Weekday #2: No Media Benefit for McCain from Obama's Vacation --8/13/2008
2. CNN's Schneider: McCain May 'Frighten' Voters By...Believing CNN
3. Olbermann: U.S. 'Provoked' Russia, Sees 'Troubling Neocon Echoes'
4. New York Times Describes Evan Bayh as 'Moderate-to-Conservative'
5. Rasmussen: '55% Say Media Bias Bigger Problem than Campaign Cash'
6. Liberals Register Felons for Obama, WashPost Can't Find a Critic
7. Actor Ernest Borgnine on GMA: America 'An Amazing Country'
Just as on Monday night, Barack Obama vacationing in Hawaii while John McCain remains on the campaign trail (he held a town meeting in York, Pennsylvania), failed to change the media dynamic of greater and better coverage for Obama. CBS on Tuesday night gave equal time to comments from both candidates on Russia's invasion of Georgia before Jeff Greenfield, echoing ABC the night before, twisted news -- that a top Clinton campaign operative recommended attacking Obama as less than genuinely American -- into reprimanding McCain for supposedly following that strategy. Meanwhile, ABC pegged its campaign story to how "former Congressman Jim Leach, a respected Republican from Iowa, threw his support behind Barack Obama today."
Over video of Obama in Kailua, Couric relayed how "Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, put out a statement repeating his call for Russia to stop its attacks." Greenfield recited how chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn "wrote, quote: 'I cannot imagine America electing a President during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values'" As video played of parts of two McCain ads, including the one with Paris Hilton which Couric last month denounced as "infamous," Greenfield asserted:
Greenfield went to James Bennet of The Atlantic for support: "I think the very definition of a celebrity is someone who is not like us. Somebody who is fundamentally different. Probably some sort of an artificial construct. Somebody who's fundamentally a stranger."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
"Infamous." On the July 31 CBS Evening News, Couric characterized the McCain ad as "infamous," citing "the now-infamous McCain ad that likens his Democratic opponent to celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton." See: www.mrc.org
On ABC, World News anchor Charles Gibson set up his newscast's campaign coverage: "In presidential politics, former Congressman Jim Leach, a respected Republican from Iowa, threw his support behind Barack Obama today, saying the Democrat will bring a new look to foreign policy."
Given the anti-conservative and fairly liberal passions of the "respected Republican" during his tenure, that's hardly man-bites-dog news.
That news led into a Jake Tapper piece on how both candidates, in Gibson's words, "have called for and said they could achieve bipartisanship in Washington."
Tapper began: "For 30 years, Jim Leach served as a Republican Congressman from Iowa. Today, he endorsed Democrat Barack Obama." After showing Joe Lieberman at the McCain event in Pennsylvania, Tapper reported that polls show cross-party support for both candidates and then he listed te issues where they've gone against their party. For Obama: "In the Senate, Obama has teamed up with Republicans on important issues such as securing loose nukes and ethics reform." Tapper, however, did note: "But nothing that has caused him any serious political trouble with voters."
With Obama on vacation, for the second evening the NBC Nightly News took a vacation from presidential campaign news, but it was all Olympics promotion as the newscast ran a full story on efforts to drill for oil in North Dakota and made time for Brian William in Beijing to read an item about the cost of the Iraq war:
The August 12 CyberAlert, "Obama on Vacation, Yet Earns More and Better Coverage than McCain," recounted:
So much for John McCain's hope that remaining on the campaign trail this week while Barack Obama vacations in Hawaii would lead to more or friendlier coverage. At least not on Monday night when Katie Couric highlighted how "Obama put out a tongue in cheek response to Senator McCain's celebrity ad" and she helpfully pointed out: "The ad also features six different shots of Senator McCain next to President Bush." Later, CBS allocated more than three minutes to a "CBS News Exclusive" interview and profile by Couric of "Barack Obama's brain," Valerie Jarrett, who "just may be the most powerful woman in Chicago besides Oprah."
ABC centered an entire piece around revelations Hillary Clinton campaign operatives planned to "question Obama's authenticity as an American. She rejected that strategy," yet ABC managed to twist the story into Obama victimization as anchor Charles Gibson fretted: "There are indications that John McCain may be adopting it now."
Reporter Jake Tapper warned "some say that John McCain has tried to subtly portray Obama as not quite American enough, playing up Obama's popularity abroad." The proof? This from McCain at a South Dakota motorcycle rally last week: "Not long ago, a couple of hundred thousand Berliners made a lot of noise for my opponent. I'll take the roar of 50,000 Harleys any day!" Tapper moved on to how McCain's ad narrator saying "John McCain: The American President Americans have been waiting for" is "a line many saw as implying something not American about Obama." Tapper ominously concluded: "ABC News has learned that an independent conservative group has been filming in Indonesia where Obama spent a few years during his childhood. So even if Senator McCain does not draw attention to that unusual quality of Obama's youth, someone will."
For the rest of Tuesday's CyberAlert article: www.mediaresearch.org
The Tuesday, August 12 evening newscast campaign coverage on CBS and ABC:
# CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: John McCain meanwhile says he talked by telephone today with Georgia's President, assuring him of U.S. support. While campaigning in Pennsylvania, Senator McCain said the Russian invasion was meant to send a signal to nations that are friendly to the West. Barack Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, put out a statement repeating his call for Russia to stop its attacks.
# ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: In presidential politics, former Congressman Jim Leach, a respected Republican from Iowa, threw his support behind Barack Obama today, saying the Democrat will bring a new approach to foreign policy.
JAKE TAPPER: For 30 years, Jim Leach served as a Republican Congressman from Iowa. Today, he endorsed Democrat Barack Obama.
At the top of the first hour of Tuesday's The Situation Room on CNN, fill-in anchor Suzanne Malveaux led with Russia's invasion of Georgia and she cited how "Moscow responded with a show of military muscle that was reminiscent of the Cold War era." But 40 minutes later, CNN political analyst Bill Schneider contended that raising the very "Cold War" specter CNN had reported could "frighten" voters.
He characterized John McCain's assessment, about how Vladimir Putin's "ambitions are to restore the old Russian empire," as "ominous" and warned that such language may hurt McCain since it could cause "some voters" to "worry: Does he want to start a new Cold War?" Schneider argued: "The risk for McCain is that he could overplay the issue and frighten war-weary voters, whose priorities are at home right now."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Malveaux, at 4:01 PM EDT: "Right now huge crowds of Georgians are showing their support for President Mikheil Saakashvili. Georgia moved Thursday to crack down on separatists in two breakaway provinces supported by Russia. Now, Moscow responded with a show of military muscle that was reminiscent of the Cold War era."
About 38 minutes later, Malveaux asked Schneider: "Is this McCain's moment, Bill?" As Schneider's answer played out in his report, CNN displayed this text at the bottom of the screen:
MCCAIN EDGE ON HANDLING CRISIS BUT HE COULD SCARE WAR-WEARY VOTERS
Schneider began: "A major international crisis, it could be just what John McCain needs to highlight his strengths."
But he ended by seeing a downside for McCain:
BILL SCHNEIDER: His statement on the radio was ominous.
Schneider's story in the 4 PM EDT hours of the Tuesday, August 12 Situation Room on CNN:
SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Is this McCain's moment, Bill?
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blamed the Bush administration for Russia's invasion of Georgia, charging that "the U.S. knowingly provoked Moscow for years by building up Georgia's military," and asked if "the administration essentially stoked the fires of this conflict by the way we contributed to the building up of Georgia and sort of encourage its President to do something like this?" The MSNBC host was also distressed at the words of "neo-conservatives" who favor a firm response against Russia, and referred to "troubling neo-con echoes." Guest Flynt Leverett expressed his concern that "a very powerful group of neo-conservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party" would undermine Barack Obama's "more nuanced approach" to dealing with the situation as these neo-conservative "elements" move into the Obama campaign.
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Olbermann teased the August 11 show charging that John McCain is "trying to turn death near the Black Sea into political points at home." He also took exception with McCain for employing an advisor, Randy Scheunemann, who lobbies on behalf of Georgia.
After relaying that Barack Obama rejected McCain's "geopolitical simplicity" by placing some of the blame on Georgia, Olbermann took on neo-conservatives: "McCain's language, meanwhile, was echoed by the architects of the Iraq war. Vice President Cheney saying, quote, 'Russian aggression must not go unanswered.' Fellow neo-con William Kristol arguing that Georgia's participation in Iraq means, quote, 'We owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely, we cannot simply stand by.' And troubling as the neocon echoes are, perhaps more embarrassing two elements of McCain's speech -- one, this report from CQPolitics.com wherein a Wikipedia editor pointing out at least three passages from the McCain's speech today, that it says most people would consider to have been derived directly from Wikipedia."
Olbermann soon brought aboard former NSC Senior Director Flynt Leverett, who expressed his concern that Obama's "more nuanced approach" to the situation may be undermined by "neo-conservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party" relocating from the Hillary Clinton campaign onto the Obama campaign: "There's a very powerful group of, what I would call, neo-conservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party, and a lot of these people were attached to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Now, the Obama campaign is trying to figure out how to take some of these people in. And I think there's a risk that Senator Obama could, in the end, end up ceding control or shaping the direction of his policy on important issues to some of these elements."
After agreeing with Leverett that the situation "requires a very nuanced approach," Olbermann asked if President Bush was to blame for "stoking the fires." Olbermann: "At the same time that Russia was mishandled, did we not, essentially, did the administration not essentially stoke the fires of this conflict by the way we have contributed to the building up of Georgia and sort of encourage its President to do something like this?"
While speaking with his second guest, Rachel Maddow of Air America, Olbermann claimed that America's military has been "rendered impotent" by President Bush and contended that some American voters "assume we can win anything provided we chant, 'USA, USA, USA,' loudly enough":
Maddow then mocked the neo-conservative view on war policy, with Olbermann expressing agreement:
MADDOW: Honestly, the neoconservative position is that, 'You know, look what we did in Gulf War I, look at those smart bombs, that only took five minutes when we toppled, we did what we wanted to do there.' Ever since then, the neocon position has been, that using military force is something that is precise-
On the same show, Olbermann also continued to push conspiracy theories regarding the Anthrax attack case from 2001. During the show's regular "Bushed" segment, Olbermann advanced the theory of a Bush administration "coverup":
On the bright side, at least Olbermann did not theorize that President Bush intentionally arranged for a Russia-Georgia war to happen to distract attention away from the upcoming Democratic Convention, which would be in line with his past conspiracy theories. At least he hasn't advanced that theory yet.
New York Times reporter Carl Hulse looked at the vice presidential prospects of Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh in Tuesday's "A Senator From Indiana Offers Risks and Rewards for Obama." Hulse, the Times' congressional reporter, apparently thinks the "risks" Bayh pose come from his Senate vote in favor of the Iraq War in 2002, the "rewards" his alleged moderate and even conservative appeal.
But if Bayh is supposed to balance out Obama's "progressive" appeal (Hulse's word), the seesaw may still be tilted to the left. Bayh's actual Senate voting record belies Hulse's image of "a telegenic moderate Democrat" who "has compiled a moderate-to-conservative record both as Governor of Indiana from 1988 to 1996 and as Senator since 1999."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
Bayh earned a lifetime score of 20 on the American Conservative Union rating scale, with 100 being most conservative (his 2007 rating was an even more liberal 12). That lifetime figure puts Bayh somewhat to the right of center of the Democratic caucus, but it's certainly not a "conservative" or even "moderate" record, as Hulse implied. ACU's ratings: www.acuratings.org
An excerpt from Hulse's August 12 article:
Mr. Bayh, whose father, Birch, was a liberal Democratic senator and presidential candidate in 1976, has compiled a moderate-to-conservative record both as governor of Indiana from 1988 to 1996 and as senator since 1999. He was first elected to state office in 1986 at age 30, as Indiana secretary of state.
In the past few years, Mr. Bayh has been a more reliably Democratic vote on social policy, and he opposed President Bush's nominees to the Supreme Court. But this spring, he frustrated Democratic leaders by holding out against new spending in the federal budget. But that reflects his fiscal conservatism; in Indiana, his record on cutting taxes as governor and leaving office with a $1.6 billion surplus is a hallmark.
END of Excerpt
For the entire story: www.nytimes.com
And Michael Bates at NewsBusters pointed to VoteSmart's compilation of various interest group ratings that put Bayh comfortably left-of-center:
Evan Bayh's record shows that in 2007, NARAL Pro-Choice America gave him a grade of 100, as did the AFL-CIO and the Children's Defense Fund. The Americans for Democratic Action assigned him a 95 percent rating and the ACLU awarded him an 86. For 2005-2006, he earned a 100 percent rating from the National Education Association.
In 2007, the National Taxpayers Union gave him a grade of D, the American Conservative Union rated him at 12 percent, and both the Gun Owners of America and U.S. English assigned him an F.
VoteSmart's page on Bayh: www.votesmart.org
This is not the only instance of Hulse shifting the political spectrum to the left -- he recently called Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma an "archconservative" while Sen. Ted Kennedy was simply a "Democrat of Massachusetts." Previous TimesWatch post on that: www.timeswatch.org
A Rasmussen telephone survey of 1,000 voters released on Monday discovered that "voters overwhelmingly believe that politicians will 'break the rules to help people who give them a lot of money,' but most say there's a bigger problem in politics today -- media bias." Specifically, "55 percent believe media bias is more of a problem than big campaign contributions. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and think that campaign cash is a bigger problem."
Rasmussen reported "Republicans are the most likely to see media bias as the bigger problem" as "81 percent of the GOP faithful hold that view," but so do a significant minority of Democrats and a plurality of independents: "Obama's Party, by a narrow 50 percent to 41 percent margin, say that campaign cash is the bigger issue. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 47 percent say media bias is the problem while 43 percent hold the opposite view."
Suggesting the media bias seen is a liberal one, liberals are much less concerned about bias than are conservatives: "Fifty-three percent (53%) of liberals see campaign contributions as a bigger problem than media bias. Seventy-four percent (74%) of conservatives hold the opposite view. Among the moderates, 49% say media bias is the problem while 42% disagree."
For the August 11 Rasmussen Reports summary of their latest poll: www.rasmussenreports.com
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, 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 the July 22 CyberAlert rundown in full: www.mediaresearch.org
For Rasmussen's "Belief Growing That Reporters are Trying to Help Obama Win," a poll summary posted on Monday, July 21: www.rasmussenreports.com
Just days after a Rasmussen Reports survey was released showing more than three times as many likely voters "believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage" than help John McCain, a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll taken July 22-23 of 900 registered voters discovered six times as many think "most member of the media" want Obama to win than wish for a McCain victory. On Thursday's Special Report, FNC's Brit Hume relayed: "67 percent of the respondents think most media members want Obama to win. Just 11 percent think most in the media are for McCain."
A FoxNews.com article added this damning finding: "Only about 1 in 10 (11 percent) volunteers the belief that the media is neutral on the race to become the 44th President of the United States." Those polled recognize the tilt in action: "When asked to rate the objectivity of media coverage of the campaigns, Americans feel Obama gets more of a positive spin by a better than 7-to-1 margin (46 percent more positive toward Obama; 6 percent more positive toward McCain)." The online article: www.foxnews.com Even the overwhelming majority of Democrats assume journalists are pulling for Obama. A PDF of the full poll results shows that in response to the question, "Which presidential candidate -- Barack Obama or John McCain -- do you think most members of the media want to win the election?", 61 percent of Democrats said Obama, compared to 77 percent of Republicans and 63 percent of independents. A mere 14 percent of Democrats believe members of the media want McCain to win.
For the July 25 CyberAlert article with more about the poll: www.mediaresearch.org
The "How the Public Views the Media" section of the MRC's "Media Bias Basics" lists many more surveys of how the public perceive journalists and the news media: www.mediaresearch.org
On the front page of Monday's Washington Post, reporter Krissah Williams Thompson chronicled liberal efforts to register felons to vote for Barack Obama. The story was stuffed with liberal activists, but nowhere in Thompson's story was a single source who was critical of restoring voting rights to felons.
Thompson made it clear that neither the McCain nor the Obama campaigns were actively registering felons, but the liberal groups clearly assume the felon vote is a Democratic vote. The hero at the story's beginning was Obama-backing activist Reggie Mitchell, who hopes to overtake the Republicans in Florida.
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from the August 11 article:
Mitchell is a leader of a disparate group of grass-roots Democrats and civil rights activists who are trying to register tens of thousands of newly eligible felons. They have taken up the cause on their own, motivated by the belief that former offenders have been unfairly disenfranchised for decades....
In Alabama, Al Sharpton's younger brother, the Rev. Kenneth Glasgow, will take his "Prodigal Son" ministry into state prisons with voter-registration cards for the first time. The American Civil Liberties Union recently filed suit there and in Tennessee to make it possible for an even larger class of felons to register. In Ohio, the NAACP will hold a voter-registration day at the Justice Center in downtown Cleveland this month to register "people caught up in the criminal justice system," a local official said. In California, a team will stand in front of jails on Aug. 16 to register people visiting prisoners and encourage them to take registration cards to their incarcerated friends or family members, some of whom can legally vote....
Mitchell left a personal-injury practice in 2004 to become Florida legal director for the nonprofit People for the American Way Foundation. Leading the liberal advocacy group's state voting rights project, he sent out news releases, lobbied politicians and, in 2006, marched to the statehouse with the ACLU and others, demanding that ex-offenders be allowed to vote.
Since the law was changed, the ACLU and People for the American Way have been reaching out to ex-offenders through Web sites that help people figure out whether the state has acted on their cases. Mitchell oversaw the project that helped build the foundation's Restore My Vote site...
END of Excerpt
For the entire story: www.washingtonpost.com
Thompson also participated in an online Q&A at washingtonpost.com, which featured the critical voices left out of the newspaper story. One worried about how it will be exploited by conservatives:
New York: This just seems like a horrifyingly bad idea from a political perspective. All the McCain campaign heeds to do is run a bunch of photos of black ex-felons with Obama stickers, and pow, Obama has lost a few swing states full of edgy white voters. Could these efforts in fact end up tilting votes away from the activists' favorite candidates?
Another offered the classic rebuttal that would have been easy for the Post to find:
mediaskeptic: It's interesting that activist Mitchell compares the disenfranchisement of felons (!) to the historic disenfranchisement of blacks. I guess can conclude that our educational system's pushing of postmodern attitudes has robbed much of the public of any ability to discern how felons, black or any other color, neither deserve to vote nor have any particularly valuable platforms to back politically. Are they in favor not only of Obama but also of leniency for all misdemeanors and felonies, so that they can continue to prey on people? This all comes at the expense of law-abiding members of society.
Some were sassy:
Dunn Loring, Va.: If they could, do you think Democrats would register prisoners at Guatanamo? [sic]
Thompson just posted critical comments, and made no attempt to engage them. Some inquiries were just odd, like the person suggesting drug addicts are no more to blame for their behavior than diabetes sufferers:
Kensington, Md.: Aren't most people who are in our prison industry's Gulag system drug "offenders"? Given that drug addiction is a brain disease and not a legitimate crime, and we don't lock up people with diabetes, I'm glad these unjustly imprisoned people are getting their rights back. Thank you for doing this article.
In this case, Thompson sweetly replied: "Thanks for reading."
The session: www.washingtonpost.com
Appearing on Tuesday's Good Morning America to promote his ne autobiography, 91-year-old actor Ernest Borgnine, the son of Italian immigrants, offered appreciation for America too rarely heard from the Hollywood community: "It's an amazing country. People just don't realize how wonderful this place is. And they just take it as a lock and 'oh yes, I deserve this.' You don't deserve anything. You've got to prove that you're a good American by being an American. That's what I feel anyway."
Borgnine certainly does not represent the mainstream ideology of the Hollywood elite, or even a potential First Lady.
[This item was adapted from the NewsBusters post by the MRC's Justin McCarthy: newsbusters.org ]
Borgnine opined on the August 12 GMA: "It hit me when I was given the Medal of Honor over at the Ellis Island thing, you know, because my parents came over from Italy although I was born here in New Haven, Connecticut. But, you know, I took it upon myself to speak that day about the people that were around me, generals, admirals, police chiefs, everything that you could possibly imagine, all from different parts of the world who have come to this country to make this great country. And people forget that, you know, people forget that they came from people from the other side, you know. It's an amazing country. People just don't realize how wonderful this place is. And they just take it as a lock and 'oh yes, I deserve this.' You don't deserve anything. You've got to prove that you're a good American by being an American. That's what I feel anyway."
Amazon's page for Borgnine's book, Ernie: The Autobiography: www.amazon.com
-- Brent Baker