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

Lara Logan, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Lara Logan reported on the Obama administration’s effort to improve relations between the United States and Russia by abandoning a missile defense system proposed under the Bush administration: "It's become one of the most contentious issues dividing the U.S. and Russia. American plans to deploy a missile defense system on Russia's doorstep...The Obama administration's willingness to even open discussions on the issue is a dramatic reversal of U.S. policy under President Bush, who dismissed Russian objections. That dispute helped bring U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest point since the break-up of the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago. Today the President made it clear he's already started to change that."

Rather than offer any criticism, Logan cited Steven Pifer of the left-leaning Brookings Institution, who declared: "It seems to me that when we're looking for issues on which we can signal to the Russians that we're prepared to be more flexible and listen to some of their concerns, missile defense is one." At the top of the broadcast, anchor Katie Couric teased the segment by describing Obama’s proposal as an "intriguing suggestion."



David Shuster and Keith Richburg, MSNBC At the top of the 12PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage on Tuesday, anchor David Shuster spoke with Washington Post reporter Keith Richburg about the recent divide between Rush Limbaugh and RNC Chair Michael Steele: "Following the latest Republican Party civil war. A complete about-face by Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, after calling Rush Limbaugh's show 'ugly' and 'incendiary.' Steele's now apologized in the face of a withering attack from the radio host." Richburg later observed: "You know, it's fascinating. It's like the circular firing squad. I mean, maybe this is what Rush had in mind when he was talking about ‘Operation Chaos.’"

Shuster later asked Richburg: "I mean, when Rush Limbaugh says that all Republicans want President Obama to fail. What's so difficult with somebody saying, 'no, no, we think that his policies may fail, but we don't want them to fail.' What's so difficult about that?" Richburg replied: "...it almost seems like the Republican Party needs a 'Sister Soljah' moment...It seems like the Republicans need somebody who's willing to stand up and say Rush doesn't represent all of the views of the Republican Party and then not rush and apologize to him...I'll bet you whoever does that could end up as the, you know, the nominee of the party or at least the major party."



Erica Hill, CBS During a 6-minute segment on the Saturday Early Show on CBS, co-host Erica Hill spoke with liberal journalists Mort Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News and World Report, and Steven Kornacki of the New York Observer, about the future of the Republican Party. Republican strategist and CNN contributor Leslie Sanchez was also part of the panel discussion, but was only allowed 44 seconds to speak during the segment, frequently being cut off by Hill, Zuckerman, and Kornacki.

Zuckerman described the future of the GOP this way: "Obama's popularity is surging and the support for the Republican Party is declining, in part because if there is any symbol of the Republican Party, it was Bobby Jindal, the Governor of Louisiana, speaking after President Obama, and articulating a philosophy that was so completely discredited under the Bush administration that it's hard to imagine that they think they're going to do anything other than consolidate their support in a very small number of arch-conservative districts in the United States."

Kornacki shared a similar view, suggesting Republicans give up on conservative principles and simply follow Democratic Party ideals: "Republicans in Congress, the Republicans on talk radio, on Fox News, Republicans who are dominating the party and driving the philosophy of their party right now and they are denying reality...2008 was a revolt against the excesses of the Reagan philosophy, and the Republicans right now seem to be saying...'we got to click our shoes together three times, repeat our favorite Reagan catch phrase and poof, we're going to be good again.' It's not going to work. The public is looking for people who want government to take a leading, active, and aggressive role. Republicans aren't even speaking to that."



On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, who a year ago was named in a New York Times article implying she had an affair with then presidential candidate John McCain, an accusation Iseman flatly denied: "No, I did not. And four New York Times reporters, two editors, their entire institution, 200 people that they went out and sought to try and figure out if this was true or not, came back and said there's no there, there...They were calling friends and family and colleagues and former staffers, it was just -- people I'd hired and fired at my firm, it was nuts. It was just unbelievable...They became so invested in this that they couldn't walk away...this was just out of control, they just could not, for some reason, walk away."

While Iseman detailed how absurd the Times’ accusations were, Rodriguez still worked to give the paper the benefit of the doubt: "So everybody believed that you had an affair with him, even though the article, according to the Times, didn't mean to imply that and certainly didn't prove that, all of a sudden you were that girl?...You sued the New York Times, they printed a note to the readers that said ‘we never intended to imply she was having an affair with him.’ Where do you think they went so wrong? Because they have sources and they did try to contact you. Where do you think the New York Times failed here?



Bill Plante, CBS Teasing a fawning segment on First Lady Michelle Obama on Thursday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric declared: "And the lady of the house feeling right at home." Couric later introduced the segment: "And finally tonight, ever since Abigail Adams moved into the White House in 1800, every First Lady has brought her own personal touch to the executive mansion, and the city of Washington. As Bill Plante tells us, the new First Lady is busy making her mark."

White House Correspondent Bill Plante gave a glowing review of the First Lady’s first month: "For Michelle Obama, welcoming famous Americans to the White House seems effortless...But the new First Lady goes from traditionally elegant and formal to relaxed and casual with ease. Just days before this tribute to Stevie Wonder, she charmed culinary students in the White House kitchen, talking about how tough it is to get her kids to eat vegetables...Michelle Obama's been to all the usual places around Washington -- the Kennedy Center, Fords Theater, and nationally, she's been on the covers of Vogue and People magazine...After a month, it's already clear that Michelle Obama won't be content to stay behind these well-guarded gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Plante concluded his report by observing: "She's also been touring government agencies, but it's her message to local children that seems most important to her. As she tells them over and over, you, too, can be President or First Lady...And it's her ability to connect that could make her mark as First Lady."



Mark Strassmann, CBS At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric introduced a segment on Tysheoma Bethea, a 14-year-old girl who attended Obama’s address to Congress: "President Obama has said one of the biggest adjustments of his new job is living in a bubble. Now, to combat that problem, he started to read a handful of letters everyday from average Americans. One letter, written by an eighth grader from Dillon, South Carolina, caught his eye, and her story caught ours."

Correspondent Mark Strassmann then reported: "Thanks to Tysheoma Bethea, everyone at J.V. Martin Junior High now shares the audacity of hope...Last night, the 14-year-old watched President Obama read America her letter to Congress, a plea to build a new school for her small town." Strassmann described the situation at Bethea’s impoverished school and how Obama had instantly inspired them: "Too often at J.V. Martin Junior High dreams die early. 85% of students live below the poverty line. This school, built in 1896, is falling apart. For generations here, hope has been in shambles. The dropout rate is 60% and the daily fight is against a poverty of the spirit. But last night, this junior high reconnected to hope."



Bill Plante and Maggie Rodriguez, CBS At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith declared: "Tax the rich. New details on how President Obama plans to pay for his $3 trillion budget." Later, correspondent Bill Plante reported on Obama’s proposed budget in a matter-of-fact way with little skepticism: "It spends almost $4 trillion. That's trillion with a 'T.' And the deficit is $1.75 trillion because of spending on the recession. And it raises taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for some new proposals on health care. The president wants to set aside $634 billion over the next ten years as a down payment on health care reform. He'd get the money by lowering the limit on tax deductions for high earners and by trimming some Medicare spending."

In Plante’s report, Politico’s Mike Allen was quoted: "This budget is going to have some highly symbolic cuts to show people that tough choices are going to be made." Plante elaborated: "Those include what officials call 'massive cost overruns' at the Defense Department. A phase-out of direct payments to farmers making more than $500,000 a year. Elimination of the federal mentoring program, a Bush administration initiative which is labeled ineffective. And closing the loophole which allows Wall Street investment managers to pay income tax at the rate of only 15%."



Julie Chen and Ezekiel Emanuel, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Richard Roth reported on a new cancer study that found that obesity can increase the likelihood of getting cancer: "Aside from avoiding smoking, the report says that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the most important thing you can do for cancer prevention. That means diet, physical activity, and weight management...The report recommends laws and policy changes by government, industry, and schools, from adding bicycle lanes to public roads, to banning junk food from vending machines."

Following Roth’s report, co-host Julie Chen spoke with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and asked: "In light of this report, how big of a role do you think government should play in making sure Americans lead a healthier lifestyle?" Emanuel suggested: "...do you tax high fructose corn syrup in drinks that we know add calories and promote cancer?...we know that by better policies, we can encourage people to eat less and increase their exercise, which will have an effect, not just on cancer, but also heart disease and diabetes and other health-related activities."

Chen pressed Emanuel to be more definitive about the need for taxes on certain foods: "You say 'maybe do we tax them?' I mean, should we tax these manufacturers that are putting all these things in their products that make it taste good, but it's not good for us?" Emanuel replied: "There are other ways to do it besides taxing. But that is certainly one option that should be considered. In New York, they banned transfatty acids."



Maggie Rodriguez, CBS While discussing President Obama’s Tuesday night address to Congress and the Republican response given by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez observed: "And Americans loved it. The polls show that they're very optimistic, and then out comes Bobby Jindal, Debbie Downer, saying ‘hated it, it's not going to work.’" Rodriguez made the remark while speaking with Democrat Dee Dee Myers and Republican Dan Bartlett. She turned to Bartlett and asked: "Do you think the Republican Party's taking the right approach, Dan, being so vocal with their objections?"

At the top of the show, Rodriguez interviewed Vice President Joe Biden and asked: "...the Republican party came out with their own charismatic, young, dynamic, ethnic spokesperson after the speech and said ‘we don't buy it, we're not on board.’ Are you taking any of their objections into account? Are any of their objections legitimate in your view?" Biden replied: "Sure. I'm sure there's -- there's some legitimate objections they have. But what I don't understand from Governor Jindal is, what would he do?...if you choose the inaction that Governor Jindal is talking about, how responsible is that? While people are just sinking into the abyss."



Maggie Rodriguez, CBS In commemoration of the one-month anniversary of the Obama family moving into the White House, on Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "For the last month, as President Obama has settled into running the country, the first family has settled into life at the White House. While President Obama has been trying to repair our failing economy, First Lady Michelle Obama has become his number one advocate. Visiting five federal agencies this month, plugging her husband's economic stimulus plan."

Rodriguez went on to describe the Obamas hitting the Washington D.C. social scene: "In one month, the Obamas have engaged in their community, reading to school kids and visiting community organizations...They've become part of the local scene, eating out and attending a performance at the Kennedy Center. They're familiarizing themselves with their new home...They just hosted their first black-tie dinner and have entertained nearly 200 school children at the White House. But above all, in five weeks, Mr. and Mrs. Obama have learned their role as parents-in-chief to daughters Malia and Sasha."



Maggie Rodriguez, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez spoke with FDIC Chairwoman Shelia Bair and asked: "I can't think of a better morning to have you here, because all the talk is about the bank and if you look at the cover of The Washington Post, there it is, the n-word, 'nationalization,' which you have said you would be surprised if we get to that point. But isn't it maybe going to be a necessary evil?" On February 16, Rodriguez asked Republican Congressman Eric Cantor: "Can the Republican Party accept that there are situations when large-scale government intervention is necessary?"

After Bair downplayed the possibility of a government takeover of banks, Rodriguez countered: "But it sounds to me like it's a very real scenario that the government could wind up owning a majority stake in these banks if these stress tests show serious cracks because the stock is worth so little now, we don't have to put that much money in to own a majority." Bair replied: "Well, I think the inter-agency statement that was released yesterday indicated a strong presumption in favor of private control. And I think we would like to continue that. It's a very tough thing to run a bank." Rodriguez responded: "You would like to but is it realistic, do you think?"



Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC During the Monday 12PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage, anchor Norah O’Donnell interviewed conservative film maker John Ziegler, creator of ‘Media Malpractice,’ a documentary on media bias against Sarah Palin, and denied any such bias: "Well, let me ask you, you called the treatment of Sarah Palin and her family a, quote, 'media assassination, one of the greatest public injustices of our time.' Is that a little strong? Are you and her a little thin-skinned?"

Ziegler responded by pointing out O’Donnell’s own anti-Palin bias: "The evidence is overwhelming. It's continuing today. I mean, just a few weeks ago, Norah, you incorrectly stated on the air Sarah Palin called Barack Obama a terrorist during the campaign." NewsBusters reported on O’Donnell’s January 29 smear of Palin.

O’Donnell criticized part of Ziegler’s documentary: "Let me ask you, in your documentary you cite examples of media bias by Saturday Night Live, that that's media bias. Aren't those comedians?...How's that media bias?" Ziegler explained: "Poll after poll shows that more people get their news from comedy shows because the line between entertainment and news, as this network has shown time and time again, has virtually evaporated...MSNBC used to be a news organization, now it's an advocacy organization, and SNL is actually thought to be a news organization."



Harry Smith, CBS On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith played a clip of himself talking to left-wing actor Sean Penn following the Oscars Sunday night: "In a night full of first-time winners, Sean Penn took home his second Oscar as best actor for his emotional performance as slain gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk in Milk. I caught up with him and other big winners at the Governor's Ball." During the interview, Smith admitted to Penn: "As I sat watching the film, seems to happen to me more rare these days, but I wept openly during several scenes in the film because it really is a film about a civil rights movement." On December 10, Smith interviewed Penn’s Milk co-star, James Franco, and called the film "a must-see."

Earlier in the broadcast, a clip was played of Penn describing his feeling’s about the Oscar win during a press conference after the award show: "That means a lot to myself and to everybody involved, not only in the movie, but to anybody who believes in equal rights for other human beings." However, no clip was played of Penn’s actual acceptance speech, in which he declared: "I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect, and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone."



Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC During the 3:00PM EST hour of MSNBC news coverage, anchor Norah O’Donnell discovered the source of sexism in the Middle East was not Islamic fundamentalism, but rather, capitalism: "And to another big story, is oil behind sexism in the Middle East? It's a provocative new theory out there today, suggesting the real culprit of the lower status of women in the Middle East is because of the region's oil wealth."

O’Donnell then turned to Sally Quinn of the Washington, who wrote about the theory on the newspaper’s On Faith blog: "This is a hot topic, Sally. Do you believe that oil is behind sexism in the Middle East?" Quinn replied: "Well, I do think that it has a lot to do with it...when you have an oil-rich country, there's much less manufacturing, so that there are fewer jobs for women. But also because the country is so rich that women don't need to work and therefore they're comfortable and they stay home."

Later, O’Donnell concluded: "But it's a very interesting question, it's not necessarily Islam, it may be more, and you would know this better than I, as -- because of what you're doing -- it may more be the wealth of that country." Quinn replied: "Well, it is the wealth. The -- part of it, too, has to do with culture. I mean, that they come from a culture where women don't work. And so, because the oil-rich countries, all of the jobs that are involved around oil are much more male-oriented jobs."



Jeff Glor, CBS On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on conservative leader Benjamin Netanyahu being chosen as Israel’s prime minister: "Israel's president chose hardline Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu today to form a new Israeli government. As prime minister, Netanyahu will try to cobble together a coalition of right-wing parties. Such a government might dim hopes for peace with the Palestinians."

An article on the CBS News website went on to stress the importance of Netanyahu forming a moderate centrist government: "Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in a seeming about-face, indicated she might be willing to come on board a Netanyahu government. But Livni, a centrist, would certainly exact a high price: sharing the prime minister's job she so fervently sought with a reluctant Netanyahu. Should he balk, his alternative would be an unstable coalition of right-wingers sure to collide with the Obama administration and its ambitious plans for ending 60 years of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians." Later, the article stated: "With Livni out, Netanyahu might have little choice but to forge a coalition with nationalist and religious parties opposed to peacemaking with the Palestinians and Israel's other Arab neighbors."



Maggie Rodriguez, CBS On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith opened the show by declaring: "As President Obama heads on his first foreign trip, some state governors are saying 'thanks, but no thanks' to the stimulus money, even in these desperate times. We'll ask one of them why." Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and asked: "Even if it takes a while to get the money, how do you justify, let's say, not taking it to your constituents when in your state, for example, in December had the third highest unemployment rate in the country. Don't you need the money?"

After Sanford explained that he was opposed to the bill but may accept some of the funding, Rodriguez responded: "You say you're against it, but you still might take the money. Do you realize how some people might think that you're putting ideology ahead of the interests of your constituents?" He began to reply: "Well, I'd say it's the reverse. If we take the money -- in other words, I've said -- I've made my ideological stand, saying this is a bad idea-" Rodriguez interrupted: "But if you're so against it, why take the money?"



Chip Reid, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Chip Reid described Barack Obama’s signing of the massive "stimulus" spending bill into law: "After a mere four weeks in office, the President today signed what he called ‘the most sweeping economic recovery plan in American history’...A new law that he described as a new beginning...In Missouri, the reaction was instantaneous. As the bill was signed, highway commissioners signed a contract, cut a check, and work began on the first project in the nation."

Reid dedicated only one sentence of his report to those opposing the legislation: "On the steps of the Colorado statehouse today, protestors condemned the bill, while Republicans across the nation vowed to analyze every dollar of spending in search of waste and fraud." Reid followed that up with: "The White House is already fighting back. Today launching a web site intended to instill public confidence in the President's plan." None of the protestors or Republican lawmakers were quoted in the story.



Kimberly Dozier, CBS On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Kimberly Dozier interviewed former C.I.A. agent Robert Baer, who argued that Iran: "...is empire by proxy. You get people -- it's like Communism. You get people to go along with you and your vision of the world. And they're saying, you know, ‘we can finally drive the United States out of the Middle East.’" Dozier added: "Unless, Baer says, we give President Ahmadinejad and his religious backers what they want."

Baer explained what Iran wants: "First of all, they want to be recognized as a major power in the Gulf...By the United States, by the Europeans. They want to be deferred to on big issues like Iraq and Afghanistan, issues that directly affect them." Dozier asked: "But in a sense, wouldn't the U.S., wouldn't Europe be rewarding them for bad behavior?" Baer replied: "Well, we would be. But does it matter? We have to be pragmatic about this."

Dozier went on to explain: "If we don't negotiate, Baer worries, the United States may find itself in yet another war we can't afford to fight." Baer exclaimed: "And do we really want to take down the most powerful country in the Middle East? I mean, we've just taken down Iraq, the second most powerful country, and it hasn't done a bit of good for anybody in the region." Dozier interjected: "It's a mess." Baer agreed: "It's a mess and it's going to remain a mess. Let's talk them back into the game of nations."



Nancy Cordes, CBS On Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Nancy Cordes reported on perjury allegations against Illinois Senator Roland Burris and calls for his resignation: "Burris admits he did much more than just talk to one person, in fact, he says he talked to four other people with close connections and took three phone calls from the ex-governor's brother about raising money. In the down and dirty world of Illinois politics, some Republicans are calling on him to resign."

In addition to bashing Illinois Republicans, Cordes’s report featured CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen, who argued: "From a purely legal point of view, it is not a strong perjury case. All it does is suggest that Mr. Burris was a little bit more involved in all of this than he initially claimed to be."

In contrast, in January 2007, Cohen described perjury charges against Vice President Cheney’s former chief of Staff Scooter Libby this way: "The whole thing reminds me of an experience I had in law school. I was serving as a ‘baby’ public defender and one of my ‘clients’ was a man, already incarcerated, who was being brought up on new charges that he stole a car. "I didn't steal that car," he said to me. ‘Great,’ I said. ‘That's great. Can you tell me what did happen?’ ‘You don't understand,’ he said to me, "I'm a crack dealer. I don't do that petty car (stuff).’ That is darn close to what Libby and his lawyers are saying. He was an architect and implementer of (mostly failed) foreign policies, the defense goes, and thus did not have time, inclination or criminal state of mind to be guilty of the petty offense of perjury and obstruction of justice."



Chris Wragge, CBS Monday morning show coverage of allegations that Illinois Senator Roland Burris may have perjured himself with respect to connections to impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich minimized calls for investigation or Burris’s resignation. On the CBS Early Show, correspondent Thailia Assuras explained: "State Republican lawmakers are calling for Senator Roland Burris to resign and be investigated for perjury...The U.S. Senate could move to expel Burris, but analysts say that's unlikely to happen. It's not the kind of distraction Senate Democrats need as they try to move forward the president's agenda."

On NBC’s Today, correspondent Lee Cowan had a similar take: "...some Republican lawmakers here are now calling for Senator Burris to resign. At the very least, some want to see a criminal investigation launched to see whether or not he perjured himself. As for his colleagues in the U.S. Senate, so far they're reserving judgment." ABC’s Good Morning America barely mentioned the controversy, only offering one 15-second news brief on the story. In addition to downplaying the issue, none of the three morning shows mentioned that Burris was a Democrat. Only the Early Show featured an on-screen graphic with ‘Illinois (D)’ next to Burris’s name while playing a clip of the Senator.