Stephanopoulos Corrects McCain But Last Week Defended Obama --9/5/2008
2. Schieffer Pleased McCain Speech 'More Inclusive' Than Palin's
3. MSNBC's Olbermann Has Angry Breakdown Over 9/11 Video Tribute
4. Blitzer: GOP's 9/11 Video 'Provocative,' Brown Raises 'Fear'
5. Matthews & Olbermann Deny Media Doubted Palin's Maternal Fitness
6. CNN's Gloria Borger to Giuliani: Has the GOP Gotten 'Narrower'?
7. Nets Push Biden to Get Tough on Palin; Dem Scolds 'Sexist' Press
8. NY Times: Convention 'Consumed by Whether Palin Up to the Job'
9. CBS: Fair to Attack Palin Family Since They're 'Used' in Campaign
10. Network News Anchors Shocked at Bias Charge: We're Professionals!
11. CNN's Toobin & Bernstein Criticize Republican Attacks on Media
12. PBS 'Conservative' Brooks Rips Into 'Hard Right' Romney, Limbaugh
13. Poll: By 10-to-1 Public Says Reporters 'Trying to Hurt Palin'
14. John Harwood of NY Times and CNBC: 'Left of Center Bias' Real
15. On-Scene Video from St. Paul: CNN's Roberts and Actor Jon Voight
Assessing Barack Obama's speech last Thursday, for the "Nightline Report Card," ABC's George Stephanopoulos awarded Obama A's as he dismissed Republican complaints about his "red meat" attacks on John McCain, declaring they allowed Obama to affirmatively answer "the commander-in-chief question" and hailed how he addressed social issues "in a way that a majority of Americans" will embrace. But this week, he tried to discredit McCain's points. On McCain's assertion he's more bi-partisan than Obama, Stephanopoulos recited a list of issues where "Obama has reached out to the other side." Then citing McCain's claim that he will cut taxes while Obama will raise them, Stephanopoulos countered: "Senator Obama's plan, and this has been verified by outside experts, 95 percent of the country will get a tax cut, that's not the same -- that is bigger than the one that John McCain offers."
Overall, Stephanopoulos awarded Democrats with slightly better grades than the Republicans for their respective confabs, including ten A's over four nights to the Democrats in Denver, twice as many as the five A's over three nights he gave the Republicans. Throwing out F's he gave both parties for what he saw as bad stages, and an incomplete for each, of 15 grades for the Democrats, he issued ten A's, two grades of B+, two of B and one C. This week, from St. Paul, Stephanopoulos presented 12 grades for the
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The grades, day by day last week and this week:
Heartstrings: A (Kennedy)
Filling in the Blanks: B+
Bells and Whistles: F (garish stage)
Clinton Psychodrama: incomplete
The Speech: A (Hillary's)
Red Meat: A (more attacks on Bush-McCain by Hillary)
Filling in the Blanks: C
Body Language: B+
Heartstrings: A (Chelsea Clinton)
Filling in the Blanks: A
Red Meat: A
Body Language: A
Red Meat: A
Bells and Whistles: B
Filling in the Blanks: A
Palin Pick: incomplete
A Soldier's Story: A
Bush Factor: B
Independent's Day: B
Winning Them Over: A
Filling in the Blanks: B
Red Meat: A for substance, C on delivery
Turning the Page: A
Bells and Whistles: F
Breaking with Bush: A-
Body Language: A
Does He Get It?: B-
Red Meat: B
STEPHANOPOULOS: Easy A tonight. You talked about it in the open. Barack Obama made a choice tonight. He was not going to be Mr. Too Cool for School. He came out hard, he came out tough against John McCain. On the economy and foreign policy.
Stephanopoulos on an A for Obama in the "Filling in the Blanks" category: "Defended on issues like guns and gays, gay marriage and discrimination rights and abortion in a way that a majority of Americans, I think, can respond to."
Fast forward seven days to the Thursday, September 4 Nightline, and Stephanopoulos was more critical and eager to correct supposed factual errors:
Explaining the B-minus for "Does He Get It?" Stephanopoulos dismissed "pretty standard traditional Republican boilerplate" from John McCain: "Number one issue in the country right now is the economy, the economic problems people are facing. John McCain led with that and he talked about the problems people are facing, but he had a litany of issues that were pretty standard traditional Republican boilerplate, and he didn't connect the stories he was telling to the policies he was proposing."
For McCain, Stephanopoulos used his B in the "Red Meat" category not to assess the effectiveness of the attack on the opposition, as he did with Obama, but to correct McCain's supposed errors:
STEPHANOPOULOS: He didn't really try that hard on the red meat. Only six mentions of Barack Obama to the 21 mentions of McCain that Obama had in his speech. Probably his best line was this one.
Of course, even buying into that 95 percent number, that's based on what Obama says he will do. McCain was just predicting what he will really do.
Two earlier posts on the "Nightline Report Card"
The August 28 item, "Nightline Awards Democrats 'Straight A's' for 'Perfect' Third Night," recounted:
"Professor George Stephanopoulos," on Wednesday's Nightline, awarded the Democrats "straight A's" for the third day of their convention, with an A for "Filling in the Blanks," an A for "Heartstrings," an A for "Red Meat" and an A for "Body Language." The former Bill Clinton campaign operative and White House aide glowed over "a night of perfect political choreography" from his former boss and other Democrats as he marveled "the only problem Barack Obama has right now, and it's a high-class problem, as Bill Clinton used to say, is can he top what happened tonight?" Anchor Terry Moran echoed: "An extraordinary series of speeches."
Full rundown: www.mrc.org
The September 3 posting, "Stephanopoulos: 'A Little Too Ugly? A Little Too Derisive?'" reported:
Issuing the Nightline "Report Card," Stephanopoulos, who a week earlier awarded Joe Biden and Democrats four A's, gave Giuliani and Palin three A's, a B and a C. For "Red Meat," he presented an A "for substance," but a C "on delivery" because he contended their repeated mention of how Barack Obama was a "community organizer" came across as "a little too derisive."
Entire previous article: www.mrc.org
CBS's Bob Schieffer on Thursday night praised John McCain's acceptance speech at the
Colleague Jeff Greenfield, however, found McCain's address to have been too predictably Republican: "I have to say, I found much of the speech surprisingly familiar. It was a speech that almost any Republican could give, except for the part of change" and so "other than the instant bump in the polls that everybody gets" the address "may not have changed a lot of minds." Over on NBC, Chuck Todd saw McCain's words as anything but the standard Republican fare: "This was designed to be as non of an ideological speech as a Republican nominee could give at a
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted very late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Both CBS's Couric and NBC's Tom Brokaw took the time to point out that McCain is calling for change in Washington when he and/or his party have been entrenched in DC:
KATIE COURIC: So this four-term Senator who's been a member of Congress for almost 26 years, tonight tries to establish himself as a Washington outsider, a change agent, tries to seize the change moniker and make it his own. Of course "change" being the trademark of the Obama campaign. He's warning that the old big spending, do nothing, me first country second, Washington crowd, change is not a coming but change is coming.
TOM BROKAW: When he talks about change, he's been a member of a party for eight years that has been dominant in Washington, his own party.
Most of the discussion on CBS a little past 11 PM EDT after McCain finished:
BOB SCHIEFFER: People are tired of government that just simply can't seem to confront any major issue head on. They want change. They don't know how it's going to get done, but they're tired of the way it's happening now. And I think if he can convince people that he really can form a unity government, that he really can get Washington to sort of working again, I think he has a good chance to win this election.
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Olbermann's full statement:
I'm sorry, it's necessary to say this and I wanted to separate myself from the others on the air about this. If at this late date, any television network had of its own accord showed that much videotape, and that much graphic videotape of 9/11, and I speak as somebody who lost a few friends there, it, we, would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize. It is a subject of great pain for many of us still and was probably not appropriate to be shown. We'll continue in a moment.
Just after the bottom half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of CNN's coverage of the
Nine minutes later, after Fallin had finished her introduction and the video concluded, Blitzer began a short discussion with correspondent John King, co-host Campbell Brown, and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos about the video's content. Brown charged that Republicans were playing on fear: "But that message though, has been fear, I mean, as a message at this convention."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
BLITZER: A rather dramatic video -- powerful images, remembrances of 9/11. John King, some will say, you know what -- at a political convention, there's no real need to bring those kinds of images into this hall.
The CNN talking heads had a measured response to the video in comparison to their competitor at MSNBC Keith Olbermann, who took offense to how his network decided to show the Republicans' video. (See item #3 above)
Apparently fed up of hearing what they believe was a phony line being delivered by GOP spokesmen -- that women across the country were offended by the media questioning Sarah Palin's fitness as a mother -- Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann defied critics to find examples of any news outlets making that charge. Matthews and Olbermann, spurred on by criticism from Hawaii's Republican governor Linda Lingle at around 8:09pm EDT during MSNBC's live coverage of Thursday night's (September 4)
KEITH OLBERMANN: Alright Andrea thank you. Thank you Governor. It would, I'd love the governor or anybody else repeating those talking points to give us the names of those news organizations that have actually questioned whether or not mothers have a right to sit in office. But we haven't heard that list yet.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well I have to agree. I sit here waiting for that list of major news organizations who have questioned her motherhood or her right to become Vice President, given her motherhood. I don't think it has ever happened. But of course it's become the talking point for all the spokesmen.
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Matthews and Olbermann's NBC colleague David Gregory made a similar claim on Wednesday's Today show: www.mrc.org
Well for Matthews, Olbermann and Gregory's information, the following is a "list of major news organizations" that have, in fact, questioned Palin's maternal abilities:
"There's also this issue that on April 18th, she [Palin] gave birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome....Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?" -- CNN's John Roberts on the August 29 CNN Newsroom. See: www.mrc.org
"Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the Senator, and the Governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?...She has an infant -- she has an infant with special needs. Will that affect her campaigning?" -- ABC's Bill Weir on "Good Morning America," August 30. See: www.mrc.org
"Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job?...Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make?" -- Washington Post's Sally Quinn, in an August 29, online column. See: www.mrc.org
The following is a more complete transcript of Andrea Mitchell's interview with the governor of Hawaii and the ensuing exchange between Matthews and Olbermann, as it occurred during MSNBC's September 4 coverage of the
ANDREA MITCHELL: Now you have similar backgrounds. You have more years of service though. You were the mayor of Maui for eight years now. Governor for six years. Before that you were an elected official as well. You're a Republican with a Democratic legislature. You managed to get things through. You also support choice. So you disagree with her [Sarah Palin] on some of the social issues?
KEITH OLBERMANN: Alright Andrea thank you. Thank you Governor. It would, I'd love the governor or anybody else repeating those talking points to give us the names of those news organizations that have actually questioned whether or not mothers have a right to sit in office. But we haven't heard that list yet.
MATTHEWS: Well I have to agree. I sit here waiting for that list of major news organizations who have questioned her motherhood or her right to become Vice President, given her motherhood. I don't think it has ever happened. But of course it's become the talking point for all the spokesmen, especially the Governor of Hawaii there.
Republican convention. In particular, Borger pressed Giuliani on his differences with Sarah Palin on social issues: "Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.... [L]et's just say she's a heroine to the right wing of this party, and you're not their hero, okay?... [M]y question is, has the big tent of the Republican Party, which you always talk about -- has that gotten a little narrower?"
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted late Thursday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Host Wolf Blitzer first asked the former mayor, "Why should the American people trust the Republicans, who have been in charge of the executive branch of the government for the last eight years -- the White House, and all of the agencies, and in charge of the legislative branch of the government for the last 12 of the past 14 years?" Giuliani narrowed the stakes of the election between John McCain and Barack Obama, and not between their two parties. Blitzer followed up with questions about the Democrats' lead on a generic ballot and how, according to Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs, "if you take a look at the votes over the last eight years, John McCain has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time."
When Giuliani brought up McCain's record of bipartisanship, Blitzer insisted that Obama also had a track record of working with the other party: "He's worked with Senator McCain on comprehensive immigration reform.... He worked with Senator Lugar on nuclear proliferation, and he worked with Senator Coburn on ethics reform."
Borger then pressed Giuliani on his difference with Palin on social issues, focusing on her pro-life stance. Blitzer then followed-up Borger's questioning by asking about the issue of "gay rights" and referred to Giuliani's support of "abortion rights:"
GLORIA BORGER: Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.
Towards the end of the interview, which began 4 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour of CNN's The Situation Room, correspondent John King asked the former mayor about the "generational contrast between these two guys:" "At a time when the country so much wants change, you have a 47- year-old guy, who is vibrant and full of energy, running against a man who is full of energy, but would be the oldest man ever elected to the office. Do you think that hurts John McCain?"
Giuliani answered that "the Republican ticket has it in the right order. We have the much more experienced candidate first. We have the younger, new generation candidate second. They have a candidate with no experience first, and they have the older-generation candidate second. I think we have it in the right order for the person who's going to walk in there and be Commander-in-Chief on day one."
Borger, as Carl Bernstein did the night before on CNN, responded to Giuliani's answer by bringing up the issue of Palin's capability to take charge if she and McCain were elected and McCain were suddenly incapacitated: "Well, is she ready to step in as Commander-in-Chief, though, if, God forbid, something should happen to John McCain?" Giuliani replied, "...I think she has more than exceeded expectations. I thought that she handled herself very well the first time. I thought she handled herself very well last night. She's been put under unrelenting attack from the moment she has been nominated, and she -- seems to me this is a very tough woman."
For Bernstein's questioning of Palin's experience, see the September 4 CyberAlert item, "CNN's John King Self-Criticizes Media's 'Language' About GOP" at: www.mrc.org
Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden made the morning show rounds on Thursday to respond to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's convention speech, and journalists at NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CNN all encouraged Biden to strongly confront his Republican counterpart, as if Palin has been enjoying some sort of honeymoon from criticism over the past few days.
CNN's John Roberts pressed Biden: "Before her speech last night you said that you were not going to attack Governor Palin. Are you feeling a little differently this morning?"
NBC's Matt Lauer similarly pleaded: "Sarah Palin made a speech last night...It was tough. It was direct, hard words for Senator Obama. I'm curious, has this taken away any concern you may have had about tone or words you choose in the coming weeks?"
ABC's Robin Roberts posed virtually the same question: "Sarah Palin went after Barack Obama. Do you need to change your tone to get your point across?"
And on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough asked Biden if he would take off the gloves now that Palin had "started punching away" at the Democrats: "So anyway, Senator Biden, a lot of people talking this morning about Sarah Palin. We had heard all this talk about how she would be too delicate and too gentle for you, and you couldn't go after her hard. After she took off those gloves and started punching away at Barack Obama, are you going to take off yours in the vice-presidential debate and feel free to go after her pretty hard?"
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For some reason, CBS's Maggie Rodriguez failed to get the memo. She actually challenged Biden about his campaign's decision to run a pro-abortion radio ad that preposterously claims "As President, John McCain will make abortion illegal....We can't let John McCain take away our right to choose." Jake Tapper on Obama's radio ad: blogs.abcnews.com
Rodriguez suggested to Biden that the ad was in poor taste coming on the heels of news that Palin's daughter is five-months pregnant: "Why release it when there's so much attention on her 17-year-old daughter choosing to have a baby? People are criticizing the timing of that ad."
Biden lamely claimed that the issue was above his pay grade: "I haven't seen the ad, and you talk about my pay grade, I didn't -- I haven't seen the ad, and I didn't even know that even an ad was released."
On CNN, American Morning co-host John Roberts also hit Biden with a challenging question, about why his Senate office is "doing business" with a lobbying firm that includes Biden's son, Hunter. Biden said he's never been lobbied by his son, and rationalized: "I don't meet with lobbyists....My staff does. And I don't mean -- when I say lobbyists, I don't even meet with interest groups out there. My staff does."
And on ABC's Good Morning America, Biden agreed that media coverage of Palin had been "outrageous," "totally unfair," and "sexist." Biden told Robin Roberts: "The truth is some of the stuff that the press has said about -- and others have said about the governor, I think -- are outrageous.....Some of the stuff said has just been over the top, totally unfair and I think it has been sexist, and I think the way the Governor has handled it has been admirable."
Here are the questions posed to Biden on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, as transcribed by the MRC's Justin McCarthy, Kyle Drennen, Scott Whitlock and Lyndsi Thomas:
ROBIN ROBERTS: What did you think -- good to talk with you too. What did you think of Governor Palin's speech last night?
ROBERTS: Did you hear enough of her views? I know you said going in that you wanted to hear not -- yes, about her, but that you couldn't really form an opinion and the American people couldn't form an opinion until you heard more of her views as opposed to John McCain's views. Are you satisfied?
ROBERTS: You say those kind things about John McCain. You've said those in the past because he is a good friend of yours. Sarah Palin went after Barack Obama. Do you need to change your tone to get your point across?
RODRIGUEZ: Joining me now from Virginia Beach is Barack Obama's running mate, Senator Joe Biden. Good morning, Senator....How do you think your Republican counterpart did here last night?
RODRIGUEZ: We did hear a lot of attacks on Senator Barack Obama, and I'm sure by now-
RODRIGUEZ: But Senator, you had a jab of your own or what was interpreted as a jab, your campaign did, when you released that ad about abortion, an issue that you and Senator Palin disagree with. Why release it when there's so much attention on her 17-year-old daughter choosing to have a baby? People are criticizing the timing of that ad.
MATT LAUER: Senator Joe Biden is the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic side. Hi, Senator. Good morning.
LAUER: Well, it wasn't all about attacks- It wasn't all about attacks. It was about experience. It was trying to lay to rest some of the fears that seemed to be out there about her level of experience, and for the doubters out there, these were her words. She said, and since her "opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience," she's referring to hers as a small-town mayor, "Let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities." It's a direct reference to a key biographical element of Barack Obama. That his days-- all that he's learned as community organizer in Chicago. Did she manage to diminish that experience?
LAUER: We're going to get some head-to-head picture there when you two go at each other in a debate. And if I'm Sarah Palin, not to put words in into Governor Palin's mouth, I'm going say this about you: I'm going to say, "Look, you have no executive experience. I'm the governor of a state. I balance a budget. My state holds the key to 20 percent of this country's energy reserves. The buck stops with me. I'm not one of 100 voices in the U.S. Senate." How are you going to you answer it?
LAUER: You bring up Pakistan and Afghanistan. I mean, the pundits say that obviously one of the key elements to your resume is foreign affairs. Even John McCain has admitted you were an expert and someone that he would have gone to for advice on that. So, are you going to make great hay out of her lack of foreign affairs experience and even her lack of travel outside the United States?
LAUER: Let me just end on one more question about Governor Palin. You know, when her name was first introduced as John McCain's running mate, there was a lot of people who said, what? This is a surprise. This is a shock. Does it seem now after what you've seen over the last five or six days, senator that she's going to pose a bigger problem than expected for the Democratic Party?
LAUER: Senator Joe Biden. Senator, nice to spend time with you this morning. Thanks very much.
JOHN ROBERTS: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last night, mixing in some attacks on Barack Obama while also touting her own experience. Our next guest will debate Governor Palin in October, October 2nd in St. Louis. Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden joins us from Virginia Beach this morning. Good morning, Senator....This first opportunity to talk to you since you were nominated. Big congratulations to you. Before her speech last night you said that you were not going to attack Governor Palin. Are you feeling a little differently this morning?
ROBERTS: I can see that you're already playing the game of raising expectations for her. Last night --
ROBERTS: You know, Senator, now that the campaign is fully launched here a lot of people are asking a number of different questions about experience, background, things that have happened over the last few years. One of the big items that's on the agenda here is that of change, doing business differently in Washington, the influence of lobbyists. Your office has had contact with the lobbying firm of which your son is a member, your son, Hunter, is a member. I want to ask you, has he ever lobbied you directly?
ROBERTS: Senator, It's great to talk to you. And I hope we'll be talking to you a lot more in the course of the next 60 days and looking forward to that debate on October 2nd.
Thursday's lead New York Times story by Elisabeth Bumiller and Michael Cooper covered Palin's rapturously received speech at the Republican Convention Wednesday night, "On Center Stage, Palin Electrifies Convention." After describing how she introduced herself to the "roaring crowd" in St. Paul, the Times threw in this dubious assertion: "But the nomination was a sideshow to the evening's main event, the speech by the little-known Ms. Palin, who was seeking to wrest back the narrative of her life and redefine herself to the American public after a rocky start that has put Mr. McCain's closest aides on edge. Ms. Palin's appearance electrified a convention that has been consumed by questions of whether she was up to the job, as she launched slashing attacks on Mr. Obama's claims of experience."
Actually, only the liberal media was consumed by that question -- Palin was a wildly popular pick even before her impressive convention speech.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Thursday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Bumiller and Cooper brushed against the charges of double standards and media sexism made by Republicans without going into detail, although some quotes made by Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg and others would have surely seemed controversial if uttered against a Democratic mother. Here's what Stolberg said on a Times podcast earlier this week:
See this earlier TimesWatch post: timeswatch.org
Back to Bumiller and Cooper on Thursday: "The address by Ms. Palin, 44, who stunned the political world last week as Mr. McCain's pick for a running mate, took place before a convention transformed from an orderly coronation into a messy, days-long drama since the McCain campaign's disclosure on Monday that Ms. Palin's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was pregnant. Since then there have been a host of other distractions, including Hurricane Gustav, questions about how thoroughly Mr. McCain vetted what people close to his campaign have called the last-minute pick of Ms. Palin, and charges from Mr. McCain's top aides that the news media have launched a sexist smear campaign against his running mate."
The Times characterized the Republican red meat in strong terms while denigrating Palin's record: "Ms. Palin's speech came after Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York launched a withering attack on Mr. Obama as part of a relentless assault by Republicans arguing that Ms. Palin, the former mayor of a town of less than 7,000 people who has been governor of Alaska for 20 months, had a more impressive résumé than Mr. Obama."
For the September 4 article in full: www.nytimes.com
To make a comparison the Times won't: Sen. Barack Obama took office in January 2005 and has been running for president since January 2007 -- making him a wholly full-time senator for just 24 months.
While the majority of Thursday's CBS Early Show coverage of Sarah Palin's convention speech was positive, at the top of the 8am hour, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Palin's sister, Heather Bruce, and asked: "There's been a lot of talk this weekend about family, talk that family is off limits in a campaign. Yet we see your sister with her kids, introducing them, showing them on camera, and she even mentioned you in her speech last night. So the question is, is it okay to use family in a campaign when it benefits the candidate and not okay when it's negative?" Bruce responded: "I just thought it was okay that Sarah introduces her family just to show that she's a real American family. I don't really have an opinion on whether it's beneficial or not, but in my opinion tonight, I thought it was just a gracious act for Sarah to recognize because I think she realizes that without a lot of family support in her situation that, you know, this -- this has come a long way with a lot of family support."
Rodriguez then followed up: "And you're okay that...she gave you -- gave you your five seconds of fame last night?" Bruce replied: "I don't seek the limelight, or the press. I was surprised, but I wasn't offended whatsoever. You know, it was pretty gracious of her. That was kind of nice."
[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Despite Rodriguez's attempt to justify media attacks on Palin, CBS never took that approach when covering an adult Chelsea Clinton during the Democratic primaries. When Early Show co-host Harry Smith was asked about media coverage of Chelsea Clinton after she was asked a difficult question on the campaign trail in March, he admitted: "We not exactly watchdogs here."
All three broadcast network evening newscast anchors appeared together on each of the morning shows on Thursday and blithely dismissed the notion that members of the media have shown bias and sexist attitudes in response to Sarah Palin's nomination for Vice President. World News host Charles Gibson, who visited along with NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Katie Couric, told Today host Meredith Vieira that the role of a journalist is "to raise these questions." "It's not based on politics. It is simply- those are the questions you ask," he touted.
CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric acted as though the entire concept baffled her. "...But when you say the media these days, I mean, what does that mean exactly," she wondered. Placing blame on bloggers, she added, "In this case, it now means thousands and thousands of internet bloggers, partisan reporters and, so, I think you can't paint the media with a, with a broad brush."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The trio of journalists stopped by Today, Good Morning America and The Early Show to promote a multi-network fund-raiser to fight cancer. They ended up dismissing the entire idea of bias and sexism against Palin. NBC Nightly News host Williams sniffed: "On this platform right now are represented four broadcasts that are the product of very hard working professionals and the four of us measure every word."
Of course, when the three TV personalities appeared on the morning shows back on May 28 for the same charity purpose, Couric herself accused the Bush White House of "strong arm tactics" during the run-up to the war in Iraq and whined, "There was such a significant march to war and people who questioned it very early on...were considered unpatriotic." See a May 28 NewsBusters post for more: newsbusters.org
And a May 29 CyberAlert item: www.mrc.org
On Thursday, Gibson rebuffed charges of sexism against the conservative Palin by telling Vieira, "The really critical questions involve experience. And to be honest, these are the same questions we'd be asking Barack Obama if he picked Governor Kaine of Virginia, who is new to the national and international scene."
But surely Gibson knows that journalists haven't been just raising "questions" against John McCain's running mate. They've been making gender-based charges. On ABC, Gibson's own network, weekend "Good Morning America" anchor Bill Weir challenged a McCain aide on August 30 to explain how Palin would be able to balance both children and being vice president. He derided, "Adding to the brutality of a national campaign, the Palin family also has an infant with special needs. What leads you, the Senator, and the Governor to believe that one won't affect the other in the next couple of months?" See a September 2 CyberAlert article for more: www.mrc.org
Couric, Williams and Gibson's segment on "Good Morning America" also turned to the subject of media bias and Gibson used nearly identical language in his instance that he would hold Virginia Governor Tim Kaine to similar scrutiny.
Couric claimed to be "on guard for sexist coverage," but reiterated that Palin "needs to be scrutinized, analyzed and quite frankly dissected...just as any figure new to the national scene should be." (The anchors appeared on CBS's "Early Show," but the discussion there was limited to cancer research.)
For a frame of reference, an August study by the Media Research Center found that since Barack Obama appeared on the national scene four years ago, the candidate received 462 positive stories and only 70 negative, an imbalance of seven to one. Considering that Obama is a "figure new to the national scene," wouldn't fair journalists want to raise questions about him? See "Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media" for more www.mrc.org
A transcript of the Today interview, which aired at 8:14am on September 4, and the Good Morning America segment, which aired at 7:43am:
# NBC's Today:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know, a couple of hours Governor Palin is going to address this audience here. There's been a lot of controversy in the past 24 to 48 hours. The McCain camp has really gone on the attack against the press, has accused the media of trashing her, of being sexist. Do you think that they have a point or do you think that this is a way to galvanize the base?
ROBIN ROBERTS: The Republicans did come out swinging last night. They weren't just throwing punches at the Democrats. They took aim at the media, as well. Take a listen.
During CNN's Wednesday night coverage of the Republican National Convention, the topic of recent criticisms of the mainstream media came up on more than one occasion with Jeffrey Toobin declaring the accusations "unbecoming" and "ironic" Carl Bernstein claiming the media is always pointed to as the problem "when you're down."
In between speeches by former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in the 9 PM EDT hour, Anderson Cooper brought up the attacks on the media which, Cooper noted, is "something we certainly have heard before." CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin responded by proclaiming: "But there is a delicious irony about John McCain attacking the media. There is no politician in recent American history who has gotten better, more adoring press coverage than John McCain throughout his career."
[This item, by MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
After noting that Senator John McCain used to call the media his "base," Toobin went into attack mode against McCain and the Republican Party for their "unbecoming" attacks against the media:
Later, after the conclusion of Huckabee's speech, CNN Contributor Carl Bernstein lashed out at attacks against the media, declaring that the media "is always the problem when you're down":
Relevant portions of the transcript follow:
ANDERSON COOPER: It is true, Jeff Toobin, that many of the themes that we have heard tonight -- I mean it's -- the use of the liberal, you know, term, it's certainly something that harkens back to races of the past and also the whole attack on the media narrative, which has been developing throughout this day, is something we certainly have heard before. George H.W. Bush used it many years ago.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, I think there's kind of a mixed message here, as Alex was talking about because last night, we heard about the bipartisan John McCain from Joe Lieberman, the John McCain who can reach out to independent voters, who can work across the aisle to get things done in Washington. Tonight, it's anti- Washington. It's anti-liberal. It's anti-media. Almost takes you back to the Spiro Agnew days of the nattering nabobs or whatever it was. So it's a little mixed message here.
New York Times columnist David Brooks is supposed to be the house conservative of PBS's NewsHour and convention coverage, but he dripped contempt for conservatives from Mitt Romney to Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday's night live coverage. He decried Romney's speech as extreme "He drifted so far right, I'm sort of, my mind is boggling." But he said the rhetoric wasn't genuine, just a "strategic choice" in case McCain loses. When one panelist said the Sarah Palin speech would be "a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans," Brooks insisted Palin's humor was light with a common touch, not "biting, belittling" Limbaugh humor. Earlier, he lamented the presidential choices didn't include someone who hated tax cuts: "There might be a candidate who says '€˜Actually, at this time in our country we can't afford these massive tax cuts anyway,' but that candidate is not running for president."
Later, on the Charlie Rose show, Brooks grew even wilder, saying of Romney's speech: "I thought it was borderline insane," and proclaiming Palin was "not ideological in a Rush Limbaugh sense."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
After the Mitt Romney speech, Brooks was expressive: "I heard through the grapevine that Republican apparatchiks had lost control of the Romney speech, and now I can see what it was all about. Mitt Romney is thinking 'If John McCain loses, the party is going to be tired of mavericks. They'll want a hard right-winger, and that will be me!" He drifted so far right, I'm sort of, my mind is boggling. Who was this guy? I remember a few years ago, a moderate Republican, but he's made a strategic choice. That is as right-wing a speech as we'll hear, maybe as right-wing a speech as we've heard at a
Mark Shields agreed that it was calculated (for 2012), and then anchor Jim Lehrer grew uncharacteristically sarcastic: "He was also, correct me if I'm wrong, it seems to me he was coming out against liberals." Brooks added: "It was ingenious to describe the Roberts Court as a bunch of liberals. He's really gone out there." Amid laughter among the pundits, Shields chimed in, "Sam Alito as a lefty is a new concept."
Earlier, the PBS pundits discussed the two candidates' plans on taxes. Obama's tax cuts had much better appeal, since they're redistributive. Said Brooks: "The crucial issue here is the distribution of the tax cuts. The Obama campaign has this tax cut, 1000 dollars for 95 percent of Americans. Maybe too good to be true, but that's what they're offering. The McCain campaign doesn't have that. They have some child exemptions for families, but that have a lot of cuts in corporate tax rates, which I think is good, but may be a tough sell. They have a cu t in dividend taxes so they've structured toward incentives. And it's economics, frankly, circa 1988, 1992...the Obama people are stunned they can promise bigger tax cuts on the middle class than the McCain people have.
Shields agreed, and added "What they've played out is the negative caricature of Republicans as tilting toward the corporate and the well-off." Then Brooks lamented: "There might be a candidate who says 'Actually, at this time in our country we can't afford these massive tax cuts anyway,' but that candidate is not running for president. "
After the Sarah Palin speech, Brooks was very impressed (as was every single person in the PBS studio), but when historian Richard Norton Smith declared the speech would be "a huge hit among Rush Limbaugh Republicans," Brooks insisted: "I disagree with Richard, uncharacteristically. I don't think it was a Rush Limbaugh speech at all. One of the great lines was '€˜being a mayor of this town was like being a community organizer with responsibilities.' That's not the Rush Limbaugh type of humor. It's a much more personal, I'm-just-regular-folks kind of humor than the biting, belittling type of humor."
On the Charlie Rose show, Brooks went even further: "She sounded like a regular person. Mitt Romney gave a speech. Frankly, I thought it was borderline insane. He kept talking about liberals, liberals, liberals. He talked like a politician screaming. She talked like a regular person. She was not ideological in a Rush Limbaugh sense."
"Over half of U.S. voters (51%) think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage, and 24% say those stories make them more likely to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in November," Rasmussen Reports announced Thursday in posting survey results which determined "just five percent (5%) think reporters are trying to help her with their coverage, while 35 percent believe reporters are providing unbiased coverage." In Thursday's "Grapevine" segment, FNC's Brit Hume highlighted the findings from the poll of 1,000 "likely voters."
By wide margins, more Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters see the media as trying to hurt rather than trying to help Palin. For Republicans it's 80 to 6 percent, for Democrats 28 to 4 percent (with 57 percent believing reporting is unbiased) and for unaffiliated voters it's 49 to 5 percent.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The public also recognizes the media's pro-Obama tilt. In late July, as documented in CyberAlert, Rasmussen discovered:
More than three times as many Americans see a media tilt in favor of Democrat Barack Obama than toward Republican John McCain. A Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released Monday [July 21], of 1,000 likely voters, "found that 49 percent of voters believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage, up from 44 percent a month ago," compared to a piddling 14 percent who "believe most reporters will try to help John McCain win" while "just one voter in four (24%) believes that most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage."
For more, check the July 22 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
An excerpt from the summary, for the new poll, posted on Thursday, September 4 on the Rasmussen Reports site:
In the new survey, although 85% say they are following news stories about Palin at least somewhat closely, just five percent (5%) think reporters are trying to help her with their coverage, while 35% believe reporters are providing unbiased coverage.
Eighty percent (80%) of Republicans say reporters are trying to hurt the GOP vice presidential nominee, and 28% of Democrats agree. Only six percent (6%) of Republicans '€" and even fewer Democrats (4%)'€" think the reporting is intended to help her. Most Democrats (57%) think the reporters are being unbiased, but just nine percent (9%) of Republicans concur.
Among unaffiliated voters, 49% say reporters are trying to hurt Palin, while 32% say their coverage is unbiased. Only five percent (5%) say reporters are trying to help her.
Voters are more ambivalent about whether the media coverage of Palin and her family reflects a double standard that treats women worse than men. Forty-six percent (46%) say it does, but 35% disagree. Most Republicans and unaffiliated voters say the stories show the media's double standard against women, but a majority of Democrats disagree.
END of Excerpt
For the complete summary with results for other questions: www.rasmussenreports.com
John Harwood, CNBC's chief Washington correspondent who also reports for the New York Times, admitted Wednesday morning on CNBC "that people who talk about bias in the mainstream press, left of center bias, are not imagining things." He went on to explain: "It has to do with the kind of people who go into journalism, okay? So I'm not arguing with that general notion. I think that those of us in journalism have to do our best to try to present the most objective view we can of what we have, but everybody brings their own filter into it."
Harwood's admission of liberal bias in the media came out during a discussion about the Republican Convention with Squawk Box host Joe Kernan at about 6:14am EDT on Wednesday. Kernan pointed out a bit of bias he observed in CNN's coverage of the convention Tuesday night when Wolf Blitzer stated "we want you to see, to get a feeling for what it's like to be here whether you agree with what they're saying or not." Kernan asserted that Blitzer did not say that during the Democratic Convention last week.
Harwood defended Blitzer and CNN: "With respect to Wolf and CNN, I think some of that is simply analyzing the audience demographics. If you look at some of the surveys they show that a majority of people who watch CNN are Democrats. And so to that extent, he's talking to the audience"
[This item, by the MRC's Colleen Raezler, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
This isn't the first time Harwood has admitted that the mainstream media are biased to the left. In April of 2005 Harwood, then with the Wall Street Journal, said during an appearance on Inside Washington: "I believe it is true that a significant chunk of the press believes that Democrats are incompetent but good-hearted, and Republicans are very efficient but evil." See the April 25, 2005 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
The relevant transcript of the September 3 segment:
JOE KERNAN: They'll try to put that to rest. I was watching CNN. CNN's been pretty interesting. Wolf asked the question last night and I noticed something, John, did you notice that Blitzer an anagram of Blitzer is Libzter? Did you ever notice that?
15) Check out the on-scene reports this week, many with original video, from the MRC's NewsBusters blog team in St. Paul. Thursday's posts, with video, include: "CNN's John Roberts: Liberal Bias Complaint 'Convenient,'" "Actor Jon Voight Discusses Hollywood Liberalism" and "Tom DeLay: Media Attacks on Palin Show Hypocrisy of the Left."
Plus, from the MRC's CNSNews.com: "Newt Gingrich: 'Elite Media Is Totally Pro-Obama'" in which "Newt Gingrich, Laura Ingraham, Phyllis Schlafly and other conservative leaders say establishment media favor Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama." For the video report: www.cnsnews.com
For all of the "Convention Watch" postings (analysis from the team at MRC HQ and those in St. Paul) on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org
Direct addresses for the other posts highlighted above:
For "CNN's John Roberts: Liberal Bias Complaint 'Convenient,'" see: newsbusters.org
For "Actor Jon Voight Discusses Hollywood Liberalism," go to: newsbusters.org
For "Tom DeLay: Media Attacks on Palin Show Hypocrisy of the Left," check: newsbusters.org
-- Brent Baker, with the night team: Geoffrey Dickens, Brad Wilmouth and Matthew Balan, plus Michelle Humphrey and Karen Hanna on the DVRs