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
In an usually tough interview with Barack Obama on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith asked the Illinois Senator about a financial scandal involving Tony Rezko, that Hillary Clinton brought up during Monday’s Democratic debate on CNN: "This is a guy that's facing federal charges of fraud and influence peddling next month. What is your real relationship with Tony Rezko?"
While such tough questioning of presidential candidates is certainly appropriate, one wonders why Harry Smith never asked Hillary Clinton about her involvement with convicted felon, Norman Hsu, who made significant financial contributions to the Clinton campaign. On September 18 of last year, while Clinton was asked about the Hsu scandal by co-host Matt Lauer on NBC’s "Today," Smith was busy touting her health care plan on CBS, ignoring Hsu completely:
On Sunday’s "Face the Nation," host Bob Schieffer talked to Roger Simon from The Politico about the Republican race and Simon exclaimed that "The old Ronald Reagan coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign policy conservatives, and social conservatives has shattered." Simon also observed that, "McCain is on his way to proving that he is the least unacceptable Republican...And that even though certain factions of the party may have difficulty with McCain-Feingold or his stand on immigration, he is the most electable Republican in November."
On the topic of McCain’s immigration stance, Schieffer pointed out, "You know, something a lot of people forget that McCain's immigration policy actually plays well in Florida." Simon agreed:
I think that's very important for McCain in Florida. Florida has a large number of Cuban-Americans who vote in Republican primaries. And even though Cubans are not affected by comprehensive immigration reform they have a separate law covering them, they are sympathetic to other Latinos facing the problem of earning their way to citizenship and coming to this country. And they don't view what John McCain did in trying to pass comprehensive immigration reform as selling out the Republican Party. They see it as courageous and John McCain is going to get some benefit from that, I believe.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," while co-host Harry Smith and political analyst Jeff Greenfield discussed both Hillary Clinton’s win in the Democratic Nevada caucus and John McCain’s win in the Republican South Carolina primary on Saturday, they failed to mention that Mitt Romney had won the Republican Nevada Caucus in a blowout. This just days after Smith interviewed Romney, when the former Massachusetts Governor discussed his expectation of a win in Nevada.
During the January 16 interview, Smith asked Romney about the future of the campaign:
SMITH: Here's one of the questions of the hour, three biggest contests, three different winners on the Republican side. Some people are suggesting that means the Republican party as a whole isn't sure what they want.
ROMNEY: That's very possible. I'm pleased that I have done well here in Michigan. I'm also happy I got Wyoming and got the gold there and, of course, we've got a couple coming up real shortly now. Nevada, which has the most Republican delegates, and I'm going to fight hard there. Also, South Carolina. I think John McCain is way in the lead there, but we'll give him a run for his money, and then comes Florida. I think one of the big surprises is that someone like Mayor Giuliani, who was leading in all these states, either number one or number two, really hasn't been able to hold on to that lead in any way.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to two liberal politicians, the black Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, and black mayor of Washington D.C., Adrian Fenty, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and asked Fenty:
You know, if we look at this statistically, it's not a particularly bright picture. I want to just put up a couple of statistics very quickly here. The frequency blacks feel discrimination in America. So high. Applying for jobs, renting or buying a house, dining out or shopping. This is a pretty bleak picture. Mayor Fenty, is this -- is this the America we live in?
This is not the first time Smith has seen America as a racist country, as he did in the wake of the Jena 6 controversy. One wonders where prominent conservative black leaders were for this segment, like former Maryland Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele. Also, not even Smith’s liberal guests were willing to go as far as Smith. Fenty replied to Smith in a way beyond any particular race:
While Wednesday morning shows on Fox, CNN, and even NBC covered the outcome of the Democratic primary in Michigan, in which Hillary Clinton got 55% of the vote with 40% going to ‘uncommitted’ and lost the black vote 32% to 68%, ABC’s "Good Morning America" and CBS’s "Early Show" made no mention of the Democratic primary.
On the "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer made mention of the Democrats once, early in the 7am hour, and then it was only about Tuesday’s Nevada debate:
SMITH: Let's talk about the Democrats for a second because there was this truce called. I watched the debates on cable last night. And it was so peaceful and so calm and, you know, if you were looking to get a little rest, that might have helped you a little bit.
While covering the murder of Marine Maria Lauterbach on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," Co-host Julie Chen used the opportunity to level broad charges against the military and its handling of sexual assault cases: "What did the Marines do to protect her, and when did they do it? It's a question we've heard asked for -- of the military for decades." This was followed by a report by CBS Correspondent David Martin, who agreed with Chen: "You're right, the military has long been accused of mishandling sexual assault reports, and there are now some protective measures in place."
Martin moved beyond Lauterbach, who reported being raped by the murder suspect, Cesar Laurean, last April, to other reports of sexual assault in the military:
MARTIN: Earlier in the Iraq war, revelations that there had been more than 100 sexual assault cases in Kuwait, Iraq , and the rest of the Persian Gulf, coupled with complaints from female service members that the male-dominated chain of command did not take their allegations seriously, brought this charge from Senator Susan Collins.
Following a segment on Monday wondering if America was "finally color-blind" in the wake of Barack Obama’s Iowa caucus win, on Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith seemed to say no as he previewed a segment on recent comments made about Tiger Woods: "Also coming up in this half hour words that wound, Tiger Woods reacts to a racial slur from a Golf Channel anchor."
During the segment, Smith talked to the liberal Reverend Al Sharpton and liberal former New York radio host Ron Kuby about the comments. Smith began by observing: "...for years we've been navigating a changing world when it comes to racially insensitive remarks, but with the Don Imus incident, the national dialogue has changed a lot." Smith then played the clip of Golf Channel Anchor Kelly Tilghman who suggested that the only way for other golfers to beat Tiger Woods was to "lynch him in a back alley." However, Smith also mentioned that, "Tiger Woods said not to worry, that he and Tilghman are long time friends."
Smith asked Sharpton, "You think this is a big deal?" to which Sharpton responded:
I think that it is. Either you're going to have standards or you're not. I think if you give Tilghman a pass, then who then stops the next person from saying something insensitive and saying Tilghman is an example of how come I can say this. And I think the problem with Tilghman's statement, regardless to the reaction of Tiger Woods, is it was very offensive, if I had said about a Jewish person, let's throw them in a gas chamber, I don't think there would have been a question I'd have been off the radio and I have a radio show. So I think you've got to either have standards or you don't have standards.
At the top of Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith questioned the authenticity of an audio tape of the confrontation between U.S. and Iranian ships on January 6:
We're going to try to re -- to deconstruct the Pentagon tapes just released of that hostile incident in the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian speedboats taunting a U.S. ship. A tape the Iranians are calling a hoax. There's something strange about the audio.
In the later segment on the issue, Smith talked to international security expert, Jeff McCausland, and again wondered if the Iranian hoax accusation had merit:
Iranian officials are calling this video a hoax, saying those voices sounded like they were recorded someplace else...As you have looked at this tape, listened to -- especially the English coming from the Iranians, does it ring authentic to you? Does it seem real?
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed Barack Obama and asked: "President Clinton was on the stump for his wife playing hardball. He said, and I quote, your campaign for president is 'the biggest fairy tale' he's ever seen." Smith interviewed Hillary Clinton not minutes before Obama, yet did not make any mention of her husband’s harsh rhetoric.
While Smith praised Clinton’s "stunning victory" over Obama in the New Hampshire primary and asked her "Have you taken a second to savor this win last night?," he bizarrely asked Obama about a possible third party run:
I listened to every word of your speech last night, and I started to think am I starting to hear the beginning of a third party candidacy? Because you were not just speaking to the base. You were not just talking to Democrats. You were trying to reach beyond that. And in the primaries to come, a lot of independents can't vote. Were you planting some seeds last night?
Following an interview with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer, who said of Barack Obama: "It makes people feel good to see someone who has managed to get where he has, a black American who won out in Iowa..."
The segment began with analysis of Clinton’s "display of emotion," which Schieffer thought was "rather touching." Schieffer even referenced former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, Bill Bradley, who cried on camera, and declared "So at least, I guess we've come to accept that people can cry on camera and that's not a sign of weakness." Smith concluded: "It certainly got her back on the front page."
Following this discussion of Clinton, Smith went on to ask about Barack Obama:
Following a rather tough interview with Hillary Clinton yesterday, on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith took a more sympathetic tone: "It is no wonder that all anyone is talking about, it seems, especially up here, is Hillary Clinton in that rare display of emotion."
In a taped interview with Clinton, Smith began by asking, "Do you think sometimes the fact that you are Hillary Clinton gets in the way of what you're trying to say?"In response, Clinton shared this observation: "You know, it could...one of the most common things people say to me on rope lines and in crowds is, oh, my gosh, you're so much nicer than I thought or you're so much prettier, you're so much this or that."
Smith then went on to ask about Clinton’s teary moment and worried about the campaign’s toll on the Senator:
There was a moment earlier today when you were in a diner, and a woman, a supporter of yours, turns to you and says, 'how do you hold it together?’...And you didn't quite hold it together...Because people will see this and interpret it in a million different ways, not the least of which is, well, the campaign's getting to her.
Monday’s CBS "Early Show" was unusually tough on Hillary Clinton as co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming interview with the New York Senator: "And with Clinton, why she's fighting for her political life." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez similarly teased the interview later: "Up next here on "The Early Show," Senator Hillary Clinton on why she's fighting for her political life." Finally, Harry Smith began the interview with Clinton using the phrase one last time for good measure: "Hillary Clinton is fighting for her political life, following her third place showing in the Iowa caucuses."
Smith’s first question to Clinton kept the pressure on:
Spent a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire over the last couple weeks following these campaigns, I've talked to a lot of voters. Plenty of people like you. They respect you. But there's a whole other group out there who are saying, it's time to turn the page. Is there any way you can get them back on to your side?
After Clinton emphasized her commitment to keep campaigning and getting her message out, Smith did not let up:
Prior to asking if America is "color-blind" in reference to Barack Obama’s recent success in Iowa, on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began the show by offering a sympathetic profile of the Illinois Senator:
There is no question that Barack Obama with his big win in Iowa is the candidate of the moment, boldly predicting that if he wins New Hampshire, he will be the next president. So who is this man? And how did he get here?...As I traveled with him, Barack Obama talked to me about the man who played almost no role in his life, yet turns out to be a great influence...Barack Obama Sr. left his wife, Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas whom he met at the University of Hawaii, when their son was just 2 years old. A brilliant civil servant from Kenya, Obama Sr. would study at Harvard, but he didn't come back until his son was 10. In his first book, Obama writes of a man whose mere presence controlled a room. 'It fascinated me,' Obama wrote. 'This strange power of his, and for the first time I began to think of my father as something real and immediate, perhaps even permanent.'
At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," newly appointed co-host, Maggie Rodriguez, teased an upcoming segment on race in politics in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s Iowa victory: "But besides the knock-down, drag-out political fighting in New Hampshire, we're asking the question this morning on everyone's mind, is America finally color-blind?" This just days after the "Early Show" declared that Obama’s success in Iowa meant that "history has been made."
Later in the 8am hour of the show, co-host Harry Smith led the segment with guests Joe Watson, a diversity expert, and Jon Meacham of "Newsweek." Smith began by asking a similar question as Rodriguez:
When Senator Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, he became the first presidential candidate of color to achieve a significant victory in the race for the White House. Is America turning color-blind? Ready to elect its first African-American president?
Smith asked for Watson’s reaction to Obama’s success and Watson declared, "I think it's a magnificent moment for America." Smith then turned to Meacham and gave this thoughtful insight on race and politics:
Jon Meacham, I was on the bus with Barack Obama a week or two ago in Iowa. We're driving along in the bus and the snow outside is as white as that state is, as white as New Hampshire is, what is -- what is going on here? Are people seeing past color? Is that possible?
At the top of Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith declared: "The votes have been cast and history has been made. Democratic voters in Iowa give African-American Senator Barack Obama a giant victory."
Shortly following this "historic" proclamation, Smith also commented: "Barack Obama, the big winner on the Democratic side," and spoke of both the Obama and Huckabee wins in these terms: "What a stunning night last night, a big surprise, big votes for change."
Smith continued the "stunning" theme of Obama’s victory throughout the opening segment of the show:
For the Democrats, Obama came in first with 38% of the vote. Stunning. 38%...Now, while the polls may have predicted it, it was still no less a breathtaking win for Barack Obama because he became the clear winner in the Iowa caucuses last night...With a record turnout and support from the under-30 crowd, independent voters, and first-time caucus goers, Barack Obama stunned the political establishment, and much of the country, with his clear and decisive victory Thursday night in Iowa.
Smith also discussed the surprise win of Mike Huckabee, but did not place the Republican Governor’s victory in the same historic terms.
In a quick round of team coverage of top Democratic and Republican candidates in Iowa on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show, " Political Correspondent Dean Reynolds led the segment with this glowing assessment of Barack Obama’s campaign:
Well, it's all about momentum now, and thanks to a promising poll from an influential newspaper, Barack Obama seems to have it and the others don't. Obama flew across Iowa lifted on the wings of a private jet and the news that he's ahead of his two main rivals. He was clearly encouraged by the priceless publicity.
Reynolds went on to promote the idea of Obama’s inevitability, something once reserved for Hillary Clinton: "A selling point now is Obama's electability, that the polls show him beating any Republican."
That observation was followed by this cheap shot sound-bite from Obama speaking about Republican rivals: "I intend to whup’em so good that it won't even be close and they can't steal the election." So much for Barack Obama reaching out to "every potential voter," as co-host Harry Smith suggested in his December 18 interview with the Illinois Senator: "Up in the northwest part of the state, the politics are conservative, but for a candidate locked in a tight race, every potential voter needs to be reached."
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith and Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield put together a Christmas wish list for the various Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Of Mitt Romney, Greenfield said the Massachusetts Governor could use voters having "buyers remorse" about Mike Huckabee and:
I have a second gift for Mitt Romney, which is somebody to muss his hair. It's too perfect. A lot of people have noticed a startling resemblance between Mitt Romney and that of the Muppet game show host, Guy Smiley. He's got to have a mussed-up hairdo soon.
Perhaps an even more interesting word of campaign advice from Greenfield was to Hillary Clinton:
Selective memory. She needs the Democrats to remember the good things they liked about Clinton in the '90s, to forget the bad thing apart from the obvious one, the investigations and the turmoil. And if they think of her as that kind of '90s, it's going to be bad for her.
While reporting on Rudy Giuliani’s hospitalization on the campaign trail in Missouri on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith also used the opportunity to discuss Giuliani’s struggling campaign: "We are closely following the news that Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized overnight in St. Louis where he's undergoing tests. This at a time when his Republican lead has been challenged and he is slipping quickly in the polls." So Smith is not sure if Giuliani’s health is okay, but he knows the New York Mayor’s campaign is going under. Not much of a get well message.
After a report on Giuliani’s hospital visit by a local CBS News station in St. Louis, Smith moved on to the campaign:
This health scare only adds to Rudy Giuliani's troubles on the campaign trail. He has struggled with persistent questions about his personal life and one national poll shows that he has dropped 13 points. Mike Allen from politico.com joins us from Washington.
Smith then decided to make a joke of Giuliani’s health problem and asked Allen’s diagnosis:
SMITH: You might not be feeling too well, either, had you been looking at Huckabee's rise and Giuliani's drop. Can that be part of -- part of what's going on here?
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith played a clip of a recent Hillary Clinton campaign ad featuring her mother and asked Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield: "Is Hillary's mom the real secret weapon in the campaign?" Greenfield responded by describing the ad’s brilliance:
I very rarely look at ads these days and one line just jumps out at me. Hillary's mom lives with her, not mother, mom. Why? Women outlive men. Wives outlive their husbands. Primal fear: 'I will spend the rest of my life alone or in a home.' And the idea that this prototypical career woman, who her enemies see as driven and cold, has taken her mom in to live with her, I think that packs a powerful emotional wallop. And in Iowa, women vote in caucuses more than men and older people do more than younger.
Smith agreed with Greenfield’s assessment, "Right. And older women especially. Yeah this is -- boy -- talk about right to the heart."
The Democrats were finally able to get something passed in Congress, a new energy bill that mandates car gas mileage and bans the incandescent light bulb, and on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen described it as, "Congress's historic move to get rid of gas guzzlers." Co-host Harry Smith began the "historic" theme at the top of the show:
Later this morning, the president will sign a new energy bill, that will radically change the way we drive, the fuel we burn, and the way we light our homes...This morning for the first time in 32 years we will have a new energy bill. The Energy Independence and Security Act.
No one objected to the idea that everyday light bulbs would be banned with this new legislation. Instead Smith joked holding up a light bulb: "So guess what, will we see the end of the incandescent light bulb? Remember, was it Uncle Fester who put it in and it lit up?"