Kyle Drennen

Kyle Drennen's picture
Senior News Analyst


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 kdrennen@mrc.org.

Latest from Kyle Drennen

On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about global warming: "Also ahead this morning, we'll talk about a disturbing new report from some scientists in Colorado who say that there is the very real possibility that for the first time we will see the ice in the North Pole melt away completely during the summer."

Rodriguez elaborated as she later introduced the segment:



Jeff Greenfield, CBS On Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News," political analyst Jeff Greenfield suggested that Barack Obama was becoming more moderate: "...a relentless march to the center. He's determined not to be defined as Dukakis was and as John Kerry was, as outside the mainstream." Greenfield cited examples of Obama’s move to the middle by describing how: "His compromise on warrant -- on how you can wiretap foreign nationals with the FISA compromise, I think, was one example. He's saying maybe his anti-free trade rhetoric was a little overblown."

Greenfield even went so far as to bizarrely claim that Obama’s flip-flop on public financing was somehow evidence of his more moderate positions: "And by abandoning public financing, which he pledged to, he's saying ‘If I got more money than the other guy, I'm going to use it. I want to win.’"

The segment began by anchor Katie Couric declaring: "...the polls of summer. For now the heat is on the Republicans...Barack Obama's getting quite a bounce in the polls." Greenfield continued to tout Obama’s "bounce in the polls" by proclaiming: "It's an early summer blizzard, of polls that is, most of them gladdening Democratic hearts and furrowing Republican brows. Senator Barack Obama is up by 6 points in a USA Today/Gallup Poll, 12 in an LA Times/Bloomberg survey. Newsweek has the spread at 15 points nationally." However, it has been clearly demonstrated that the L.A. Times and Newsweek polls were outliers.



Katie Couric, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric reported on Zimbabwe’s opposition leader dropping out of an election against the nation’s socialist dictator, Robert Mugabe, and lamented how: "The fear and danger that now pervades the streets of Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe is a tragic departure from the hope and promise that began with his landslide victory nearly 30 years ago." File footage of an unidentified reporter covering Mugabe’s 1980 election followed: "A self-described Marxist has won the right to form the first government of the new state of Zimbabwe."

Couric continued to describe Mugabe’s promising rise to power:

When Robert Mugabe was first elected in 1980, he was a hero. He was seen as one of Africa's most promising black leaders...The son of a carpenter, the revolutionary and former school teacher said he had, quote, "inherited the jewel of Africa." A country rich in resources, Zimbabwe claimed independence from Britain in 1965 when it was known as Rhodesia. During the '80s, Zimbabwe's government received international support...at a time its neighbor, South Africa, practiced apartheid. The country's economic condition and public health improved. But in the '90s, Mugabe became more authoritarian. This one-time revolutionary squashed all opposition and faced charges of cronyism and corruption.



Katie Couric, CBS On Monday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric teased an upcoming segment remembering controversial comedian George Carlin: "...he was a comedy legend who made us laugh and think." During the segment, correspondent Jim Axelrod followed the same theme: "George Carlin made lots of us laugh...But his genius was making us think." Immediately following that observation a clip was played of Carlin declaring: "This country was founded by a group of slave owners who told us that all men are created equal. That is what's known as being stunningly, stunningly full of [expletive]."

Later in the segment, Axelrod again praised Carlin: " But what Carlin loved best was using irreverence to force us to re-exam what we'd long stopped thinking about." That statement was followed by Carlin ranting: "Here's another question I have: How come when it's us it's an abortion and when it's a chicken it's an omelet? Are we so much better than chickens all of a sudden?" One wonders, when Couric and Axelrod say Carlin "made us think," who exactly is "us"?



Julie Chen, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show, " co-host Julie Chen lead the show with a depressing segment on the economy: "...with the economic woes hitting the nation, we have your complete guide to surviving the big squeeze." Chen proceeded to highlight high gas prices, then explain how "...the crisis in the housing market is also a drag on the economy," and finally, "Completing this perfect storm of economic woes, the devastating floods in the Midwest and how they will directly impact food prices."

When discussing the housing crisis with correspondent Thalia Assuras, Chen asked in desperation: "Thalia can you tell us anything good? Is there any relief in sight?" Assuras then offered a small glimmer of hope: "Well, the Senate toady is actually going to consider a foreclosure prevention plan or rescue plan of looking at the numbers here. It's going to provide $300 billion in new cheaper mortgages for high risk homeowners." However she then made it clear that Bush Administration would soon crush such hope: "But you know Julie, there's going to be a lot of squabbling and the White House has threatened a veto."

Following Chen’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to financial advisor Dave Ramsey and took the same pessimistic tone: "So with all this economic volatility, what are we supposed to do?...if there was ever a time to panic, is this it? It sounds pretty gloomy." In contrast, Ramsey was having none of it: "Absolutely not. I'm sorry I'm not with Chicken Little and we're not handing out helmets. There -- it is not a time to panic, there's lots of good things going on in our economy and for most people this may represent opportunity."



Jeff Glor, CBS On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," correspondent Jeff Glor did a report on "five things you should know about John McCain" and highlighted details such as: "Number four, a maverick even back in high school, John McCain was nicknamed ‘the punk’...A reputation that followed him to the naval academy." During the segment, USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro added: "John McCain graduated five slots from the bottom of the Annapolis class of 1958."

Contrast those bits of information with the hard-hitting facts revealed about Barack Obama during a similar segment on last Wednesday’s show: "Number four -- in addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during down time, Obama loves to play Scrabble...Obama's job as a teenager was at a Baskin Robbins and to this day he does not like ice cream." The segment on Obama also described how he and Michelle met and where he buys his suits.

Meanwhile, on Monday’s show, Glor also focused on McCain being born in Panama: "Number five, McCain was not born in any of the 50 United States...His father had been stationed there by the Navy, creating an eventual source of controversy." Shapiro added: "The Constitution says a president has to be a natural born citizen." Glor also questioned McCain’s skill as a pilot: "Number three, when McCain was not down in Vietnam, it was not his first. It was not his second. But his third plane crash as a pilot." Finally, Glor got to number one: "...when he first ran for Congress he was charged with being a carpet bagger."



Allen Pizzey, CBS On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez described the Catholic Church’s refusal to allow filming on Church property of a movie prequel to "The DaVinci Code," starring Tom Hanks, this way: "...the battle between Tom Hanks and the Vatican. You know he's in Rome filming the prequel to 'The Da Vinci Code,' 'Angels and Demons,' and the Church there is up in arms, they're barring them from filming in churches. They believe the film, like the book, is sacrilegious."

On Wednesday, ABC’s "Good Morning America" featured a story on the controversy in which correspondent Nick Watt declared: "When the might of Rome clashes with a literary behemoth, expect some colorful language. 'An offense against God,' is what a diocese of Rome spokesman just called this book." Watt then later proclaimed: "The Dan Brown express will not be stopped," to which GMA co-host Diane Sawyer replied: "Yes, Nick, I mean that's the irony, isn't it? The more the Church complains, probably the better it is for the business."

Meanwhile, on Thursday’s "Early Show," correspondent Allen Pizzey explained: "Fans of the book, 'Angels and Demons,' keep streaming into the churches in Rome where the plot unfolds. But the film crew turning it into a movie has been banned from them and any other Church property. The plot is not overly anti-Church, but some of the most graphic scenes are not something with which the Church wants to be associated."



Still Shot of Michelle Obama on 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."



Still Shot of Julie Chen and Jeff Glor, June 18 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."



Still Shot of Afghan Terrorist, June 16 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.



Still Shot of John Blackstone, June 15 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.



Still Shot of Barack Obama, June 16 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."



Still Shot of Julie Chen, Harry Smith, and Maggie Rodriguez, June 6 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."



Still Shot of Sally Quinn, March 26 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."



Still Shot of Harry Smith, June 4 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."



Still Shot of Harry Smith Holding Up Newspapers, June 4 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?"