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
In a particularly dire analysis on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co- host Harry Smith reacted to the recent media tour of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and declared: "He's being called the 'Pastor of Disaster' for the effect he's having on Barack Obama's campaign. Why is Reverend Jeremiah Wright taking his case to the public now?"
Smith began the segment on Wright by observing that: "Well, the month of April has probably been the longest month of Senator Barack Obama's life. He started off this month by distancing himself from comments made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Now he's doing it again."
Smith then talked to Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi, who said of Wright’s media appearances: "It's a nightmare for the Obama campaign. They can't like this at all and they've got no control." Smith went on to comment on Obama’s initial speech in Philadelphia that addressed Reverend Wright: "The speech on race that was so lauded, almost forgotten now." He followed up by asking Trippi: "...is this a campaign killer, can this be a campaign killer?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Bob Simon talked to members of the Israeli Air Force and asked one pilot, Captain Omri, about air strikes in the Gaza strip in which civilians occasionally are killed:
It's a classic guerilla war. Fifty dollar rockets made in the back alleys of Gaza against Israel's $50,000 missiles. The Israelis will tell you that kind of expense buys precise weapons which limit collateral damage. But it also gives the air force the capability of assassinating their enemy's leadership. The Israelis call this "targeted killings"; the Palestinians call it murder. Have you hit any targets?
Simon then went on to say to Omri: "But I must tell you, your face, your manners, your demeanor, you don't look like a killer. And yet what you do a lot of the time when you're over Gaza, you're killing." The pilot responded: "I agree. I don't think I'm a killer. When I look at my face in the mirror, I don't see a killer."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed John McCain and asked about the recent ad put out by the North Carolina Republican Party that criticized Barack Obama’s relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright: "The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?"
McCain replied by once again denouncing the ad:
It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view.
However, that was still not enough for Rodriguez, who followed up with: "But as the Republican nominee for president, couldn't you pick up the phone and call the head of the North Carolina GOP and say, don't run it?"
At the end of Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith interviewed former CBS News anchor Roger Mudd about his new memoir, "The Place to Be: Washington, CBS and The Glory Days of Television News," and teased the upcoming interview by declaring: "And we're also joined this morning by one of the great legends of CBS News, Roger Mudd, who's covered every major story in Washington for decades and worked along some of the best reporters who ever lived." One of those "best reporters," Mudd later explained, was Dan Rather: "There was a front row, Harry. And in the front row was Dan Rather, Marvin Kalb, George Herman, Dan Schorr, Roger Mudd."
Mudd went on to describe Rather and his numerous other colleagues in these terms: "No, it was a -- it was just a great conjunction of very talented, very hard working, very honest, ethical men and women, linked up to 20 years of some of the greatest and most profound stories that could have happened." Of course after Rather’s controversial National Guard story about President Bush in 2004, based on forged documents, the terms "honest" and "ethical" do not exactly come to mind.
Near the end of the segment, Smith asked about Mudd’s famous interview with then Democratic presidential candidate Ted Kennedy in 1979 in which Mudd asked Kennedy why he was running for president. Mudd recalled to Smith: "And his answer was -- it wasn't incoherent, but it wasn't really coherent either. And I think the answer is, Harry, that he really hadn't thought very seriously about why he wanted to be. And that exposed a weakness. That interview was not helpful." Smith later commented that: "Wow and it ended his candidacy." However, that interview was in November 1979, just as Kennedy announced his candidacy and he did not drop out of the race until the Democratic convention in 1980.
Following a story on Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News," when fill-in anchor Harry Smith described how an anti-Obama ad run by the North Carolina GOP was proof of the campaign getting "nastier," on Thursday’s "Early Show" Smith continued that theme as he exclaimed: "And the tone of the remainder of the campaign season may be getting even nastier."
Correspondent Chip Reid followed with a report on the North Carolina Republican ad and framed it this way:
A lot of that nastiness is being aimed directly at Barack Obama, and it's not just coming from Hillary Clinton and her campaign. You know there's an absolutely crucial primary in North Carolina in less than two weeks. And now the North Carolina Republican Party is going after Obama with a new hard-hitting negative ad.
The ad, directed at the two North Carolina Democrats vying for the nomination for governor of the state in the May 6 primary, plays a clip of Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright saying "God damn America!" and then criticizes both Democratic candidates for their endorsement of Obama: "Now Beth Perdue and Richard Moore endorse Barack Obama. They should know better. He's just too extreme for North Carolina."
At the end of Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment on a new group of environmentally-friendly young professionals: "Earth Day, of course, was yesterday, but for many Earth Day is every day, especially for a growing number of Americans of means." Correspondent Priya David went on define this new demographic: "Scuppies, so interesting, that's what the people in this group are called. Scuppies, it's short for Socially Conscious Upwardly Mobile Person, and there are more of them out there than you may realize. They are the new yuppies. Young, upwardly mobile, friends of the Earth."
David further explained that: "The term, coined by financial planner Chuck Fallia, refers to green young people who love both money and mother nature." She then went on to contrast today’s well-meaning "scuppies" with the greedy "yuppies," or young urban professionals, of the 1980's:
DAVID: Today's scuppies aren't like the yuppies of the 1980s.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
DAVID: Instead, they want to do good.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show"co-host Harry Smith reported live from the Wilkes University campus in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and talked to college students planning to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary, one of whom, Raquel Wheby, explained: "Tomorrow morning is -- it's very undecided. It's going to be the goose bump moment when you get in there and then you just pick one and go with it." Smith seemed to like that description of voting for a Democrat because he then exclaimed to the crowd of applauding college students: "Wow, let's go for the goose bump moment tomorrow."
Smith began the segment by excitedly declaring: "You guys fired up? We've got some first time voters for us that are going to talk to us right now about what's going on in their lives and what they're going to do when they get a chance to vote." He went on to talk to a Hillary Clinton supporter, David Sborz, who said of the New York Senator: "Because I think her inspiration, her focus, her leadership. Her will to break through the glass ceiling has really motivated a spirit in me to really support her." Smith then turned to Patrick Austin, a student supporting Obama who explained his reason for voting: "I'm a Barack Obama supporter. And I support him because I think his policy is realistic. I think he has charisma, he's intellectual, he's well spoken and, you know, he has an aura about him, I think, that most -- draws most people to him."
Following that fawning over Hillary and Obama, Smith talked to Wheby, who was still undecided. Wheby explained why she was torn between the two candidates, while taking the opportunity to mock John McCain at the same time: "I'm at the point where I won't know till I'm in the booth tomorrow. I think this campaign has been one of the first that has the first feasible black candidate, the first feasible female and the oldest running man ever." That line received laughter from the entire crowd of students in the room as well as from Smith himself.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to liberal priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, who also appeared on Monday’s show, and asked about the sex abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church as well as the comments of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the issue: "We heard from some victims' families that a mea culpa is not enough. That merely saying you're "deeply ashamed" is not enough. Do you think anything more will come of this?"
This question followed a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, who began by declaring:
It's believed the Pope could address the issue even further on his visit, either here in Washington or in New York, but some are wondering, why not Boston? For Gary Bergeron, the Pope not going to Boston on this trip is like saying the Pope's not Catholic. It just doesn't make sense... Bergeron was abused and still lives in New England, the epicenter of the scandal.
Glor also played clips of Bergeron, who said of the Pope: "I think it's an opportunity he missed...I would hold out my hand to him so that he could shake it, understand that I'm not the demon here." Of course, the Pope has not "demonized" any victims of abuse, but Glor still decided to use the quote for his report. Despite Rodriguez’s claim that "not enough" had been done, Bergeron actually helped win an $85 million dollar lawsuit for church abuse victims and met personally with Vatican officials.
In an interview with Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George about the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith was concerned about the reaction of the American people to the new pontiff: "Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of." Monday’s "Early Show" identified the Pope as a "hard liner" numerous times. [Audio available here]
Smith went on to ask about the priest pedophilia scandals and if the Pope’s mission was meant to "heal" those scandals: "The Pope was talking to reporters about priest abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, and he said, quote, "we are deeply ashamed and we'll do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future." Is this -- this trip to the United States, would you say that this -- part of the mission of this church is some healing?"
Finally, Smith concluded the interview by asking Cardinal George about the Pope’s opposition to the Iraq war: "He is going to be addressing the United Nations, he's going to be speaking to the President of the United States in private chambers. Among the messages of the Catholic Church is an anti-war message. Will he deliver that to President Bush?" The Cardinal responded by explaining: "He is eager, however, that whatever happens next is good for the Iraqi people, that they can live in peace and that we don't leave a very violent Iraq behind. So I'm sure the conversation won't just be anti-war or pro war, it'll be what do we do next?"
At the beginning of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "Coming to America. Pope Benedict XVI arrives on American soil tomorrow. How will Americans receive his hard line and soft style?" In the later segement, correspondent Allen Pizzey continued the "hard line" theme: "Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hard-liner has undergone an image makeover...when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise."
Pizzey went on to describe the Pope’s "makeover":
Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed.
Following Pizzey’s report, co-host Julie Chen interviewed left-wing priest, Father Thomas Reese, who was editor of the Catholic magazine "America," until the Vatican pressured him to resign for allowing numerous liberal opinion pieces critcizing the Church to be published.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show,"a story on the controversial comments by Barack Obama that people in small Pennsylvania towns are "bitter," was introduced by co-host Julie Chen this way: "The battle among Democrats and Hillary Clinton's relentless attempt to turn Barack Obama's words against him." Rather than focus on what Obama actually thinks about small town voters, correspondent Dean Reynolds followed with a report in which he declared:
Clinton hammered Obama all weekend over his suggestion that Americans from small economically hard pressed towns turn inward, become bitter, and cling to their guns or their religious faith during tough times, rather than look to Washington for leadership. Clinton, who is trying to hold on to what polls say is a slim lead here in Pennsylvania, said she found the statement demeaning, even snobbish. And she said so just about everywhere she went.
With Obama looking like the victim, Reynolds went on to briefly mention that the Illinois Senator apologized for the comments: "Obama was thrown on the defensive, forced to acknowledge his words were clumsy and later to apologize if he offended anyone." However, Reynolds immediately followed with the Obama campaign’s defense: "But he said his opponent was intentionally twisting his meaning...Obama also said Clinton's attempt to paint him as the sportsman's adversary and herself as their champion was laughable."
On Thursday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric teased an upcoming interview with General David Petraues: "Also tonight, General David Petraeus on the slow progress in Iraq." Couric later began the interview by asking Petraeus: "How frustrated are you?"
Prior to asking about Iranian influence in Iraq, Couric offered this pessimistic observation: "There's been a spike in attacks against Americans recently. Sixteen combat deaths this month. April is on track to be the deadliest month since September." Couric went on to describe the latest effort by Iraqi security forces to combat militias in Basra: "Last month the Iraqi army surprised the United States by attacking militant strongholds in the southern city of Basra. The operation was poorly planned. Some Iraqi troops stopped fighting, and ultimately US air power had to be sent in to back the Iraqis."
Couric then concluded the interview by citing the latest poll numbers: "Finally, general, in our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly -- more than half, obviously. How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?"
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell began an interview with Senator Joe Biden on the testimony of General Petraeus before Congress this way: "As a long-time critic of the way the Bush Administration has handled the war, were you encouraged by anything General Petraeus said yesterday?" After Biden responded by saying "I'm not at all encouraged that the president has any plan to end this war," Mitchell followed with a setup for Biden to propose his own plan: "You have said you cannot think of a circumstance where General Petraeus, or any military leader, would recommend withdrawal. At this point specifically, what are you proposing?"
On Wednesday’s NBC "Today," co-host Matt Lauer began his interview with Biden with a similar question to Mitchell’s: "Yesterday as you heard the General say, he said the progress is real but it's fragile and reversible. Did he say anything yesterday that changed your mind?" However, unlike Mitchell, Lauer actually followed up with a challenging question: "In, in terms of the security improvements that have been made and General Petraeus laid those out, while addressing the challenges that remain with the Iraqi government. When he, when he uses those words "fragile," and "reversible" Senator, are you okay with the fact that withdrawing troops might take us backward in Iraq?"
In an interview with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," about the upcoming congressional testimony of General David Petraeus on the Iraq war, co-host Harry Smith began by asking a question that perfectly toed the Democratic Party line: "David Petraeus is going to come before this committee this morning. He's going to say in more -- you know, more elaborate words than I will right now, that the surge is working. The number of attacks in Baghdad have more than doubled in the last two months. About a dozen U.S. servicemen have been killed there in just the last several days. Do you think the surge is working?" Clinton was very appreciative of Smith’s softball and let him know: "Well Harry, I think you just made a summary argument against the position that it's working."
Smith’s claim that attacks in Baghdad "more than doubled" recently was accurate according to an April 8 New York Times article. However, what Smith failed to also point out was the dramatic decline of attacks during the surge, which preceded the latest round of violence.
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley provided an update for a story done in February about former Democratic Governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman, who was convicted of bribery in 2006: "A federal court has released former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman from prison six weeks after our story...Siegelman says his prosecution was political, orchestrated in the White House."
The original "60 Minutes" story, which Pelley credits for Seigelman’s release, was aired on February 24 and claimed that not only was Sigelman’s prosecution politically motivated, but that it was done at the direct order of White House advisor Karl Rove. During that story, Pelley talked to Republican Alabama attorney, Jill Simpson, and asked: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...in a compromising sexual position with one of his aides?"
During Sunday’s update on the story, Pelley interviewed Siegelman:
PELLEY: Siegelman was once the most successful Democrat in Alabama. He claims that his prosecution by the US Department of Justice was influenced by the president's former political adviser, Karl Rove.
In a news brief on Monday’s CBS "Early Show" correspondent Lara Logan reported on recent violence in Baghdad as a result of militia forces of Muqtada al Sadr: "The streets of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad have become a bloody battleground...This eyewitness describing the fighting on his street says 'one person was killed, and a child was also killed there. Everything got burned up. Everything was destroyed.’"
Logan followed that hyperbolic account by declaring: "The human cost was difficult to measure as the wounded continued to fill hospital beds and the number of dead kept rising." The "Early Show" seized on Iraq violence in a similar way in February, when despite the obvious success of the troop surge, correspondent Mark Strassman declared: "Mayhem and misery are back in Baghdad."
As Logan concluded her report, she made sure to mention how this violence would cause problems for General David Petraeus’s upcoming report to Congress: "This latest spike in violence coming at a very awkward time for the U.S. government. As America's top officials, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker are due to testify before Congress tomorrow."
Touting a new CBS News/New York Times poll on Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on the poll’s findings: "Is America broken? In a new CBS News poll, 81% of Americans believe this country's on the wrong track. Never has that number been so high."
Co-host Harry Smith later introduced the segment by declaring: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows 81% of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction. The 14% who think we're on the right track is all -- an all-time low in the 25 years that CBS News has been asking the question." Conveniently, as Smith pointed out, CBS News began asking that question in 1983, during the Reagan Administration, and never asked the poll question during the Carter Administration. If they had, one might suspect that quite a few Americans thought the country was "headed in the wrong direction" at the time.
Smith then highlighted a restaurant owner in New Jersey, Marianne Cuneo-Powell, who "is cutting costs any way she can." Smith went to show how Powell’s situation reflected the poll numbers: "She is among the 78% of Americans who believe the economy is in bad condition... Like Marianne, two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. economy is already in a recession. And they are not encouraged by their leaders in Washington...Only 21% of Americans approve of President Bush's handling of the economy." Of course a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, not based on what the latest poll numbers say.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric did a segment on why politicians lie and suggested completely false statements made by Hillary Clinton, about sniper fire in Bosnia, and Barack Obama, about how his parents met, were really no different from this statement from John McCain: "It's called Al Qaeda in Iraq. And, my friends, they wouldn't... if we left, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they wouldn't be establishing a base, they'd be taking a country." Couric prefaced the quote by claiming: "John McCain's rhetoric doesn't always pass the smell test, either."
The McCain quote was followed by liberal Time Magazine columnist, Joe Klein, explaining that: "John McCain doesn't need to exaggerate his biography. It's a spectacular biography. But he does exaggerate the threat of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is a small Sunni group in a majority Shiite country. He says they could take over if we leave. That's an exaggeration." Just because Klein disagrees with McCain’s argument does not make it an exaggeration. Also, Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party was Sunni.
In a news brief on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell reported: "Homeowners struggling to pay the mortgage may soon be getting help from Congress -- Congress, rather, but efforts may fall short." Correspondent Wyatt Andrews went to explain why the measures may not help enough people: "Senate leadership believes it finally has a tentative deal in place to help some, but certainly not all, distressed homeowners stay in their homes...Senate Democrats wanted a much larger package, reaching tens of thousands more homeowners, but compromised with Republicans to get this deal done."
Andrews went on to describe the overwhelming desire for a government bailout plan while also pitting Wall Street against main street: "As Congress took off for the last two weeks, both parties took heat at home for doing nothing, letting average Americans absorb the loss of their homes while losses at Bear Stearns, $29 billion worth, were being absorbed by the Fed." Andrews followed with a clip of Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney: "Wall Street has been helped. Now it's time to help main street."
In yet another fawning interview with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith touted Obama’s bi-partisan appeal: "Though he leads Hillary Clinton in national polls, Obama trails in Pennsylvania. He's hoping record voter registration and an extraordinary number of people who have switched parties to boost his chances." Smith then asked the Illinois Senator: "What is your sense from what your own people tell you about the switching that has taken place already in Pennsylvania in terms of Republicans coming over to support you?" Given Rush Limbaugh’s "Operation Chaos," in which he encourages Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton to keep the Democratic race in turmoil, one wonders if this "extraordinary number" of Republicans crossing over for Obama is a similar effort rather than true support.
Even Obama had to admit that there was no solid evidence of a large Republican turnout for him, though he still insisted a "sizable" amount of support: "You know, at this point it's still anecdotal. I can tell you that there's not a rally we have in which we don't hear from a sizable number of people who say they've switched registrations or that they're a Republican and that they're going to vote for me in the primary and in the general election."