Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC
Kyle Drennen is the Media Research Center's Senior News Analyst and a Contributing Editor to NewsBusters. He is the co-author of the 2014 Media Reality Check study, TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats.
In 2009, he captured the infamous comment from then-Newsweek editor Evan Thomas comparing President Obama to God. Later that same year, he exposed for MSNBC deceptively editing video footage of a Tea Party rally to conceal the racial identity of an African American participant, forcing the liberal network to respond to criticism and explain its actions.
His media analysis has been cited by nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, as well as media outlets including Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com, The Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Politico, National Review, among others.
Kyle joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science. Prior to that, he interned at the MRC in the summer of 2005. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted via email at email@example.com.
Latest from Kyle Drennen
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.
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show"a 1,612 word story on New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal did not feature the word ‘Democrat’ even once, nor was the word used in any further coverage of Spitzer during the show. A 'D' did appear briefly next to Spitzer's name on screen at two points during the show, for a total of 14 seconds. In addition, the story portrayed Spitzer as a great crusader against corporate corruption as reporter Jeff Glor explained: "Eliot Spitzer was once called 'Crusader of the Year' by "Time" Magazine...Spitzer built his career by taking down white-collar criminals and righting the wrongs of Wall Street."
During his report, Glor mentioned Spitzer’s "political opponents" calling for the Governor’s resignation making sure not mention those "opponents" were Republicans. At the very end of the segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to political correspondent Jeff Greenfield and hinted at Spitzer’s party affiliation as she mentioned that Spitzer was a Hillary Clinton superdelegate: "You're our political guy, so I have to ask you, Eliot Spitzer was a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton. That meant one vote for the nomination towards her. What happens to that head count now?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley interviewed Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, and the tone of the questions was this: "The United States is going to be in Iraq for years to come. Afghanistan is not going well. Osama bin Laden is at large. And the economy is slipping into recession...How do you make a case for a third Republican term?"
Compare that to how Steve Kroft described Barack Obama’s candidacy during a February 10 interview: "He's been helped by the media's lust for a good story and the electorate's hunger for change. What he lacks in executive experience, he has made up for with a grasp of the issues, an ability to read the public mood, and the gift of turning Democratic boilerplate into political poetry." Or to Katie Couric’s interview with Hillary Clinton during the same broadcast that featured girl talk such as: "What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?...Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?"
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith did a segment on the effectiveness of television ads in presidential campaigns, in which he gave credit to Ronald Reagan’s ‘optimistic’ "Morning in America" ad, which he incorrectly said was run in the 1980 campaign rather than 1984, but he followed quickly by condemning more recent Republican ads: "There's a high road and a low road. Remember Willie Horton? The ads played to racial fears and portrayed Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as soft on crime...And an ad showing John Kerry's wobbly windsurfing helped sink his presidential bid."
Prior to describing this "low road," Smith discussed Hillary Clinton’s recent 3 A.M. phone call ad and highlighted it’s effectiveness:
Most of the ads won't be remembered by anyone, but some of them are not only effective, they become part of our culture. And a new contender is this campaign ad for Hillary Clinton...But the tactics seem to work. Clinton did win Texas where the ad ran.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez hyped rising gas prices as she teased an upcoming segment and declared: "Still ahead for us, more pain at the pump. You'll be paying $4 a gallon or even more." Though $4 a gallon may happen, asserting that it will be that high, or higher, in the near future certainly paints an overly dire picture. While introducing the segment, Rodriguez went on to highlight one gas station in California with prices far above the average of $3.17 a gallon across the country: "It may be hard to believe, but seeing is believing. Take a look at that, regular unleaded at $5.19 a gallon at one California station."
Rodriguez talked to analyst Tom Kloza of the Oil Information Price Service and began by asking about the rise in gas prices, and admitting some of her earlier exaggeration: "Luckily nationwide we're not seeing gas at $5.19, but we hit a record high yesterday, $3.17 a gallon, which is 69 cents higher than a year ago. What's going on here?"
In a story on Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," on a new non-lethal ray gun developed by the Pentagon, anchor David Martin explained why such a weapon is not yet on the battlefield: "Pentagon officials call it a major breakthrough which could change the rules of war and save huge numbers of lives in Iraq. But it's still not there. That's because, in the middle of a war, the military just can't bring itself to trust a weapon that doesn't kill."
However, Martin later explains that part of the reason for the weapon not being deployed in Iraq is due to political concerns over the potential abuse of such a weapon, especially given the extreme play past abuses have gotten in the media. He talked to Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, Sue Payton:
On Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley profiled a charity called Remote Area Medical and its efforts to provide free health care in the United States:
Recently, we heard about an American relief organization that air drops doctors and medicine into the jungles of the Amazon. Its called Remote Area Medical, or "RAM" for short. Remote Area Medical sets up emergency clinics where the needs are greatest. But these days, that's not the Amazon -- this charity founded to help people who can't reach medical care now finds itself throwing America a lifeline.
Later, Pelley asked the charity’s founder, Stan Brock, about this: "You've created this medical organization that was designed to go into third world countries, to go into remote places, and you're now doing 60% of your work in urban and rural America. What are we supposed to make of that?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Steve Kroft interviewed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, along with a small group of Ohio Democratic voters who, as Kroft explained: "told us that both race and gender would be hidden factors in southern Ohio, that many blue collar workers here won't vote for a woman, and others would never vote for a black." Kroft went on to focus on Obama: "And Senator Obama has another problem: a malicious campaign against him that surfaced in a number of our interviews."
This "malicious campaign" as Kroft sees it is the suggestion by some that Obama is a Muslim. Kroft was shocked to find this belief from one of the voters he talked to, Kenny Schoenholtz, who said:
I'm leaning towards Obama. There's a couple issues with him I'm not too clear on...Well, I'm hearing he doesn't even know the national anthem. He wouldn't use the Holy Bible. He's got his own beliefs, with the Muslim beliefs. And couple of issues that bothers me at heart.
Kroft was concerned that this one misinformed voter, who said he would probably vote for Obama anyway, was reflective of broader smear against the Illinois Senator:
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed the Managing Editor of Time Magazine, Richard Stengel, about the publication’s latest cover story on the presidential campaign entitled "How Much Does Experience Matter?," with a clear picture of Barack Obama’s silhouette surrounded by a holy aura of light (see picture). Smith previewed the segment earlier in the show by wondering: "Still ahead, the question of experience dominating the Democratic campaign, does it really matter?"
In the segment that followed, the answer to that question was a resounding ‘no.’ Stengel began by using the anecdotal evidence of Abraham Lincoln to prove that experience does not matter: "I mean, the most famous example, of course, is Abraham Lincoln, who is probably our least experienced president, who was sandwiched between our two most experienced presidents, Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, both of whom were failures."
Stengel went on to defend JFK, claiming the young president was not responsible for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, but rather that the more experienced, and Republican, Dwight Eisenhower was the reason for the invasion’s failure:
David's [Time writer, David Von Drehle] great piece starts out with John F. Kennedy who came in, the first 100 days, he's tested in the Bay of Pigs. He makes a terrible mistake. He says, man, 'if I'm going to learn something, at least I learned it early.' But then who got them into the Bay of Pigs originally? Dwight Eisenhower, the most experienced president.
At the top of Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased a story on John McCain being born in the Panama Canal zone rather than inside the United States and if it would disqualify him from the presidency: "Born in the USA. John McCain wasn't. Can he still be president?"
The story, which was regurgitated from The New York Times, was presented as a news brief by co-host Russ Mitchell a few minutes later:
Does John McCain's birthplace disqualify him from serving as president? The New York Times raises the issue in a report this morning. McCain is a citizen, but he was born on a U.S. military base in the Panama Canal where his father was posted. The Constitution says only a natural-born citizen can serve as president. So far no one born outside the U.S. has served as president.
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased upcoming coverage of a photo of Barack Obama in Somalian dress: "Heading into the final debate tonight. Obama, the target of a photographic smear." Compare that to how Smith introduced a New York Times hit piece against John McCain last week: "This bombshell report that Republican front-runner John McCain may have had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist who was a visitor to his office and traveled with him on a client's corporate jet."
Later on Tuesday’s segment, reporter Jim Axelrod described the Obama campaign’s reaction to the photo: "His campaign says Clinton staffers put it out and that that's shameful." Smith then asked Axelrod about the photo:
SMITH: Jim here's the thing though, because it ends up on the front page of so many papers all around the country. Here is this morning's New York Daily News. It's on the Post too. Why is the Obama campaign so upset about the picture?
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley interviewed former Alabama Republican attorney, Jill Simpson, about a supposed effort to smear the former Democratic governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman: "Now this woman tells us there was a covert campaign to ruin the governor, a campaign that she says involved Karl Rove, at the time the president's top political advisor." In a story that violated more journalistic ethics than last week’s New York Times hit piece on John McCain, Pelley went on to ask Simpson: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...In a compromising sexual position with one of his aides." Simpson responded: "Yes. If I could."
Siegelman, a Democrat who was governor of Alabama from 1998-2002, is currently in federal prison after being convicted of bribery in 2006. Simpson claimed that this conviction was part of a grand conspiracy led by Rove. Pelley introduced the story this way: