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The three broadcast networks started their evening newscasts on Tuesday with stories on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest and corruption charges. All of the newscasts mentioned Blagojevich's Democratic affiliation, but only in passing. And, only ABC's World News questioned the details about the Illinois Governor's relationship with President-elect Barack Obama, while NBC and CBS brushed over the President-elect's connections with Blagojevich and seemed content to end their investigation of this relationship by reporting on Obama's statement that he was not aware of what was going on.
ABC and NBC both identified Blagojevich as a Democrat early in their reports. NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams's introduction to the report by Lee Cowan described the charge as "that the two-term Democratic governor tried to sell a seat in the US Senate to the highest bidder." Brian Ross, reporting for ABC's "World News," identified the Illinois governor as "the boyish looking Democrat branded a greedy, foul mouth politician who tried to sell a US Senate seat to the highest bidder."
The CBS "Evening News," however, did not identify Blagojevich as a Democrat until the very end of Dean Reynolds's report when an on-screen graphic identified the governor as "(D) Illinois" and Reynolds claimed that "fellow Democrats worry that whoever he might pick could wind up tainted politically and could ultimately cost the party a valuable seat in Congress."
On his syndicated "Chris Matthews Show" on Sunday, Chris Matthews seemingly sought to do his self-proclaimed "job" of making sure Barack Obama's administration is a success by featuring a panel of guests who praised the incoming team and the President-elect's ability to use his political capital to pass "big packages to avert a depression." There was only twelve seconds of negativity about Obama during the entire hour-long show, and that was when columnist Kathleen Parker noted that some Hispanic organizations are unhappy with Obama because they feel that there is not enough Hispanic representation in his appointments.
The first topic of discussion was the economy and Matthews anxiously wondered whether Obama could "get a big head of steam to save the American economy and keep that head of steam so he can pass all the bills he needs to do the job?"
John Heileman of New York Magazine gave an emphatic "yes" along with four reasons to support his answer including, "I mean, [Obama] won a clear mandate" and "how well [Obama's] done in this transition and the way it's been received by both parties is having been arguably the best transition that anyone in our lifetime has ever seen."
Today's run-off election for Georgia's Senate between incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin has attracted a lot of attention, especially because it could put the Democratic majority one seat closer to the 60 seats needed for a filibuster-proof Senate. Michael Grunwald of Time magazine has a story up today about the importance of the outcome of the race, but instead of giving a fair-and-balanced look at how both candidates would affect the Senate, Grunwald uses the piece to attack Chambliss for being a "textbook Bush-Cheney Republican" and praise Martin for potentially being a repudiation of Bush and a "candidate of the middle class."
Grunwald starts off by reminding readers that Georgia is still "an extremely conservative state" despite a Time magazine article from June which wondered if Georgia would be "Obama's Ohio" in the election. The writer uses this characterization of Georgia to frame Martin's potential win as "a crowning embarrassment for the GOP" and attacks Republicans by saying it would "rival Obama's own victory as a repudiation of the Bush agenda of tax cuts for the rich, pork for the well-connected, belt-tightening for the working poor, drill-baby-drill, strict-construction judges and military adventurism." That's when the Chambliss-bashing starts, as Grunwald goes on to say, "not to mention the political cynicism that made Chambliss notorious after his ads in 2002 comparing his opponent, triple-amputee Max Cleland, to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."
On his syndicated "Chris Matthews Show" on Sunday, Chris Matthews discussed President-elect Barack Obama's ability to enact his campaign agenda as well as the state of the Republican Party with a panel of other newsmakers, including Erin Burnett of CNBC and Michele Norris of NPR. Matthews excitedly declared that "the American people voted for change, they voted for Obama" and hopefully wondered if the President-elect would "come in with loud music" and "do big stuff on infrastructure, on stimulus, on getting the economy going."
Matthews also deemed Obama's administration, which hasn't taken office yet, as "historically wondrous" and pondered who would become the "chief jeer leader" of the new administration and "dump on the parade every day":
There's a row open right now, it's the chief jeer leader. When a new administration takes office, no matter how historically wondrous it is, like Barack Obama, there's going to be someone out there on the other side who leaps to the chance to be the person who dumps on the parade every day. Is it going to be Sarah Palin?
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and "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 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 as someone who commonly has hypersensitive overreactions. After all, a senior executive at the cable channel has admitted that Olbermann "runs MSNBC."
"Fox & Friends" on Friday replayed the videotape of Griff Jenkins chasing down Rashid Khalidi, which was originally aired on Thursday's "Hannity & Colmes." Unsurprisingly, Khalidi was not willing to talk with the Fox News reporter.
Although the audio that recently emerged of Sen. Barack Obama discussing "redistributive change" came from an interview he did with Chicago Public Radio, National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on Monday as well as "Morning Edition" on Tuesday completely ignored the audiotape of Obama's 2001 interview.
During his campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, on Monday, Sen. John McCain specifically addressed the recently surfaced audio and even quoted Obama as saying, "One of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change."
Nevertheless, during Monday's "All Things Considered" report on McCain's campaigning in Ohio, there was no mention of the audiotape or of McCain using Obama's own words against him. Instead, the broadcast focused on McCain's argument that one party ruling the country would be disastrous.
Between 6 a.m. and 12 noon on Monday, MSNBC featured six segments which replayed bits from Tina Fey's Saturday Night Live parody of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's performance in Thursday's debate. The SNL parody of Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden was only played twice, and both times were during Morning Joe.
This continues a trend that was also seen last Monday morning when MSNBC replayed Tina Fey's parody of Palin's interview with Katie Couric seven times while avoiding Saturday Night Live's parody of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
Along with the free airtime given to Fey's impersonation of Palin came some commentary by the various hosts of both Morning Joe and MSNBC News Live. First, Willie Geist commented that, "Sometimes you watch [Tina Fey] and forget what Sarah Palin actually looks like. She's so dead on."
With the vice presidential debate only a few days away, MSNBC gave a lot of attention on Monday to what Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin are doing to prepare for their one and only debate. Along with this, MSNBC also gave a lot of airtime to Tina Fey's "Saturday Night Live" parody of Palin's interview with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric, showing clips of the skit seven times between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon. However, only Morning Joe featured "Saturday Night Live's" parody of Senator Barack Obama, and even then the focus was on the portion of the skit which parodied Senator John McCain's "gimmicks."
Of the seven times that MSNBC showed clips from Tina Fey's Palin impersonation, many of them lead into discussion about Palin's lack of foreign policy expertise and comments about how Fey's impersonation could lead to negative effects for McCain's campaign.
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed BET Tonight host Ed Gordon about a recently released Associated Press-Yahoo! poll which found that forty percent of white Americans and one-third of Democrats and Independents harbor negative feelings about African Americans. The segment did not include any critique of the poll or the suggestion that such a large amount of people hold these negative feelings. Instead, Rodriguez asked Gordon questions such as, "In a race as tight as this one is, do you think race could be the or a deciding factor?"
To identify the percentage of certain demographic groups who have "negative feelings" about African Americans, inferences were made about how respondents feel towards the minority group from the answers they gave to certain questions. Some of the possible answers to certain questions, however, may suggest more of a disagreement with liberal policies like Affirmative Action and welfare rather than negative feelings towards African Americans.
For example, one of the questions asked respondents to indicate how much they agree or disagree with certain statements. One of these statements said, "Most blacks who receive money from welfare programs could get along without it if they tried."
On Friday's CBS "Early Show," Laura Schwartz, a former Clinton administration official and adviser to Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, appeared for a segment on Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's fashion style and the clothes she wore during her speech at the Republican National Convention. While Scwartz and co-host Harry Smith talked about the popularity of "Palin paraphernalia," they also attached a high price tag to Palin's outfit as well as the outfit and jewelry Cindy McCain wore during her appearance at the Republican convention.
Schwartz also appeared on the Early Show on August 26, the day after Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention, to talk about the way the potential First Lady dressed for her speech, but did not put a price tag on it. Instead, Schwartz stated, "I thought she was very simple, very understated last night, which might be a good idea, Harry, because in this era of attack ads, the McCain people are really saying, `Hey, the Obamas are elitist. They're caught up in celebrity.' If she came out in a real fancy dress, that would just be more fodder for them."
During the panel discussion on the September 14 edition of ABC's "This Week," an interesting exchange occurred between conservative columnist George Will and ABC senior national correspondent Claire Shipman. On the topic of Senator John McCain's recent ad about a sex education bill Senator Barack Obama voted for while in the Illinois state legislature, Shipman could not seem to understand Will's point of view.
Host George Stephanopoulos described the ad as "looking at a vote that Barack Obama had in a committee when he was a state senator that advocated comprehensive sex education from grades K through 12.... The debate is whether -- what comprehensive sex education means and whether it means that kindergartners should be taught how to ward off a sexual predator or something more extensive than that."
In response, Will argued:
It is very common across the centuries for parents, not schools, parents to tell their children to be aware of strangers. What's new here and reflects a conservative-liberal difference is the idea, a, it has to be tarted up as sex education to be wary of strangers, and b, parents can't but the schools must in the kindergarten. Now that's a cultural divide and let's vote.
Friday's "American Morning" featured a segment dedicated to fact checking Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention. In introducing the reporter who did the fact checking, co-host Kiran Chetry claimed, "CNN's Deborah Feyerick is here to fact check Palin's speech and I'm sure whenever politics is involved we have to fact check these."
Apparently, though, "American Morning" only feels the need to fact check speeches given by Republican candidates because the morning show did not provide the same fact checking analysis of the Democratic National Convention speeches given by Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden or Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. They did, however, fact check former president Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention and argued that some of his more conservative policies helped to usher in the "mortgage crisis."
Appearing on Friday's "American Morning," Washington Post faith columnist Sally Quinn again attacked the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's vice presidential pick. During her interview with co-host Kiran Chetry, Quinn suggested Palin would not be able to balance her five children along with the duties of the vice presidency and potentially the presidency.
Chetry first asked Quinn if the questions she has raised about Palin, including her ability to be both a mother and a leader, would be questions that she would ask of a man. After firmly answering "yes," Quinn claimed that the "burden of raising children falls on the mother" and said that her questions about Palin are not sexist, they are about whether or not Palin can "do the job."
After bringing up the "country first" theme of the Republican National Convention, Quinn took a jab at McCain's age as well as Palin's ability to put country first as commander in chief: "And I think if you're talking about the commander in chief, and that is what she is likely to be given his age and his health, will she put her country first, or will she put her family first?"
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, 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."
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:
MRC President and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning to discuss the outrageous media bias against Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Regarding the attacks on Palin's experience, Bozell claimed:
For two years Republicans, conservatives, have been saying that Barack Obama was perhaps the arguably the singularly most unaccomplished presidential candidate in the history of the republic, and for two years, the national press corps, the networks, particularly, have absolutely refused to cover his lack of experience. Now, Sarah Palin comes on, and what have we heard all week long from the same reporters? If this isn't a double standard, I just don't know what is.
[Audio available here.]
On Tuesday's "Morning Joe," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter appeared as a guest for a discussion about Governor Sarah Palin's pregnant 17 year old daughter, Bristol. Alter defended the media's actions in heavily reporting on the pregnancy, saying of the Palin's: "This, to quote the Godfather, this is the business they have chosen."
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson appeared on CNN's "Newsroom" on Friday to discuss the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's vice presidential running. During her interview, "American Morning" co-host John King played a clip of Palin from Glenn Beck's Headline News show from June in which Palin said that she would not accept an offer to be McCain's running mate because she felt she could help Alaska contribute more to America. Roberts then questioned Palin's commitment to her state:
So even back then, you know, speculation wise that she might be chosen as the running mate but she seemed very dedicated to the state of Alaska. The fact that she's leaving it behind after just two years in office, what does that say about her commitment to politics at least on the state level?
However, during his time as Chief White House Correspondent for CBS, Roberts talked up Senator Hillary Clinton as a potential candidate for president in the 2004 election. Roberts filed reports on the possibility of her candidacy on the November 2, 2003, "Evening News" and again on the November 3, 2003, "Early Show," just halfway into her first term as a Senator from New York, and while he did refer to Clinton as "polarizing," he never questioned her commitment to New York:
During the 9 a.m. EDT hour of “CNN Newsroom,” “American Morning” co-anchor John Roberts gave an analysis of Governor Sarah Palin during discussion of Senator John McCain's vice presidential choice. Roberts focused on Palin's lack of experience, saying that a prerequisite for the vice presidency should be the ability to step right into the office, especially because of McCain's age. Roberts stated:
Thursday's "American Morning" featured a segment focused on Senator and Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden's foreign policy experience. During the report, CNN correspondent Mary Snow used Michael O'Hanlon of the liberal Brookings Institution to make the claim that Biden's foreign policy experience is "praised" by the experts. While O'Hanlon has helped write foreign-policy speeches for former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and was thought of as a potential member of Kerry's administration by the National Journal, Snow never mentioned his political leanings:
SNOW: Biden's experience, which includes being the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has won him praise among foreign policy experts.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, Brookings Institution: He's creative. He's willing to put out new ideas and, I guess you could say, he's willing to be wrong at times.