Kyle Drennen

Kyle Drennen's picture
Senior News Analyst


Kyle Drennen is the Media Research Center's Senior News Analyst and a Contributing Editor to NewsBusters. He is the co-author of the 2014 Media Reality Check study, TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats.

In 2009, he captured the infamous comment from then-Newsweek editor Evan Thomas comparing President Obama to God. Later that same year, he exposed for MSNBC deceptively editing video footage of a Tea Party rally to conceal the racial identity of an African American participant, forcing the liberal network to respond to criticism and explain its actions.

His media analysis has been cited by nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, as well as media outlets including Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com, The Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Politico, National Review, among others.  

Kyle joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted via email at kdrennen@mrc.org.

Latest from Kyle Drennen

Scott Pelley, CBS On Sunday’s CBS ‘60 Minutes,’ anchor Scott Pelley, who once remarked that global warming critics were the equivalent of Holocaust deniers, identified the American coal industry as one of the main culprits of climate change: "The future of our climate might be summed up in one question, what do we do about coal? Coal generates nearly half the electricity in the United States and in the world. But it is the dirtiest fuel of all when it comes to carbon dioxide, or CO-2, the leading greenhouse gas. A few days ago, the Obama administration declared, for the first time, that CO-2 is a threat to human health and it plans to impose limits."

Pelley’s story did feature a representative of the coal industry, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who actually called for limitations on carbon emissions: "It's my judgment it is a problem. We need to go to work on it now. And it's critical that we start to act in this country...Our goal line is substantially to reduce our carbon footprint, to de-carbonize our business, by 2050." However, that wasn’t good enough for Pelley: "Four decades? That's a long time."

Pelley followed up by citing left-wing global warming activist Jim Hansen: "2050 is too late. We will have guaranteed disasters for our children, grandchildren, and the unborn." Pelley explained: "Jim Hansen is NASA's top climate scientist. He's credited with some of the earliest and most accurate projections on climate change. He thinks that Rogers plan leaves the Earth in the oven decades too long."



Lesley Stahl, CBS During a fawning interview on Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, anchor Lesley Stahl repeated White House talking points portraying Vice President Joe Biden’s constant verbal gaffes as a positive attribute: "After trying to muzzle the man, often ridiculed for his loose lips, the White House now calls his, shall we say, exuberance, an asset. They call it ‘truth-telling.’ And see his talent for connecting as a real advantage. Let Joe be Joe. With his ‘at a boying,’ hand-gripping, ‘hot’ personality, versus Obama's cool cat...Call him ‘schmoozer-in-chief.’"

Stahl went on to highlight some of roles that Biden has taken on as vice president: "With so much on his plate, the President has made his number two the stimulus cop. The assignment, to see that the $787 billion in stimulus money is spent wisely...He's on the phone several hours a week with mayors and governors, making sure they follow the rules...The Vice President gets especially high marks as a team player. For those who predicted he and the Secretary of State would be rivals, they both say 'uh-uh.' And in fact, they meet for a policy breakfast every Tuesday."

As further evidence of Biden being "schmoozer-in-chief," Stahl later declared: "He's physically ‘embracive’ with everybody, total strangers. He hugs, he slaps, he punches, grabs, holds, noses in, and bumps foreheads. Children are a special magnet: he and his wife Jill worked them like a rope line of voters on a campaign. And he cannot resist speechifying, even when his audience is made up of six year olds."



Russ Mitchell, CBS In a news brief on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell implied a link between the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and Bush administration approval of tough interrogation tactics on suspected terrorists: "Soon we will see more pictures of U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, like these from Abu Ghraib, are being released next month, following a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group says it is proof that prisoner abuse was widespread. And high-profile Bush administration officials are being linked to those interrogation techniques."

Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported: "Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Adviser in 2002, verbally approved the CIA's use of waterboarding, the earliest known green light according to a Senate account." Assuras then rhetorically asked: "But her decision alone?" A clip was then played of a so-called expert, Dan Guide, from the left-wing group Center for American Progress: "I don't think that we can identify individuals who are anymore or less responsible within the higher levels of the Bush administration. This was taken as a collective decision." Assuras never mentioned the political affiliation of the organization. Later in the report, Guide lamented limitations on prosecuting Bush officials: "The most significant constraint, at least in my view, is that this entire case would be conducted with classified information."



Maggie Rodriguez and Chris Dodd, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Democratic Senator Chris Dodd about efforts by Congress to pass legislation that would punish credit card companies for charging higher fees and interest rates: "Senator, yesterday President Obama says that he wants legislation to stop credit card abuses. This is something that you have been pushing for, for years. And I don't have to tell you that there's been strong credit card lobby against this. Now that the President's on board, can you assure consumers that this will finally get done and when?...what's the likelihood?"

Dodd responded by thanking Rodriguez and her CBS colleagues for their slanted coverage on the issue: "I think pretty good. And you've laid the groundwork for it because people are irate over these issues...I think we have a wonderful opportunity, now, to make a difference here and get a handle on these issues that have been gouging consumers for far too long."



Julie Chen, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen made an important news announcement: "Well, the latest Obama paper dolls are out and we have got them right here to check them out." Chen went on to explain that the collectible books of paper cut outs of Barack and Michelle Obama: "...came out when -- during the whole campaign...And then now this is the inaugural."

Chen later asked: "Do we think that this looks like Barack and Michelle?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez responded: "Absolutely not. Not even a little bit." Early Show medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton was also on set, and chimed in: "No, he [Obama] looks so much better in person." Rodriguez then added: "Not even a little bit, it's not their faces. Those are not their faces." Chen explained: "It's more Michelle than -- it's not Barack's face, but it's more Michelle. Because I think they have her eyebrows down."

After a detailed discussion of the dolls’ likeness to the Obamas, co-host Harry Smith proudly exclaimed: "Well, I'm very excited to get my collectible campaign edition, so."



Harry Smith and John McCain, CBS While discussing the possible prosecution of Bush administration officials over interrogation methods used against terror suspects, on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith asked Senator John McCain: "You fought a long battle with the [Bush] White House over this issue, said they ought to follow the Army manual, which the -- the White House refused to...Why do you feel so strongly that those who helped create this policy should not face some sort of recrimination?"

McCain explained his opposition to what he called a "witch hunt": "Because I think, Harry, if you legal -- if you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive...this is going to turn into a witch hunt."



Harry Smith and Janis Karpinski, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith resurrected the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, connecting it to the current debate over interrogation methods used toward terror suspects under the Bush administration: "Torture on trial. In a major shift, President Obama now says he is open to investigating Bush administration officials for crimes related to torture...We'll talk to the former general in charge of Abu Ghraib. Were the soldiers there made to be scapegoats?"

Smith interviewed former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was demoted following Abu Ghraib, and suggested a link between aggressive interrogation tactics and the prisoner abuse: "...a Senate Armed Services Committee report...suggests that the roots of torture, the roots of the idea of torture were being circulated in the Pentagon and the CIA as early as 2002...Is there a line? Do you see that there is a lining run -- that goes from 2002 to Abu Ghraib to the hundreds of times waterboards were used in these cases of these few CIA cases?" Karpinski replied: "Absolutely. The line is very clear that it was cloudy for years, obviously, seven years, if 2002 were the initial discussions. But the line is clear. It went from Washington, D.C., from the very top of the administration with the legal opinions, through Bagram, to Guantanamo Bay, and then to Iraq via the commander from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And the contractors who were hired to do those things."



Julie Chen and Perez Hilton, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen talked to gay blogger Perez Hilton about his question to Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean about gay marriage: "Miss California, Carrie Prejean, decided to tell gay blogger and judge Perez Hilton what she really felt about same-sex marriage, and it might have cost her the Miss USA crown...Hilton reacted angrily after the show, posting this video blog on his website." Chen played a clip of Hilton’s video blog tirade in which he said he was "disappointed" in Prejean, but not the portion in which the blogger called her a "dumb b***h."

Chen also failed to mention that during live coverage on MSNBC on Monday, Hilton declared that he was not sorry for using that language and even went on to say that he wished he had used the "c-word" to describe Prejean. Chen only vaguely alluded to Hilton’s vulgarity as she asked her first question: "Perez, let me begin with you. When you first heard her answer, what did you think? And please keep it clean, this is a live morning program."



While reporting on Obama meeting with anti-American Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Sunday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Jeff Glor asked political correspondent Jeff Greenfield about a potential negative reaction to the encounter: "Jeff, let's start talking about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. Is there fallout from it, real or imagined?"

Greenfield discounted any criticism as simply being from Obama’s right-wing opponents: "There is fallout among those people who already regard Obama as anything from a socialist, to a fascist, to a dangerously weak president. I'm talking about people on the right. If it doesn't spread beyond that, you're going to have the same situation where about 30% of the country really regards him negatively, but the rest says ‘so far so good.’"

Glor then asked: "Alright, let's talk also domestically now about Cuba. What has changed inside this country that makes these overtures more effective now?" Greenfield responded: "Among younger Cuban-Americans in Florida, there's much less rigidity about Cuba then there was at the time when to be in anyway sympathetic to Castro, or even open to relations, was political death...We also see among conservative groups, the American Farm Bureau, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a desire to open markets in Cuba...have made it politically palatable, domestically, for Obama to say ‘let's try something new.’"



Harry Smith, CBS On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed President Obama’s brief meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas with former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino and former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, wondering: "Have the critics of this photo-op made a mountain out of a molehill?"

In a prior report on the meeting, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "President Obama defends his visit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Asked about the notion that his willingness to talk to enemies of the U.S. was a sign of weakness, the President said it was unlikely that he was endangering the strategic interests of the United States...His simple handshake with Venezuela's president was a symbolic break with the Bush administration policy of shutting out unfriendly nations." Smith repeated Obama’s defense as he later wondered if critics were making too much of the encounter.



Katie Couric, CBS While reporting on the ongoing drug war in Mexico, CBS, NBC, and ABC have all cited a dubious statistic that claims that 90% of the guns being used in the violence are from the United States. On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Bill Plante reported: "Mexican drug gang violence spilling into the U.S. is the urgent issue of President Obama's visit...A major sore point -- more than 90% of the weapons which could be traced were bought legally in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico by the cartels."

On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, White House correspondent Chuck Todd declared: "In a joint press conference following their private meeting, President Obama acknowledged that 90 percent of the guns used by the drug cartels in this war with Mexico come from the United States." On Thursday’s Good Morning America on ABC, co-host Diane Sawyer referenced, and even further embellished, the figure while interviewing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: "95 percent of the guns used were out of the United States. What is the U.S. going to do to stop the guns from getting there?"

However, on April 2, Fox News reported that 90% figure to be inaccurate: "The fact is, only 17 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes have been traced to the U.S. What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told FOXNews.com, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, ‘is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S.’ But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S." The network reports failed to explain those details.



Priya David, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show fill-in co-host Priya David offered a news brief congratulating CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on a recent award for the broadcast: "And we at CBS News are pleased to report that our own Katie Couric has received the coveted Walter Cronkite Award for excellence in television political journalism. At a ceremony last night, Katie was cited for her coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, from the Iowa caucuses through election night, on the CBS Evening News and in prime-time."

David went on to remark that: "You know, her interviews with Sarah Palin were really something that stood out in this campaign." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez added that the interview was "Game-changing." On March 14, NewsBusters’ Noel Sheppard reported that the Palin interview was a key factor in Couric receiving the award.

After David’s and Rodriguez’s comments, co-host Harry Smith chimed in: "Well, I think all -- by and large -- all of the coverage on the Evening News, they devoted more time night, by night, by night, remember all those presidential questions for all of those candidates, all of those minutes that I think they really performed an important public service." David added: "Well deserved, Katie."



Maggie Rodriguez and Janet Napolitano, CBS While discussing the ongoing drug war in Mexico with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez wondered: "President Obama will meet with the Mexican president today, who has said that the money, the guns, and the appetite for drugs that fuel this war come from our country. My question is, how much blame do we accept?...Is one of the other things we can do reinstate the assault weapons ban in this country? Because President Calderon has said that ever since it expired, violence there has escalated."

In an earlier report on the issue, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "Mexican authorities are often out-gunned by the gangs. Military-grade arms, including grenades and machine guns, are easily purchased in the U.S. and smuggled into Mexico. Just as the drugs are easily moved north in response to heavy demand in the U.S...President Obama will promise today to step up efforts to stop the flow of weapons from the U.S. down into Mexico." Earlier media reports claimed 90% of guns involved in the Mexican drug war came from the U.S., a statistic which was later proven false by Fox News’s William La Jeunesse and Maxim Lott.



On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith highlighted a recent report by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center claiming a recent surge in hate groups in the United States: "The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report found 926 active hate groups in the country. That's up more than 50% from just 2000...And they say part of it is because of the election of President Obama. Other part of the responsibility goes to the deteriorating economy." An on-screen graphic read: "Rising Tide of Hatred? Report: Right Wing Extremism May Increase." [audio available here]

Smith talked to Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees about the report as well as a similar report by the Department of Homeland Security: "Your report dovetails with a brand new report from the Department of Homeland Security claiming basically the same thing...Do these -- do you feel like your report and their report sync up?" Dees declared:

I think they sync up pretty much. The report from the Department of Homeland Security should be taken very seriously. What we've found in our intelligence project we've run for a number of years here is the political climate, the election of Obama, the immigration issues that have faced the United States over the last five to ten years, and now especially the economy, is almost causing a resurgence of what we saw in the days of Timothy McVeigh. Almost a militia movement that's being reborn in the United States.



Friday’s CBS Early Show continued its fawning coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama in Europe as co-host Harry Smith gushed over the First Lady: "I mean, there's a kind of just raw realness about her. That session with the schoolgirls yesterday...People were in tears." Smith made the comment while talking to executive editor of thedailybeast.com, Tina Brown, who had her own words of praise: "Michelle is so authentic, and so real, and so today, and so, you know, J. Crew, and the whole price point thing and not designer clothes..With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there's a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. But there's also -- I mean she's almost like overtaking Oprah, I think, as the kind of inspirational 'it' girl at this point." [audio available here]

Later, Smith dismissed criticism that Michelle Obama had broken protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth: "This whole touching of the Queen and everything else, in the end, the Queen says, 'let's please stay in touch.' Whatever affront, or perceived affront, was completely trumped by the fact that those two people charmed the Queen's socks off." Brown agreed: "They completely charmed them. And the Queen wouldn't have taken any offense at that...she's also, I think, getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point. You know, when she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids wearing those pearls, it was like, ‘oh, my God, it’s Di time all over again.’"



Norah O'Donnell and Jim VandeHei, MSNBC At the top of the 3:00PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O’Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O’Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."

Later, O’Donnell compared Obama to Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break... Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."



Julie Chen and Bill Plante, CBS Thursday’s CBS Early Show offered non-stop gushing over Barack and Michelle Obama in Britain as co-host Julie Chen spoke with royal watcher Ingrid Seward: "Well, what is the buzz so far about Michelle Obama, and is she overshadowing her husband's presence over there?" Seward replied: "No, she's not overshadowing her husband. I think we all find him very charismatic, very handsome, and almost with the responsibility of being a savior on his shoulders...And people are excited to see him, very excited to see him." Chen added: "As they should be."

Later, Chen asked about the Obamas’ gift to Queen Elizabeth, an ipod loaded with show tunes: "Now, what are people saying about the First Lady and President Obama's gift of an ipod to the Queen?" Seward declared: "Actually, an ipod is a perfect gift for the Queen because in the cellars of Buckingham Palace, she has so many unwanted gifts, sort of trophies and unattractive pieces of jewelry. I mean, she couldn't be more thrilled with something useful like an ipod."



Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, and Helen Fisher, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-hosts Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez talked to biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, who defined four personality types and their compatibility with each other: "Well, it's all hormones -- yes, I mean, it's hormones, it's neurotransmitters, it's all kinds of chemicals and genes...I call them the explorer, the builder, the director, and the negotiator."

Fisher described the ‘explorer’ type: "An explorer is someone who's very expressive of dopamine. They're very curious, they're very creative. They're very novelty-seeking." Smith asked: "Daring, born free?" Fisher replied: "Yes, energetic, irreverent often, very liberal, very flexible." She gave a few examples, including: "I think Barack Obama is also an explorer, different kind. Well, that daringness, the energy. He even moves like a high dopamine type. They're very comfortable in their skin." Smith added: "High intellectual curiosity." Fisher agreed: "Yes. And that's the point."



Chip Reid, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show correspondent Chip Reid reported on President Obama’s first day in Britain: "Arriving at 10 Downing Street this morning, the President and First Lady were warmly greeted by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah. They posed for a hoard of photographers who shouted for the President, who is hugely popular here, to give them another wave...Then a short walk across the street for a press conference where Mr. Obama was showered with praise."

A clip was played of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offering that "praise": "Your first 70 days in office have changed America, and you've changed America's relationship with the world." Reid then added: "After cementing relations between the two close allies, the President said he's confident this summit will help ease the global economic crisis."

Reid began his report with breaking news, touting a possible nuclear arms reduction agreement between the United States and Russia: "At this very moment, President Obama is meeting with Russian President Dimitri Medvedev and White House officials say they will soon announce a diplomatic breakthrough. Opening negotiations on a new treaty to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Some very good news for President Obama as he begins this high stakes summit."



Barack Obama and Michelle Barack, CBS In the 8:00AM EST hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show correspondent Elizabeth Palmer gave a gushing report on Barack and Michelle Obama’s upcoming trip to Europe, particularly focusing on the popularity of the new First Lady: "In 1961 when Jacqueline Kennedy came to Europe, she enchanted even the crustiest of world leaders. And she's remained a tough act to follow for every First Lady since. But Michelle Obama looks more than equal to the task of impressing and delighting even the grandest of them...To be honest, most Europeans were going to like whoever replaced President Bush. But there's no doubt Michelle and her husband have an extra je ne sais quoi."

Palmer cited French journalist Agnes Poirier, who declared: "Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are a very alluring and very sophisticated couple, and that plays well with the French. They like seeing, you know, sophistication at the helm of power." Palmer concluded her report by adding: "And this sophisticated lady hand in hand with power looks poised to do wonders for America's image abroad."