Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest from Kyle Drennen
At 3:50pm on MSNBC News Live, anchor Contessa Brewer interviewed writer for the Washington Post's 'On Faith' blog, Sally Quinn, on the role of social issues in the presidential campaign and cited recent poll numbers on abortion: " On abortion, the latest New York Times/CBS poll shows 37% of voters say abortions should be generally available, 42% want the procedure available but with stricter limits than we have now. 19% say they should not be permitted at all...What do you make of those numbers?" Quinn responded: "Well, I think the majority of people in this country believe that abortion should be legal at some point. And 90% of people, for instance, who have Down's Syndrome babies choose to terminate their pregnancies. So I think that people generally feel that a woman should have a choice." Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin gave birth to a baby with Down's Syndrome five months ago.
Quinn went on to suggest Palin and John McCain were hypocritical for being opposed to abortion and in favor of the death penalty and even claimed that Palin would be in favor of executing abortion doctors and women who have abortions: "Both McCain and Palin are in favor of the death penalty. In fact, Sarah Palin has said, 'anybody who murders a child I will sign the death penalty for that person.' So how can you then say life begins at conception, abortion is murder, 'I'm in favor of the death penalty,' and not be in favor of the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions or mothers who allow abortions to be performed?" However, Quinn did not see any hypocrisy in Joe Biden’s contradiction of being personally opposed to abortion, but not publicly: "Joe -- Joe Biden is Catholic, believes that life begins at conception, but does not believe that imposing his religious views on others."
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on how the Wall Street financial crisis is affecting the presidential race: "Game-changer, as Wall Street falters, Barack Obama surges ahead in our latest CBS News poll." During the segment, correspondent Chip Reid declared: "...the new CBS News/New York Times poll suggests that momentum has switched back to Senator Obama after McCain's post-convention bounce. McCain led nationally by two points just one week ago, but the latest numbers show Obama holding a five-point lead over his Republican rival." However, Reid failed to mention the 3% margin of error in the poll, which could have only been briefly seen on the on-screen graphic.
Reid also cited poll data on McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin: "The new poll also suggests enthusiasm for Senator McCain's running mate Sarah Palin has softened. 33% of voters think she's qualified to be president, 62% voicing concern." While Reid spoke of ‘softened’ enthusiasm for Palin, he cited no previous poll date to demonstrate a loss of support. Instead, he criticized Palin’s performance at her first town hall meeting Wednesday night: "And she was not asked, nor did she offer, any specifics on foreign policy. Now the questions at that town hall last night and in a Fox interview last night were friendly and open-ended but the campaign understands that that will change and fast." Reid never showed any footage of FNC’s Sean Hannity interviewing Palin. Early Show co-host Harry Smith has interviewed Barack Obama eight times and only asked two questions on foreign policy.
At the top of the 8am hour of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on an ethics investigation into Sarah Palin’s firing of an Alaska public safety official: "Sarah Palin and troopergate – why the Alaska governor makes an about-face on this issue and why it could haunt her on the campaign trail." Later, correspondent Chip Reid remarked: "Palin may be back here in Ohio campaigning, but she's still being hounded by the so-called troopergate controversy back in Alaska."
Reid went on to describe the case: "Last July, Palin fired Alaska's public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan. He says he was fired because he refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, a state trooper who went through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister...At first, Palin said she welcomed the investigation, but now the McCain-Palin campaign claims it's being exploited by Democrats for political reasons and says it's now unlikely she will cooperate. And the campaign says Monegan's firing had nothing to do with Palin's brother-in-law." However, Reid never went further to explain that new email evidence corroborates Palin’s reason for firing Monegan or to describe the political motivations of those leading the investigation.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed ‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei and his partner Brad Altman about their wedding following California legalizing gay marriage and asked: "George, how was the wedding? Was it everything you dreamed of?" At the end of the segment, Takei declared: "And may sweet equality live long and prosper," making the Star Trek Vulcan hand sign. Rodriguez showed her solidarity, making the hand sign back and replying: "Let me do it. Same to you." [audio excerpt here]
During the segment, Rodriguez asked about the California ballot initiative designed to overturn the state supreme court’s decision to legalize gay marriage: "But there's this proposition on the November ballot, which you're very familiar with, Proposition 8, that may allow California voters to essentially nullify your marriage if they vote for it. George, talk about what that would mean for your marriage and for you emotionally." Takei replied by denouncing the ballot initiative, yet praising democracy:
Well, first of all, we're not going to let it get there, we're going to fight it tooth and nail. Because it's against the basic fundamental ideals of democracy. You know, we're a pluralistic society and there are many, many faiths and beliefs here. Now we respect everybody's faiths, their right to their beliefs. But there's no right for any one faith group to write those -- their own particular beliefs into civil law that applies to everyone. That's not democracy. That's not the way it works in the American way. And we are going to make sure that democracy prevails here.
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed John McCain about the recent collapse of Wall Street investment banks: " I want to make sure I have this straight now. Yesterday, on the campaign trail, you reiterated that you believe the fundamentals of the economy are strong. At the same time, we understand your campaign is issuing an ad that says the economy is in crisis. Which is it?" After McCain explained that he was referring to American workers, and that there is a crisis, Smith asked: "And the answer for which is what? Because throughout your campaign, you have said you are anti-regulation. Would not oversight have helped avert this crisis?"
Later, Smith asked: "Let me ask you this. Earlier this year on the campaign trail, you said -- or you admitted that you didn't know a lot about the economy. Why should voters trust you in these perilous times with the economy of the United States?" McCain responded: "You know, that's one of the interesting things about having long conversations. The point is, I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. Every part of America's economy, I oversighted. I have a long record, certainly far more extensive of being involved in our economy than Senator Obama does. I understand the economy. I know the issues-" At that point Smith interrupted: "Well, if that's the case, wouldn't you bear more responsibility for some of the crisis we're in then?"
During Monday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Bill Whitaker reported on the marriage of actor George Takei to his partner Brad Altman, following California’s legalization of gay marriage: "George Takei, Sulu on the original Star Trek, used to dream of a future where unimaginable things would happen. Well, his dream came true. Sunday, he legally married his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman." However, later in the segment, Whitaker warned: "But their marriage Knot could be undone by a ballot initiative to, once again, ban gay marriage." Whitaker then made a comparison: "As a child, during World War II, Takei and his family were forcibly removed to internment camps with tens of thousands of other Japanese-Americans. He held his wedding at L.A.'S Japanese-American National Museum to make a point."
Takei went on to explain to Whitaker: "We, as gay Americans, we've been stereotyped and characterized as something frightening and threatening, as Japanese-Americans were before the war." This is not the first time Takei’s comparison was featured on CBS, on June 16th’s Sunday Morning, a report by correspondent John Blackstone featured a quote from Takei: "I know that people can change because I grew up in -- behind the barbed wire fences of American internment camps. That was in my lifetime. And here I am now, a popular actor -- supported by many, many people throughout the country. America changes. America is made up of decent people, fair-minded people." Takei and Altman were also both quests on the Early Show on June 17 with co-host Julie Chen.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on the presidential campaign by implying a new scandal was brewing around Sarah Palin: "Palin-tology, Obama sharpens his attacks, as questions are asked about Todd Palin's role in his wife's office." In the later segment, Rodriguez talked to former Bush advisor Dan Bartlett and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi about the campaign and asked Bartlett: "We see new investigations springing up this morning, allegations that she consulted with her husband before making major decisions and vetoing millions of dollars of projects, that she appointed friends in key positions. Dan, do you think that this could hurt?"
Bartlett responded by observing: "Well, show me a politician who doesn't consult their spouse or their friends when they get into political office. I think there's nothing here yet that I've seen that's gained any traction." Meanwhile, Rodriguez has not asked similar questions about what degree of influence Michelle Obama has over her husband’s political decisions.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Rudy Giuliani about Sarah Palin’s performance in an interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson on Thursday’s World News and Giuliani observed: "The whole issue of whether she knows world affairs or not, these are questions that were never asked of Barack Obama, never asked of him to this day." A visibly upset Smith vigorously denied such bias: "That's not true. That's not true." Giuliani continued: "To this day he hasn't been asked these questions, about travel-" Smith kept up his defense: "That's not true. That is absolutely not true...That is absolutely not true. Those -- all those questions have been asked over the last 19 months." Giuliani got in the last word: "I don't know where."
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s use of the phrase "lipstick on a pig," on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Lipstick wars. Barack Obama fires back." A clip was then played of Obama on Wednesday’s Late Show with David Letterman: "Technically, she [Sarah Palin] -- had I meant it this way, she would be the lipstick. You see?... The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig." In a later segment, the on-screen graphic appeared: "‘Lipstick On A Pig’ Dustup: Smear Tactics?"
In the second half of that segment, Rodriguez talked to liberal George Mason University professor Michael Fauntroy about the issue and Obama’s comments on Letterman: "I want you to listen to what he said to David Letterman last night about his lipstick comment...Michael, do you think he explained it or made it worse?" Fauntroy replied: "I think he explained it." Rodriguez went on to question whether Obama should have just avoided using the phrase to begin with, but Fauntroy disagreed: "...then both candidates are in big trouble because you end up in a circumstance in which you have to censor yourself in a way that may be -- may go beyond who you are as an individual. And what voters want to be able to see from the candidates is authenticity and that may not be possible if candidates are worrying so much about what they say."
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about John McCain taking the lead in recent polls following the Republican convention and the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate: "Sarah Palin is his Geritol...That's – I mean it really has -- because I wrote in my notes this morning, she not only energized the base, she seems to have energized him." While seemingly a compliment, such a statement conveniently reminded viewers of McCain's age.
In addition, the segment featured a total of four references to the "social conservative" base of the party that Palin has attracted. Schieffer observed: "But, you know, the interesting thing about this is that John McCain, the maverick that he is, has never been popular with one part of the Republican Party, especially the social conservatives...Now the people who were against him in the Republican Party seem to like him just fine." Smith added: "These are the Rove-cultivated religious right, so important to George Bush." Schieffer concluded: "Evangelicals, social conservatives. Now, John McCain has suddenly become their favorite and he was never that before. That can only be good for him in a political sense...And I think what we've seen here, she has gotten those social conservatives in the Republican Party who were never for him. How are independents going to feel on this down the road?"
While interviewing Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward on Sunday’s 60 Minutes about his latest book on the Bush Administration’s handling of the Iraq war, The War Within, anchor Scott Pelley described how: "Another part of that story, according to Woodward, is the president's frustration with the attitude of the Iraqi people." Woodward explained: "He has a meeting at the Pentagon with a bunch of experts and he just said, 'I don't understand that the Iraqis are not appreciative of what we've done for them,' namely liberating them." Pelley then asked: "But tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis had been killed in the invasion and through the occupation. He didn't understand why they might be a little ungrateful about what had occurred to them?"
Woodward replied by skeptically explaining President Bush’s perspective: "His beacon is liberation. He thinks we've done this magnificent thing for them. I think he still holds to that position." Earlier in the interview, Pelley seemed to imply that Bush was almost bloodthirsty, wanting know how many enemy had been killed each day: "Mr. Bush told Woodward that he was frustrated with his commanders and asked for enemy body counts so he could keep score." Woodward described: "And this is Bush's concern that we're not going out and killing. In fact, [General George] Casey told one colleague privately that the president's view is almost reflective of ‘kill the bastards, kill the bastards, and that way we'll succeed.’"
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Republican presidential candidate John McCain and wondered why Americans weren’t sacrificing more during a time of war: "But we have one half of one percent of the American people who are making all of the sacrifice in this war. If the rest of us didn't watch television or looked at the newspaper, we might not know there's a war going on. Our taxes didn't go up, there's no rationing. If you didn't look for it, you wouldn't know the war was going on. Shouldn't there be some way, in a democracy, that we share this burden?"
Earlier in the interview, Schieffer asked McCain about the Republican convention and the delegates represented:
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to a panel of working moms about the media questioning Sarah Palin’s duel role as a mother and a vice presidential candidate: "Why is it that every time a woman starts ascending up a certain part of the food chain, we have this conversation all over again?...Now, if Sarah Palin's husband were in her spot, would we have asked that question in one second?...Fair or unfair, all this -- this whole conversation, and do you still feel there's a double standard?"
Compare those questions by Smith to comments by co-host Maggie Rodriguez on Wednesday, during an interview with Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor and McCain supporter criticized the questions of Palin’s parenting: "They're asking can she be vice president and be a mother. Come on." Rodriguez replied: "I think they're fair questions. It's a lot to juggle." Also on Wednesday, Rodriguez led a panel discussion on Palin by asking: "The question, can a mother of five, including an infant with Downs Syndrome, be an effective vice president?"
During Friday’s segment, one of the members of the panel, Lisa Witter, observed: "Well, I personally think that if Sarah Palin were Joe Palin, we wouldn't be having this conversation." Smith replied to that with: "Amen."
While the majority of Thursday’s CBS Early Show coverage of Sarah Palin’s convention speech was positive, at the top of the 8am hour, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Palin’s sister, Heather Bruce, and asked: "There's been a lot of talk this weekend about family, talk that family is off limits in a campaign. Yet we see your sister with her kids, introducing them, showing them on camera, and she even mentioned you in her speech last night. So the question is, is it okay to use family in a campaign when it benefits the candidate and not okay when it's negative?"
Bruce responded: "I just thought it was okay that Sarah introduces her family just to show that she's a real American family. I don't really have an opinion on whether it's beneficial or not, but in my opinion tonight, I thought it was just a gracious act for Sarah to recognize because I think she realizes that without a lot of family support in her situation that, you know, this -- this has come a long way with a lot of family support." Rodriguez then followed up: "And you're okay that...she gave you -- gave you your five seconds of fame last night?" Bruce replied: "I don't seek the limelight, or the press. I was surprised, but I wasn't offended whatsoever. You know, it was pretty gracious of her. That was kind of nice."
Appearing on Wednesday’s America’s Election HQ on FNC, the senior editor of US Weekly, Bradley Jacobs, defended the magazines recent cover, which showed a picture of Sarah Palin and the headline ‘Babies, Lies and Scandal,’ by explaining that: "Actually, the lies that we point out are some of the liberal bloggers who were speculating that the daughter was actually -- had given birth, that there was a coverup there. We're one of the few magazines that actually did call to task those liberal bloggers for the news stories over the weekend."
A skeptical Megyn Kelly responded to that claim by asking: "Bradley, do you think the cover in any way suggests to the viewer who's looking at your magazine while standing there in the grocery store that the lies are lies about Sarah Palin, by her attackers?" Jacobs replied: "I don't think we can talk about all that here. It is -- we've gotten a lot of press today, but a lot of people haven't read this story. You may disagree but it is a fairly...It's a very balanced story. We interview strategists on both sides."
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?"
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.
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:
Tuesday’s CBS Early Show devoted four separate segments to news that the teenage daughter of McCain running mate Sarah Palin is pregnant, with co-host Maggie Rodriguez declaring: "Private lives, pregnancy, and politics. A stunning start to the Republican convention, as delegates grapple with Sarah Palin's family life. I'm Maggie Rodriguez in St. Paul. The bombshell pregnancy announcement that's stolen John McCain's limelight and why some insiders say it may help him." Later, Rodriguez explained: "We've got a couple of storms brewing here in St. Paul, as well. The headline in the local paper calls day one of the Republican National Convention 'A Day of Distractions' for the GOP. The focus not on John McCain, but on Hurricane Gustav and on the political storm involving the presumptive vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, and the revelation that her teen daughter is pregnant."
In the first segment on the issue, in the 7am half hour, correspondent Jeff Glor announced: "Four days ago, hardly anybody knew anything about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Now they know a lot, including that news that her teenage daughter is indeed pregnant." Glor concluded his report by seeming to suggest that a planned address by Palin to the Republican convention was cancelled in the wake of the controversy: "Interesting to note that on the original schedule, Sarah Palin was scheduled to speak tonight. That will not happen." However, Glor never explained that while Palin was originally scheduled to give a prime time speech on Tuesday night of the convention, that speech was scheduled before she was named the vice presidential nominee, who traditionally accepts the party nomination on Wednesday, with McCain accepting the presidential nomination on Thursday.
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to former FBI agent and body language expert, Joe Navarro about some of the controversial scenery at the Obama speech: "What did you think about the open stadium? Was it too much? Too over the top? Or was it effective?" Navarro responded: "Absolutely not. You know, months ago they were talking about decisions were going to be made behind closed doors. This was democracy at its best." Rodriguez added: "Because so many people were involved." That prompted Navarro to declare: "Involved. You know, you look at the -- everything, the people, the surroundings, the colors, the imagery. It reminds you of Athenian democracy."
On Wednesday, Navarro was on the show to analyze Michelle Obama’s body language during her convention speech: "I think it was a home run. She's a beautiful woman. You know, her hugs are genuine. She has those beautiful high cheek bones that we see in models. The broad shoulders. Look how wide her stance is. Her gestures are huge. They're very encompassing. These things draw us in."
Rodriguez did raise the controversy surrounding Obama’s backdrop during his nomination acceptance speech: "That was one of the criticisms, though. You said Athenian, that the temples made it look -- I mean, the columns made it look a little bit too much like a temple, like this was meant to worship Barack Obama as a god." Navarro completely dismissed such criticism: "Not at all. This was about that, you know, we use the images of these columns from Athens to tell us about our history of democracy, about openness, about the people. And we have a great example of this where this has been opened up, I think, for the first time and may set a precedent for future conventions. Very powerful."
While speculating on John McCain’s upcoming vice presidential running mate, who we now know will be Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez explained: "I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday, which is today, and which he will be celebrating in Dayton, Ohio, where he will formally announce his vice president." In a later segment, Rodriguez declared: "John McCain didn't waste anytime trying to steal Barack Obama's thunder. He's decided on a running mate, and he will announce it today."
Later in that segment, Rodriguez talked to McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker and asked: "But he needs to make a splash somehow, especially after last night. 85,000 screaming supporters witnessing an historic nomination. That's significant. How do you top that?" When Hazelbaker responded by pointing out that "what is holding him [Obama] back in this election, is the idea that he does not have the experience or the judgment to lead." Rodriguez interrupted: "But Jill, he answered...I disagree because he [Obama] answered, very directly, every criticism that John McCain has made about him from his readiness to be president, to his celebrity status, and everything in between, he gave very direct answers." Despite such strong defense for Obama, Rodriguez will be anchoring Early Show coverage at the Republican convention next week.