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
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on Michelle Obama appearing on ABC’s "The View": "Also this morning, like Cindy McCain did this past spring, Michelle Obama co-hosted 'The View' yesterday. We're going to see how comfortable she was with the women of 'The View' and what she had to say on everything from sexism in politics to who does the housework in the Obama home."
Later, correspondent Tracy Smith reported: "Perhaps hoping she'd give her husband a bump in the polls, Michelle Obama played co-host on 'The View' yesterday. Tackling topics from panty hose...to political attacks." A clip was then played of "View" co-host Joy Behar asking Obama: "Do you feel there was any sexism in the media?," with Obama replying: "I -- there is -- yes, there's always a level of -- people aren't used to strong women."
Smith later explained appearances by both Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama on "The View" by touting a CBS News poll from April: "58% of voters were undecided on how they felt about Michelle Obama. 75% were undecided about Cindy McCain." Smith then credited Bill Clinton with beginning the trend of presidential candidates, and their wives, making guest appearances on popular shows: "In 1992, then candidate Bill Clinton got attention by playing the sax on Arsenio...Since then, guest spots on entertainment shows have become a political rite of passage." Smith remarked how: "McCain traded barbs with Letterman. And Obama got his groove on with Elllen."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment on Barack Obama: "...during the long primary season, we all learned a lot about Barack Obama. He is a Senator. He's a Harvard grad. He's a husband. And he is a father. But this morning, you're going to learn five things you probably don't know about Barack Obama." Later, in David Letterman style, correspondent Jeff Glor introduced the story: "...here are the top five things you likely don't know about Barack Obama."
Among those things, were important facts such as "Number four -- in addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during down time, Obama loves to play Scrabble." In addition to the top five, Glor later added: "Now one more thing we learned that didn't quite make our list, Julie. Obama's job as a teenager was at a Baskin Robbins and to this day he does not like ice cream." Chen responded: "So rocky road is like his Kyrptonite?" While Glor and Chen focused on Obama trivia, earlier in the show, co-host Russ Mitchell offered a mere one sentence news brief on the Illinois Senator’s opposition to a Republican plan to allow offshore oil drilling.
In his report, Glor also described how: "...many people know Obama made history at Harvard by becoming the first African-American president of the Law Review. But did you know it was the conservative students who gave him the victory?" Glor then played a clip of Obama’s communications director, Robert Gibbs, explaining that: "I think it would be a surprise for some people today that the conservative faction, along with another group, threw its support to Barack Obama because he believed they'd give him -- he'd give everyone a fair shake."
On Monday’s CBS "Evening News," correspondent Lara Logan touted what was essentially a press release from a key terrorist leader in Afghanistan: "Afghan warlord Gulbeddin Hekmatyar spoke exclusively to CBS News about the state of the insurgency in Afghanistan in this interview smuggled out of his secret hiding place." Logan went on to offer a translation of the video: "‘The resistance is spreading in all directions,’ he says. ‘It's becoming stronger and more powerful.’"
Logan went on to repeat more of Hekmatyar’s propaganda:
‘Although I'm confined to one bunker and a village which is under the threat of American warplanes all the time, I sleep very peacefully at night, while George Bush cannot sleep in the White House without the help of sleeping pills,’ he says. Hekmatyar mocks President Bush as a warmonger and blames him for Iran's meddling in Afghanistan. He says the Iranians are pouring money and weapons into the fight that's destroying his country.
On CBS’s "Sunday Morning," correspondent John Blackstone reported on the beginning of legal gay marriages in California starting Monday: "Even for people used to earthquakes, the California Supreme Court's decision last month to legalize same-sex marriage was a jolt. But even as gay couples make plans to wed this week...Opponents say tradition should and will be restored."
Blackstone went on to talk to one such opponent: "Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage is confident Californians will vote to again ban same sex marriage. On the ballot, in November...Brown says the state supreme court improperly overturned the will of the people. In 2000, California voters approved a measure declaring that only marriage between a man and woman is valid or recognized in California."
Out of a total of 8 minutes and 50 seconds of coverage during the show, 2 minutes and 14 seconds was given to highlight opponents of gay marriage. By Sunday’s "Evening News" the total coverage had shrunk to 2 minutes and 35 seconds with 27 seconds given to opponents. Total coverage on Monday’s "Early Show" was 5 minutes and 12 seconds, however, time given to opponents of gay marriage was only 41 seconds, with no mention of Brown or his organization.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Jeff Glor praised the courage of Barack Obama for promoting fatherhood during a speech on Father’s Day while running for president: "A job that usually requires safe, focus-group tested messages. This one seemed like anything but." Obama’s speech, in which the Illinois Senator declared that many fathers, particularly in the African-American community, are "M.I.A.," "AWOL," and "...acting like boys instead of men," was described by co-host Maggie Rodriguez as "A blunt Father's Day message from Barack Obama to African-American men."
On ABC’s "Good Morning America," correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "...it was a provocative speech, the first major party African-American presidential candidate in history took the opportunity of Father's Day to deliver some tough love to the African American community on the subject of the disintegration of the black family." The report also featured a clip of Obama’s speech that lasted a full 1 minute and 12 seconds.
As reported by FishBowl DC at mediabistro.com, CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric was honored at a luncheon held by Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington DC on Wednesday and remarked: "However you feel about her politics, I feel that Senator Clinton received some of the most unfair, hostile coverage I’ve ever seen."
[UPDATE, 11 PM EDT, by Brent Baker: Katie Couric devoted her Wednesday “Katie Couric's Notebook” to making the same charge, echoing the views of Clinton-backers she featured on her June 3 newscast as recounted in an NB post: “Couric Provides Forum for Female Clinton Backers to Vent.” In the online video commentary posted Wednesday night, Couric argued (transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth):
One of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media. Many women have made the point that if Senator Obama had to confront the racist equivalent of an "iron my shirt" poster at campaign rallies, or a Hillary nutcracker sold at airports, or mainstream pundits saying they instinctively cross their legs at the mention of her name, the outrage would not be a footnote. It would be front-page news.]
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked about Hillary Clinton dropping out of the presidential race with liberal blogger Arianna Huffington and former Democratic Congresswoman Pat Schroeder, who commented on sexism during the campaign: "It troubles me a lot what we saw. It was like they made a witch out of her [Hillary Clinton], some people. You know we thought the Salem witch trials were over. But some people, no matter what she said, it was 'don't believe it. She's really evil.' This is -- I've never seen anyone do that to a candidate." [audio available here]
That comment was sparked by Smith asking about Clinton: "Did she -- did she get a fair shake? Smith followed by telling Schroeder: "Talk to me from your gut." The former Congresswoman needed no encouragement:
I'm telling you I feel there's a tremendous amount of sexism still out there. And this is not a society that deals with sexism. You know, racism, we now recognize and we all stand up. Anti-Semitism, the same thing. Good for us. That's wonderful...But the sexism that we saw in some of the media really troubled me. And we didn't have party leaders standing up. You know, If you're the woman and you stand up and say, 'Wait a minute I believe that's sexist.'...Then everybody says, 'oh, there they go. They're whining, they can't take it.' And I really think we have a lot of ground to cover on sexism.
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez highlighted Barack Obama’s "fist bump" with his wife Michelle during his victory speech on Tuesday night: "A simple fist bump between Barack Obama and his wife Michelle the night that he secured the Democratic nomination is generating a lot of buzz." [audio available here]
Correspondent Priya David then reported: "It was a historic night for Barack and Michelle Obama, there was the hug, the kiss, and then this. You can call it a 'fist bump,' a 'fist pound,' a 'knuckle buckle,' a 'dep'..." However, David also acknowledged: "...but whichever phrase you use, some are using it to call Obama out" and quoted one woman who though it was Obama: "Trying to be a little too cool."
Then David moved on: "Others say it's a symbol of love." She quoted CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield, among others, who said: "To me it was a kind of little light moment, maybe a moment of kind of intimacy. It certainly didn't reach the level of Al and Tipper Gore's record breaking kiss at the 2000 convention. And it is what it is. And you know, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a fist bump is just a fist bump." David then added: "It's not the first time Obama bumped with the younger generation. While bowling in Pennsylvania, this is how he congratulated an 8-year-old boy."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez speculated on the reason for Barack Obama secretly meeting with Hillary Clinton late Thursday: "Breaking news overnight. Obama and Clinton sneak off for a secret meeting. Was the dream ticket on the agenda?" Co-hosts Harry Smith and Julie Chen then simulated what the meeting may have been like:
HARRY SMITH: I'm tired. You must be tired.
JULIE CHEN: Yeah, I'm tired too. You tired?
SMITH: You tired?
CHEN: No, I'm more tired. But you might be more tired. That's what they talked about.
SMITH: Maybe, probably.
Despite the fawning over a possible "dream ticket," correspondent Bill Plante did report on the media’s frustration at being out of the loop: "Last night's meeting at the home of California Senator Dianne Feinstein surprised reporters traveling with Obama. They were upset. They didn't find out he wasn't coming back to Chicago until just before takeoff." A clip of an unidentified reporter was featured talking to Obama communications director Robert Gibbs: "Is there a reason why we didn't go with him in the motorcade all the way. This is what we're out here for and now we're on this plane with no candidate."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn about what Hillary Clinton’s legacy will be after leaving the presidential race on Saturday and Quinn declared that: "I think that this is a tortured person who has run and run and run and gone for it and gone for it, and it's power, and it's this and it's that, and 'I've got to be there.' There's never a moment where you see her relaxing, where you see her really stopping to smell the roses."
Smith began the segment by asking: "What are we to take away? What did we see? What did we really witness?" Quinn responded:
...Hillary doesn't know what she wants. And she doesn't know who she really is...Remember when she first came into the White House and she had a different hairdo and a different outfit? She looked completely different. And people kept saying, 'Who is she?'...And even during the campaign this time...she was the strong one and the weak one. And, during this campaign, she -- she allowed him [Bill Clinton] to, on some levels, sabotage her. She was feisty at some point and even shrill, and then she would cry.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment about CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric’s recent interview with Barack Obama: "And then Obama. The Katie interview. What he thinks of Hillary," a clip of Couric was played: "Do you think you're chemically compatible?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez then teased an interview with Clinton supporter Congressman Charles Rangel to discuss Hillary getting out of the race: "Coming up in just a couple of minutes we'll talk to one of her key supporters." However, the cameraman mistakenly focused on Couric, who was sitting in the studio. Rodriguez quickly added: "We're also going to talk to Katie Couric about an interview that she did with Barack Obama." [download video here]
In the later segment with co-host Harry Smith, Couric played a longer clip of her interview with Obama, which began with her pushing Clinton for VP: " In our latest poll, 59% of Democratic primary voters, including 46% of your voters, think you should select Senator Clinton to be your running mate. So in the spirit of Kennedy picking Johnson and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Senator Clinton?" Couric then asked the chemistry question: "As you know, a lot of it is about chemistry. So just now sitting here talking about it, do you think you're chemically compatible?"
Obama dodged the question, but Couric was persistent: "But what about chemistry, Senator?" Later in the segment, Smith commented: "I love the chemistry question. I love the follow-up on the chemistry question."
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: