2. GOP Palin Critics 'Intellectual,' Palin Backers 'Knuckle-Draggers'?
3. CBS's Early Show Touts Those Who Punked Palin with Prank Call
4. Sawyer to Caroline Kennedy: How Excited Are You About Obama?
5. MSNBC Replays McCain SNL Skit 11 Times, Skips Parody of Olbermann
Just as with all his previous interviews with the broadcast network anchors, Barack Obama had nothing to fear from his final pre-election sit-down, this time with CBS's Katie Couric, who laughed along with him about being a "nervous wreck" on election day, raised Jeremiah Wright not to press him about Wright's incendiary anti-American rants but to ask if the McCain campaign had given its "approval" to a state party to raise the topic, and concluded by fawning: "If things go your way on Tuesday and you become this nation's first African-American President, what will that mean to you personally?"
In the excerpts from the interview conducted Sunday in Columbus, Ohio and aired on Monday's CBS Evening News, Couric posed four questions, starting with "fears that perhaps an unbridled, unchecked, filibuster-proof Democratic majority will overreach and move the country too far to the left. How can you assuage people's concerns about that?" Instead of hitting him on how much the decision by the McCain campaign and the news media to drop Wright helped him avoid a subject that would have hurt in swing states, she treated Republicans as the miscreants:
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Sunday's CBS Evening News plugged the interview with a clip of Couric asking Obama about Zeituni Onyango, whom the Times of London late last week found living in a Boston housing project: "You have an aunt who's been living in this country, apparently illegally, for four years and you campaign says 'any and all appropriate laws should be followed.' So, would you support her being deported to Kenya?" Times of London article: www.timesonline.co.uk 
A CBSNews.com posting with interview video and a transcript does not have that question, but does have several others not aired Monday night, including: "What did the McCain team do in the course of this campaign that made you the angriest?" See: www.cbsnews.com 
The questions aired in the first half of the hour-long Monday, November 3 CBS Evening News (Washington, DC's CBS affiliate did not air the second half, but Couric did not say more of the interview would air in that second half hour):
# Let's talk about single-party rule for a moment. Some critics describe it as all accelerator and no brakes. There are fears that perhaps an unbridled, unchecked, filibuster-proof Democratic majority will overreach and move the country too far to the left. How can you assuage people's concerns about that?
# What are you most afraid of on election day? ("Aren't you going to be a nervous wreck?" And: "Or maybe not sleeping much on Monday night?")
# The Pennsylvania Republican Party is starting to run an ad in that state which features your former minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, saying quote, "God damn America." Do you think they would have run that ad without the approval of the McCain campaign?
# If things go your way on Tuesday and you become this nation's first African-American President, what will that mean to you personally?
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Monday evening, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
The CNN anchor made the differentiation between "intellectual" and "social" conservatives as he brought up the results of CNN/Opinion Research poll that was taken between October 30 and November 1 that found that 65% of Americans thought that Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden had the "personal qualities" to be president, versus only 40% for Sarah Palin. Sanchez prefaced reading the results of this poll by asking, "Is this the reason he's [McCain's] suffering, as some intellectual conservatives will tell you?" Before he could continue, Zoller jokingly interjected, "Right -- as opposed to me." Sanchez reassured her, "Well, no -- you're part of the -- well, you're actually a mix, because there's social conservatives and the intellectual conservatives." Zoller replied, "I know, I know. I'm just kidding." Before continuing on the poll results, Sanchez tried to clarify what he meant by this distinction: "The social conservatives love Sarah Palin -- the intellectual conservatives, not so crazy about her."
After reading the poll results, Sanchez finally asked his full question: "So here's the question: is [has] Sarah Palin dragged down this ticket?" Zoller answered, "Absolutely not, because she has energized the base. Without Sarah Palin, John McCain is really ten points down, not, you know, bouncing around in the polls like this." The CNN anchor followed-up by asking, "You don't think Huckabee -- you don't think Huckabee or Romney would have given him that same base, plus give him more?" The conservative talk show host replied, "Not in the way that Sarah Palin did."
Sanchez then turned to Malloy, who gave a rant about how the Republican base consists of a bunch of crazy, "intolerant" Neanderthals:
MIKE MALLOY: Well, Sarah Palin brought out the crazy people. That's what the Republican base is.
In response to Malloy's diatribe, Sanchez looked uncomfortable, but he seemed to be more concerned about his use of the word "queer" than his insults towards conservative Palin supporters:
SANCHEZ: To be clear with our viewers, you're using some of that language figuratively though, right? Like when you used the word before
Malloy has a record of using invectives towards conservatives. It was only a few weeks ago that Mike Malloy referred to Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann as an "absolute evil woman" and compared her to the Nazis.
For more on Malloy's insults against Representative Bachmann, see Tim Graham's October 21 NewsBusters.org item, "Hardball Gone Mad: Congresswoman Compared to Nazi for Insisting Media Cover Obama-Ayers Connection," at: newsbusters.org 
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked exclusively to two Canadian comedians, Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel, who prank called Sarah Palin: "Pranksters pulled a fast one, over the weekend, on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Comedians from Canada posed as French President Nicolas Sarkozy." Smith asked later asked them: "Did you get the sense when you were on the phone with her, did she have any idea what was going on?" Trudel replied: "No...She was as gullible as Britney Spears. She -- there are only two people that we pranked that never caught on that it was a joke and that we had to explain it to them at the end. Sarah Palin and Britney Spears. And Britney Spears could not ever be President of the United States but Sarah Palin could." Audette added: "But they're both good looking...at least." Smith agreed: "That accounts -- that does account for something."
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
In addition to portraying Sarah Palin as stupid, the comedians and Smith also described how bad her staff was. Smith asked: "...how long did it take you and how did you start?" Trudel replied: "We started Tuesday, last Tuesday, it took four days. It's our fastest one except Britney Spears, so you can put that in the same category, her staff." Audette added: "It was pretty quick, actually. Because when we pranked Paul McCartney it took us about two months...Bill Gates, a month, Britney Spears, two days, and Sarah Palin about four or five days." Trudel later observed: "Yeah, and it's pretty disturbing to see that idiot's like us can go through to a vice presidential candidate that could be eventually the most influential and the most powerful person in the world...Too stupid comedians...with a bad French accent...and go through her staff." Smith concluded: "I think you said it all."
Smith and fellow co-host's Julie Chen and Maggie Rodriguez continually teased the segment throughout the morning. At one point, Chen wondered how Palin could not have caught on: "But then when you hear the voice, why do you believe it?" In May, Chen thought Hawaii was in the Atlantic Ocean. According to Newsweek: "The call had been routed through France, and the comedian used the name of one of Sarkozy's top aides, which suggested the phone call was legitimate." In addition, the comedians are both french Canadians, speak French, and have natural French accents.
See the May 23 CyberAlert about Chen's geographical mistake: www.mrc.org 
Read the Newsweek article on the Palin prank call here: www.blog.newsweek.com 
Here is the full transcript of the segment:
[AUDIO CLIP OF PHONE CALL]
SMITH: Joining us for an exclusive interview, the duo known as the 'Masked Avengers,' Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel. Good morning to you both.
Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer prompted Barack Obama supporter Caroline Kennedy to gush about just how excited she was over the Senator's possible victory. Sawyer also probed for scintillating details, such as wondering: "Where are you going to watch [the election returns]?" Regarding the Kennedy daughter's endorsement of the Democratic presidential candidate, Sawyer gushed: "So, do you feel that what you wrote has been fulfilled? And that you do have a sense of excitement that people told you they felt with your father [John F. Kennedy]?"
Looking for celebrity gossip, Sawyer reflected on Kennedy's glitzy February appearance with Obama: "You, Maria Shriver, Oprah, standing there for that morning of endorsement. Have you talked to each other? Did you talk to each other this weekend? What are you saying?" The ABC journalist even excitedly referenced the possibility of a position for her in the Obama administration. She bubbled, "So, the speculation game is already begun. And this morning, it is Caroline Kennedy ambassador to name-your-country."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Throughout the 2008 campaign, Good Morning America reporters have rhapsodized about the impact of the endorsement by Caroline and Senator Ted Kennedy. On September 15, 2008, correspondent Claire Shipman enthused that the Democratic family "the closest thing we have in this country to political royalty." On July 28, 2008, Jan Crawford Greenburg portrayed Caroline Kennedy as "a reluctant media star, stepping into the spotlight to back a man she says reminds her of her father [President John F. Kennedy]." For more, see a September 15 NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org 
And a July 29 CyberAlert post: www.mrc.org 
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:11am on November 3:
DIANE SAWYER: And before we move on, we want to get last-minute analysis from both campaigns. We begin with Senator Obama. I had a chance to speak earlier with campaign adviser Caroline Kennedy. Earlier this year, you may remember, she announced that she was going to be for Obama because she never seen a president who inspired her the way people have told her her father John Kennedy inspired them. But, I started by asking her, even with these poll numbers, if is there anything she's worried about for tomorrow?
CAROLINE KENNEDY: I'm always worried, but this has been a tremendous experience for me and I think for the country. And I think Barack Obama has led an incredible campaign and has gotten better and better. And I think, really, people have seen his judgment and his leadership. And he's been right on all the issues. So, I think, hopefully, if everybody gets out there, things will be good.
SAWYER: Going back and thinking historically, historically, it's been such a long campaign. You, Maria Shriver, Oprah, standing there for that morning of endorsement. Have you talked to each other? Did you talk to each other this weekend? What are you saying?
MSNBC's Morning Joe and MSNBC News Live on Sunday and Monday repeatedly played clips from Sen. John McCain's appearance on the November 1 edition of Saturday Night Live for a combined total of 11 times. One MSNBC host, Alex Witt, on Sunday, even claimed: "We're gonna have a lot of clips of that for ya so you can be smiling through this morning." However, MSNBC did not show even one clip of Ben Affleck's impersonation of Countdown host Keith Olbermann from the same broadcast.
Many of the hosts and contributors expressed that they thought McCain was funny during his SNL appearance, probably because he was making fun of himself and his campaign. But apparently MSNBC didn't want its viewers laughing and smiling at SNL's imitation of Olbermann which cast him as pompous and dishonest.
[This item, by MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog: newsbusters.org  ]
MSNBC has a history of repeatedly replaying SNL parodies of the Republican ticket while virtually ignoring other parodies from the same show, specifically those of the Democratic ticket. On September 29, MSNBC played clips of Tina Fey's SNL parody of Palin's interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric seven times between 6:00 a.m. and 12 while only Morning Joe featured the SNL parody of Senator Barack Obama from the same night, and even then the focus was on the portion of the skit which parodied McCain's "gimmicks."
One week later on October 6, the cable channel replayed bits from Fey's parody of Palin's performance in the vice presidential debate. The SNL parody of Joe Biden's debate performance was only played twice, and both times were during Morning Joe.
MSNBC pop culture columnist Courtney Hazlett on October 6 made sure to note that Saturday Night Live is "nonpartisan, too. That's something that a lot of critics are saying, that it's all about Sarah Palin and it's anti-John McCain and they're taking advantage of the McPalin ticket, if you will. And when I was speaking with the cast members and with Lorne Michaels, they said, 'you know what, there's material on both sides here.' It's just that sometimes there are things that get more attention than others.'"
MSNBC, though, seems to want the SNL parodies of McCain and Palin to get more attention than the SNL parodies of Olbermann, Biden and Obama.
-- Brent Baker