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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest from Kyle Drennen
At the top of Monday’s ABC Good Morning America, co-host Chris Cuomo teased a story on Barack Obama’s Christmas vacation plans: "And Aloha, President-elect Barack Obama says Mele Kalikimaka on a bright Hawaiian holiday. We'll take to you to the $30 million retreat where the future first family is spending Christmas." Later, fill-in co-host Elizabeth Vargas introduced the segment: "Barack Obama and his family arrived in Hawaii over the weekend to a multi-million dollar ocean-front home, where they will spend Christmas." At no point in the story did anyone contrast Obama’s lavish getaway with the tough economic times. In fact, Cuomo seemed to dismiss any such criticism at the end of the segment: "I can already hear the rumblings, ‘who paid for the house? Who paid for the house?’"
The report on the Obama vacation, by correspondent Yunji de Nies, seemed more like an episode of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ than a news story: "The Obamas are waking up to this, Kailua Beach, with 2 ½ miles of pure white sand. At the end sits the family's vacation paradise...The Obama's, along with close friends, rented three houses, worth more than $30 million. Each, a spaces 5,000 feet, with waterfalls and a lagoon pool that flows throughout." de Nies talked to the owner of the resort, David Zimel, who remarked: "It's a home fit for a king. It's a place where royalty actually gathered. So it's -- I think it's pretty fitting that we'd have our next president spend some time here and try to relax."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Chip Reid compared Obama’s economic plan to that of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal: "During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the Works Progress Administration, the WPA. It would put 8.5 million to work...Now a new American president-elect is vowing to put the country back to work. This Sunday Morning, we'll take a look back at the WPA. And the lessons it may hold for him and for the nation." Reid later played a clip of Obama addressing the economic crisis and then observed: "In 1933, another new president faced a collapsing economy and rallied the nation with similar words...75 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal."
In a segment that was a glowing tribute to FDR and the New Deal, Reid described Obama’s economic plan as a triumphant return of big government: "And now, President- elect Obama is talking about his own jobs program, that could cost half a trillion dollars. Economic analyst Jeff Madrick believes Mr. Obama is also sending a very clear message." Madrick observed: "Well, I think the government is back and we're all the better for it. In fact, the government's been away at least since Ronald Reagan." Reid touted Madrick’s latest book: "Madrick recently published 'The Case for Big Government.' He says today, as in the Depression, only government action can stop an economic dive to an unknown bottom." Reid did wonder: "So who's going to pay for big government?" Madrick replied: "I think down the road higher taxes, even on the middle class -- and I know this is anathema right now -- will be necessary to pay for the social programs we need."
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased a segment on the controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s decision to have pastor Rick Warren deliver the invocation at the inauguration: "Barack Obama angers gay rights groups by choosing Rick Warren to give his inaugural invocation." Later Smith brought on Dr. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas and David Corn of the liberal Mother Jones magazine to debate the issue, declaring: "President-elect Barack Obama has ignited a firestorm of controversy by selecting conservative Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. Warren is an outspoken critic of gay marriage and that has angered many of Obama's liberal supporters."
Later, Smith turned to Jeffress and wondered why Warren would agree to speak at Obama’s inauguration. Jeffress replied: "But I want to say, to me, it's just unbelievable to think that because Rick Warren believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, somehow that characterizes him as a hate-monger and makes him unfit to pray at the inauguration. I mean, this sounds like bizzaro world to me-" At that point, Smith interrupted: "Well, excuse me, excuse me though, this is a serious civil rights issue in this country."
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer concluded the broadcast by sharing a recent political cartoon: "...a cartoon from the Houston Chronicle caught the flavor, a man standing in front of a burning building labeled the ‘Economy’ is shouting into a phone, ‘My house is on fire. How soon can you get here?’ A fireman who looks like Barack Obama answers, ‘January 20th.’" Schieffer went on to explain:
...this is an observation on how ineffectual both Congress and the administration have become. Years of political spin, rosy reports that never seemed to match the pictures on television -- remember 'Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job' -- and endless partisan turf wars have left the country cynical and suspicious of everything Washington says and does, so Washington is unable to generate the political will to do anything. Government's credibility has sunk so low that the pronouncements, no matter how dire, from the lame duck president, and the even more unpopular Congress, go unheeded if not unheard.
Schieffer concluded: "Yes, there's a new fire chief coming January 20th, but his first assignment is not to put out the economic fire. First, he must restore the government's credibility."
In a softball profile of the liberal Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank on Sunday’s CBS 60 Minutes, anchor Lesley Stahl led with: "Barney Frank has been called the smartest guy in Congress, which is lucky for us, since he works on some of the thorniest issues around. The 14-term, 68-year-old Harvard-educated Democratic congressman from Massachusetts is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which means his portfolio includes banks, housing, and now the auto industry. " Stahl later added: "...even the most hardened Republicans give him good reviews." Stahl never named any of those "hardened Republicans."
Stahl did offer some critical descriptions of Frank: "There are many ways to describe Barney Frank. I wanted to read you a sampling of descriptions of you. They almost -- they kind of come in couplets. We have, ‘impatient and anti-social,’ ‘sharp-tongued and downright mean.’" However, she soon followed up with positive testimonials of Frank’s non-ideological pragmatism:
Listen to what the financial community says. Here's Henry Paulson on Barney Frank: ‘He’s a market savvy pragmatist who looks for areas of agreement because he wants to get things done.’ Here’s a guy from JP Morgan Chase, he said, ‘He hasn't veered off into Crazyland,’ meaning liberalism. I've heard someone describe you this way: ‘You're liberal on social issues; you're a pragmatist on economic issues.’"
Near the end of the story, Stahl observed: "True to form, he's an equal-opportunity curmudgeon, also criticizing Barack Obama for not being assertive enough on the credit crisis." Frank explained: "Senator Obama has said we only have one president at a time. Well, that overstates the number of presidents we have at this time. We don't appear to have any." Apparently, saying that having President Bush is like not having a president is somehow critical of Barack Obama.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen came to the defense of would-be New York Senator Caroline Kennedy, who has faced criticism for her lack of experience: "This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone." That comment followed a report by correspondent Meg Oliver, in which Kennedy avoided tough questions from the press: "She quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office...questions mostly went unanswered."
Chen was not so quick to defend Sarah Palin from critics during the campaign. When Tina Fey began impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live in September, Chen remarked: "Tina Fey has just so much material to work with, this is like, probably a dream come true for her." Earlier in September, Chen wondered about Palin’s foreign policy experience: "The education of Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor has her first meetings with world leaders as they gather at the U.N. How will she do?"
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: “Caroline Kennedy gets a boost in her quest to become a Senator from the woman she hopes to replace.” Later, co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment about Kennedy’s qualifications: “There are reports this morning that Senator Hillary Clinton has told her supporters to stop questioning if Caroline Kennedy is qualified to replace her. Kennedy is the latest in a long line of high-profile candidates who have sought a Senate seat. So, what actually qualifies someone to be a Senator?”
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Bill Plante acknowledged criticism of Kennedy’s qualifications, even quoting New York Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman, who compared Kennedy to Jennifer Lopez. However, Plante then brushed such concerns aside, instead praising Kennedy’s celebrity status: “Caroline Kennedy is just the latest celebrity to seek a Senate seat. In 1974, astronaut John Glenn won a Senate seat in Ohio. Bill Bradley won election to the Senate from New Jersey in 1979...Governor Patterson of New York, who will appoint the person to fill that Senate seat, has to run in two years. Who wouldn't want to run with a Kennedy on the ticket, who can raise lots of cash?”
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith offered this witty line teasing a story on the Iraq journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush: "Sock and awe. How the Iraqi shoe-thrower is now being hailed as a hero and drawing thousands of supporters." Later, Smith introduced a report about the shoe-thrower: "It's being referred to as the 'toss heard around the world.' In fact, many Iraqis are showering accolades on the journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush." The report, by correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, declared: "As demonstrators across the Arab world called for Muntathar al-Zaidi's release, his stature as a folk hero was growing...al-Zaidi using his shoes to disrespect America's president has thrilled the Arab world."
Palmer, who offered a similar report during Monday’s CBS Evening News, went on to describe al-Zaidi’s global popularity: "The internet is brimming with shoe jokes and a Saudi businessman has offered a million dollars for Zaidi's shoe...al-Zaidi's TV station announced today that not only are they going to give his family a house, but that his support extends beyond the Arab world. Another fierce critic of America, Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, has offered Al Zaidi permission to settle there, whenever, that is, he gets out of jail." Palmer also featured testimony from Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert from the liberal Brookings Institution: "It's a reminder, and a reminder that we shouldn't forget that the vast majority of people, in the Middle East and around the world, still think Iraq is a huge failure and that the Iraq war was a big mistake."
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the potential impeachment of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich with Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and asked: "You've been calling for impeachment proceedings since the day after this scandal broke. Why? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" Schakowsky explained: "No, this isn't about the legal process. This is about the governor being unable to govern right now. This is really a political question. Right now, our state is without the leadership that we need and so, of course, he'll be innocent until proven guilty in the courts."
This is not the first time Rodriguez gave the benefit of the doubt to a Democratic official embroiled in scandal. In March, Rodriguez defended the disgraced Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, who was accused and later convicted of perjury, regarding sexually explicit text messages. At the time, Rodriguez asked the prosecutor in the case: "But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
According to CBS correspondent Richard Roth, in a report on Monday’s CBS Early about an Iraqi journalist throwing a shoe at President Bush during a Baghdad press conference, the incident was reminiscent of the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein five years earlier: "Mr. Bush's message of progress was eclipsed in Baghdad by a sign of his unpopularity...The symbolism wouldn't have been lost on Iraqis, for whom shoes can be used to show extreme contempt, as with the footwear beaten against the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by Marines five years ago."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith teased the story: "So the tabloids in New York are having a field day with the shoe attack on President Bush in Iraq. The Daily News calls it a ‘Shoe-icide Attack.’ And then the Post calls it ‘Lame Duck’." After Roth’s report, Smith looked at the video of Bush’s reaction and observed: "I mean, look at the president's face, look at the look on his face...He's amused almost by this." Co-host Julie Chen then chimed in: "He looked more embarrassed. I mean, he turned a little bit beet red afterwards."
Chen later remarked: "And he did kind of shoo off the Secret Service agent who came up-" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez interjected: "No pun intended." Chen didn’t understand the pun at first, but then added: "I didn't mean that! Hey, I'm wittier than I think this morning." In May, Chen thought Hawaii was in the Atlantic Ocean.
ABC was the only network to break into its daytime programming on Thursday with live coverage of Barack Obama’s press conference regarding the Wednesday arrest of Illinois’s Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. Neither CBS nor NBC interrupted regular programming to cover the press conference, during which Obama also named former Senator Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary.
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed actor James Franco, who stars opposite Sean Penn in a new movie about gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk: "Actor James Franco is here to talk about his role in the much-talked-about new movie, 'Milk.' He is amazing in it." At the end of the show, Smith thanked Franco for being a guest and offer this review of the movie: "James Franco in 'Milk,' amazing performance. Sean Penn, off the charts. It's a must-see for everybody."
On November 30, CBS’s Sunday Morning offered a similar glowing description of the film, describing Milk as a "rebel with a cause." In the Wednesday interview, Smith described Franco’s role in the movie as a career-maker: "...there’s this completely other performance here. I mean, there's a part of you that's go to be, ‘this means I have a career,’ and 'I'm not just -- I'm not the pretty face on the Gucci ads, I get a career now.’"
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show worked hard to put as much distance as possible between Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as correspondent Chip Reid reported: "Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have both been leaders in Illinois Democratic politics for years, but long-time observers say that's about as far as the connection goes." Reid later dismissed Republican efforts to question Obama’s connection to the indicted Governor: "...that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together...Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
In a segment that followed Reid’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet: "Does any of this rub off on Barack Obama?" Sweet replied: "A little bit does. Because these are his -- this brings up the whole -- we're talking about the Senate seat for sale, but the criminal complaint does bring up Tony Rezko, it does bring up questions about the associations-" Smith interjected: "Which the Republicans tried so hard during the campaign to say Barack Obama is a Chicago politician." Sweet dispelled that characterization: "Right. And here's the thing, Obama does not come out of this culture."
At the top of Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming story about a protest by laid off workers at a Chicago factory: "Fighting back, workers stage a protest after being laid off, refusing to leave their Chicago factory until their demands are met...We'll take you there live and hear what they're fighting for." Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Leah Fried of the United Electrical Workers and liberal Congressman Luis Gutierrez, no spokesman for the management of the company, Republic Windows and Doors, was featured.
Rodriguez found the real culprit:
RODRIGUEZ: The company says that it had to close because Bank of America canceled their line of credit. I take it you're not buying that?
FRIED: Oh, no. Bank of America definitely is -- is in charge here.
RODRIGUEZ: But I'm saying that you're not satisfied with that explanation?
FRIED: No, no -- well this is the same bank that got $25 billion in bailout funds, so I think we definitely need to hold them accountable for what they do to our economy and whether or not they're investing in jobs, whether or not they're keeping people employed. So we're -- we're fighting hard to make sure that Bank of America is held accountable for what they're doing and the workers feel very strongly that -- that they need to do the right thing here.
During a discussion with co-host Maggie Rodriguez on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, liberal blogger Arianna Huffington, remarked that: "The problem with Sarah Palin was not anything to do with her being a woman. It had to do with her antediluvian views on creationism, her lack of curiosity, her lack of interest in the world around her."
The segment was about an open mic gaffe by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who said of Arizona Governor and Obama’s Homeland Security secretary nominee Janet Napolitano: "Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect." Rodriguez turned to Huffington and asked: "So what did you think about Governor Rendell's comment. Did you think it was sexist?" Huffington vigorously defended Napolitano: "I think that is really...an illusion about a woman's life. Like Janet Napolitano has a very rich life. I mean, she plays tennis twice a week and nobody in her staff can interfere with that sacred time. She actually climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She goes river rafting. She loves movies and the opera."
However, Rodriguez observed: "You talked a lot about perceptions of women, especially women in politics, during the campaign, when Sarah Palin was in the news. And on your blog you openly criticized her." Huffington offered no defense of Palin: "Well, I thought that Sarah Palin, in a way, summed up what happens when you're not curious. When you're not interested in what is going on in the world. Because my problem with her was really her response to Katie Couric, when she was asked 'what do you read?' and she couldn't give an answer."
On Thursday’s "CBS Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked discussed the Obama transition with Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, who observed: "...a lot of people said this is going to be a very extremist president and all that, that he's a very liberal Democrat, but as we have seen in appointment after appointment, he's hewing to the center. He's picking a bunch of flaming moderates here, when you come right down t it.
"Now some liberal Democrats may not like that, but he's getting praised generally across the board here." Smith agreed: "Yeah, Bob, I would guess that the only people who really feel like they have their feathers ruffled are, maybe, the liberal Democrats."
In reality, Obama’s pick for secretary of state, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, has a lifetime American Conservative Union voting score of 9. Obama’s pick for commerce secretary, New Mexico Governor and former Congressman Bill Richardson, had an ACU score of 18 while in Congress. Obama’s chief of staff, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, has a score of 16.
On Sunday’s CBS Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer discussed the challenges President-elect Barack Obama will face with liberal authors: "Today we ask the authors of four of the year's most important books to assess the problems the new administration will face." Schieffer asked the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, author of ‘The War Within: A Secret White House History,’ about Obama picking Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Woodward replied: "It's an amazing national security team that Obama appears to have selected. It's kind of like 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears.' You've got too cool, which might be -- or at least appropriately cool, General Jones as the national security adviser; Gates is kind of just right, in the middle; and Hillary Clinton, hot."
Schieffer later turned to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, author of ‘The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,’ and asked: "...your fascinating book, 'The Dark Side,' tells how the current vice president, Richard Cheney, amassed power unknown to any vice president in our history. I'd like to ask you first, how did he do that? And do you see Joe Biden having the kind of power?" Mayer replied: "it takes a president like Bush to have a vice president like Cheney. Obama, so far, seems to be so much more involved in the details and in kind of wanting to command the policies all the way up and down, really -- so I don't see it repeating." Mayer then went on to compare the Bush and Obama administrations:
Another difference that's very important is that both the president coming in and the vice president are lawyers, and one of the things that happened in the last administration was neither of them were. They were not constitutional scholars and they enacted policies that -- including legalizing torture for all purposes -- that really were not constitutional. And I don't think we're going to see that again. This is a -- this is a group of people who -- and the secretary of state is also a lawyer now. These people respect the law, I think.
Following coverage of a Monday morning news conference in which President-elect Barack Obama announced his national security team, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric observed: "...two initially surprising centrist choices for his so-called team of rivals. Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and of course Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates." She then asked political analyst Jeff Greenfield: "...in a way, this inoculates President-Elect Obama from criticism that he is somehow soft in the area of foreign policy, doesn't it?" Greenfield replied: "Yeah, I think so."
Greenfield went on to explain: "If he's going to pursue a different course, emphasizing diplomacy and international aid, if you have people like General Jones and Secretary Gates, and Hillary Clinton, who's relatively hawkish for a Democrat, it doesn't sound like a Kumbaya, let's just trust everybody. These are hard-headed realists and I think it helps him pursue that foreign policy." Couric followed up: "What about the confirmation process? Do you think there will be tough questions for Senator Clinton?...any road blocks during that process?" Greenfield responded: "One interesting thing is there are no -- I'll use this term -- fire-breathing conservative Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Nobody who's looking to make points going after Bill Clinton."
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, host Charles Osgood teased a story on politician Harvey Milk, who was the first gay man elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1977: "The story of a rebel with a cause is being retold in the form of a just-released motion picture. And as it happens, the timing could hardly be more appropriate." The movie, starring left-wing actor Sean Penn, is set to come out just after the 30th anniversary of Milk’s murder, as correspondent John Blackstone explained: "He became the first openly gay man elected to office in the United States. A breakthrough that ended with assassination. Harvey Milk served less than a year here on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors but it was a year that changed history."
Blackstone, who has done numerous stories on Californians efforts to legalize gay marriage, made a comparison between Milk’s election and the current battle over Proposition 8: "In California, the renewed battle over same sex marriage has echoes in a new movie about triumph and tragedy in San Francisco 30 years ago...It is an accident of timing. Just as gay right activists have taken to the streets, angry over the ban on same sex marriage in California, the struggle for gay rights has also moved to the big screen."
In an effort to explain Barack Obama’s call for a $500 billion stimulus package on Monday’s CBS Evening News, fill-in anchor Harry Smith patronized viewers as he turned to Fast Draw artists Josh Landis and Mitch Butler, who created an animated cartoon on the subject, promoting Obama’s public works program. Butler explained: "When the economy slows down, people look for a pick-me-up." Landis added: "And a stimulus check from government is like money falling from the sky." Butler then asked: "But what's better? Giving money away-" Landis interjected: "-or using it to build bridges, highways, schools, things like that."
Butler and Landis used economist Peter Morici to further explain: "The construction workers get salaries. The steel workers and concrete makers get salaries. They spend that money on goods and services and the money -- and that creates additional jobs, and the money keeps cycling through the economy." Butler added: "And when they're finished working, there's a new bridge that businesses can use to ship more products." Later, Landis observed: "And even though the government has to carry more debt to get the project done-" Morici explained: "It employs more people immediately, boosts GNP by a larger amount and leaves the legacy of investments in our economy, which will improve productivity into the future." Landis concluded: "...spending the money on bridges, schools and other projects gives us a better shot of prosperity down the road."