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 the CBS "Early Show" co-host Harry Smith admitted last Friday that he's "actually admired Dennis Kucinich for a long -- since he was mayor of Cleveland." Well, five days later on Wednesday's "Early Show," Smith interviewed his hero. Kucinich was on the program to discuss his House resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney, which was unexpectedly called up for a vote on Tuesday.
Smith teased the segment at the top of the show by declaring, "On the record, 21 Democrats officially call for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney, citing deceit in Iraq and covert operations in Iran." This declaration was preceded by a song that CBS managed to find on the internet with the lyrics: "Impeach Cheney first."
The top of the segment featured a report by Chip Reid, who explained, "The resolution accuses Cheney not only of alleged past sins regarding Iraq, but alleged current ones on Iran." Despite Cheney’s "sins," Reid also admitted the unpopularity of the proposal:
In a rather odd teaser for an upcoming Bill O’Reilly interview with co-host Hannah Storm on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith remarked, "And looking for love in all the wrong places. Here's Bill O'Reilly in the studio this morning." What? Who’s "love" is O’Reilly looking for and why is the "Early Show" the "wrong" place to find it? Smith certainly made no such comment when he welcomed the ultra left-wing Dennis Kucinich earlier on the program.
For his part, O’Reilly had some odd responses when Storm asked about Hillary Clinton’s latest debate performance and charges of sexism against other Democratic candidates, "What do you make of Bill Clinton criticizing Hillary Clinton's Democratic rivals, saying that they were swift-boating her?" O’Reilly responded, "You see, I don't believe anything the press writes about Bill and Hillary Clinton at all...We tracked it yesterday, and we couldn't find any swift boat reference."
At the end of Sunday’s 60 Minutes, commentator Andy Rooney did his usual rant, this time about politicians. Of course when Rooney speaks of politicians, one always seems to come first to his mind: "I'll bet there hasn't been a day this year that President Bush's name hasn't been in the newspaper." At one point Rooney almost seemed sympathetic to the president, "A lot of people complain about things President Bush does but they wouldn't know what to do themselves if they were in his shoes." However, that sympathy soon turned to contempt as Rooney compared his own public speaking to that of President Bush, "I usually can’t remember what it was I was going to say. The president seems to have the same problem sometimes."
Unfortunately, Rooney seemed to remember exactly what he wanted to say at the end of his little diatribe:
The one thing I have to say for myself that I wouldn't say for President Bush is: I know I'm no where near smart enough to be President of the United States. But I will say I might have been smart enough not to get us into a war in Iraq.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The liberal mayor has followed in the footsteps of Al Gore and implored the government to take action to address an impending environmental crisis, saying "We need to do something now." To match Bloomberg’s alarmist rhetoric, Smith added "Manhattan will be underwater by 2050." Amusingly, even Bloomberg thought that assertion went too far, "There's a -- I don't know that Manhattan will be underwater, but certainly the environment's going to be a lot worse that we leave our children." Smith also pressed Bloomberg on a possible 2008 presidential run.
The interview began with Smith asking about Bloomberg’s proposal to impose a national carbon tax. Smith asked, "Who gets taxed?," to which Bloomberg responded, "People who generate carbon and put it into the air, that pollute the air that you breathe, and that I breathe, and that's causing worldwide changes over the long term in our environment." In other words, everyone. Far from challenging Bloomberg on how people would react to such a plan, Smith instead followed up with, "Something similar to this has been advocated for a long time, the sort of cap and trade...Why is yours better than theirs?" Smith’s assumption that Bloomberg’s plan is "better" is an interesting way of challenging such a policy.
While previewing an upcoming interview with extreme left-wing presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, on Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith remarked, "I've actually admired Dennis Kucinich for a long -- since he was mayor of Cleveland." In addition to Smith admitting that he admired someone as liberal as Kucinich, who wants to establish a Department of Peace and claims to have seen UFOs, Smith specifically mentioned Kucinich’s disastrous tenure as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.
Even The New York Times could not ignore Kucinich’s failures as mayor in a 2003 candidate profile:
But it all came crashing quickly down when Mr. Kucinich presided over the city's plunge into default in 1978. The collapse attracted international ridicule and, except for a brief sojourn on the City Council in the early 80's, left the obstreperous boy wonder in political exile for 15 years...[he] was elected mayor in 1977 and governed the city with a tight circle of friends. But Cleveland's finances, already troubled, spiraled out of control. The climactic moment came in December 1978, when the city was unable to meet $14.5 million in bond obligations. Despite pressure from the business community, Mayor Kucinich refused to sell the municipal electric system to cover the debt. Cleveland went bust, as did his career.
On Firday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began a segment on the controversy over Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey’s stance on water boarding with a report from Capitol Hill Correspondent Chip Reid, who exclaimed that:
Water boarding is a highly controversial interrogation technique that simulates drowning...It's been used by interrogators since the Spanish Inquisition. Reportedly, it's been used by the CIA in real life, too, on a small number of Al Qaeda suspects.
In addition to this exaggerated characterization, Reid also made it seem as though the issue of water boarding was a sudden, shocking controversy, rather than an instance of a consensus nominee, well-liked by Democrats and Republicans, being attacked by those who once welcomed him:
Michael Mukasey looked like he was sailing along to easy confirmation as attorney general, until he ran aground on the issue of water boarding...If he is defeated, water boarding will be the issue that made the difference, something no one could have predicted when the hearings began.
In his "Final Word" on Sunday’s "Face the Nation" on CBS, host Bob Schieffer denounced a fake news conference held by FEMA officials in the wake of the California wildfires. Not content to just say the staged conference was a bad mistake, Schieffer decided to be as arrogant and condescending as possible:
The last time I was at Disney World, they had sticks of a certain height stuck in the ground with signs that said something like, `You must be this tall to ride this ride.' Well, FEMA, the disaster relief agency, must use a variation of that to hire its public relations staff. Somewhere on their employment application there must be a clause that says, `Your IQ must be below a certain level to work here.'
On both Tuesday’s "Evening News" and Wednesday’s "Early Show" CBS gave prominent coverage to Nancy Pelosi’s call for the resignation of the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy Nord. In an interview with Nord on Wednesday’s "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen asked:
American parents are upset, they're frightened, they feel like their Halloween and their Christmas is now ruined. They don't know what to buy. Members of Congress are calling for your resignation. Are you going to resign?
The "Evening News" featured a portion of Pelosi’s rant against the Bush Administration, "I'm calling upon the President of the United States to ask for the resignation. It is, after all, his administration, his policy, his appointee." That was followed by reporter Chip Reid’s explanation that "Pelosi says it's clear that Nancy Nord, the Acting Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, doesn't understand the gravity of the situation because Nord opposes legislation now before Congress that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years to more than $141 million a year." Later, Reid did present Nord’s perspective that "Democrats...want to change the mission of the agency to less testing of products and more litigation against companies."
However, on the "Early Show" Reid again reported from Capitol Hill, but this time followed Nord’s explanation with "Consumer advocates say what's really going on here is the Bush Administration protecting big business at the expense of consumers, a charge the White House vigorously denies." Why the sudden addition of an attack on the administration?
In an interview with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith wondered how Edwards could possibly have a chance against Hillary Clinton’s perfect campaign: "This woman's got numbers, she's got money, she's got name recognition. I mean, how do you begin to even chip away at that?"
As Smith began the segment, he went so far as speak of the "harshness" of Edwards’ Campaign, a term usually reserved for the Republican field: "His harshest rhetoric is reserved for front-runner, Hillary Clinton. As you go forward then, do you ratchet up the rhetoric?"
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."