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. Prior to that, he interned at the MRC in the summer of 2005. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted via email at email@example.com.
Latest from Kyle Drennen
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming segment on Barack Obama becoming the first black nominee of the Democratic Party: "And the question, one of the many questions of the morning, is America really ready to elect a black man president? We have a brand-new CBS poll. The numbers will amaze you." At that point, co-host Julie Chen added: "You know who I would love to see handle that question?...Senator John McCain. It would be very interesting to see how he would handle that question." Smith agreed: "Yeah." Does Chen think McCain will say no?
Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez provided a segue to the story when she explained that: "I came to town [New Orleans] last night to interview Senator John McCain as he kicked off his general election campaign. Here in this city where so many voters are African-American. That's an important demographic for the Senator to woo, especially now that the Democratic nominee is African-American."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began the show by declaring: "A place in history. Barack Obama claims the Democratic presidential nomination. The first African-American to do so." While Obama’s win was indeed historic, correspondent Dean Reynolds later reported on Obama’s "ecstatic" supporters and the Senator’s humility: "...despite the thunderous, indeed ecstatic, applause at the arena in St. Paul, Barack Obama was not gloating. He dutifully paid homage to his defeated rival and her [Hillary Clinton’s] legion of supporters."
Reynolds soon followed up describing John McCain's speech as the beginning of a Republican "attack" against Obama: "John McCain is waiting for him and Tuesday night he sounded a theme of attack." In a later interview with McCain, co-host Maggie Rodrigguez wondered: "It's one thing to say that you are the better candidate. It's another to say that he [Barack Obama] is not qualified. Which is it?" Rodriguez also linked McCain, who spoke from New Orleans, to failures in Hurricane Katrina: "Here in New Orleans, a city that symbolizes one of the greatest failures of the Bush Administration, the response after Hurricane Katrina, you spoke a lot about failings of this administration. Are you trying to distance yourself from President Bush?"
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen introduced a video montage of memorable moments in the Democratic race that could have been produced by the Democratic National Committee: "Well, the long primary season for the Democrats has been historic, marked by the first woman and the first African-American to be serious contenders for the Oval Office. And it has been filled with many extraordinary moments." [audio available here]
The video, which often had Paul Simon’s song "America" playing in the background featured clips of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton making inspirational speeches to cheering crowds. It also showed their down-to-earth side, Obama bowling and Hillary downing a beer, with the tune "I am everyday people" playing in the background. However, the montage did also include some campaign controversies, like Jeremiah Wright and Hillary’s Bosnia sniper fire story.
Campaign coverage at the top of the show featured Bill Clinton’s latest attack on the pro-Obama media: "Sleazy... It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It's just a, it's another way of helping Obama." As co-host Maggie Rodriguez described it: "The president's rant. Former President Bill Clinton blasts media coverage of his wife's campaign...We'll talk about what's got him so angry." Later, Chen added: "But what about Bill Clinton, once the media darling, now speaking out against the media, saying some pretty unflattering things about the press."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to Obama supporter Congressman Robert Wexler and asked: "Here's the question though, Congressman. If Hillary Clinton continues the fight this week, does it ruin the Democratic Party's chances in November?" Wexler responded: " I don't think it ruins chances, but it would be a very, very serious matter. And only Senator McCain wants Senator Clinton to go to the Democratic convention."
Following his interview with Wexler, Smith talked to Clinton Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe and picked a fight:
MCAULIFFE: Listen, we know it's an uphill climb, but if you look at the results yesterday, Puerto Rico we won by 142,000 votes. She clearly can now argue --
SMITH: In a weak contest where not so many people showed up.
McAuliffe later touted the fact that Hillary Clinton won more votes than any other presidential candidate in a primary and Smith suggested he was lying: "Which is really, really, really not true if you really look at Michigan, you can't really count Michigan. You don't really count the caucus states like Iowa and Washington. It's not really true." Smith was much kinder to former Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan later in the show.
In an interview free of substance in which Scott McClellan appears to be an innocent victim on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began by asking the former White House Press Secretary turned Bush-bashing critic: "How you holding up?" McClellan responded by claiming: "It's tough when you take on the system. The system kind of fights back and engages in some personal attacks and misrepresentations of what's in the book."
Smith then referenced "personal attacks" made against McClellan by Bob Dole: "Among the people who have come out to say disparaging things about you, Bob Dole called you a 'miserable creature.' What is it like to have been so much a part of a certain -- of that political culture and have that culture turn on you?"
Later, McClellan explained that: "...it's time to move beyond this destructive culture in Washington and end the partisan warfare that has existed for the past fifteen years, if not longer. And that's the larger message in the book that they can take away from it." Smith replied by asking: "Do you think Republicans will look at this and take this seriously at all?" So according to Smith, the "destructive culture in Washington" is a Republican problem.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed former Bush Administration advisor Dan Bartlett about Scott McClellan’s memoir and suggested that McClellan’s harsh criticism: "...actually confirms what a lot of people have come to believe, though, about the Bush Administration, that truth was secondary to policy and politics." On Wednesday, CNN’s John Roberts made a similar observation about the book.
In a report prior to Smith’s interview with Barlett, correspondent Jim Axelrod wondered: "So why would Scott McClellan write a book bound to cut him off from so many old friends?" Axelrod answered his question by playing a clip of former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart: "It's setting the record straight, not taking the fall for things he didn't do, not looking like the patsy, but also there -- it strikes me that there's some -- there's some conviction in here that there's information that the public should have had they didn't have and somebody had to tell this story."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer about the political fallout of Scott McClellan’s Bush-bashing memoir: "The White House is essentially dismissing McClellan's book as sour grapes from a disgruntled employee who was let go early...What do you make of all this?" Schieffer replied by declaring that: " Well, it generally happens in these kinds of things when an insider makes a disclosure, those that are still on the inside start to raise questions about motivations. But I think you have to look at what he said, these are some very serious allegations."
However, while Schieffer had no doubt of McClellan’s motives, when former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg wrote an editorial piece in the Wall Street Journal in 1996 accusing the network of liberal bias, Schieffer was shocked at the idea. In his first book, "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News," Goldberg recounted how Schieffer reacted at the time: "It’s such a wacky charge, and a weird way to go about it...I don’t know what Bernie was driving at. It just sounds bizarre." Rather than being "serious allegations," Schieffer dismissed Goldberg’s charges as merely "wacky," "weird," and "bizarre."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen introduced a segment on rising gas prices and what people are doing to ease the cost: "This morning in our series 'Running on Empty' the news gets worse about gas prices. They jumped 15 cents in one week to a national average of $3.94 a gallon, according to the Energy Department. That is a record price. And it's forcing some drivers to take extreme measures to save money on gas."
Correspondent Jeff Glor then reported on how, "...desperate times call for desperate measures. Some people are doing anything they can to save on gas, while others are trying to avoid buying gas altogether." As one example, Glor highlighted a woman from San Antonio, Texas named Jessica Busby: "Then there's Jessica Busby, using her bike to get to a blood donation center two times a week. She pumps out her own blood, making $40 a pop so she has enough money to pump gas."
In an April Fool’s edition of the Media Research Center’s Notable Quotables in 2005, the MRC’s Rich Noyes came very close to Glor’s report with this fictional quote from "Early Show" correspondent Thalia Assuras: "The evidence is all over the Internet: healthy young people are putting their own organs up for sale, desperate for money to deal with fast-rising gas prices. Grad student Julie Potts just sold her kidney on Ebay."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book attacking the Bush Administration: "Breaking news this morning -- a bombshell memoir. President Bush's former press secretary accuses him of misleading the nation on Iraq." Co-host Harry Smith then introduced the segment by declaring: "Sharp attacks on President Bush by his former Press Secretary, Scott McClellan, who is releasing a memoir."
Correspondent Thalia Assuras then reported that: "...in a book to be released Monday, former Press Secretary Scott McClellan takes direct aim at the administration. On the war in Iraq, which he defended daily – In some 350 pages of 'What Happened Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception,' McClellan accuses President Bush and his advisers of confusing a propaganda campaign with the honesty needed to ensure public support."
Later, Smith quoted from the book and emphasized McClellan's credibility as he talked to Mike Allen from the Politico, who broke the story:
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" evening news anchors, ABC’S Charles Gibson, NBC’s Brian Williams, and CBS’s Katie Couric, were all on to promote an upcoming cancer research telethon, but near the end of segment, co-host Harry Smith asked about former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book in which McClellan claims the media did not ask tough questions leading up to the Iraq war and Couric agreed:
I think it's a very legitimate allegation. I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism. And I think there was a sense of pressure from corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kinds of dissent or any kind of questioning of it. I think it was extremely subtle but very, very effective. And I think Scott McClellan has a really good point.
Perhaps a better example of "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism" would be Couric’s predecessor, Dan Rather, using fraudulent National Guard memos to attempt to smear President Bush just prior to the 2004 election.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell interviewed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and asked about Iraq: "When you look at April, last month, 50 American soldiers were killed in Iraq. And a lot of Americans look at that and they're pessimistic, despite what you say about morale and how things are going in Iraq--in Iraq. Does the American public have a right to be pessimistic, in your mind?"
While suggesting Americans are ‘pessimistic’ about the war in Iraq is justified, Mitchell forgets to mention the role CBS News has played in promoting some of that pessimism with its own coverage of the war. In addition, using the phrase ‘right to be pessimistic’ leaves little room for disagreement, as Admiral Mullen pointed out: "The American public obviously gets to choose whether they're optimistic or pessimistic."
Mullen went on to explain: "I think clearly, over the last many months, things have improved fairly dramatically. We always need to be reminded of the sacrifice that these young men and women generate in terms supporting the overall mission."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen took the relatively obscure milestone of Obama winning Tuesday’s Oregon primary, thereby getting the majority of pledged delegates, and declared that it was: "An enormous day in American politics as Barack Obama inches closer to his dream."
In a later report, correspondent Dean Reynolds also spoke of Obama closing in on the nomination: "...it was a melancholy moment for Senator Clinton because Barack Obama is that much closer to his goal." At the beginning of the 7:30am half hour co-host Harry Smith acted as if Obama had already reached the 2025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination: "...the big headline is that last night Senator Obama well surpassed the number that he needed to claim that he has a majority of pledged delegates. Only three primaries are left, but they may not really matter at this point, so as the Democratic race begins to wind down, let's get some analysis of how the delegate count has played out..."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed Democratic Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, about the Senator’s new book and began by declaring that: "...you seem to me the least political person I know who's ever run for political office." [Audio available here] Of course this is the same non-political Jim Webb that said he "wanted to slug" President Bush after a White House meeting in which the President asked how Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq, was doing.
Smith went on to ask Webb: "What was that like? Talk about your experience of running for the Senate and were you really prepared for the rough and tumble of what it was really like?" Webb proceeded to give his resume, perhaps in preparation for a vice-presidential nomination: "I've been involved in political debate for my entire adult life. You know, I've got four years as a committee counsel in the Congress, five years in the Pentagon, was Secretary of the Navy, journalist, written a lot of – " Smith then interjected: "Phenomenal novels." Later in the interview, Smith also described Webb’s novels as "amazing."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to Democratic strategist Bob Shrum about Senator Ted Kennedy being hospitalized over the weekend and asked: "How important -- is there a way to measure this? Because everybody took a deep breath on Saturday and took a second to say, ‘oh, my gosh.’" Shrum responded: "I thought it was an incredible acknowledgment of the fact that this is probably the most effective and significant Senator in the last 50 years, one of the most significant in American history."
Shrum continued to lionize Kennedy: "...this is someone who literally has touched almost everybody's life in America. There isn't a bill for economic or social justice that doesn't bear his imprint. He's lived the Kennedy legacy, which we're all fascinated with, but he's vastly enlarged it." Smith followed up by describing how Kennedy even garnered respect from the Republican nominee:
We put a little bit of John McCain's statement up just a second ago. I want to put it up in full because this is really important. Here's a guy who should be his ideological opposite theoretically and this is what John McCain says: 'Senator Kennedy's role in the U.S. Senate cannot be overstated. He is a legendary lawmaker, and I have the highest respect for him.’
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" an entirely one-sided story about the California Supreme Court ruling to allow gay marriage by correspondent John Blackstone, was followed by an entirely one-sided interview of a gay couple by co-host Julie Chen. Chen introduced the segment by declaring: "The landmark decision by the California Supreme Court yesterday to allow gay couples to marry..." while also fretting that the decision "... may be short-lived. Conservative groups hope to undo the ruling by putting a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot in November." However, the perspective of those "conservative groups" is never presented in the segment. [audio available here]
Blackstone then offered his report on the ruling, which talked to no lawyers or legal experts and discussed no details of the ruling. Instead, Blackstone began by exclaiming: "In the Castro District, San Francisco's predominantly gay neighborhood...The court's decision was seen as a huge victory for equal rights." In the middle of Blackstone’s statement an overjoyed gay woman proclaimed: "Thank you, goddesses."
Blackstone went on to portray liberal San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as the hero of the day:
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" correspondent Bill Plante reported on President Bush’s speech before the Israeli Knesset and suggested the president was going after Barack Obama: "The president today is slamming Iran, embracing the Israelis, barely mentioning the Palestinians, and he's suggesting, without naming any names, that anyone who's in favor of talking to Iran, like say, Barack Obama, is in favor of appeasement." [audio available here]
Later in the report, Plante again claimed that the president was attacking the Democratic candidate: "The president is also taking what some will interpret as a slap at Barack Obama. He's saying that those who believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, and he calls that appeasement." Plante then dismissed the comments as nothing more that President Bush pandering to voters during an election year: "White House officials deny that Mr. Bush had Obama specifically in mind, but it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to see this as reaching out to American Jewish voters in an election year."
On the June 7, 2004 CBS "Evening News,"after Ronald Reagan’s death, Plante attacked the former president for what he saw as Reagan’s appeasement of terrorists during the Iran-Contra scandal:
On Wednesday’s "Your World" on FNC, host Neil Cavuto talked with talk show host Montel Williams about the election and asked if Williams was backing anyone, to which Williams responded: "You know, I'm into the election year, but I got to tell you I'm -- here I'll do something controversial, so it'll get us both fired. But I'm sick right now of the way the media is attempting to control this election rather than just report the news." [audio available here]
Williams' condemnation of media went further: "People keep being called or claim to play a race card, when it's really us in the media that are playing the race card, trying to bait people to play into the race card. I'm sick of some of what I feel is some of the most divisive politics that I've seen in the last 20 years."
Cavuto again attempted to find out if Williams was supporting any particular candidate, but instead Williams articulated his responsibility as an influential television personality not to endorse anyone:
In a rare case of balance, Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" highlighted both sides in the debate over declaring the polar bear an endangered species due to global warming as correspondent Daniel Sieberg declared: "They're at the top of the food chain at the top of the world, but their future is at the center of a political tug-of-war over drilling for oil versus protecting their habitat."
Sieberg began his report with a dire prediction: "There are an estimated 20,000 - 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic region, but environmentalists warn that rising temperatures and disappearing sea ice will cause a 30 percent decline in their population over the next 50 years." He also played clips of liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer and John Kostyack from the National Wildlife Federation.
However, Sieberg also provided perspective from the Heritage Foundation:
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and former Clinton Administration Press Secretary, Dee Dee Myers, about when Hillary Clinton would drop out of the presidential race and asked Myers: "Why is Hillary Clinton still running?" Myers responded by declaring that: "I don't think there's any question that she's going to get out. The only remaining question is when and how. And I think she'll do it in a way that's classy and helps the party." Smith repeated, "classy" and Myers replied "yeah."
Smith later asked Myers about the desperate situation facing the Clinton campaign: "I mean, I don't care how you crunch the numbers. Is there any way for her to win?" Smith went on to similarly ask Smerconish: "...as we watch her incredible shrinking candidacy, does it not seem to you that she's already turned the page?"
In addition to Myers prediction that Clinton would leave the race "in a way that's classy and helps the party," during an earlier news brief in the show, correspondent Jim Axelrod played a clip of Democratic strategist, Tad Devine, suggesting Obama could actually benefit from Clinton staying in the race: