Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC
Kyle Drennen is the Media Research Center's Senior News Analyst and a Contributing Editor to NewsBusters. He is the co-author of the 2014 Media Reality Check study, TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats.
In 2009, he captured the infamous comment from then-Newsweek editor Evan Thomas comparing President Obama to God. Later that same year, he exposed for MSNBC deceptively editing video footage of a Tea Party rally to conceal the racial identity of an African American participant, forcing the liberal network to respond to criticism and explain its actions.
His media analysis has been cited by nationally syndicated radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, as well as media outlets including Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.com, The Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Politico, National Review, among others.
Kyle joined the MRC in 2007 after graduating from Providence College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science. Prior to that, he interned at the MRC in the summer of 2005. He lives in Northern Virginia and can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest from Kyle Drennen
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," Steve Kroft suggested that the American-based Chiquita Banana company was in league with Colombian terrorist groups after paying extortion money to such groups to protect its employees: "It made millions growing bananas there, only to emerge with its reputation splattered in blood, after acknowledging that it had paid nearly $2 million in protection money to a murderous paramilitary group that's killed or massacred thousands of people."
Kroft went on to portray the situation with Chiquita as only one example of a larger pattern of U.S. companies funding terrorism: "Now the Colombian government is talking about extraditing Chiquita executives to Colombia, and investigators in Bogota and on Capitol Hill are looking at other US companies that may have done the same thing."
Kroft later highlighted the murder of a 12-year-old boy by the paramilitary group that Chiquita made payments to: "...the paramilitaries arrived and murdered a 12-year-old boy whose only crime had been to announce their presence." Kroft also explained: "As the atrocities piled up all across the country, Chiquita continued to make the payments to the paramilitaries, viewing itself as a victim of the violence, not a facilitator."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "Barack Obama took some time off from campaigning to go back to Washington, where he got the royal treatment yesterday." Correspondent Chip Reid followed with a report: "Officially this place, Capitol Hill, is Barack Obama's place of employment, but he doesn't come here very often. When he did make a rare visit yesterday he was treated like a rock star."
Reid went on to describe Obama’s "rock star" tour of Congress: "Swarmed by tourists and reporters, Barack Obama slowly wound his way through the U.S. Capitol, visiting the House floor where observers say even some members of Congress appeared star struck."
At one point, Reid explained how Obama reached across the aisle: "Even saying hello to House Republicans." However, Reid pointed out that: "the conversation apparently was less than profound," and played a clp of Obama joking: "They said they were impressed with my jump shot."
After Reid’s report, Smith talked to Democratic strategist Joe Trippi about when Hillary Clinton would get out of the race. Smith began by asking about Clinton’s recent comments in an interview: "First about Hillary Rodham Clinton, gives an interview to USA Today yesterday talking about how well she does with white voters, listening to her husband last night, are the wheels finally coming off this bus?"
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith fretted over Hillary Clinton’s refusal to drop out of the presidential race and pressed Clinton campaign manager Terry McAuliffe on why she is still in the race: "Let me show you some headlines this morning. From this morning's Daily News, 'It's His Party,' with a picture of Barack Obama. From the New York Post, 'Over the Hill,' you know what they're talking about there. From The Wall Street Journal, 'Democrats Look to Life After Clinton.' Terry McAuliffe, why is your candidate still in this race?"
After that introduction, Smith went on to try to convince McAuliffe that the situation was futile:
SMITH: Can you formulate a scenario, though, in which she actually mathematically can get this nomination?
MCAULIFFE: Sure. She can move ahead in the popular vote. We're assuming we get Michigan and Florida resolved. Because there are --
SMITH: Excuse me. Everything Howard Dean has said so far as though that's all off the table. That is not going to happen. Those states took themselves out of the process.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Russ Mitchell thought it was news-worthy to remember the five year anniversary of when President Bush announced the end of "major combat operations in Iraq" under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished": "The Bush Administration is trying to explain its use exactly five years ago of the phrase ‘Mission Accomplished.’" However, no mention was made on April 9 of the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Correspondent Bill Plante reported that: "As the war progressed and casualties mounted, the phrase became a symbol of all that had gone wrong." Plante then played a clip of David Mark of the Politico, who explained: "‘Mission Accomplished’ stands for what seems like endless occupation, five years plus, after the initial invasion. It means ongoing war with no end in sight."
Earlier in the report Plante remarked: "And Press Secretary Dana Perino says the Administration has certainly paid the price." He concluded the segment by declaring: "And no one around here ever uses the phrase. Instead, they say, as the president says, that we have to ‘continue doing the job.’"
To its credit, the May 1 CBS "Early Show" continued coverage of the Jeremiah Wright controversy, although the co-hosts also hoped for an Obama comeback, as co-host Julie Chen wondered: "A new CBS poll shows Barack Obama has been hurt by the Reverend Wright controversy. Does he have time to recover?"
Correspondent Dean Reynolds's field report went on to flesh out worrisome poll numbers: "Our new CBS News poll had more troubling news for Obama. At the beginning of April, 69% of Democrats thought the Illinois Senator would be their nominee. Now, only 51% do. While those who think Clinton will be nominated has gone up by 13 points."
But Reynolds held out a ray of hope for Chen and co-anchor Harry Smith, as he observed that:
On Monday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric hyped a new potential scandal for the Bush administration as she declared: "Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, a report due out tomorrow raises some serious questions about one of the most influential government agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency...It even suggests political pressure may be putting the health of Americans at risk."
Correspondent Chip Reid followed up by explaining that the new report "...also points a big finger of blame at the White House, and in particular the Budget Office at the White House, saying that they're interfering in this process." Reid went on: " The bottom line, they say, is that the administration is dragging its feet on review of toxic chemicals to the point that the health of millions of Americans could be in danger."
Reid highlighted White House critics, like liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and an anonymous EPA scientist during the segment:
REID: A new government report by the investigative arm of Congress concludes that the process for analyzing health effects of toxic chemicals "is at serious risk of becoming obsolete" because of endless delays and secrecy. Behind it all, critics say, is the White House.
In a particularly dire analysis on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co- host Harry Smith reacted to the recent media tour of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and declared: "He's being called the 'Pastor of Disaster' for the effect he's having on Barack Obama's campaign. Why is Reverend Jeremiah Wright taking his case to the public now?"
Smith began the segment on Wright by observing that: "Well, the month of April has probably been the longest month of Senator Barack Obama's life. He started off this month by distancing himself from comments made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Now he's doing it again."
Smith then talked to Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi, who said of Wright’s media appearances: "It's a nightmare for the Obama campaign. They can't like this at all and they've got no control." Smith went on to comment on Obama’s initial speech in Philadelphia that addressed Reverend Wright: "The speech on race that was so lauded, almost forgotten now." He followed up by asking Trippi: "...is this a campaign killer, can this be a campaign killer?"
On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Bob Simon talked to members of the Israeli Air Force and asked one pilot, Captain Omri, about air strikes in the Gaza strip in which civilians occasionally are killed:
It's a classic guerilla war. Fifty dollar rockets made in the back alleys of Gaza against Israel's $50,000 missiles. The Israelis will tell you that kind of expense buys precise weapons which limit collateral damage. But it also gives the air force the capability of assassinating their enemy's leadership. The Israelis call this "targeted killings"; the Palestinians call it murder. Have you hit any targets?
Simon then went on to say to Omri: "But I must tell you, your face, your manners, your demeanor, you don't look like a killer. And yet what you do a lot of the time when you're over Gaza, you're killing." The pilot responded: "I agree. I don't think I'm a killer. When I look at my face in the mirror, I don't see a killer."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed John McCain and asked about the recent ad put out by the North Carolina Republican Party that criticized Barack Obama’s relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright: "The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?"
McCain replied by once again denouncing the ad:
It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view.
However, that was still not enough for Rodriguez, who followed up with: "But as the Republican nominee for president, couldn't you pick up the phone and call the head of the North Carolina GOP and say, don't run it?"
At the end of Thursday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith interviewed former CBS News anchor Roger Mudd about his new memoir, "The Place to Be: Washington, CBS and The Glory Days of Television News," and teased the upcoming interview by declaring: "And we're also joined this morning by one of the great legends of CBS News, Roger Mudd, who's covered every major story in Washington for decades and worked along some of the best reporters who ever lived." One of those "best reporters," Mudd later explained, was Dan Rather: "There was a front row, Harry. And in the front row was Dan Rather, Marvin Kalb, George Herman, Dan Schorr, Roger Mudd."
Mudd went on to describe Rather and his numerous other colleagues in these terms: "No, it was a -- it was just a great conjunction of very talented, very hard working, very honest, ethical men and women, linked up to 20 years of some of the greatest and most profound stories that could have happened." Of course after Rather’s controversial National Guard story about President Bush in 2004, based on forged documents, the terms "honest" and "ethical" do not exactly come to mind.
Near the end of the segment, Smith asked about Mudd’s famous interview with then Democratic presidential candidate Ted Kennedy in 1979 in which Mudd asked Kennedy why he was running for president. Mudd recalled to Smith: "And his answer was -- it wasn't incoherent, but it wasn't really coherent either. And I think the answer is, Harry, that he really hadn't thought very seriously about why he wanted to be. And that exposed a weakness. That interview was not helpful." Smith later commented that: "Wow and it ended his candidacy." However, that interview was in November 1979, just as Kennedy announced his candidacy and he did not drop out of the race until the Democratic convention in 1980.
Following a story on Wednesday’s CBS "Evening News," when fill-in anchor Harry Smith described how an anti-Obama ad run by the North Carolina GOP was proof of the campaign getting "nastier," on Thursday’s "Early Show" Smith continued that theme as he exclaimed: "And the tone of the remainder of the campaign season may be getting even nastier."
Correspondent Chip Reid followed with a report on the North Carolina Republican ad and framed it this way:
A lot of that nastiness is being aimed directly at Barack Obama, and it's not just coming from Hillary Clinton and her campaign. You know there's an absolutely crucial primary in North Carolina in less than two weeks. And now the North Carolina Republican Party is going after Obama with a new hard-hitting negative ad.
The ad, directed at the two North Carolina Democrats vying for the nomination for governor of the state in the May 6 primary, plays a clip of Barack Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright saying "God damn America!" and then criticizes both Democratic candidates for their endorsement of Obama: "Now Beth Perdue and Richard Moore endorse Barack Obama. They should know better. He's just too extreme for North Carolina."
At the end of Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment on a new group of environmentally-friendly young professionals: "Earth Day, of course, was yesterday, but for many Earth Day is every day, especially for a growing number of Americans of means." Correspondent Priya David went on define this new demographic: "Scuppies, so interesting, that's what the people in this group are called. Scuppies, it's short for Socially Conscious Upwardly Mobile Person, and there are more of them out there than you may realize. They are the new yuppies. Young, upwardly mobile, friends of the Earth."
David further explained that: "The term, coined by financial planner Chuck Fallia, refers to green young people who love both money and mother nature." She then went on to contrast today’s well-meaning "scuppies" with the greedy "yuppies," or young urban professionals, of the 1980's:
DAVID: Today's scuppies aren't like the yuppies of the 1980s.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS: Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
DAVID: Instead, they want to do good.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show"co-host Harry Smith reported live from the Wilkes University campus in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and talked to college students planning to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary, one of whom, Raquel Wheby, explained: "Tomorrow morning is -- it's very undecided. It's going to be the goose bump moment when you get in there and then you just pick one and go with it." Smith seemed to like that description of voting for a Democrat because he then exclaimed to the crowd of applauding college students: "Wow, let's go for the goose bump moment tomorrow."
Smith began the segment by excitedly declaring: "You guys fired up? We've got some first time voters for us that are going to talk to us right now about what's going on in their lives and what they're going to do when they get a chance to vote." He went on to talk to a Hillary Clinton supporter, David Sborz, who said of the New York Senator: "Because I think her inspiration, her focus, her leadership. Her will to break through the glass ceiling has really motivated a spirit in me to really support her." Smith then turned to Patrick Austin, a student supporting Obama who explained his reason for voting: "I'm a Barack Obama supporter. And I support him because I think his policy is realistic. I think he has charisma, he's intellectual, he's well spoken and, you know, he has an aura about him, I think, that most -- draws most people to him."
Following that fawning over Hillary and Obama, Smith talked to Wheby, who was still undecided. Wheby explained why she was torn between the two candidates, while taking the opportunity to mock John McCain at the same time: "I'm at the point where I won't know till I'm in the booth tomorrow. I think this campaign has been one of the first that has the first feasible black candidate, the first feasible female and the oldest running man ever." That line received laughter from the entire crowd of students in the room as well as from Smith himself.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to liberal priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, who also appeared on Monday’s show, and asked about the sex abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church as well as the comments of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the issue: "We heard from some victims' families that a mea culpa is not enough. That merely saying you're "deeply ashamed" is not enough. Do you think anything more will come of this?"
This question followed a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, who began by declaring:
It's believed the Pope could address the issue even further on his visit, either here in Washington or in New York, but some are wondering, why not Boston? For Gary Bergeron, the Pope not going to Boston on this trip is like saying the Pope's not Catholic. It just doesn't make sense... Bergeron was abused and still lives in New England, the epicenter of the scandal.
Glor also played clips of Bergeron, who said of the Pope: "I think it's an opportunity he missed...I would hold out my hand to him so that he could shake it, understand that I'm not the demon here." Of course, the Pope has not "demonized" any victims of abuse, but Glor still decided to use the quote for his report. Despite Rodriguez’s claim that "not enough" had been done, Bergeron actually helped win an $85 million dollar lawsuit for church abuse victims and met personally with Vatican officials.
In an interview with Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George about the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith was concerned about the reaction of the American people to the new pontiff: "Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of." Monday’s "Early Show" identified the Pope as a "hard liner" numerous times. [Audio available here]
Smith went on to ask about the priest pedophilia scandals and if the Pope’s mission was meant to "heal" those scandals: "The Pope was talking to reporters about priest abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, and he said, quote, "we are deeply ashamed and we'll do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future." Is this -- this trip to the United States, would you say that this -- part of the mission of this church is some healing?"
Finally, Smith concluded the interview by asking Cardinal George about the Pope’s opposition to the Iraq war: "He is going to be addressing the United Nations, he's going to be speaking to the President of the United States in private chambers. Among the messages of the Catholic Church is an anti-war message. Will he deliver that to President Bush?" The Cardinal responded by explaining: "He is eager, however, that whatever happens next is good for the Iraqi people, that they can live in peace and that we don't leave a very violent Iraq behind. So I'm sure the conversation won't just be anti-war or pro war, it'll be what do we do next?"
At the beginning of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "Coming to America. Pope Benedict XVI arrives on American soil tomorrow. How will Americans receive his hard line and soft style?" In the later segement, correspondent Allen Pizzey continued the "hard line" theme: "Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hard-liner has undergone an image makeover...when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise."
Pizzey went on to describe the Pope’s "makeover":
Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed.
Following Pizzey’s report, co-host Julie Chen interviewed left-wing priest, Father Thomas Reese, who was editor of the Catholic magazine "America," until the Vatican pressured him to resign for allowing numerous liberal opinion pieces critcizing the Church to be published.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show,"a story on the controversial comments by Barack Obama that people in small Pennsylvania towns are "bitter," was introduced by co-host Julie Chen this way: "The battle among Democrats and Hillary Clinton's relentless attempt to turn Barack Obama's words against him." Rather than focus on what Obama actually thinks about small town voters, correspondent Dean Reynolds followed with a report in which he declared:
Clinton hammered Obama all weekend over his suggestion that Americans from small economically hard pressed towns turn inward, become bitter, and cling to their guns or their religious faith during tough times, rather than look to Washington for leadership. Clinton, who is trying to hold on to what polls say is a slim lead here in Pennsylvania, said she found the statement demeaning, even snobbish. And she said so just about everywhere she went.
With Obama looking like the victim, Reynolds went on to briefly mention that the Illinois Senator apologized for the comments: "Obama was thrown on the defensive, forced to acknowledge his words were clumsy and later to apologize if he offended anyone." However, Reynolds immediately followed with the Obama campaign’s defense: "But he said his opponent was intentionally twisting his meaning...Obama also said Clinton's attempt to paint him as the sportsman's adversary and herself as their champion was laughable."
On Thursday’s CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric teased an upcoming interview with General David Petraues: "Also tonight, General David Petraeus on the slow progress in Iraq." Couric later began the interview by asking Petraeus: "How frustrated are you?"
Prior to asking about Iranian influence in Iraq, Couric offered this pessimistic observation: "There's been a spike in attacks against Americans recently. Sixteen combat deaths this month. April is on track to be the deadliest month since September." Couric went on to describe the latest effort by Iraqi security forces to combat militias in Basra: "Last month the Iraqi army surprised the United States by attacking militant strongholds in the southern city of Basra. The operation was poorly planned. Some Iraqi troops stopped fighting, and ultimately US air power had to be sent in to back the Iraqis."
Couric then concluded the interview by citing the latest poll numbers: "Finally, general, in our latest poll, 54 percent of Americans think the war is going badly -- more than half, obviously. How can you sustain this effort without more popular support here at home?"
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Russ Mitchell began an interview with Senator Joe Biden on the testimony of General Petraeus before Congress this way: "As a long-time critic of the way the Bush Administration has handled the war, were you encouraged by anything General Petraeus said yesterday?" After Biden responded by saying "I'm not at all encouraged that the president has any plan to end this war," Mitchell followed with a setup for Biden to propose his own plan: "You have said you cannot think of a circumstance where General Petraeus, or any military leader, would recommend withdrawal. At this point specifically, what are you proposing?"
On Wednesday’s NBC "Today," co-host Matt Lauer began his interview with Biden with a similar question to Mitchell’s: "Yesterday as you heard the General say, he said the progress is real but it's fragile and reversible. Did he say anything yesterday that changed your mind?" However, unlike Mitchell, Lauer actually followed up with a challenging question: "In, in terms of the security improvements that have been made and General Petraeus laid those out, while addressing the challenges that remain with the Iraqi government. When he, when he uses those words "fragile," and "reversible" Senator, are you okay with the fact that withdrawing troops might take us backward in Iraq?"
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.