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 a segment on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley described how "The enemy has killed hundreds of civilians this year, but surprisingly, almost the same number of civilians have been killed by American and allied forces." Pelley focused on U.S. air strikes citing a statistic from the liberal group Human Rights Watch: "So far this year, 17 air strikes have killed more than 270 civilians, according to the humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch."
Pelley introduced the segment by exclaiming that:
It's been six years since the liberation of Afghanistan, but the fighting there now is the greatest it's been since the start of the war, and more civilians are dying...With relatively few troops on the ground, the U.S. And NATO rely on air power, and civilian deaths from air strikes have doubled. Now, there's concern that those deaths are undermining Afghan support for the war.
Of course framing the story in this way followed the typical mainstream media template of suggesting that the war in Iraq has diverted resources from where they are needed and that U.S. actions are a cause of anti-Americanism throughout the world.
A segment on Monday’s CBS "Early Show" by co-host Julie Chen about accusations by the late President Ford of Bill Clinton being a "sex addict," was in sharp contrast to an interview last week with author Sally Bedell Smith, when co-host Harry Smith referred to the Clintons as a "still-young couple" and "political rock stars."
Smith teased the Monday segment on Clinton’s sex addiction by saying, "Plus, a presidential scandal comes back in the spotlight. Find out who's calling Bill Clinton a sex addict." Contrast that statement with Smith’s glowing assessment of the Clinton marriage from last Tuesday’s segment on Bedell-Smith’s new book on the Clinton marriage:
A simple Google search reveals there are more than 40 books about this still-young couple. They met in law school, two bookish, wonkish, idealistic kids who somehow transformed themselves into political rock stars.
Strangely, in last week’s segment Smith never thought to ask a single question about the affect of Bill Clinton’s sex scandals on the marriage.
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith and reporter Jeff Greenfield held a Hillary love-fest as they discussed her 60th birthday party and her inevitability as the Democratic nominee. Co-host Hannah Storm previewed the segment at the top of the show with this excited declaration: "Hillary Clinton has turned 60, and ahead, we have the scoop on the star-studded birthday bash and what might be her favorite presents, a ridiculous lead in the polls and a sack full of campaign cash." Presents, a sack -- it sounds like Santa came early this year.
Even more gushing came from Greenfield’s fawning political analysis:
So, she leads big in every poll, she's ahead in the money race, she's practically been awarded the nomination by the pundits, and the question arises -- how did so polarizing and so controversial a figure, come to so dominate her party's race for the nomination?...If Senator Clinton feels like celebrating her 60th birthday, who can blame her? She seems somewhere between uncatchable and untouchable.
Wednesday’s CBS ‘Early Show’ had a recurring theme in its coverage of the Southern California wildfires: the federal government failed to provide resources. Co-host Harry Smith opened the show by exclaiming that "...a fire chief says it's "the absolute truth," with more air resources, we would have been able to control this." In a later segment of the show, co-host Hannah Storm asked FEMA Administrator David Paulison, "Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California complained the ability of the state's National Guard has been compromised because too much of their equipment and personnel is in Iraq. Is that true?"
In addition to Smith’s blame-the-government show intro, he later observed in a report from the fire line that "I'll tell you, resources is a big part of this story...There are just not enough planes, there's not enough people, there's not enough equipment." Smith then sent the coverage to CBS reporter Bill Whitaker, who asked a firefighter if the wildfires could be brought under control, to which the firefighter responded "...if we get the resources..." Whitaker then remarked, " Now, considering how stretched resources are all across Southern California, that is a big "if."
With Southern California in the midst of dealing with disastrous wildfires, on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley used the issue to promote Global Warming ideology. He did a segment on wildfires in the American west and declared in traditional alarmist fashion: "It appears that we're living in a new age of mega-fires, forest infernos ten times bigger than the fires we're used to seeing." It did not take long for Pelley to find the culprit for this crisis as he talked to University of Arizona professor, Tom Swetnam:
Swetnam says that climate change-- global warming-- has increased temperatures in the west about one degree, and that has caused four times more fires. Swetnam and his colleagues published those findings in the journal "Science," and the world's leading researchers on climate change have endorsed their conclusions.
Earlier in the segment, Pelley talked to head of federal fire operations, Tom Boatner:
In an interview on Tuesday's CBS "Early Show" with Sally Bedell Smith, author of the new book ""For Love of Politics: Bill and Hillary Clinton, the White House Years," co-host Harry Smith began the fluffy segment with this adoring intro (emphasis mine):
Brad and Angelina, Charles and Diana, Burton and Taylor, and you can count Bill and Hillary's union as one of the most scrutinized marriages of our time. A simple Google search reveals there are more than 40 books about this still-young couple. They met in law school, two bookish, wonkish, idealistic kids who somehow transformed themselves into political rock stars. Remember when Bill grabbed a sax on the Arsenio Hall show during the '92 campaign? Now it's Hillary who's handling Letterman and trading one-liners with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.
Despite Bill Clinton being one of the most famous adulterers of all time, Smith managed to get through the interview without ever discussing the former president’s infidelity with the author, Bedell-Smith. Instead, Smith set up the interview with this question, "This is a meticulous reconstruction, or even deconstruction, of their lives, and the thing that I came away with...is ambition trumps everything. Could that be the subtitle?"
Both CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric and "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith portrayed Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, as innocent victims, even though Plame admitted to being "partisan" in a "60 Minutes" interview with Couric on Sunday.
On Friday’s "Early Show," Smith opened a segment previewing the upcoming interview by explaining that, "Valerie Plame spent nearly 20 years in the shadows of the CIA. Then suddenly, she became a public figure." He later played a clip of the interview in which Couric exclaimed how "18 years of meticulously crafted cover were gone in an instant." Strangely there was no mention of the "Vanity Fair" photo op that Plame and her husband posed for, which Couric asked about in the "60 Minutes" interview:
On Friday’s "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen and reporter Chip Reid analyzed the Values Voters Conference in Washington this weekend and how conservative Evangelicals "are deeply frustrated because they can't find a Republican candidate they can coalesce around," according to Reid. He went on to exclaim that "There's one Republican candidate, though, who really has some Evangelicals dispirited. Rudy Giuliani, because of his support for abortion rights."
In order to emphasize the dire circumstances of the Republican Party, Reid continued by discussing how a third party candidate backed by the religious right could, "... allow Clinton to cruise to victory..." and that "Many Evangelicals say forming a third party to oppose Giuliani is a prescription for Republican disaster."
Perhaps one of the most distorted stories in recent mainstream media history, the Valerie Plame CIA leak controversy, has become even more so with Plame’s upcoming "60 Minutes" interview with CBS Anchor, Katie Couric. On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked with Couric about the interview and began by describing Plame as "...beautiful, smart, a covert agent."
Smith then went on to summarize the media-manufactured scandal that ensued after Plame’s name was mentioned in Bob Novak's syndicated column:
Speculation was rampant that the leaking of her name, which is a crime, came from inside the Bush Administration, in retaliation for her husband's column. The leak grew into a scandal that embroiled the political elite in Washington....When it was all over, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was charged and convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice. President Bush later commuted sentence, no one was ever charged with knowingly leaking Valerie Plame's name.
The problem with this little summary is that it completely leaves out the fact that person responsible for giving Plame’s name to Novak was former Undersecretary of State, Richard Armitage, who mentioned her name in an interview with Novak and was never charged with any crime. Also missing was any indication of her husband, Joe Wilson, being a Kerry Campaign advisor in 2004.
In an interview with televangelist Joel Osteen and his wife on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Hannah Storm began the segment by asking Osteen: "Last week, conservative right-wing pundit Ann Coulter made waves, she said, quote, "Christians consider themselves perfected Jews,"saying that it would be "a lot easier for Jews if they would become Christians." What did you make of her remarks?" In contrast, ABC’s "Good Morning America" managed to interview Osteen without such politically charged language on Monday.
Storm then followed up with the bizarre theological observation: "And there should, should there be sort of an Old Testament, New Testament debate going on at this point in our country? Is that productive?" Coulter comments aside, last time I checked Christians believed in both parts of the Bible Hannah.
Continuing the theme of political correctness, Storm was impressed with the diversity of Osteen’s flock:
One of the most stunning things about your church, you know, when someone attends one of your services, you do see all races there. You see black, you see white, you see Hispanic, you see gay couples, you see family people, you see janitors and CEOs. What is it about your message that crosses all of those boundaries, that's so universally accepted?
She even went on to ask Osteen about critics who say: "You're Christianity-lite, you should be talking about suffering and sin and all the real, you know, things that happen to people." Apparently Storm sees "real" Christianity as being nothing but doom and gloom. Sorry Hannah, most Christians do not operate like the mainstream media.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," host Hannah Storm interviewed Democratic Senator Joe Biden and when the subject turned to recent success in Iraq, Storm summed things up in this question to the presidential candidate:
And let's talk about this report in "The Washington Post," that says some of the generals are considering declaring victory in Iraq over Al Qaeda. Now, does it matter if they do or don't? Is this just a matter of semantics?
Storm’s astute observation of what is being fought for in Iraq is as wise as John Edwards assertion that the "War on Terror" is just a "bumper-sticker slogan." Or, it could be compared to actress Cate Blanchett’s analysis of military leaders that she shared in an interview with Harry Smith in the 8am hour about her new movie "Elizabeth: The Golden Age": "And when you think about that moment when she arrived in front of the troops, I mean, where was Bush after 9/11? And here you had a female monarch, arriving at the battle scene."
After Biden responded by saying, "I hope the administration stops this malarkey about that the war in Iraq is about Al Qaeda," instead of challenging such a statement, Storm concurred, "And Al Qaeda wasn't there before the war in Iraq. They've been a presence since then."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show,"host Harry Smith teased an interview with Barack Obama at the beginning of show and spoke of how the Democratic presidential candidate is often, "...greeted as a Rock Star," by voters.
The toughest questions asked by Smith were questions of why Obama is behind Hillary Clinton in the polls, something Smith attributed to the fact that, "There are people who like you a lot, who are saying we want more of that audacity, there's not enough audacity in the campaign." Well, we already know that Smith is in the Al Gore camp, so finding any actual candidate as audacious would be a challenge.
Smith continued to wonder about the futility of Obama’s campaign against Hillary, assuming her nomination as a forgone conclusion: "A lot of people say it's a fait accompli. I mean, not only will she get the nomination, she's going to get elected." French terminology aside, Smith tried to urge Obama on, wondering if the Illinois Senator was putting his full energy into the campaign: "Are you too cool? Have you been too cool?" I’m sure Smith also believes that Fred Thompson has not brought enough "audacity" to the campaign, or has been "too cool."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," news of Al Gore’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize brought euphoria to hosts Hannah Storm and Harry Smith. The show began with lengthy congratulatory fawning over Gore as Smith exclaimed: "And the folks around the Al Gore household are probably running around in their socks and jumping up and down because Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize." Not to be outdone, that was followed closely by Storm’s assessment that "...certainly, no matter what your politics, everybody likes a comeback story, and this is a comeback story. Wow. Al Gore now in the history books." I think that there are many people who do not feel like hearing a "comeback story" today Hannah.
In order to illustrate this "comeback," Smith proudly observed:
You know, think about this. Seven years ago, right, hanging chads, votes in the balance, uncounted votes in Florida. Now an Oscar winner. And this morning the ultimate international honor.
Many can still remember Smith’s infatuation with Al Gore from his May interview with the former vice president, when Smith tried to pin a ‘Gore ‘08' button on Gore's lapel. Of course, the "Early Show" would not want to recount such a shameful display of a lack of journalistic objectivity. Guess Again:
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," host Harry Smith and reporter Jeff Greenfield analyzed the effectiveness of YouTube videos for 2008 presidential candidates.The segment described how a an Edwards campaign video "...says let's get serious about what matters," while Giuliani and Romney are examples of how candidates can "...die by YouTube."
After they described how successful videos were for Democrats, Smith decided it was time to analyze the effect on Republican campaigns: "... but there is a whole other backlash on this, as well, right?"
This is some of the analysis of Democratic candidates:
GREENFIELD: ...for instance, Dennis Kucinich, no money, no organization, so he goes to YouTube, puts out an ad. It's not particularly compelling. He's talking about a peace tower as a way of symbolizing peace. This has been seen about 6600 times, which isn't much, but how many times does a candidate like Kucinich get to talk to 6600 people at virtually no expense?"
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," host Harry Smith had on the founder of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees, to discuss "...the ugly news about nooses. Why this symbol of bigotry is suddenly back." Smith then went on to ask: "Is there some way to account for this resurgence in seeing this as a symbol? We've done an internet search. It's popping up all over the place." I think we are all impressed with Harry’s extensive research skills.
Beyond the recent noose controversies at Columbia University and in the Jena Six case, Smith and Dees launched into a litany of examples of racism in America and declared a rise in such sentiments:
SMITH: "You've monitored hate groups for decades now. Do you have a sense that they're flourishing, floundering? Are we -- is there a resurgence? Might this be a symbol of some resurgence?"
DEES: "Well I think definitely it is. In the last five years, we've seen a 30% increase in the number of hate groups. We're tracking at the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Project some 844 hate groups in the United States, and we see that a large percentage of them, the motivation for their increase has been Latino immigrants in the United States."
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," host Hannah Storm exclaimed that Fred Thompson "has received a lot of criticism...for being underwhelming so far out on the campaign trail." This just hours before Thompson’s participation in his first GOP debate.
The segment began with a report by Nancy Cordes who observed that Thompson’s "...been trying to keep expectations low."Storm then invited on guests Arianna Huffington and Michael Smerconish for political analysis, both of whom bashed Thompson. Smerconish began the attack:
Well, unfortunately, I think the delivery probably matters over substance in this case because he is getting a reputation on the stump so far as being a bit of a dolt. Somebody needs to light a fire under his fanny.
Huffington brought her ususal class to the argument:
And then there are all these stumbles, you know, on the issues too. It wasn't just a matter of being underwhelming in terms of passion and energy...You know, he didn't know much about the Everglades in Florida...he didn't know much about Terri Schiavo. And he thought Hezbollah was in Afghanistan. You know, these are kind of major problems, especially after all these years with George W. Bush. People want a little more competence in the sense of the grasp of the issues.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," host Harry Smith interviewed former president Jimmy Carter, who he introduced as "Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Jimmy Carter." Smith then proceeded to launch into a discussion about Iran citing an "an exhaustive investigative piece in the New Yorker...by Sy [Seymour] Hersh." Apparently Harry and ‘Sy’ are good buddies. Smith described how Hersh’s article "chronicles the building up, the drum beats of the potential of war with Iran" and asked Carter: "Is there a best way to find peace with Iran?"
Asking the president who oversaw the disastrous Iranian hostage crisis how to deal with Iran is like asking the dictator of Sudan how to bring about an end to the genocide in Darfur. Oh wait, Carter has talked to the Sudanese tyrant about that very issue:
On Sunday’s 60 Minutes, Anchor Scott Pelley interviewed left-wing rocker Bruce Springsteen and said of the aging musician that he "sees himself following a long American tradition that reaches back through Vietnam and on to the Great Depression, from Dylan to Guthrie."
Apparently that tradition includes the ranting that Springsteen gave at a live concert on NBC's September 28 "Today" when he "yelled about "rendition," "illegal wiretapping," "voter suppression," "an attack on the Constitution," "the neglect" of New Orleans and "the loss of our best young men and women," in a tragic war." After Pelley’s description of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "incorruptible"and "friendly"a couple weeks ago, we should not surprised by his glowing assessment of Springsteen's anti-American views.
Pelley opens the segment exclaiming that "He’s returned to full-throated rock and roll, and a message that is sharper than ever, damning the war in Iraq, and questioning whether America has lost its way at home." Pelley then helps to further frame Springsteen’s political activism and wonders what the message is:
Much of the new music is a protest. Some of it blunt, as in the song that asks "Who will be the last to die for a mistake," but most of it subtle, like the story of a man who returns to his all-American small town but doesn’t recognize it any more, "It's gonna be a long walk home." What's on your mind? What are you writing about?"
It should not be that difficult to read the Boss’s mind on that one Scott.
In his usual odd commentary segment on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," CBS commentator, Andy Rooney decided to take a look at presidential vacation habits, and observed that while "President Bush has made 66 trips to his Texas ranch since taking office...having spent 436 days away from the White House," Jimmy Carter "took off only 79 days."
While Rooney recited a long list of presidents in his wandering train of thought, including Clinton, Reagan, Johnson, and Kennedy, he made sure to emphasize the contrast between Bush and Carter. Despite Andy’s admiration for Carter’s workaholic presidency, I think there are many who wished Jimmy had taken a few more years off.
Rooney then ended with the typically sarcastic conclusion that: "President Bush is back in the Oval Office now, so everything ought to be all right again in Washington."
Scott Pelley conducted a very tough interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which aired on Sunday's 60 Minutes, but on Monday’s Early Show Pelley was very generous in his personal assessment of the man. Host Harry Smith and Pelley agreed that Ahmadinejad is "crazy like a fox" while Pelley also hailed Ahmadinejad as "incorruptible" and "modest." Pelley contended the dictator, who denies the Holocaust, wants Israel destroyed and is causing the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, is a lot smarter than Westerners believe and is even a "friendly" guy.