Stephanopoulos: 'A Little Too Ugly? A Little Too Derisive?' --9/4/2008
2. CNN's Martin Upset By GOP Attacks on Community Organizers
3. Matthews, Olbermann and Brokaw Scoff at Palin's Slams on Media
4. Estrich and Ingraham Decry Media's 'Vicious Attacks' on Palin
5. CNN's Soledad O'Brien Denies Her Network Has Anti-Palin Bias
6. CNN's John King Self-Criticizes Media's 'Language' About GOP
7. Pegged to Palin, Couric Quizzes Cindy McCain on Abortion
8. In AM, Nets Tout 'GOP Slamfest,' 'Hard-Edged Attack' on Obama
9. Post's Quinn Slams Palin's Parenting: 'Rethink Her Priorities'
10. Gregory Wrongly Says Media Have Not Questioned Palin as Mother
11. Today Show Again Bashes Palin: Shortchange Family or America?
12. Wednesday Morning Shows Grill Rudy Giuliani on Sarah Palin
13. 'Dr. Phil' Chastises Letterman's Deriding of Palin's Parenting
14. On-Scene Video from St. Paul: Cal Thomas & Voight on Media Bias
Sarah Palin's Wednesday night Republican convention speech was widely greeted with praise from television commentators and the short break between her address and Rudy Giuliani's beforehand didn't leave much time for analysis of Giuliani's, but ABC's George Stephanopoulos managed to find a dark side to both while ABC's Nightline devoted a six-minute story to "new details tonight on a brewing controversy in Alaska," a "nasty family scandal that's come to be called trooper-gate."
Following Giuliani's speech, Stephanopoulos declared it "far and away the toughest speech we've seen so far" at both conventions and ruminated: "What I wonder about is how it came across on television. A little too nasty? A little too ugly? I don't know." After Palin finished, he fretted that she "she also spent a lot of time attacking" and "that could come off as quite negative to some viewers."
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."
(A week ago, Stephanopoulos hailed Biden's "red meat" performance: "Another A. And this was Joe Biden, and what he did tonight was lay out the case the Democrats have to make in the fall on both the economy, the necessity for change and foreign policy. For Democrats, they want to be arguing the question is not experience, but judgment." See: www.mrc.org )
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Over on CBS in prime time Wednesday night, Democratic analyst Joe Trippi, a veteran of the Dean and Edwards campaigns, could have been addressing the journalists hostile to Palin as he argued that "if you're the Democrats right now, you're taking this thing a lot more seriously." Trippi asserted: "She passed this test with flying colors, but this one was controlled, a crowd that adored her with a tele-prompter. Now she has to go out, face the press, answer their questions, see how she does against Joe Biden. But if you're the Democrats right now, you're taking this thing a lot more seriously. This woman handled the task at hand with flying colors."
Tom Brokaw was generally positive in assessing Palin's performance on NBC's extended prime time hour, but he couldn't resist raising a controversy as he promised journalists will equally scrutinized the Democratic ticket:
Back to ABC, and its Wednesday night, September 3 hour-plus coverage starting at 10 PM EDT for which the MRC's Rich Noyes provided me with guidance:
Stephanopoulos between the speeches by Giuliani and Palin: "The toughest of the last two weeks. Far and away the toughest speech we've seen so far. And Charlie, I have to say I'm of two minds listening to it I have to tell you. Reading those attacks on Barack Obama. Those are tough, well-thought out attacks. The Obama campaign is going to have to answer. What I wonder about is how it came across on television. A little too nasty? A little too ugly? I don't know."
After Palin, Stephanopoulos conceded "there were a lot of beautiful and effective lines," but he warned: "There's a cost for Sarah Palin...In her first speech to the country, she spent a lot of time attacking. Even though she did connect with the small towns, she also spent a lot of time attacking. That could come off as quite negative to some viewers."
(In contrast, CBS's Jeff Greenfield admired Palin's application of humor: "The use of humor was one of the most effective things. If you were to tear down an opponent you could do it like Rudy Giuliani, with a sword, with a knife, or you can do it like Governor Palin did with this touch. Every time she went, it was with humor, Katie. Very good technique.")
The Nightline "Report Card" from Stephanopoulos on Wednesday night:
Winning Them Over: A (for Palin)
Filling in the Blanks: B (will Palin's Alaska record hold up?)
Red Meat: A for substance, C on delivery
Turning the Page: A (away from Bush)
Bells and Whistles: F (stage background scenes replaced by black in shot of speakers)
His explanation for his "Red Meat" grades:
STEPHANOPOULOS: They get two grades. A for substance, C on delivery. Here's what I'm talking about. Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin put a lot of tough attacks on the table tonight that Barack Obama is going to have to answer. What I wonder about is in the delivery sometimes did they go too far. Watch Rudy Giuliani on Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer.
Earlier in the program, Nightline devoted a lengthy six minutes to a Brian Ross report, couched as delivering "new details tonight" about the so-called "trooper-gate" story. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth provided a transcripts of the set up to the story and start of the piece:
CYNTHIA McFADDEN: Imagine last week Sarah Palin was the popular Governor of Alaska, one of the least populated states in the nation. Tonight, she spoke as John McCain's candidate for Vice President. The crowd here in this arena tonight is almost twice the size of the town in which she was once the proud mayor. But, with a new status, comes a new scrutiny. ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross has new details tonight on a brewing controversy in Alaska. Brian?
BRIAN ROSS: Cynthia, while Sarah Palin was speaking here, there were new developments in the state ethics investigation of the Governor back in Alaska. A state senate committee is looking into charges she abused her office and fired the state's public safety commissioner as part of a nasty family scandal that's come to be called troopergate. It's a local scandal that's become national news. A family feud and allegations of lies and cover-up that were big news in Alaska, but unknown to the rest of the country until Sarah Palin became a national figure. The trooper in troopergate is the ex-husband of the governor's sister, Mike Wooten, accused of making threats against his former in-laws. The allegation against the governor which she denies is that she wanted Wooten fired, and pushed the public safety commissioner to do it....
Two minutes later, co-host Wolf Blitzer went to Toobin for his reaction. The senior legal analyst for CNN first complimented Palin: "Well, let's just start with an obvious point that I don't think anyone has made yet. This speech was a heck of a lot better than Joe Biden's speech. I mean, it just was much more dramatic, much more interesting, much more entertaining." He then continued with a more blunt analysis of the speech: "But it was also, I thought, very smug, very sarcastic, very cutting. And you know what? The Republicans had been trying to portray her as a victim for the last couple days. Well, she's not going to be a victim anymore. She's going to be a target..." As if she hasn't been a target since John McCain announced her as his running mate?
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted late Wednesday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Toobin then tried to "fact check" Palin's stances on two issues: "...[L]et's start with some fact checking of some of the things she said in that speech, starting with the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' where she bragged about her efforts to cut pork barrel spending -- a project that, it turns out, she was in support of. Now, you know, that didn't -- that wasn't raised in the speech." Yes, Palin did support the proposed bridge between the town of Ketchikan in Alaska and Gravina Island when she campaigned for governor in 2006, but Toobin didn't mention the fact that she later cancelled the project in September 2007.
For more about Palin's cancellation of the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' see the Associated Press report from September 21, 2007, "Alaska ends plan for 'Bridge to Nowhere'" at: www.msnbc.msn.com
The senior legal analyst continued on the issue of taxes, and mouthed the Obama campaign's talking points: "She talks about taxes. You know, Barack Obama's proposal will cut taxes for 80% of the American people and raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year. Those kind of things, I think, are appropriate to bring out at this point because she is no shrinking violet. She's no victim. She is a tough, effective pol, and, you know, game on." The "game on" slogan was also earlier used by Martin during his response to Palin's speech. CNN's senior political analyst Gloria Borger then added that she more or less agreed with Martin and Toobin's points about the Democrats' possible response to Palin.
The transcript of Martin and Toobin's responses to Palin's speech, which aired at 48 and 52 minutes into the 11 pm Eastern hour of CNN's coverage of the Republican convention:
# 11:48 pm EDT:
ANDERSON COOPER: Roland Martin?
# 11:52 pm EDT:
WOLF BLITZER: All right. We're going to go down to the floor and check in with our reporters. But I want Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in. I know you've been itching to comment on what we heard tonight. Jeff, tell the viewers what you think.
During MSNBC's Wednesday night live coverage of the Republican National Convention Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Tom Brokaw and others scoffed at the idea they had an anti-Sarah Palin agenda. Brokaw depicted the charge of liberal bias as a mere "tactic" by the GOP, Matthews played it off as just "an old, old conflict," and even tried to write off the media's fascination of Obama, as just a mere fondness of "the new."
Brokaw dismissed the contention of any real liberal bias: "This is a political tactic on their part. And the shorthand is, 'Let's go after the media.' And are they sorting out, for example, Fox or conservative blogs or others who have, in fact, been defending all of this? No what they want to do is just raise the specter that everything that America sees is controlled by a tiny band of Eastern liberal elites."
And for her part NBC's Norah O'Donnell insisted: "There is one important thing to point out. The media is not attacking Sarah Palin. The media has done investigative pieces, in their job, about the way Sarah Palin was chosen."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted early Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following are just some of the anxious rebuttals from the MSNBC crew to Palin's charge that the media was biased against her, as they occurred on MSNBC's September 3 coverage of the Republican Convention:
OLBERMANN: We're getting some of the excerpts now Andrea and I think it's fair to say there don't seem to be any excerpts anyway, any significant attacks on Obama or the Democrats, however guess who has been attacked? That would be probably us, as collective us. Let me read one before we go back to the floor at the Xcel Center. "Why She Is Going to Washington D.C." is the headline on this excerpt.
MATTHEWS: Pat I recognize a tactic here. Start a fight with the press. Establish your underdog status. Take them on. Win public approval. Is that what's going on here with the candidacy and nomination of Sarah Palin?
MATTHEWS: It seems like this is old political tactics. Start a fight with the media, the establishment. Portray yourself as the underdog.
NORAH O'DONNELL: There is one important thing to point out. The media is not attacking Sarah Palin. The media has done investigative pieces, in their job, about the way Sarah Palin was chosen.
OLBERMANN: The media mene has been so long established in this country, the running against the media idea, that the candidates often turn on a dime on this point. It was only in March, at an event for Newsweek magazine, that Governor Palin of Alaska, who then did not seem to be a national political figure by any stretch of the imagination was asked about Senator Hillary Clinton's complaints and her campaign's complaints about media coverage. She described Senator Clinton as "whining." And now we turn around, in a matter of months later to a totally reversed situation. Tom Brokaw is with us along side NBC News political director Chuck Todd inside the Excel Center. This is, I guess, a tradition as old as time itself Tom.
MATTHEWS: Yeah I think, I think it's fair to say, without casting any moral judgment on it, that we're watching a political plan taking effect tonight. It's begun for the last couple of days. If you bring out a candidate for Vice President of the United States on quick notice, if you present that name off the usual list, you are guaranteeing that the major serious press in this country will go to work.
OLBERMANN: Alright gentlemen. Let's stay with you for just a moment here about this, this dichotomy on the media and, and Sarah Palin and, and the, the picking of fights. Is there, first off, is there a collective media to assume responsibility for the, for the, for the slights perceived or, or created, I suppose is what I'm looking for here.
MATTHEWS: Let's be clear about this, tremendous support from the Washington media. John McCain is an immensely popular figure among the Washington media. He used to say that the press was his base. I mean I'm sure we have that on tape, many places. Because he did enjoy, when he went out with the Straight Talk Express on his wonderful bus trips, I was on, among that happy band on occasion. There was tremendous camaraderie. What he deals with now is the reality that in, it doesn't have to do with party politics or ideology.
During FNC's Republican Convention coverage Tuesday night, former Dukakis campaign manager and liberal FNC analyst Susan Estrich voiced her disapproval of the "vicious and mean-spirited attacks" on Sarah Palin by the media as she appeared late Tuesday/early Wednesday night with anchor Greta van Susteren. Estrich: "I've never seen anything this bad in my life...I was with Geraldine Ferraro in '84 -- and this is worse....I have never seen from some of my friends such vicious and mean-spirited attacks on her most personal choices, which is what they are."
A bit earlier at about 12:05am EDT, conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham had also complained of Palin's treatment. Asked by van Susteren if Palin was getting "fair treatment," Ingraham argued that Palin is being "reviled and hated" because she is conservative and pro-life. In response to van Susteren's question of "who's reviling her," Ingraham elaborated: "Did you read the New York Times today? Have you read some of the left-wing blogs about her? Have you heard some of the comments on our competitor networks? It's vile, it's nasty, it's vicious."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Estrich came aboard at about 12:15am, and van Susteren started by asking: "Is [Palin] getting an unfair grilling or is this part of the vetting process by the media?" The former Democratic Party strategist answered: "I've never seen anything this bad in my life, and, Greta, I was with Geraldine Ferraro in '84 -- and this is worse....I don't agree with Sarah Palin on the issues. I mean, she and I are very far apart, but I have never seen from some of my friends such vicious and mean-spirited attacks on her most personal choices, which is what they are. We ask that our choices be respected. Hers should be respected. And this questioning of whether she should as a mother of five be running for Vice President, I don't recall anybody saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger shouldn't run for governor of California because he's got four kids. I think this is just really unfair, really sexist, and very likely to provoke a backlash."
CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien disavowed any knowledge of a bias on her network against Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, particularly concerning the issue of her five children, during a segment on Wednesday's Newsroom program. She moderated a segment with two bloggers, a conservative and a liberal, both of them mothers. When the conservative, Rachel Campos-Duffy of "The Real World: San Francisco" fame, stated how "journalists even on this network say things like, you know, can she really -- is she up to be vice president because she has five kids," O'Brien replied: "I have not heard one journalist who works for CNN, if that's what you're talking about, say that at all. We've interviewed people who said that and ask some similar questions about, isn't that sexist? So I'm not sure exactly who you're referring to."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Well, let's refresh Ms. O'Brien's memory. As John McCain was getting to announce his choice of Sarah Palin on Friday, her colleague John Roberts asked correspondent Dana Bash about Palin's youngest son and how he might be neglected if the Governor became Vice President: "There's also this issue that on April 18th, she 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?"
See the September 2 CyberAlert item, "CNN's John Roberts: Palin Might Neglect Her Disabled Infant?" at: www.mrc.org
Campos-Duffy and her counterpart, liberal blogger Erin Kotecki Vest, debated the issue of how sexism has crept into the discussion and news coverage surrounding Palin. As the two disagreed on the extent of sexism, O'Brien asked Campos-Duffy about Palin's experience: "...[D]iscussing someone's fitness for office -- we're going to have to assume for either vice presidential pick that they potentially could wake up one morning and guess what, you're now the president, because something terrible happened to the guy who was president -- is discussing someone's experience. Why is that considered sexist and off-bounds?"
When Campos-Duffy insisted that Palin did have experience, O'Brien countered, "With all due respect, Rachel, everyone says, you know, she's got experience on a lot of issues, you know, governmental executive, and then it kind of stops. I mean, Alaska has 670,000 people and a $6 billion budget, which is small. You know, Governor Bush, which he was governor before he became president, that was 24 million people, right? I mean, in all fairness." Campos-Duffy countered by bringing up Obama's short list of experience, but O'Brien brushed that argument aside: "Yeah, but that's another argument. I'm talking about your candidate. Let's talk about your candidate, the V.P."
After the conservative mother and blogger explained Palin's experience, Vest chimed in and brought up her concerns about the Alaska governor's knowledge of foreign affairs. Campos-Duffy replied to this by stating how she thought there was a double standard with Palin: "I think that the sexism comes because she's not being held -- she's being held to a higher standard because she's a mom than I think she would be otherwise." O'Brien asked her what she meant by that, and when Campos-Duffy brought up "journalists even on this network," O'Brien issued her denial.
The transcript of the relevant portion of the segment, which began 9 minutes into the 10 am Eastern hour of Wednesday's Newsroom program:
CAMPOS-DUFFY: ...I think that the sexism comes because she's not being held -- she's being held to a higher standard because she's a mom than I think she would be otherwise.
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted late Wednesday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Bernstein, after making his "Republican Right" comment, labeled Palin a "cultural warrior," and continued using the mantra in the press about the governor's qualifications: "[S]he showed she's going to be a great cultural warrior, which is something very different than a qualified vice president. She might be a great Republican Secretary of the Interior -- 'drill, drill, drill' -- but ask the question -- and I think the Democrats will ask this -- suppose something happens to -- were to happen to John McCain between now and the election. Would this be the Republicans' candidate for President of the United States? At some point, we're going to go back to the qualification question."
The veteran journalist then issued a lament of the "culture warrior" aspect to Palin's speech: "A great cultural warrior speech -- the tragedy of this election might be that we have now returned in this country to the cultural warfare that John McCain, above all other politicians in this country, said had to end, as has Barack Obama, and now, it looks like we're really fighting it out."
John King then made his "language" remark, and went into detail about his point: "To say the Right is running the Republican campaign -- if that means these people are the Right, then Carl's exactly right. But we didn't say, during the Democratic convention, the teachers' unions and the SEIU and the AFL-CIO -- are they running the Obama campaign? And all those delegates down on the floor -- you know, many of them were members of the Left."
In response to King, co-host Anderson Cooper added an additional observation along the same lines, which CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger agreed with:
ANDERSON COOPER: I will also say I didn't hear people talking about who was the speech writer for any of the Democrats' speeches.
Reflecting the media's continued disdain for the pro-life position, interviewing Cindy McCain for Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric painted Sarah Palin as an extremist, zeroing in how "even Republicans" supposedly, "seemed surprised that Senator McCain picked a running mate who opposes abortion even in the cases of rape and incest."
Couric then turned the session into an interrogation about Mrs. McCain's personal views on abortion:
- "Where do you stand on abortion?"
- "So, do you oppose it even in the cases of rape and incest?"
- "Do you believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned?"
- "Why not? Your husband does."
- "So you do believe it should be overturned or shouldn't be?"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The latter half of the interview played on the Wednesday, September 3 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Some, even Republicans, seemed surprised that Senator McCain picked a running mate who opposes abortion even in the cases of rape and incest and believes creationism should be taught in schools and I'm just curious, do you agree with that?
COURIC, BACK ON LIVE: After the interview, we contacted the McCain campaign to clarify Cindy McCain's position on abortion. They told us that, like Laura Bush, Mrs. McCain does not favor overturning Roe v. Wade which guarantees the legal right to an abortion.
Unlike the celebratory response to the opening nights of the Democratic convention a week ago, the three network morning shows offered restrained recaps of Tuesday night's speeches at the Republican convention, and continued to portray Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a liability for the GOP ticket.
On Wednesday's Today, NBC's David Gregory had the GOP taking "swipes at Senator Obama's limited experience" and described Fred Thompson's speech as a "hard-edged attack on Senator Obama."
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
But a week earlier, Gregory described Hillary Clinton's speech as "rousing" and "playful," and offered no negative adjectives as he replayed soundbites of Clinton attacking John McCain:
GREGORY: Republicans are working to court Clinton supporters this week by reminding them of her attacks against Obama during the primaries....But Senator Clinton made her wishes clear.
The most positive declarations about the GOP convention came from CBS's Early Show, where co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared it a "love-fest" for McCain, with Monday's silence at the Xcel Energy Center "replaced with a roar like you might hear when the hometown NHL team is playing here, except all the cheers were for John McCain."
ABC's Diane Sawyer was far more muted, leading into her convention recap by noting "a new poll out showing that Senator Obama has hit the 50 percent mark for the very first time against Senator John McCain. It's about a five-point increase for Senator Obama, a little post-convention bounce there."
For its part, CNN's American Morning went even further to portray the Republicans as mean-spirited, with on-screen graphics touting a "GOP Slamfest" and "GOP on the Attack." Beginning their 6am EDT hour, co-anchor John Roberts claimed that Senator Joe Lieberman "really took a strip off of Barack Obama," but supported that claim with a clip of Lieberman mildly suggesting that the "gifted and eloquent" Obama lacked the necessary experience:
JOHN ROBERTS: We just heard from Joe Lieberman there extolling the virtues of John McCain and why he would be a good president. But he also -- and to some degree unexpectedly, because he didn't tell me yesterday morning when I talked to him he was going to do this -- really took a strip off of Barack Obama. Let's listen to what he said:
An hour later, co-anchor Kiran Chetry referred to the speakers as "ripping into Barack Obama's record," and Roberts told reporter Jessica Yelling that "it appears there's been lots of red meat thrown around and that the partisan tone returned here."
Back on the broadcast networks, correspondents portrayed the convention as apprehensive about the nomination of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate, with NBC's Gregory touting as important as a video "only now surfacing" of Palin speaking about her son's deployment to Iraq, exhorting worshippers to pray "that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."
CBS's Jeff Glor and ABC's Sawyer also portrayed Palin as beleaguered, with Sawyer suggesting Fred Thompson was "in full defense" last night, and Glor sought out David Gergen for a soundbite. "Some Republicans are nervous," Gergen opined. "Are there going to be any other rude surprises?"
Now, more on how the big three broadcast networks set up the Palin story at the top of their Wednesday morning shows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: What a night in St. Paul as the Republican Convention really got rolling especially with Fred Thompson's fiery speech and we know tonight a 44-year-old woman who proudly hails from the state of Alaska will take the stage right behind you, Diane, and give that speech of a lifetime.
SAWYER: But in every corner of the hall a buzzing conversation about the vice presidential nominee, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Former Senator Fred Thompson in full defense.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I'm Maggie Rodriguez in St. Paul where the party finally gets started. Tonight, Sarah Palin has her moment.
REPORTER JEFF GLOR: But on a night Republicans were trying to answer the question, who is John McCain, many were still asking who is Sarah Palin. McCain's vice presidential pick is here, though holed up, seen in this campaign released photo but nowhere else so far until tonight. All public appearances dropped. Following questions about her firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, about her former involvement, if any, with Alaska's controversial independence party and especially about her family and the pregnancy of her 17-year-old daughter. The McCain campaign says they knew about all of it.
# NBC's Today:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: And tonight, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate, will address this convention, certainly the speech of a lifetime for her. It comes as questions swirl about whether the McCain campaign knew enough about her before she was tapped for this very important job....
DAVID GREGORY: Competing with the official program of the convention was the intense media scrutiny of Palin, whose only appearance was a private meeting with First Lady Laura Bush and Cindy McCain. News her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant has only heightened interest in her family. Bristol Palin and her boyfriend, the baby's father, Levi Johnston were seen along with other relatives boarding a plane in Spokane en route to St. Paul. In Ohio, Senator McCain was pressed on whether he did his homework on Palin.
GREGORY: Senator Obama has said Palin's family is a private matter but he came up with a new argument for the experience question, citing management of his campaign.
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez had a roundtable discussion on Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's ability to serve in office and be a mother: "The question, can a mother of five, including an infant with Downs Syndrome, be an effective vice president?" Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn was part of the panel and responded: "...it's interesting that here I am, supposedly part of you know, the -- what one would call the liberal elite media. That's what we've been all -- the critics of Sarah Palin have been called. And yet, taking the position that a woman with five children, including one with special needs, and a daughter who is a 17-year-old child who is pregnant and about to have a baby, probably has got to rethink her priorities. It seems to me that there is a tipping point, and I think that she's crossed the tipping point. I believe that it's going to be very difficult for her...I think this is -- this is too much."
Quinn made similar comments about Palin in a WashingtonPost.com "On Faith" blog posting last Friday, the day Palin was announced as McCain's VP. On March 26, Quinn told the Early Show's Harry Smith that the media should have gone after Chelsea Clinton more aggressively, Smith admitted: "We're not exactly watchdogs here" Well, CBS certainly seems to be a watchdog when it comes to Bristol Palin.
For Quinn's Washington Post "On Faith" posting: newsweek.washingtonpost.com
The March 27 CyberAlert on Quinn's comments about media coverage of Chelsea Clinton: www.mrc.org
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The other members of the panel were Republican congresswoman Kathy McMorris Rogers and the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Sarah Huckabee, who earlier condemned the questioning of Palin as a mother: "I think it's a disgrace that the question's even being asked. I think as -- not only as a woman, but as somebody who's grown up in politics, I think that Sarah Palin '€" Governor Palin has proven herself time and again that she has the capacity to lead. And I want to know why no one's asking you know, Barack Obama's got two kids. No body's asking him is he a good parent because he's running for president. That question hasn't come up and simply because of the fact that she's a woman, I think that, you know, the media should take the step that the rest of America has on both sides of the political aisle. We've seen Republicans and Democrats unite behind two fantastic women over this political season. And I think it's time that the media stops asking the question and follow America's lead and get behind the rest of the country in moving forward and seeing that women are capable to lead this country."
At one point, Rodriguez asked Congresswoman Rogers: "She has five children. One has Downs Syndrome. You have a child with Downs Syndrome, right Congresswoman?...That -- special needs requires more attention. Does that factor into this at all?" Rogers replied: "She's proven that it can be done. She's currently the governor of a very important state in this country and at the time that we've been celebrating the fact that we have more women serving in Congress than ever. We have the first woman Speaker of the House, we had Senator Clinton running for president. I am excited about the candidacy of Sarah Palin for vice president. And I think she brings a valuable perspective as a wife, as a mother of five."
On Wednesday's Today, NBC reporter David Gregory, against all evidence, suggested that the media have not questioned whether Sarah Palin will be able to balance being both Vice President and a mother. Referencing a earlier interview in which McCain surrogate Rudy Giuliani attacked reporters for doing exactly that, Gregory huffed: "That question has not been brought up by the media." Today co-host Meredith Vieira parroted, "Exactly."
However, on August 30, Good Morning America weekend co-host Bill Weir challenged a McCain spokesman: "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 the September 2 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
On August 29, CNN Newsroom anchor John Roberts sniffed: "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." See: www.mrc.org
Also on August 29, the Washington Post's Sally Quinn whined in an online column: "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?" See: newsweek.washingtonpost.com
Not only have members of the media discussed this subject, they've done so repeatedly and with great enthusiasm. So, is David Gregory somehow unaware of this fact or was he simply being disingenuous?
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The segment which prompted Gregory's inaccuracy was a contentious interview with Rudy Giuliani. During that piece, the former New York mayor ripped into media coverage of Palin. After Vieira complained, "He [McCain] has always been known as a maverick, but also as somebody who can veer towards the reckless side. Some see this as a decision that was made in haste, I.E., reckless," Giuliani let loose on what he saw as sexism:
RUDY GIULIANI: I think that he selected a person who is one of our more distinguished governors. I think the fact that there is a woman on the Republican ticket has got the media in a- in a tizzy and they are asking questions they would never ask if there were a man there, including the question that I mentioned about whether, you know, she's going to have enough time to be- to be vice president and be a mother. Never asked a man that, ever. And I think the language they've pried into her personal life, honestly, my own opinion, it's indecent and disgusting and they should leave her daughter alone.
A transcript of the September 3 segment, which aired at 7:07am, and later Gregory exchange, follow:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was Senator McCain's rival during the presidential primaries this year and he is scheduled to speak at the convention tonight. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor. Nice to see you.
Less than an hour after reporter David Gregory incorrectly huffed on Wednesday's Today show that the media have not questioned whether Sarah Palin can balance motherhood with serving as Vice President (see #10 above), NBC correspondent Amy Robach explicitly did just that during a segment on how moms were reacting to the Alaska Governor. Operating under a loaded either/or premise, she derided: "The broader question if Sarah Palin becomes Vice President, will she be shortchanging her kids or will she be shortchanging the country?"
Labeling the segment "the mommy wars," Robach, a former beauty pageant contestant, went on point out that Palin is running despite having an infant child with Down's Syndrome and a pregnant 17-year-old daughter. She asserted that "the news has sparked both pride and condemnation." Robach also featured New York Times writer Jodi Kantor, who authored a piece on the subject in the September 2 edition of the paper. In a clip, Kantor discussed the fact that Palin went back to work only a few days after giving birth this past April. According to the journalist, "fellow mothers" found this "a little bit hard to fathom, a little bit hard to identify with."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Co-host Meredith Vieira deemed it particularly odd that right leaning individuals were standing behind this working mom: "It seems like the conservatives who would probably advocate that moms stay home are backing Governor Palin and a lot of the other working moms are questioning her decision. Interesting twist." For a second segment on the topic, she brought in authors Leslie Morgan Steiner and Megan Basham.
Ms. Steiner continued the GOP bashing. She whined that, for decades, the Republican Party "told us that you can't be a good mom if you work, even though the vast majority of moms in this country have to work. So it's an amazing thing that they are backing this woman who presents such a chaotic and messy and totally real picture of modern motherhood." (In fairness, Steiner did later point out the double standard in that Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden was encouraged to stay in the Senate after becoming a single parent after a tragic accident.)
Appearing on all three network morning shows on Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani was inundated with questions about McCain vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, including one question by Meredith Vieira on NBC's Today: "So, what do you say to the people who are questioning the judgment of McCain in selecting her? He has always been known as a maverick, but also as somebody who can veer towards the reckless side. Some see this as a decision that was made in haste, I.E., reckless." Meanwhile, on the CBS Early Show, Giuliani criticized the media for questioning Palin's parenting ability: "They're asking can she be vice president and be a mother. Come on." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez replied: "So you're saying you have no doubt and voters shouldn't either. That she can do it?" Giuliani fired back: "Where are the feminists? I mean, is it just -- there are all these feminist groups. Where are they?" Then Rodriguez argued that questioning Palin as a mother was fair game: "I think they're fair questions. It's a lot to juggle."
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was concerned with Palin's travel habits: "Has Governor Palin traveled? Where?" Giuliani replied: "I'm sure she has a real knowledge of what's going on in the world. I'm sure she's going to be able to demonstrate that, but all things that, you got to, in fairness, before everybody jumps on her, I mean, when Barack Obama started they certainly didn't all jump on him this way." Sawyer then wondered: "We had heard she that got her first passport in order to go to Kuwait once and then go to Germany and that's the extent of her travel. Bother you?" Sawyer went on to ask: "She's going to be speaking tonight. Everyone says it's high stakes. It is a kind of make-or-break night for her. Should she be nervous?"
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On the Early Show, Giuliani also raised the issue of the media not sufficiently vetting Barack Obama after Rodriguez declared: "There are questions about her [Sarah Palin's] experience, which I know have been raised about Barack Obama as well." Giuliani responded: "No, they haven't...Nobody's looked into his relationship with a foundation he was on. Nobody has looked into -- nobody has looked into the fact that he's never traveled -- never traveled south of the border." Rodriguez dismissed the charge: " I don't think that's true. In fact, I've even reported that...But let me tell you the difference. If Barack Obama...is elected president, it's because voters put him there...If Sarah Palin has to move into that slot, it'll be because God forbid something happened to the president. Do you think she's ready to step in?" Of course, people would have voted for Sarah Palin as well if she becomes vice president.
On Today, in response to Vieira's suggestion that McCain's decision to pick Palin for VP was "reckless," Giuliani argued: "I think the fact that there is a woman on the Republican ticket has got the media in a- in a tizzy and they are asking questions they would never ask if there were a man there, including the question that I mentioned about whether, you know, she's going to have enough time to be- to be vice president and be a mother. Never asked a man that, ever. And I think the language they've pried into her personal life, honestly, my own opinion, it's indecent and disgusting and they should leave her daughter alone."
On CNN's American Morning, co-host John Roberts stressed Giuliani's differences with Palin: "Now, she has conservative social views. You're a moderate. Are you comfortable with her pick on that front?" Giuliani replied: "Sure. Look, my part is a broad party. I understand that I'm part of a party that doesn't agree with me on everything. But, I agree on the main principles."
Roberts then turned to Palin's church: "And she recently gave a speech at the Assembly of God Church in Wasilla, in which she talked about Iraq. And she appeared to talk about the deployment of U.S. forces in terms of carrying out almost a message from God. Let's take a listen to how she put it." A video clip of Palin was played: "Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure we're praying for. That there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan. So, bless them with your prayers." Roberts asked: "Mr. Mayor, what do you think of that statement, that she seems to suggest the deployment of troops is somehow related to a task from God?" That same clip of Palin was also featured at the top of NBC's Today on Wednesday.
After broadcasting the clip to the world, Roberts went on to add: "But, as we know, there are a lot of sensitivities particularly in the Middle East, to that sort of talk. Remember when President George Bush talked about a crusade and got us in trouble."
Undeterred from his contempt for Sarah Palin, Letterman asked: "Then why didn't they have the dialogue?" McGraw suggested: "Maybe they did. But when children get that age, at 17 -- see, here's the thing. The body's grown but the brain is not." Letterman soon sneered: "They don't sell Trojans in Alaska? Come on," prompting McGraw to point out: "Wasn't Barack's mother like 18 when he was born?" Indeed she was.
Letterman made a big distinction between whether Bristol Palin is 17 or 18, and while there may be legal rights at 18 it hardly means that if you see 17 as too young to be pregnant all is great with being pregnant at 18: "If she's 18 we're not having this conversation. Because she's 17, it's a whole different deal."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted early Thursday morning, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Bio of McGraw: www.drphil.com
Late Show's home page: lateshow.cbs.com
The exchange, which matches the video, on the Wednesday, September 3 Late Show with David Letterman (video rendered by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, transcript provided by Karen Hanna):
DAVID LETTERMAN: ...Here's the first thing that came to my mind. Another poor John McCain drops dead in office. He gets elected; drops dead. It's happened. I think Grover Cleveland dropped dead in office -- I don't know. So now she's the President. So I'm thinking to myself, okay, she's the President, fine. But don't you want your President to have had the presence of mind to have chatted to her teenaged kids for five minutes about birth control?
Check out the on-scene reports this week, many with original video, from the MRC's NewsBusters blog team in St. Paul. Wednesday's posts, with video include: "Bolton Tells NewsBusters 'Palin Coverage Has Been Vile,'" "Cal Thomas Talks to NewsBusters Re: Palin Bias, MSNBC,"
Plus, from the MRC's CNSNews.com, "Jon Voight: MSNBC a 'Platform' for Democratic 'Left.'" For video, go to: 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 "Bolton Tells NewsBusters 'Palin Coverage Has Been Vile,'" go to: newsbusters.org
For "Cal Thomas Talks to NewsBusters Re: Palin Bias, MSNBC," 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