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
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."
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Murat Kurnaz, a german-born Muslim man who was released from Guantanamo Bay after five years, having been found innocent of terrorist activity, and as Pelley declared: "At the age of 19, Murat Kurnaz vanished into America's shadow prison system in the war on terror...The story Kurnaz told us is a rare look inside that clandestine system of justice, where the government's own secret files reveal that an innocent man lost his liberty, his dignity, his identity, and ultimately, five years of his life."
Pelley went on to describe Kurnaz’s claims of being tortured by the U.S. military:
Kurnaz claims his interrogations at Kandahar turned to torture. He told us that American troops held his head underwater...Kurnaz says the Americans used a device to shock him with electricity that made his body go numb. And he says he was hoisted up on chains, suspended by his arms from the ceiling of an aircraft hangar for five days.
After Kurnaz described how a doctor would monitor his health during such torture, Pelley asked: "The point of the doctor's visit was not to treat you; it was to see if you could take another six hours hanging from the ceiling?"
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl interviewed former Vice President turned global warming alarmist, Al Gore, and observed: "There's still a lot of skepticism about whether global warming is manmade...there's pretty impressive people, like the Vice President [Dick Cheney]." Gore then described skeptics like Cheney this way: "I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat." Gore then went on to explain: "That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off."
Stahl teased the interview at the top of the program: "Since he lost the election, Al Gore has become a certified celebrity, a popular prophet of global warming." In the introduction to the segment, Stahl proclaimed: "When Al Gore ran for president in 2000, he was often ridiculed as inauthentic and wooden. Today, he is passionate and animated, a man transformed."
Stahl began the interview by asking Gore about the Democratic presidential race and the possibility of him brokering a deal between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, as Stahl later observed: "He's not ruling it out, but he says he already has a job -- as he puts it, P.R. agent for the planet."
CBSNews.com video of the 13-minute story.
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased her upcoming interview with "Gray’s Anatomy" actress Kate Walsh on sex education: "She is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood today due to her roles on "Gray's Anatomy" and "Private Practice," but she's also passionate about sex education for American teens, and she took her campaign to Capitol Hill. We're going to ask her why this issue is so important." The segment that followed was another example of the media’s denigration of abstinence education. Walsh, who is a board member for Planned Parenthood, said during the interview: "Abstinence is one -- abstinence is one aspect of sex education, but it is not the complete aspect. And to expect, I think, everybody to remain abstinent is just -- it's like asking them not to grow. It's like we don't ask people to not try out for sports." Chen’s response: "Yeah, I hear you."
Chen began the interview by asking: "Tell us in your opinion what's wrong with the way we're teaching our kids in this country about sex education and what needs to be changed." Of course, there was no advocate for abstinence-only education asked to give their opinion in the segment.
At the beginning of the 8:30AM half hour of the CBS "Early Show," weatherman Dave Price did a brief story highlighting a melting ice shelf in Antarctica as an example of climate change and co-host Harry Smith used the opportunity to show off his global warming knowledge: "And they also talk about because as this disappears, this reflects light, alright? That's another huge issue because that ice reflects the light. It turns to water, which absorbs the light. That could be another exacerbating factor in global warming." Smith followed up by pointing to himself and declaring: "Al Gore Jr." Both Price and co-host Maggie Rodriguez replied "you are."
Given Smith’s known obsession with Al Gore, including trying to pin a ‘Gore‘08' campaign button on the former vice president during a interview in May of last year, this self-description was quite interesting. Price went on to joke: "You know, you spent a lot of time with him...The 'Inconvenient Anchor,' Harry's new book coming out."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith discussed a question being asked of Chelsea Clinton about Monica Lewinsky on the campaign trail with Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn, who was baffled by the media’s refusal to ask Chelsea tough questions: "Frankly, in all of my years of journalism, I have never seen the press lie down like this before. This is -- this is not what the American public thinks of as the critical and sort of -- killing, marauding, press corps – " Smith responded by admitting that: "Yeah, we're not exactly -- we're not exactly watchdogs here." [Audio available here]
Those comments were sparked by Smith asking Quinn: "As a press, though, we have basically, you know, said, 'okay, if those are the rules, you know, that's fine.' Have we sort of -- you know, have we laid down?"
Prior to talking to Quinn, Smith interviewed the Butler University college student, Evan Strange, who asked Chelsea the question at a campaign forum on campus. Strange, as it turns out, is a Clinton supporter:
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Khym Worthy, the prosecutor in the perjury case against Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and asked about sexually explicit text messages that proved Kilpatrick lied under oath about having an affair: "We know that in these thousands of text messages they talk about being madly in love and dreaming of spending days making love. But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
Worthy explained that there was vast amounts of other evidence in addition to the text messages and that there were other crimes involved. Rodriguez was incredulous: "Do you really believe someone would go so far to cover up an affair?"
Rodriguez also went on to portray Kilpatrick as the victim of selective prosecution when she asked Worthy: "And so what -- I mean, yesterday you spent 24 minutes when you made this announcement scolding the Mayor for lying. He faces 15 years in prison for perjury alone. Are you trying to make an example?"
On Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, correspondent Chip Reid, filling in for host Bob Schieffer, discussed the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Jack Reed, who he helped with the anti-war talking points:
REID: The cost of the war. Democrats have really been harping on that recently, trying to tie it to the economy, Barack Obama even suggesting that it's costing the average family more than $1,000 a year, and that it's one of the reasons we're having such economic difficulties right now. Do you buy that argument?
REED: I think I do. We've spent over $500 billion in direct spending in Iraq. That's a $500 billion stimulus package...
REID: And that's 10 times more than the president predicted this war would cost.
REED: Ten times more. And in fact, the indirect cost is probably trillions of dollars, as Professor Stiglitz has pointed out. That's a $500 billion stimulus package for Iraq.
Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" devoted four segments to Obama’s speech on race and the Jeremiah Wright controversy and that coverage began with a proclamation by co-host Maggie Rodriguez that: "It's being called a defining cultural moment in America. Barack Obama speaks about America's racial stalemate, a moving moment, a political risk." Rodriguez went on to tease upcoming coverage of the speech by again emphasizing its "historic" nature: "It was without question a defining moment in American political history. But for an African-American presidential candidate who'd played down race in his campaign, this was a huge gamble politically."
The first of the show’s four segments featured a report by correspondent Byron Pitts, who observed: "If critics hoped Senator Barack Obama would disown his controversial pastor, they were disappointed." After speaking of Obama’s "disappointed critics," Pitts went on to praise Obama’s unifying message and give some political advice:
But beyond condemning his minister's words, Obama tried bridging the racial divide, acknowledging years of bitterness and anger amongst blacks and whites...While Obama invoked the tone of a preacher, it was a politician speaking. With a slip in the polls, the Illinois Senator needs to take the nation's attention off race and back on jobs, health care, and the war in Iraq.
Following Monday’s sanitized coverage of the controversial comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show" continued to gloss over the most inflammatory of Wright’s comments, spending over 6 minutes on Obama’s upcoming speech on the issue while devoting only 16 seconds of video to Wright’s more mild statements. Following this video, co-host Russ Mitchell asked left-wing commentator Nancy Giles: "How careful does he [Obama] have to be today not to denounce Jeremiah Wright and make some black voters angry?"
The rest of the analysis with Giles, who was ‘balanced’ with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, was entirely about political strategy, not about Wright’s statements. Mitchell asked Trippi about the possibility of race affecting Obama’s appeal: "Joe Trippi, sticking with the risk factor for a second. There are folks out there who are going to look at Barack Obama, who's made no secret of the fact that he's black of course...And look at this speech and say 'you know what honey, I just realized something today, he brought up race. Barack Obama is black.' How risky is that in this speech?"
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," a total of over 13 minutes of coverage was given to the controversy involving comments of Barack Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but only 16 seconds was given to play video of Wright’s comments, video which did not include some of the Reverend’s most shocking comments that September 11 was caused by U.S. foreign policy or that the AIDS virus was part of a government plot against the black community.
The coverage began with a report from CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds, who suggested the media was paying too much attention to the story: "For days now the news media have recycled Reverend Wright's sermons or at least their most inflammatory parts." That was followed by a relatively mild 3 second clip of Wright declaring: "Not God bless America! God damn America!" Reynolds went on to explain that: "Obama has denounced that and other anti-American statements, though the Senator says he never heard such comments before from the man who was his spiritual mentor." Reynolds never mentioned what those other "anti-American statements" were.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked about race in the Democratic presidential campaign with Republican Ron Christie, author of "Black in the White House," and the Politico's Mike Allen, who declared that: "...there's a certain percentage of what Geraldine Ferraro said that's simply factual, and that is the pioneering nature of Senator Obama's candidacy is clearly part of his appeal. But there's a certain part of it that's very dark, right, the Archie Bunker side."
Just prior to this odd comparison, Allen explained that: "Until now, we had been looking at the historic side of race and gender in this race. But with this episode, these clips we just saw, we're seeing the dark side of it." Allen’s analysis of Ferraro’s "Archie Bunker dark side" followed yesterday’s "Early Show" coverage, which fawned over Obama while interrogating Ferraro.
Allen was not done yet, when asked by Smith, "...is there any safe harbor here?" Allen responded by observing: "One of the most interesting discoveries in exit polls, is among voters for whom race is most important, they're voting for Senator Clinton. That shows you something very ugly is going on out there."
Following the same pattern as ABC’s "Good Morning America" Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" featured a glowing interview with Barack Obama by co-host Harry Smith, while co-host Russ Mitchell interrogated Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro for recent comments about Obama’s candidacy: "Do you really think that Barack Obama has been so successful in this campaign because he's a black man?"
When Ferraro tried to respond and put her comments in context, Mitchell abruptly interrupted:
FERRARO: Well, let me take -- put this in context. Number one, what they're using this as a political thing to attack Hillary. I am not involved in the Hillary Clinton campaign, I was out on a paid speech which had been booked a year and a half ahead of time --
MITCHELL: I understand that, not a lot of time Congresswoman.
FERRARO: That's it -- okay -- but let me just --
MITCHELL: Why did you make these comments and do you really think that he's ahead because he's black?
Meanwhile, earlier in the broadcast Harry Smith asked Obama about Ferraro’s comments: "Senator, Hillary Clinton's campaign has basically said, 'well, we disagree with what Geraldine Ferraro has said.' Is it time that they, if you excuse my expression, denounce what she said?"
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez did a segment on "why powerful men cheat," in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal, and talked to guests Dr. Sari Locker, a sex expert, and Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn, who said of Spitzer’s wife as well as other wives of cheating politician husbands: "The wife is always standing there while the husband is -- is apologizing. And -- I look at those women, and I think they might as well be in Perda, they might as well be Taliban women with scarves over their heads standing there because not once has any woman ever said, this is not acceptable."
Dr. Locker added to the discussion by condemning Spitzer and demanding his wife speak out:
And I'll tell you, I want it to stop because the fact is, in his inauguration speech, Governor Spitzer said that he wants to transform this government into something that is as ethical and wise as all of New York. And as a New Yorker, I'm appalled. And as a woman, though, I want to see his wife also say that she's appalled. So, I think it's time for women to really stop letting this happen.
Quinn later went to explain that some wives of politicians remain silent to hold on to political power, citing one example in particular:
QUINN: ...you know, you have to look at the motivations that the wives -- I mean, a lot of these wives' power is derivative. I mean, for instance, Hillary Clinton would not be running for president if her husband had not been running for president.