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 email@example.com.
Latest from Kyle Drennen
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" correspondent Dean Reynolds described how the Obama campaign was defending itself against the latest McCain ad: "Spurred by what it considers below-the-belt attacks on his character, fitness, and even his fame...Barack Obama is firing back." Reynolds went on to highlight a new Obama website designed to counter McCain’s "low blows": "And Obama's campaign has just created a new website, the 'Low Road Express.' Playing off McCain's campaign bus dubbed the 'Straight Talk Express.' The new site will chronicle what the Obama folks consider low blows from McCain, who, it alleges, ‘doesn't seem to stand for anything but negative attacks and false charges against Barack Obama. This isn't the John McCain we used to know.’"
Reynolds offered a similar campaign report on Thursday’s CBS "Evening News," in which he declared: "What is striking about McCain's sharper edge, criticized by several newspapers recently, is how it appears to conflict with some of his more high-minded talk of the need for civility on the stump." Introducing the segment, anchor Katie Couric referred to the McCain ad as "infamous."
On Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Priya David reported on homeowners in Philadelphia trying to avoid foreclosure: "Yajaira Cruz-Rivera thought she was choosing a responsible mortgage plan. But dreams of remodeling crumbled just days after her family moved in...Yajaira fought with her loan company, saying her new mortgage was unfair and unaffordable." However, David then introduced the hero of the story: "That's when she saw an ad on TV for ACORN, a community organization committed to helping homeowners fight foreclosures. Together they rallied the city for change."
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, in reality, is a left-wing activist organization that seeks to implement radical socialist policies. According to an August 6, 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Malanga:
While ACORN now operates in more than 100 cities with a national budget of $37 million, it never truly left behind the welfare-rights mentality. One is hard-pressed to find in the organization's many antipoverty initiatives any programs that address social dysfunctions like illegitimacy and single parenthood. Instead, as ACORN's executive director, Steven Kest, said several years ago, "We are more focused on irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector. I don't think [illegitimacy] comes anywhere close to the irresponsible behavior of people running the largest businesses in this country."
In addition, Stanley Kurtz outlined Barack Obama’s involvement in ACORN in a May 29 article on National Review Online.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on John McCain’s latest ad criticizing Barack Obama declaring: "War of words...The race for the White House gets ugly as John McCain and Barack Obama spar over negative ads." When Rodriguez later introduced the segment, she specified who was "getting ugly": "The race for the White House has officially turned negative with the McCain campaign drawing first blood and Barack Obama responding quickly." On Monday, co-host Russ Mitchell declared that another McCain ad showed that the "gloves are off" and was a sign of how "nasty" the campaign was getting.
Thursday’s segment began with a report by correspondent Chip Reid, who decried the negative turn: "You know, it's more than three months before election day and the McCain campaign has already decided to go negative. Recently they've released a series of attack ads and the latest one compares Barack Obama to pop stars Britney Spears and Paris Hilton." Reid then described the Obama response: "The Obama campaign rushed out a response ad," a clip of the ad was played: "John McCain. His attacks on Barack Obama not true, false, baloney, the low road." Reid then proclaimed that: "Campaigning in Missouri, Obama took the high road."
Reid then described how the ad would probably backfire on McCain: "Political analyst David Mark says the ad is sure to get a lot of attention as it's replayed again and again on the internet and cable news. But he says it could well turn out to be a mistake." Mark, from politico.com, then commented: " McCain's campaign is predicated on the notions of honor, being upright. This seems a little bit beneath him." Reid concluded his report by wondering: "And one big question for Obama now is how long can he continue to take the high road with McCain increasingly on the attack?"
In a bizarre rant against President Bush at the end of Sunday’s "Face the Nation," CBS host Bob Schieffer made an odd analogy between the president and the fairy tale villain in reaction to the Bush Administration’s opposition to providing the Food and Drug Administration with more regulatory power over the tobacco industry: "The administration, incredibly, in my opinion, opposes it for a reason that would make the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland proud."
Schieffer began his commentary by declaring: "I'm delighted the House will vote this week on legislation that for the first time will give the Food and Drug Administration real power to regulate tobacco products. I hope it passes." He then decried the Bush Administration’s reason for opposing the measure:
Their reason: That the FDA already has such a huge job monitoring food safety, that it just doesn't have the resources to take on the additional job of regulating tobacco. If it did, the administration argues, regulating food and drugs might suffer. I couldn't be more serious. That really is their main reason. By that logic, we shouldn't have asked the military or our intelligence agencies to get involved in fighting terrorism after 9/11. For sure, they already had plenty to do before Osama Bin Laden came along.
Considering how long it has taken for the FDA to find the source of a recent nationwide salmonella outbreak, it seems the administration’s concerns are well-grounded.
Following a segment on Monday’s CBS "Evening News," on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Chip Reid again touted Obama economic advisor Warren Buffett calling for more taxes on the rich: "Barack Obama met with his team of economic advisers Monday...But there's one who couldn't make it and had to put in his two cents by phone...Warren Buffett, the richest man in the world. Despite his billions, he says the rich are under-taxed."
Reid went on to outline Obama’s plan to remedy that under-taxing: "Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year and use the money for a tax cut for the middle class." Reid also mentioned John McCain’s economic team: " John McCain is also tapping the minds of business leaders, including Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Meg Whitman, former head of ebay. They briefed reporters Monday on the importance of tax cuts for business."
At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell teased a segment about a new McCain campaign ad criticizing Barack Obama for not visiting wounded American soldiers in Germany: "...it is 99 days until election day and John McCain this weekend took off the gloves off with an ad criticizing Barack Obama for among other things, going to the gym while on his trip overseas last week." The segment later began with a report by correspondent Bill Plante, who described: "... it's now just 99 days to the election. But those 99 days promise a pretty rough ride. This new TV ad from the McCain campaign targets Obama's decision to cancel a visit with U.S. troops in Germany."
Plante then played a brief clip of the McCain ad and followed up with the Obama campaign’s defense: "The Obama campaign's return shot, quote, 'John McCain is an honorable man who is running an increasingly dishonorable campaign.' Back from a tour abroad focused on foreign policy and rock star TV coverage, Obama is talking this week about pocket book issues." After Plante’s report, Mitchell talked to Republican strategist Kevin Madden and former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers about the ad. Mitchell asked Madden: "...how nasty is this likely to get over the next few months?"
A report by correspondent Mark Phillips on Friday’s CBS "Early Show" gave a glowing review of Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin on Thursday: "...there is a bit of a morning after feeling here in Berlin after what they're calling the 'Obama show.' But if the intent of this trip was to raise Barack Obama's foreign profile, it could hardly have been raised any higher...The stage could not have been bigger. The 200,000-plus crowd confirmed his rock star status, and his more cooperative sounding rhetoric was what the crowd wanted to hear."
On Thursday’s "Early Show" Phillips previewed the upcoming speech with the same fawning: "...preparations have been underway for a crowd that may number in the tens of thousands. Such is the anticipation of this Obama visit...Barack Obama of course isn't running for office here, but he may wish he were. Opinion polls across Europe, unofficial ones in newspapers, show that he would have a lead somewhere in the range of 80%. He has extremely high popularity in Europe and extremely high expectations." During that same report, Phillips quoted one German citizen who explained: "I have the feeling that with Obama there's something new. And we need it. Especially in Europe." Phillips then added: "Something new meaning he's not George W. Bush, whose war in Iraq drove a wedge between U.S. and European public opinion."
On Friday’s show, Phillips observed: "This was a speech about tone, not specifics. But mostly it was about showing up and being seen." He then went on to describe John McCain’s "bitterness" toward Obama’s media coverage: "Being seen too much, according to John McCain, who has complained bitterly about the coverage his opponent has received. McCain's response to Obama's Berlin mega-event was to go to a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio."
In a interview with Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith asked: "...you have been an advocate for Senator McCain. He's committed a number of verbal gaffes over the last couple of weeks and the last couple of months. What does that tell you? Are they just mis-speaking -- is he just mis-speaking, or is it -- read something more?"
Smith asked no such question about Barack Obama being wrong about the success of the troop surge, but Jindal pointed out that fact in his reply:
Well look, there's no doubt that Senator Obama's an extremely gifted speaker. But when you look on taking the right positions. For example, I thought it was an excellent interview with Katie and Senator Obama, I think he had a great chance to say, that Senator Obama had a great chance to say he was just wrong on the surge. Senator McCain was right, even before the administration had agreed to this. Senator McCain rightfully saw that the surge would help to produce the kinds of security gains that Katie so rightfully described that are allowing us now to begin to withdraw troops, maybe even more aggressively than was thought possible a few months ago. That will allow us to redeploy troops to Afghanistan. So, to me, certainly, I want to say that Senator Obama is a great speaker, but I think on getting these core positions right, I think Senator McCain was right about the surge.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Sheila MacVicar described Barack Obama’s visit to Israel’s Holocaust memorial during his continuing Middle East tour as: "...yet another chance to see how the Senator looks in statesman clothes." MacVicar imbued Obama with the mantel of "statesman" just last Friday when she described the upcoming trip: "...Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East."
Earlier in Wednesday’s report, MacVicar described Obama’s meeting with top Israeli officials and made sure label the conservative: "The day began with a double helping of breakfast and conversations with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former prime minister and leading right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu." MacVicar concluded her report with a preview of Obama’s next stop:
This afternoon he'll travel by helicopter with not one, but two ministerial tour guides, the foreign minister and the defense minister, to the Israeli town of Sderot, which is frequently a target of Palestinian rockets. For Obama it's a chance to show that he understands and feels the plight of Israelis. For the Israelis, it's a chance to make their point about their strategic weakness.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric about Barack Obama’s trip to Iraq and asked: "He's had a very full plate here the last three or four days. Is it -- is there a way to sort of gauge what the Senator has been able to accomplish thus far?" Couric, who along with the other network anchors is following Obama on the trip, responded: "Well, I think in his time in Iraq, and as you know, Harry, he's still there, has been very, very productive."
Couric then went on to describe the Obama’s good fortune: "And let's say simply serendipitous that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, after some clarification over the weekend and going back and forth, virtually endorsed Senator Obama's plan to have a timetable for the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, U.S. combat troops by the year 2010." She also pointed out that Maliki’s "endorsement": "...was somewhat surprising, disconcerting, and embarrassing to the Bush Administration." Couric concluded: "So in terms of a withdrawal strategy, he [Obama] and Prime Minister Maliki are definitely on the same page."
At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show" a full six minutes of coverage was devoted to Barack Obama’s world tour, while only three minutes was given to a John McCain interview. During the interview with McCain, co-host Harry Smith wondered: "You know, when you have the network anchors chasing your opponent across the Middle East it's a little hard to make news. What is your strategy to get folks to pay attention to your message over the next couple of days?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked a similar question to Republican pollster Frank Luntz on Friday: "Can John McCain even compete next week?"
The coverage of Obama consisted of co-host Julie Chen talking to New York Times Baghdad correspondent Richard Oppel, followed by a clip of CBS correspondent Lara Logan’s interview with Obama in Afghanistan. Oppel highlighted recent news of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki supporting Obama’s troop withdrawal plan: "...he was quoted accurately. He did express a clear affinity for Obama's 16 month proposal."
Later, when interviewing McCain, Harry Smith also brought up Maliki’s comments: "But one of the other things that -- one of the other things that he [Obama] has said is that maybe the troops should be out within the next 18 months, an idea that Prime Minister Al Maliki basically agrees with. Maybe the surge, in fact, did work. Is it time for American troops to start coming home?" That statement was in response to McCain pointing out to Smith that: "We are winning the war. And Senator Obama was wrong. He railed against it. He voted against the surge. And he said it would fail. He was wrong there."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Sheila MacVicar reported on Barack Obama’s upcoming international tour and declared: "...Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East."
MacVicar then explained how well-received Obama’s troop withdrawal plan would be to the Iraqi people:
...people know he has proposed to withdraw all U.S. combat troops within 16 months. American presidents have not been popular here for nearly 20 years. But Iraqis say they do want U.S. troops to go home. 'I'm for withdraw now,' says this shopper. 'The Americans have caused all our problems.' 'If Obama's plan is true,' he says, 'we bless it. We need withdraw today.'
MacVicar then looked at the rest of Obama’s planned trip: "On to Europe where many are enthusiastic." She quoted one British citizen who claimed: "If there were a vote here in the UK he'd probably win something like 5-1." MacVicar concluded her report by observing: "There's no question...that even this far away Mister -- Senator Obama, more than any other recent presidential candidate, excites great interest."
While Thursday’s New York Times reported that the anchors from all three network newscasts will be joining Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq, they showed no such interest in following John McCain during his visit to Iraq in March. During the week of March 16, McCain’s trip received only four full-length stories during the combined ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news program coverage. Three of those stories were on NBC’s "Nightly News," one of which focused on McCain’s mistaken comment about Iran funding Al Qaeda in Iraq. ABC’s "World News" did only one full-length story on McCain’s Iraq trip, which mentioned the gaffe. The CBS "Evening News" was by far the worst, devoting only 31 words, a grand total of 10 seconds, to the Republican nominee’s Iraq visit during the entire week of evening news coverage. Read Media Research Center press release here.
Even the Times article acknowledged that McCain’s Iraq trip received little coverage: "Senator John McCain’s trip to Iraq last March was a low-key affair: With a small retinue of reporters chasing him abroad...But the coverage also feeds into concerns in Mr. McCain’s campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the news media are imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates." See the previous NewsBusters post by John Stephenson for more on the Times article.
While reporting that a top U.S. diplomat will attend an international meeting with an Iranian negotiator on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Bill Plante suggested such a meeting represented the Bush Administration moving toward Barack Obama’s goal of direct negotiations with Iran: "Absolutely a first and it's a sharp break from what has been the policy of the Bush Administration...Now official disclaimers aside, the fact that the administration is sending someone to this meeting is a very big deal. And since Obama has put it into the political debate it is sure to stay as part of the political discussion."
Following that report, co-host Harry Smith talked to political analyst Jeff Greenfield about the impact on the presidential campaign:
So interesting, this has been part and parcel of the political discussion of the two campaigns for several months now. Barack Obama says we should talk to some of these folks. McCain has long maintained, very much along the administration lines, we don't talk unless they stop enriching uranium. How does this reflect, do you think, upon the campaigns?
Greenfield responded by describing how the diplomatic meeting would help Obama: "But if your whole argument, and it was Senator Clinton's as well, against Obama is he's naive, he doesn't understand the world, and now to have the administration say, 'okay, the precondition we can set aside,' it tends to undercut the argument, which is going to be a key to Obama's critics, that he doesn't understand the world."
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," left-wing comedian and CBS commentator Nancy Giles, upset over the Barack Obama New Yorker cover, remarked to co-host Harry Smith: "So is the New Yorker at some point going to do a similar wild interpretation of the rumors about John McCain or have him holding his wife as a trophy, stepping on his ex-wife?"
Like MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who on Monday worried that the magazine cover was "too sophisticated" for the American public to understand, Giles similarly fretted: "But the thing about this particular cartoon is that I think for the people who really already believe that Barack Obama is Muslim...because of the fear that this country has, this will maybe reinforce that fear. They -- I don't think they'll see that as satire." When Smith described how the cartoon was meant to mock Obama’s critics, Giles added: "I get that...but I think that there may be people who just look at the cover and see it for what it is."
For his part, Smith actually defended the New Yorker and suggested the Obama campaign was overeacting: "Why's everybody going crazy about this?...Front page story in the New York Times this morning is people are trying to figure out what's funny about this campaign and so far nothing has been funny about Obama. Is Obama off-limits?...what we're returning to the age of absolute political correctness?"
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez aired her interview with John McCain that followed his Monday speech to the National Council of La Raza and teased the segment by asking: "Up next, Senator John McCain, a maverick or a flip-flopper to Latinos?" During the interview, Rodriguez, who hosted the liberal La Raza conference, pressed McCain from the left on his immigration stance: "You championed a comprehensive immigration reform bill. But now as the nominee you admit you wouldn't vote for it if it came up today. Why not?" [audio excerpt available here]
After McCain explained that the legislation had failed twice due to lack of popular support, Rodriguez wondered: "The fact that it failed, does that tell you that the American people didn't want it or that your party didn't want it?" Rodriguez then followed up by quoting Obama campaign talking points: "Some political analysts say, and in fact, Senator Obama made the comments here yesterday, that when you became the nominee, when you could no longer risk alienating your conservative base, you started emphasizing border security over a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. What about that?"
When McCain later suggested that: "Americans want the confidence that we'll have secure borders. And then I believe the overwhelming majority of them will support a humane and compassionate approach to temporary worker program and to a comprehensive immigration reform." Rodriguez responded: "But securing the border could take years. What if it never happens? When will you get to comprehensive immigration reform?"
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported from California and touted her role as emcee at the annual conference for the liberal Hispanic group La Raza: "The conference for the National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking."
At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the segment by proclaiming: " Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote." Later during the segment Rodriguez continued to emphasize the importance of the Hispanic vote: "From coast to coast, in countless corners of American cities, the Latino influence is undeniable. Latinos are the largest minority in this country. 45 million strong and growing. By 2050 that number's expected to almost triple to 128 million. And a growing Latino population means more influence for Latino voters."
Following that observation, Rodriguez played a clip of Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, praising past immigration protests in the Hispanic community: "In 2008 we're culminating on several years of activism and mobilization of the Latino community. Just look back two years ago, with the 2006 marches, where millions of people took to the streets, many of them young people, who said today we march, tomorrow we vote. Well, tomorrow has arrived."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment on comments by John McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm: "Let's talk about the economy now. Number one on voters' minds. Senator John McCain has been backed into a corner by a key economic adviser and forced to disavow some controversial statements." A report by correspondent Bill Plante followed in which he declared: "After spending the past week trying to convince voters that he does feel their pain, McCain was forced into full damage control after his economic adviser appeared to mock the troubles faced by many Americans."
Plante went on to quote Gramm’s "controversial" comments: "Gramm questioned the true extent of the country's economic downturn, saying, 'you've heard of mental depression. This is a mental recession. We have sort of become a nation of whiners, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline.'" In reality, Gramm’s assertion that America is not in a real recession is completely accurate, as a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth and there has yet to be even one quarter of negative growth.
As far as Gramm’s "nation of whiners" comment, the "Early Show" would certainly know about that given its own recent whining about the economy. On June 30 Smith talked to economic analyst Mark Zandi and the two of them declared a recession. On June 24, co-host Julie Chen proclaimed a "perfect storm of economic woes" afflicting the nation.
Meanwhile on Friday’s show, Plante concluded his report by explaining: "Gramm said that he'd only been talking about the nation's leaders. But the comment played right into the Democrats charge that Republicans are a bunch of plutocrats who don't care about the average voter." Following Plante’s report, Smith talked to political analyst Jeff Greenfield, who made a similar observation about "plutocratic" Republicans:
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith reacted to Jesse Jackson’s controversial comments about Barack Obama by sympathizing with the left-wing activist: "Honestly to me, as somebody who sat in an Operation Push [Founded by Jesse Jackson] meeting some 30-plus years ago in an old theater in Chicago, hearing this and seeing this, there's something a little sad about it."
While Smith was "a little sad" about Jackson wanting to "cut his [Obama’s] nuts off," liberal guest Keli Goff observed that Jackson was suffering from: "...an illness that I said is plaguing certain aspects of the black community, which I called JNS Syndrome...Jealous Negro Syndrome...I won't call it epidemic because it's only a certain group of people-" Smith then finished her thought: "These guys laid down their lives, or bled the blood, and others are taking-" Goff continued: " Right, right. Are reaping the benefits. You know, the Barack Obamas of the world who've had it, compared to our parents, so easy, in some respects." Apparently Smith "bled the blood" with Jackson and others.
On Wednesday's CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell declared: "The high cost of gas is hurting everyone these days. Families, businesses, and even charities. Many organizations that deliver food to the sick and elderly are being hit extra hard." In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly Wallace went even further: "In one rural California case, according to the president of Meals on Wheels nationwide, cutting back from daily deliveries to one every 14 days proved fatal. Two seniors were found dead."
The Meals on Wheels president, Enid Borden, explained that: "We have people who are literally dying in their homes waiting for a meal. That's a crisis." Wallace also played a clip of Maryland Meals on Wheels executive director, Tom Grazio, who worried: "Some day in the not too distant future, unless things get better, we'll be telling people they can't eat today and that's disheartening."
Wallace then described " a dire situation in New York City," where Meals on Wheels director Marcia Stein continued the melodramatic theme: "For the first time in our 25-year history, we are having to ration food. We're having to make tough choices about who gets a meal, who does not get a meal, what days somebody might be without food." From this report, one is under the impression that people are literally starving to death across the country due to high gas prices. In May, the "Early Show" described how one woman "...pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."