS Evening News, picking up after Reynolds, from an Obama event in Lynchburg, Virginia, reported twice as many supporters are enthusiastic about Obama (48%) than McCain (24%):
DEAN REYNOLDS: McCain is seen as more capable on foreign policy [66 to 55%] and by twice as many voters as "very likely to be an effective commander in chief" [44 to 21%]. Today in New Mexico, he tried to underline that advantage with an optimistic assessment of a still-unpopular war.
Kate Albright-Hanna, who runs the Obama campaign's online video operations, got the job after she pitched the campaign "a proposal on video strategy" -- while she was still a CNN producer. A Wednesday Washington Post "Style" section feature on the key members of the "Triple O: Obama's online operation," recounted the how and when of her pitch to Joe Rospars, a Howard Dean campaign veteran in charge of the so-called Triple O:
An Emmy winner, she joined CNN's political unit in 1999 and met Rospars while filming a documentary on Dean. When she heard that Rospars was working for Obama, Albright-Hanna called and said she wanted to produce a doc on Obama. The campaign planned to develop its own video content, Rospars said. Intrigued, Albright-Hanna sent him a proposal on video strategy. Weeks later, she left CNN and moved with her husband and 3-year-old son to Chicago.
The key phrase: "weeks later, she left CNN..." So while working at CNN she was simultaneously developing a plan for Obama which, given their decision to hire her, they liked and she's implementing.
Before CNN, she was an intern in the Clinton White House and, in a Dateline NBC story days after the Monica Lewinsky story broke, she was featured by reporter Dawn Fratangelo as one of a group of former interns who "simply don't find it plausible the President of the United States could have an affair with an intern." In a soundbite (see slightly snowy screen shot from the MRC's archive which will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert), Albright-Hanna asserted: "I can't imagine how that would happen."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In the story on the Friday, January 23, 1998 Dateline NBC, Fratangelo said Albright-Hanna "works for NBC News." The relevant portion of that program:
DAWN FRATANGELO: Even though Monica Lewinsky worked in the West Wing for several months, and most likely had a prized blue pass, these former interns simply don't find it plausible the President of the United States could have an affair with an intern.
(The CNN documentary on Dean, which aired the first weekend in March of 2004, was narrated by Aaron Brown.)
Albright-Hanna isn't the only national media outlet vet toiling for Obama. The May 22 CyberAlert item, "ABC and CBS Veteran Linda Douglass Joins Obama's Campaign," reported:
Marc Ambinder revealed Wednesday, on his blog for The Atlantic magazine, that his colleague at National Journal, Linda Douglass, a long-time CBS News and then ABC News Washington bureau reporter until 2006, "will join Barack Obama's presidential campaign as a senior strategist and as a senior campaign spokesperson on the roadshow, a newly created position." Ambinder, a colleague at National Journal, reported: "Douglass confirmed her new position when I walked up to the ninth floor, knocked on her door, and asked her about it. She informed National Journal President Suzanne Clark this morning of her impending departure. 'I see this as a moment of transformational change in the country and I have spent my lifetime sitting on the sidelines watching people attempt to make change. I just decided that I can't sit on the sidelines anymore.'"
"Over 34 years in journalism," Douglass told Ambinder, "she grew disillusioned with the partisanship she saw first-hand." So, now she's joining a partisan campaign?
For much more on Douglass: www.mediaresearch.org
In the August 20 Washington Post article, "Obama's Wide Web: From YouTube to Text Messaging, Candidate's Team Connects to Voters," reporter Jose Antonio Vargas outlined Albright-Hanna's strategy and role:
....Forget CNN, Fox News, NBC et al. Obama stars on his own channel, and it's headed by Kate Albright-Hanna, a self-described YouTube addict who runs Obama's video team.
So far, Albright-Hanna's group has shot more than 2,000 hours' worth of footage and uploaded about 1,110 videos on Obama's YouTube channel -- more than four times what's available on Sen. John McCain's channel. For months, Obama's 37-minute race speech following the furor over the remarks of his former pastor has remained the channel's most watched video, seen more than 4.7 million times. But what's striking about Obama's channel is the breadth of its content. Though most of the videos are centered on the candidate -- his speeches and rallies, his TV and online ads, his TV appearances -- many others feature his supporters.
"Early on, we wanted to capture the sense that this campaign is not just about Obama," says Albright-Hanna, 32....
At least nine staffers have contributed to the video team -- an astounding figure compared with many mainstream news organizations and past campaigns. (McCain's aides declined to say how many videographers the campaign has. It has four staffers devoted to Internet activities, and has also hired an outside vendor.) Some travel with Obama and his press pack. Others work in the field. Some of the videos last less than five minutes; others go on for as long as 25. They're posted on BarackTV, the video portal on BarackObama.com, and on YouTube.
A 13-minute video featuring students at the Bronx High School for Performance and Stagecraft, for example, shows black and Hispanic teenagers talking about their school's racial atmosphere and their reaction to Obama's race speech in Philadelphia. "I like...how [Obama] always says blacks, whites, Spanish, Asian," Ryston Buchanan, a junior, says in the video. "He says all the races, so you can see that he's not focused on one group of people." Albright-Hanna shot that video herself, and it's been viewed more than 400,000 times.
"I guess I've kind of been rebelling from my CNN days, where video had to be a certain length, a certain format with a certain sensibility. Where I came from, there's a lot of concern about ratings and about what they think people, everyday people, are interested in watching," Albright-Hanna says. "Here, we don't worry about how many views our videos get. That's not the priority. One of our goals is to get people talking about what's going on in their lives and why they're supporting Barack -- and hopefully not only will they watch the videos but also comment on them and forward them to relatives and friends and co-workers."
Last year, when reporters and pundits saw Clinton as the front-runner for the nomination, Albright-Hanna's team tried to capture how Obama's excited supporters were organizing. In December, weeks before the Iowa caucuses, a two-minute video was posted telling the story of Helen Kwan, an Obama precinct captain in Bettendorf, and Lilah Bell, a 99-year-old Obama volunteer who planned to caucus for the first time....
END of Excerpt
For the entire article: www.washingtonpost.com
The New York Times on Wednesday posted staff writer David Leonhardt's long analysis (from this upcoming weekend's edition of the Times Sunday Magazine) of Barack Obama's economic priorities, "How Obama Reconciles Dueling Views on Economy." Leonhardt's neo-liberal thinking and obsession with economic inequality marinates throughout his Obama profile. He also insists that while John McCain is an orthodox Republican on economic issues, Obama is unclassifiable, and that in fact Obama looks like "a fiscal conservative" next to McCain (despite Obama carrying one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate): "All of this raises the question of what will happen to the deficit. Obama's aides optimistically insist he will reduce it, thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative."
Leonhardt contended: "Laissez-faire capitalism hasn't delivered nearly what its proponents promised. It has created big budget deficits, the most pronounced income inequality since the 1920s and the current financial crisis."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: www.timeswatch.org ]
Leonhardt, who is also an economics columnist for the Times, wrote a similar long think-piece on the economic thinking of John Edwards last December, a story rich in liberal assumptions about the danger of relative economic inequality. "Two Americas" Edwards wasn't even called a liberal, but a "populist." Earlier TimesWatch posting: www.timeswatch.org
From the upcoming story on Obama:
John McCain's economic vision, as he has laid it out during the campaign, amounts to a slightly altered version of Republican orthodoxy, with tax cuts at the core. Obama, on the other hand, has more-detailed proposals but a less obvious ideology.
Well before this point on the presidential calendar, it's usually clear where a candidate fits within the political spectrum of his party. With Obama, there is vast disagreement about just how liberal he is, especially on the economy....
Obama's agenda starts not with raising taxes to reduce the deficit, as Clinton's ended up doing, but with changing the tax code so that families making more than $250,000 a year pay more taxes and nearly everyone else pays less. That would begin to address inequality. Then there would be Reich-like investments in alternative energy, physical infrastructure and such, meant both to create middle-class jobs and to address long-term problems like global warming.
All of this raises the question of what will happen to the deficit. Obama's aides optimistically insist he will reduce it, thanks to his tax increases on the affluent and his plan to wind down the Iraq war. Relative to McCain, whose promised spending cuts are extremely vague, Obama does indeed look like a fiscal conservative...
Displaying a familiar labeling tic, Leonhardt called Obama's left-wing proposals like a windfall profits tax on oil companies "populist energy plans," but did admit that "Today's Democratic consensus has moved the party to the left."
Leonhardt also foresees what a subhead termed "The End of the Age of Reagan":
For three decades now, the American economy has been in what the historian Sean Wilentz calls the Age of Reagan. The government has deregulated industries, opened the economy more to market forces and, above all, cut income taxes. Much good has come of this -- the end of 1970s stagflation, infrequent and relatively mild recessions, faster growth than that of the more regulated economies of Europe. Yet laissez-faire capitalism hasn't delivered nearly what its proponents promised. It has created big budget deficits, the most pronounced income inequality since the 1920s and the current financial crisis.
Leonhardt didn't label the Tax Policy Center as left-leaning, even thought it's a research group administered by the liberal Brookings Institution and Urban Institute. He made sure to put it's striking findings in context, telling readers not to be scared of Obama's hard-to-swallow tax hikes on families earning over $250,000 a year:
He would then pay for the cuts, at least in part, by raising taxes on the affluent to a point where they would eventually be slightly higher than they were under Clinton. For these upper-income families, the Tax Policy Center's comparisons with McCain are even starker. McCain, by continuing the basic thrust of Bush's tax policies and adding a few new wrinkles, would cut taxes for the top 0.1 percent of earners -- those making an average of $9.1 million -- by another $190,000 a year, on top of the Bush reductions. Obama would raise taxes on this top 0.1 percent by an average of $800,000 a year.
It's hard not to look at that figure and be a little stunned. It would represent a huge tax increase on the wealthy families. But it's also worth putting the number in some context. The bulk of Obama's tax increases on the wealthy -- about $500,000 of that $800,000 -- would simply take away Bush's tax cuts. The remaining $300,000 wouldn't nearly reverse their pretax income gains in recent years. Since the mid-1990s, their inflation-adjusted pretax income has roughly doubled.
To put it another way, the wealthy have done so well over the past few decades, with their incomes soaring and tax rates plummeting, that Obama's plan would not come close to erasing their gains. The same would be true of households making a few hundred thousand dollars a year (who have gotten smaller raises than the very rich but would also face smaller tax increases). As ambitious as Obama's proposals might be, they would still leave the gap between the rich and everyone else far wider than it was 15 or 30 years ago. It just wouldn't be quite as wide as it is now.
There's a tic among liberal journalists to treat Bush's tax cuts as somehow illegitimate, a kind of unwelcome but temporary anomaly from the default (higher) set of tax rates. This enables them to argue that when a liberal proposes raising taxes, they're not actually raising them, but only rolling back "Bush's tax cuts."
Leonhardt sprinkled the long piece with admissions that not everything liberals believe about the economy is true -- yet he concluded by suggesting those old flawed ideas have newfound validity in today's grim economic climate. The background: Obama had just made two arguments to Leonhardt: 1) GDP doesn't measure everything important, and 2)current economic trends are unsustainable and dangerous. Leonhardt reflected:
Both of these points, I realized later, were close cousins of two of the weaker arguments that liberals have made in recent decades. Liberals have at times dismissed the enormous benefits that come with prosperity. And for decades some liberals have been wrongly predicting that economic growth was sure to leave the world without enough food or enough oil or enough something. Obama acknowledged as much, saying that technology had thus far always overcome any concerns about sustainability and that Kennedy's notion had to be tempered with an appreciation of prosperity.
What's new about the current moment, however, is that both of these arguments are actually starting to look relevant. Based on the collective wisdom of scientists, global warming really does seem to be different from any previous environmental crisis. For the first time on record, meanwhile, economic growth has not translated into better living standards for most Americans. These are two enormous challenges that are part of the legacy of the Reagan Age. They will be waiting for the next president, whether he is Obama or McCain, and they'll probably be around for another couple of presidents too.
For the article in full to run on Sunday: www.nytimes.com
On his CNN program Tuesday night, Larry King had Bill Maher on for the entire hour, and the HBO comedian had some liberal-to-liberal advice for Barack Obama concerning his vice-presidential pick: "At this point, I think they need Hillary Clinton.... I've been thinking this way a long time.... Not just because it's bold and they need to show bold, but you know what? I think they need the Clinton ruthlessness onboard. I really do. I'm beginning to think Bill Clinton is still the only guy in that party who really knows how to do this, as far as talking to the American people, making the counter-argument to the Republican arguments that, again, Obama just seems to be cozying up to their way of thinking." Earlier, Maher leveled a stronger accusation along those lines, that Obama was "moving to the center, moving to be a kind of a lighter version of the Republican candidate."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
After the usual introductory pleasantries on the August 19 show, King first asked Maher about Obama's potential vice-presidential candidates. Maher's initial reaction: "You know, I'm reading, I guess, the same thing you're reading, that it's between three boring white guys again." After King retorted, "He doesn't need a black guy," his guest replied, "Actually, if he doubled down on Colin Powell, how wild would that be? I mean, this is the Democrats' problem, is that they never do anything bold once they get the nomination. You know, I'm still for Obama, but I have to tell you, he's trying my patience."
When the CNN host asked what Maher meant by this, he answered that Obama seemed to be going wobbly on him: "Well, moving to the center on so many issues and just doing what I saw Kerry do, what I saw Al Gore do. I thought he was going to be different. He didn't have that 'I'm going to blow it' look on his face like those two did. But he's doing sort of the same thing: moving to the center, moving to be a kind of a lighter version of the Republican candidate." When King asked him which of the "three boring white guys" Obama was going to pick, Maher gave his "Clinton ruthlessness" answer.
Just a few minutes later, King asked Maher about the John Edwards scandal. The HBO host gave a lament over how the former senator's adultery has diminished his capability to speak out on liberal pet issues:
KING: Okay -- John Edwards. What does one say? I know you liked him very much, or like him very much.
Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden interviewed Pastor Rick Warren on Monday about the presidential forum he held with Senators Barack Obama and John McCain and pestered him to just admit that he's a Republican. At one point, she goaded: "You know, there are some people who feel that this is kind of a sham operation. That really, we know you, as an evangelical, are a Republican, a John McCain supporter."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The Saddleback Church pastor retorted, "No. I would say you made your hierarchy of values and for you the value of preserving life is the top value. Great. Good decision." Trying yet again to definitively pin Warren as a Republican, McFadden queried, "Could you vote for either one of them? That's a different question than saying who would you vote for."
The Purpose Driven Life author responded by saying simply that he didn't know and then offered a wink. McFadden closed the segment by opining, "The wink seems to say McCain, but Rick Warren is too savvy to speak the name, determined to keep the public dialogue going with his two very powerful friends."
The Nightline co-anchor's questions seemed to demonstrate an incredible naivete. Warren just completed an event hosting the two major presidential candidates in a conversation about morality, faith and leadership. Why would he compromise that by endorsing a candidate on national television? And as for Warren's wink, it could also be interpreted as a way of telling the reporter that, no matter how many times she asks that particular question, there would be no answer forthcoming.
McFadden should be given credit, however, for challenging the pastor about Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Warren, who did not broach the subject during his conversation with the Illinois Senator, bluntly stated: "Well, I totally disavow liberation theology and black liberation theology. I think they're both wrong. I think they are radical. I think they're Marxism in Christian terms and I think they're dead wrong."
McFadden then asked the logical follow-up: "So what does it say about Barack Obama that that was his church for so many years?" Warren offered a middle ground and asserted "there's a difference between a personal connection and a political connection." He added that only if Wright had been Obama's political advisor on all matters, "I'd say then Barack, you're a lot more liberal than you're letting us on to be. You're a lot more radical than you're letting us on to be."
A partial transcript of the August 18 segment:
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: Let's talk for just a moment about Reverend Wright.
-- Brent Baker