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60 Minutes: Can't See Palin as President, 'Fact' Race Costs Obama --9/22/2008


1. 60 Minutes: Can't See Palin as President, 'Fact' Race Costs Obama
Three Sundays ago, in a 60 Minutes interview CBS's Steve Kroft cued up Barack Obama with Sarah Palin's presumed lack of qualifications compared to him: "Does the fact that he chose as his Vice President someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?" But on Sunday night, in a 60 Minutes devoted to new interviews with both Obama and John McCain, Scott Pelley also hit McCain from the same angle on Palin's qualifications, telling him "the criticism of Governor Palin is that she was a brilliant marketing choice for the campaign, but she's not well versed on the economy or foreign affairs," before he demanded: "In your judgment, can you see her as President of the United States?" When McCain replied "Absolutely," Pelley's voice betrayed astonishment as he fired back: "As President of the United States?" Steve Kroft again got the sit-down with Obama and when Obama contended that if he loses, his race will not be the cause, Kroft countered that he knows "for a fact...there are a lot of people out there...who won't vote for you because you're black."

2. NBC Raises 9/11 & Pushes Quote to Hurt McCain, ABC Ties in Iraq
Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out: On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw "Great Depression II" avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended "this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then," prompting an "oh, wow" from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how "a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush." ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan "asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?" Muir also read an e-mail: "Why make the little people bail out these companies?" Of course, the "little people" won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax.

3. ABC Train Trip: 28 Minutes to Democratic Guests; Only 14 to GOP
On Friday, Good Morning America concluded its week long train trip to election battleground states and ended up devoting 28 minutes to high profile Democrats and just over 14 to Republicans, a disparity of two-to-one. The tour, which was designed to see what average Americans think about the presidential election, featured mostly Democratic guests. Senator Barack Obama appeared on Monday, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Joe Biden on Thursday and Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on Friday. The only GOP representation came in the form of a short interview with John McCain on Tuesday and another on Wednesday with the Senator and Cindy McCain.

4. On Nightline, Terry Moran Slams McCain as Two-Faced Hypocrite
On Thursday's Nightline, co-anchor Terry Moran trashed John McCain for running a hypocritical, dishonest campaign against Barack Obama. He accused the Republican of doing "the kind of thing that George W. Bush and his supporters did to McCain in South Carolina in 2000." The segment, which featured no examples of sleazy campaigning by Barack Obama, began with co-anchor Cynthia McFadden complaining: "Make no mistake, John McCain very well may defeat Barack Obama. But to do so, has he compromised principles in the style that got him this far?" She also whined: "With just 47 days to the election, is the Straight Talk Express shifting course? Will the real John McCain please stand up?" Moran's tone dripped with sarcasm as he ripped into the Arizona Senator's supposed hypocrisy. The ABC journalist fretted that McCain "clearly decided he's got to change. Change a lot, in some ways, in order to win this thing." As old and new clips of the candidate were spliced together, Moran added: "John McCain meet John McCain."

5. National Journal's Taylor: 'Media Adding to Obama's Distortions'
Over the next six weeks, as the candidates trade charges and counter-charges, the self-appointed media umpires will act as if they are the ultimate fact-finders in Campaign '08. Writing for National Journal, columnist Stuart Taylor asserted that the media's track record thus far makes him just as skeptical of the press. Taylor declared: "Many in the media have been one-sided, sometimes adding to Obama's distortions rather than acting as impartial reporters of fact and referees of the mud fights." Rather than cleaning up the record, Taylor reported several instances when the media are themselves guilty of perpetuating partisan disinformation.

6. PDS in Action: Sullivan's Vitriolic 'S**t Fit' Too Much for Maher
(This item contains a vulgarity) The suggestion that talking about Sarah Palin is not important, sent HBO Real Time guest panelist Andrew Sullivan, a media veteran who now writes the "The Daily Dish" blog for The Atlantic, into an angry rant (Palin Derangement Syndrome) about Palin that was so much of an over-reaction, though it earned loud applause from the audience, that host Bill Maher, who agreed with Sullivan's perspective, called it a "shit fit" as he tried to calm him down and finally had to mimic an ape as he held up his fists by his head and yelled "grrrrrr!" to silence Sullivan.

7. Streisand: 'Lovely Democratic Mem'ries/Of the Way We Were'
At a Tuesday night fundraiser for Barack Obama held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, donors heard Barbra Streisand sing, but as ABC's Jake Tapper noted in his "Political Punch" blog, "the press was not permitted (inflicted?) with permission to hear her." So, there's no video of it, which reminded me of how back in 2002 the Fox News Channel played a brief clip from her appearance at a September 29, 2002 fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, video we played in "The I'm Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award" category at the MRC's 2003 DisHonors Awards where we added Streisand's lyrics at the bottom of the screen along with a bouncing ball to help the audience follow along.


60 Minutes: Can't See Palin as President,
'Fact' Race Costs Obama

Three Sundays ago, in a 60 Minutes interview CBS's Steve Kroft cued up Barack Obama with Sarah Palin's presumed lack of qualifications compared to him: "Does the fact that he chose as his Vice President someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?" But on Sunday night, in a 60 Minutes devoted to new interviews with both Obama and John McCain, Scott Pelley also hit McCain from the same angle on Palin's qualifications, telling him "the criticism of Governor Palin is that she was a brilliant marketing choice for the campaign, but she's not well versed on the economy or foreign affairs," before he demanded: "In your judgment, can you see her as President of the United States?" When McCain replied "Absolutely," Pelley's voice betrayed astonishment as he fired back: "As President of the United States?"

Steve Kroft again got the sit-down with Obama and when Obama contended that if he loses, his race will not be the cause, Kroft countered that he knows "for a fact...there are a lot of people out there...who won't vote for you because you're black." Kroft declared as the two sat in Elko, Nevada: "I know, for a fact, that there are a lot of people out there, there are a lot of people right here in Elko, who won't vote for you because you're black. I mean, there's not much you can do. But how do you deal with it? I mean, are there ways that, from a political point of view, that you can deal with it? And how do you fight that?"

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC;s blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Kroft did at least challenge Obama with whether it's "a good idea to be raising taxes at a time when the country seems to be broke?" and how if his legislation to pull "all the troops out" of Iraq in 16 months had passed, "we would have missed the surge, we would have missed the reduction in violence."

Pelley pressed McCain on why Plain isn't more available to the media: "Senator Biden, Senator Obama's running mate, has done 84 interviews and news conferences by our count. And Governor Palin has done two. And I wonder why that is. There's a perception that you might be nervous about what she might say, that you're not putting her in front of reporters."

The two interviews each aired in two parts on the four-segment 60 Minutes of Sunday, September 21. The CBSNews.com posted transcript and video of Pelley with McCain: www.cbsnews.com

And of Kroft with Obama: www.cbsnews.com

The September 2 CyberAlert oosting, "Kroft Cues Up Obama to Agree Palin 'Has Less Experience than You,'" recounted:

CBS's 60 Minutes led Sunday night with a taped interview with the Democratic ticket and in the piece Steve Kroft, who couldn't resist labeling Sarah Palin as a "conservative" while never tagging Joe Biden, presumed as fact that Palin "has less experience" than Obama and cued up Obama to agree with his own campaign's rhetoric about how Palin undermines McCain's experience argument: "Does the fact that he chose as his Vice President someone who has less experience than you take that weapon out of his arsenal?"...

Palin was first elected to the Wasilla city council in 1992 and has held statewide office since 2003 (chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission before becoming Governor in December of 2006). Obama assumed his state senate seat in 1997 and, though a U.S. Senator since 2005, he soon after launched his presidential run and has hardly been working as a Senator.

Bottom line: As traditionally measured for politicians, neither has all that much experience, especially compared to McCain or Biden, and while whose life experience makes them better-qualified to become the #2 or #1 can be debated, it was ridiculous for Kroft to assert as a fact that Palin "has less experience" than Obama, especially since he's going for the top spot.

Kroft also, as noted above, never applied an ideological label to either Obama or Biden, but didn't hesitate with Palin: "Senator McCain tried to steal the Democrats' thunder by announcing that Alaska's conservative first-term Governor, 44-year-old Sarah Palin, would be his running mate."...

For the rest of the previous CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org

# Portion of the Pelley/McCain session dealing with Palin:

PELLEY: The criticism of Governor Palin is that she was a brilliant marketing choice for the campaign, but she's not well versed on the economy or foreign affairs.
McCAIN: Well, actually, the most popular governor in America so, and the largest, geographically state,. But the most important thing is-
PELLEY: But foreign affairs and the economy, those are things that people are concerned about.
McCAIN: First of all, anybody who's governed a state has some economic experience. And by the way, she cut taxes. The second thing is she shares the world view that I have.
PELLEY: Is it true you only met her a couple of times before you selected her?
McCAIN: I'd only known her a few times but a couple of times. But I had watched her very carefully. I had followed her career.
PELLEY: How'd you make that decision?
McCAIN: Well, I based it on what's the best for the country. I looked at her record. I looked at her.
PELLEY: In your judgment, can you see her as President of the United States?
McCAIN: Absolutely.
PELLEY: As President of the United States?
McCAIN: Absolutely, absolutely.
PELLEY: Senator Biden, Senator Obama's running mate, has done 84 interviews and news conferences by our count. And Governor Palin has done two. And I wonder why that is. There's a perception that you might be nervous about what she might say, that you're not putting her in front of reporters.
McCAIN: She's gonna be doing more all the time. She's, as you know, been introduced to the country. We're campaigning hard. Look, everybody that has met her and known her and the enthusiasm of these crowds, the American people are vetting her. And they're liking a lot what they're seeing.


# Portion of Kroft with Obama about race:

KROFT: When we did our very first interview, and I asked you, I said "Do you think the country's ready for a black President," you said that you didn't think it would hold you back. That if you don't win this race it will be because of other factors. Do you still believe that?
OBAMA: Yes. I believe it even more now. We're only 47 days out and I'm still here.
KROFT: I know, for a fact, that there are a lot of people out there, there are a lot of people right here in Elko, who won't vote for you because you're black. I mean, there's not much you can do. But how do you deal with it? I mean, are there ways that, from a political point of view, that you can deal with it? And how do you fight that?

NBC Raises 9/11 & Pushes Quote to Hurt
McCain, ABC Ties in Iraq

Notes on Friday night coverage of the Wall Street bail out: On the NBC Nightly News, the always hyperbolic Jim Cramer saw "Great Depression II" avoided by the rescue effort, anchor Brian Williams raised 9/11 as he contended "this was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then," prompting an "oh, wow" from CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, and Williams passed along how "a Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this 'fundamentals of the economy' quote to McCain what 'mission accomplished' was to President Bush."

ABC's World News brought up Iraq as David Muir referred to how a man in Manhattan "asked today what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?" Muir also read an e-mail: "Why make the little people bail out these companies?" Of course, the "little people" won't since they barely or don't pay any income tax. One-third of those who file pay nothing or get money back while the bottom 50 percent ($32,000 down), who earn 12 percent of the total income, pay less than 3 percent of taxes collected. The top 25 percent ($65,000 up) pay 86 percent and the top 1 percent ($389,000) pay 40 percent, so maybe the wealthier will get something for all they put in. See: www.taxfoundation.org

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Fuller quotes from the September 19 NBC and ABC evening newscasts, in sequence:

# NBC Nightly News:

JIM CRAMER OF CNBC: This is about avoiding the Great Depression II. This is about going to your automatic teller machine and having money still come out. This was necessary. I've been a relentless critic of this administration, not today. This was well done.

...

BRIAN WILLIAMS: This was the kind of jittery week in New York a lot of people had to go back to 9/11 to remember how they felt then. How do you feel going into this weekend?
MARIA BARTIROMO OF CNBC: Oh, wow. Well, you know, I'm feeling optimistic, Brian. I think that the regulators are on this issue. I think we will get through it. I think there are a lot of reasons to feel good about things, even though we will see layoffs, and that is going to have ripple effects throughout the economy. Things are pretty slow right now. But this economy is resilient. We'll get through it.

...

WILLIAMS TO CHUCK TODD: A Democratic politico said to me this week, if the Democrats do their job, they'll make this "fundamentals of the economy" quote to McCain what "mission accomplished" was to President Bush. I presume when you and I see each other in a week ast the first presidential debate it will come up.


# ABC's World News, latter part of Muir's story:

DAVID MUIR: ...Not acting, economists say, would have made things far worse. The grease that keeps the economy going would have dried up. Stocks tumbling, 401 k's taking huge hits. They say banks could have collapsed, putting personal savings in danger. And there could have been a freeze on loans for homes, cars and so much else. Still, the scope of this bailout is unsettling for so many Americans. One viewer e-mailed us: "Does the government just look at this as Monopoly money? Why make the little people bail out these companies?"And this man asked today, what about the more than $600 billion already spent on Iraq?
MAN IN MANHATTAN: We are bankrupting this nation, but I don't know what choice we have.
MUIR: Though necessary, economists acknowledge many Americans will see this as hypocritical: Don't help home owners struggling to make mortgage payments, but step in when the big guys start to fail.
JOESEPH STIGLITZ, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, COLUMBIA U: It's one thing for, to have some safety net for very poor people. It's a different thing to have safety net for some of the biggest corporations in America.
MUIR: He calls it corporate welfare. Whatever you call it, today the Treasury Secretary said it will cost Americans far less than the alternative. David Muir, ABC News, New York.

ABC Train Trip: 28 Minutes to Democratic
Guests; Only 14 to GOP

On Friday, Good Morning America concluded its week long train trip to election battleground states and ended up devoting 28 minutes to high profile Democrats and just over 14 to Republicans, a disparity of two-to-one. The tour, which was designed to see what average Americans think about the presidential election, featured mostly Democratic guests. Senator Barack Obama appeared on Monday, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Joe Biden on Thursday and Michelle Obama and Jill Biden on Friday. The only GOP representation came in the form of a short interview with John McCain on Tuesday and another on Wednesday with the Senator and Cindy McCain.

Additionally, while Senator McCain appeared jointly with his wife on Wednesday, Barack Obama alone received two segments on Monday, totaling nearly eight and a half minutes. Michelle Obama was featured, along with Senator Biden's wife, on Friday for another five and a half minutes. (McCain's brief appearance on Tuesday was not originally announced in the ABC schedule, lasted less than three minutes and only dealt with the financial problems on Wall Street.)

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The tone of the Democratic interviews also varied from those with the McCains. While Diane Sawyer pressed John and Cindy McCain on abortion on Wednesday, reporter Kate Snow on Thursday simply quizzed Joe Biden on why the Democrats were not further ahead in the polls. (Correspondent Claire Shipman did briefly discuss the issue with Jill Biden and Michelle Obama, but she didn't question the Democrats as to whether their position was too liberal for America.)

Similarly, Sawyer gushed to Hillary Clinton on Tuesday that people had come up to her with a request that she ask a certain question: "And several of them said to me, I'd like to know, have there been hard days since June and how she's [Clinton] dealt with them?" When she challenged the New York senator, it was mostly on issues related to not being tough enough. The host also prompted Clinton to endorse a statement that McCain is too old to be president.

The only tough interview came when news anchor Chris Cuomo grilled Obama on Monday about a new campaign spot that implies McCain is out of touch and too elderly to be commander in chief. He pressed at one point, "But the ad is a negative ad. You paint him as an old man. You say he can't use a computer. He's never sent an e-mail. What does that all mean?"

To read more about Snow's interview with Joe Biden, see a September 19 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org

For additional details about Sawyer's questioning of John McCain about abortion and Roe V. Wade, see a September 18 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org

See a September 16 NewsBusters post for more on Sawyer's attempt to get Hillary Clinton to agree with the contention that McCain is too old: newsbusters.org

Finally, for a recap of Chris Cuomo's surprisingly tough interview with Barack Obama, check out a September 17 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org

On Nightline, Terry Moran Slams McCain
as Two-Faced Hypocrite

On Thursday's Nightline, co-anchor Terry Moran trashed John McCain for running a hypocritical, dishonest campaign against Barack Obama. He accused the Republican of doing "the kind of thing that George W. Bush and his supporters did to McCain in South Carolina in 2000." The segment, which featured no examples of sleazy campaigning by Barack Obama, began with co-anchor Cynthia McFadden complaining: "Make no mistake, John McCain very well may defeat Barack Obama. But to do so, has he compromised principles in the style that got him this far?"

She also whined: "With just 47 days to the election, is the Straight Talk Express shifting course? Will the real John McCain please stand up?" Moran's tone dripped with sarcasm as he ripped into the Arizona Senator's supposed hypocrisy. The ABC journalist fretted that McCain "clearly decided he's got to change. Change a lot, in some ways, in order to win this thing." As old and new clips of the candidate were spliced together, Moran added: "John McCain meet John McCain."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

This same journalist who now is horrified over McCain's candidacy has repeatedly and enthusiastically rhapsodized about Barack Obama. On November 6, 2006, he cooed, "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon." See a November 8, 2006 CyberAlert posting for more www.mrc.org

On Thursday, Moran provided zero examples of Obama switching positions, despite the fact that there are many available. (Obama pledged to accept public financing if he became the Democratic nominee. He ultimately abandoned that promise. He's flip-flopped on oil drilling.) Instead, Moran simply slimed McCain as a practitioner of gutter politics: "Finally, the old John McCain repeatedly promised voters a different kind of campaign. Nobler, less nasty, better...That was then. This is now."

Perhaps Moran isn't aware of the fact that Obama's campaign has started airing Spanish language ads that smear radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh as a racist. See a MRC press release for more on that: www.mrc.org

Also, the MRC's Rich Noyes highlighted a National Journal article by Stuart Taylor which asserts: "Many in the media have been one-sided, sometimes adding to Obama's distortions rather than acting as impartial reporters of fact and referees of the mud fights." See #5 below.

The Nightline co-anchor even attacked McCain for using a teleprompter: "McCain is on message all the time now. He's often using a teleprompter, reading scripted speeches." This is something that Obama routinely does during his speeches. But, again, Moran didn't mention that.

A transcript of the September 18 segment:

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: And John McCain, 2.0. With just 47 days to the election, is the Straight Talk Express shifting course? Will the real John McCain please stand up?

MCFADDEN: We begin tonight with presidential politics. It might be called a tale of two John McCains. The John McCain Americans have come to know over his 25 years in Congress and the John McCain who has emerged in the final phase of this hotly contested presidential race. Make no mistake, John McCain very well may defeat Barack Obama. But to do so, has he compromised principles in the style that got him this far? My co-anchor Terry Moran is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, taking a hard look at that question. Terry?

TERRY MORAN: Cynthia, just a couple of hours ago, John McCain and Sarah Palin packed this arena here behind me for a big rally. Wisconsin is one of those battle ground states, of course. They had a good crowd here. You know, it is fascinating to watch John McCain campaign these days This is a very different candidate from the guy who won the Republican nomination this spring. He's in a tough race for the presidency in a tough year for Republicans and he has clearly decided he's got to change. Change a lot, in some ways, in order to win this thing. John McCain meet John McCain.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Change is coming. Change is coming.
MORAN: Well, for McCain change is already here. As the campaign enters the home stretch, John McCain is a changed candidate. Even a changed man. He still looks the same. Working the rope lines with enthusiasm, but make no mistake, this is the new McCain.
MCCAIN: I'm here in Grand Rapids to send a message to Washington and Wall Street.
MORAN: There is his message. The old McCain from just a few months ago was all about experience. He was running as the man who knows how Washington works.
MCCAIN: I'm committed to leading this nation. I am confident that I have the knowledge and the background and the experience and the judgment.
MORAN: The new McCain is all about change.
MCCAIN: We'll put an end to running Wall Street like a casino.
MORAN: The reason for the dramatic shift in McCain's overarching message is obvious. She's standing right beside him. Ever since he picked Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain has seized a piece of the change action Barack Obama has been running on and drawn big, enthusiastic crowds with her at his side. Beyond the overarching message, McCain has dramatically changed his stance on several big, substantive issues. Chucking old positions and adopting new ones. Take the financial crisis. The old John McCain was a champion of financial deregulation. Here he is back in April.
MCCAIN: I am less -- less government, less regulation, lower taxes.
MORAN: And when the financial crisis deepened earlier this year, this was his proposal to fix it.
MCCAIN: Our financial market approach should include encouraging increase capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory accounting and tax impediments to raising capital.
MORAN: But all of a sudden, the new John McCain is an economic populist, railing against Wall Street and calling for tough regulation.
MCCAIN: We're going to reform the way Wall Street does business and put an end to the greed that has driven our markets into chaos.
MORAN: Offshore drilling. The old John McCain was against it, supporting a federal moratorium on all offshore drilling.
MCCAIN: Not in ANWR, nor the everglades nor in the Grand Canyons, nor off the coast of Florida, nor off the coast of California, unless those people wanted it done.
MORAN: The new john McCain, well-
MCCAIN: Drill, baby, drill. We've got to offshore drill and now!
MORAN: But will McCain's campaign conversions work?
MATTHEW DOWD: He's moving, he's changed his positions, but how receptive, ultimately, the voters are going to be to a new John McCain on new stands on different issues is still open to question. MORAN: It's more than substance that's changed in McCain, it's the tone and style of his campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I have some specific questions about, sort of, gay rights issues.
MORAN: Remember the Straight Talk Express? That was the old John McCain, rolling, roiling, nonstop, no holds barred press conference. Held constantly aboard a campaign bus or plane.
MCCAIN: Maybe there's a difference-
MORAN: Those days are gone. McCain is on message all the time now. He's often using a teleprompter, reading scripted speeches. A far cry from the shoot from the hip candidate of last year. And on the McCain campaign plane, the candidate is sequestered behind a curtain in first class and this cardboard John McCain is about as close as reporters get to him. [Video of a cardboard McCain on the plane.] This plane was equipped with facilities to hold press conferences. He hasn't had one since August 13. Our colleague Bret Hovel who's dogged McCain's every step for a year says the change is striking.
BRET HOVEL (ABC News): I want to say just that they're totally professional and it's not that necessarily that they weren't. But it's this kind of the polish of maybe the Bush campaign, whereas in the past it was the -- sort of the shoot from the hip McCain. So it does seems very different.
MORAN: Finally, the old John McCain repeatedly promised voters a different kind of campaign. Nobler, less nasty, better.
MCCAIN: I will be respectful of the Democrat nominee. Americans want a respectful debate in this country. They're tired of the mud slinging, they're tired of the character assassination.
MORAN: That was then. This is now.
MCCAIN AD: Obama's one accomplishment? Legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners.
MORAN: This ad, which has been called, quote, "simply false" by the non-partisan Annenberg's Public Policy Center's Factcheck.org and others. It seems like just the kind of thing that John McCain said he wouldn't do. It's the kind of thing that George W. Bush and his supporters did to McCain in South Carolina in 2000. And now at the top of the McCain campaign, you'll find former Bush operatives like senior advisor Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace.
DOWD: And I think the Obama campaign wants to have this as a campaign in the clouds. I think the McCain campaign wants to have a campaign that's in the mud.
MORAN: So the new John McCain is as tougher, more disciplined, less open, more populist candidate. He's clearly betting that the way to win in a year when voters are clamoring for change is to change.
DOWD: There's an open question as to whether or not they'll be successful. And I have- I think there's some serious problems that he could have. One is that John McCain's brand was premised on authenticity. And he's had so many changes not only in style, but in substance that I think voters may begin to ask the questions who really is John McCain and is he who we believe he is?
MORAN: Now, we asked the McCain campaign for an interview with John McCain or one of his senior advisors and they declined. But they make no apologies. This campaign, they say, is not going to play defense. Cynthia?

National Journal's Taylor: 'Media Adding
to Obama's Distortions'

Over the next six weeks, as the candidates trade charges and counter-charges, the self-appointed media umpires will act as if they are the ultimate fact-finders in Campaign '08. Writing for National Journal, columnist Stuart Taylor asserted that the media's track record thus far makes him just as skeptical of the press.

Taylor declared: "Many in the media have been one-sided, sometimes adding to Obama's distortions rather than acting as impartial reporters of fact and referees of the mud fights." Rather than cleaning up the record, Taylor reported several instances when the media are themselves guilty of perpetuating partisan disinformation.

[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

An excerpt from Taylor's September 20 column, "Campaign Lies, Media Double Standards":

....We still have many great journalists, but I no longer trust the major newspapers or television networks to provide consistently accurate and fair reporting and analysis of all the charges and countercharges. This in an era when the noise produced by highly partisan TV hosts and blogs creates a crying need for at least one newspaper that we can count on to play it straight.

Indeed, one reason that candidates get away with dishonest campaign ads and speeches may be that it is so hard for undecided voters like me to discern which charges are true, which are exaggerated, and which are false. Most people can't spend hours every day cross-checking diverse sources of information to verify the accuracy of slanted stories and broadcasts such as these:

# In Sarah Palin's first big media interview, on September 11, Charlie Gibson of ABC News asked: "You said recently, in your old church, 'Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God.' Are we fighting a holy war?" Palin responded: "You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote." Gibson pressed: "Exact words."

Viewers had no way of knowing that, in fact, Gibson was distorting Palin's meaning by leaving out critical context and thus making an unremarkable exhortation to prayer sound like a declaration of holy war. Palin had not said that the war was a task from God. She had urged her listeners to "pray" that it was a task from God. [See: www.mrc.org ]

A September 3 Associated Press report by Gene Johnson distorted Palin's meaning in exactly the same way.

# A front-page story in the September 12 Washington Post, by Anne Kornblut, was headlined: "Palin Links Iraq to Sept. 11 in Talk to Troops in Alaska." This was misleading, as were the first two paragraphs. They implied that Palin had advanced the long-discredited "idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped Al Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon." In fact, Palin's reasonably clear meaning was not that Saddam had a role in the 9/11 attacks but that (as the article backhandedly acknowledged) the troops would be fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is related to the group that launched the 9/11 attacks....

I was deeply dismayed by the 72-year-old McCain's reckless choice of the inexperienced and untested Palin to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. But I am also deeply skeptical when I see front-page headlines like "As Mayor of Wasilla, Palin Cut Own Duties, Left Trail of Bad Blood" (Washington Post, September 14), or "Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes" (New York Times, same day). Such loaded language is a badge not of a newsroom committed to impartial investigation but of an ideological echo chamber.

Many media commentators also exude a conviction that Republicans have long played dirtier and more dishonest political hardball than do Democrats. Maybe, but I'm not so sure. We are often reminded of Republican sins ranging from the (accurate) Willie Horton ads of 1988 to the (over-the-top) "Swiftboating" of 2004. We hear a lot less about Democratic sins such as President Clinton's distortions of Bob Dole's position on Medicare in 1996 and the NAACP's stunningly scurrilous ad campaign in 2000 associating George W. Bush's opposition to a hate crimes bill with the racist murderers who dragged James Byrd behind a truck....

END of Excerpt

For Taylor's piece in full: www.nationaljournal.com

PDS in Action: Sullivan's Vitriolic 'S**t
Fit' Too Much for Maher

(This item contains a vulgarity) The suggestion that talking about Sarah Palin is not important, sent HBO Real Time guest panelist Andrew Sullivan, a media veteran who now writes the "The Daily Dish" blog for The Atlantic, into an angry rant (Palin Derangement Syndrome) about Palin that was so much of an over-reaction, though it earned loud applause from the audience, that host Bill Maher, who agreed with Sullivan's perspective, called it a "shit fit" as he tried to calm him down and finally had to mimic an ape as he held up his fists by his head and yelled "grrrrrr!" to silence Sullivan.

Leading into Sullivan on the Friday night show, left-wing journalist Naomi Klein called Palin "Bush in drag" and "when you add the hunting you got Cheney," prompting musician William Adams, who goes by "will.i.am," to complain: "You know what scares me about Palin, is that we're talking about Palin and we're not talking about how to get out of the hole." That set off Sullivan, a frequent contributor to Time magazine and the New York Times, his voice getting louder and his hands gesticulating more as he proceeded:
"We have to talk about Palin. Bill, let me just say, I don't want to go this far in talking about her. She is a farce. This nomination, the nomination of this person to be potentially President of the United States next January -- that's the possibility, technically speaking she could be President next January -- is a joke. It is absurd! It is something that should be dismissed out of hand as the most irresponsible act any candidate has ever made, ever!"

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As Sulivan was drowned out by loud applause from the Los Angeles audience, Maher tried to calm him down: "Okay....you're little shit fit...I agree with you, but-"

Sullivan was undeterred: "It was not a shit fit. This is an outrage, an outrage! And after three weeks, no press conference. What is this, Putin's Russia?" Maher tried again: "I know, we're all upset about it." Sullivan, in full rage: "We need to be more upset. We need to be much more upset!" Maher, mimicking an ape: "Grrrrrr!"

That finally silenced Sullivan and Maher moved on to how while other groups have returned to the pre-conventions split, white women are still going for McCain-Palin by a wide margin.

Sullivan's blog: andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com

Sullivan fancies himself a conservative and a couple of years ago authored the book, 'The Conservative Soul: Fundamentalism, Freedom, and the Future of the Right,' in which he "makes an impassioned call to rescue conservatism from the corruption of the Republican far right." Barnes and Nobles page for the book: search.barnesandnoble.com

The Atlantic's bio for Sullivan which lists his many news media positions over the years: andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com

HBO's page for Real Time: www.hbo.com

Streisand: 'Lovely Democratic Mem'ries/Of
the Way We Were'

At a Tuesday night fundraiser for Barack Obama held at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, donors heard Barbra Streisand sing, but as ABC's Jake Tapper noted in his "Political Punch" blog, "the press was not permitted (inflicted?) with permission to hear her." So, there's no video of it, which reminded me of how back in 2002 the Fox News Channel played a brief clip from her appearance at a September 29, 2002 fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, video we played in "The I'm Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award" category at the MRC's 2003 DisHonors Awards where we added Streisand's lyrics at the bottom of the screen along with a bouncing ball to help the audience follow along: www.mediaresearch.org

The customized stanzas from her 'Miseries' adaption of the 'Way We Were' as played on the October 2, 2002 Special Report with Brit Hume:

Scattered pictures

Of the House we left behind.

Lovely Democratic mem'ries

Of the way we were.

Unprecedented growth in the economy.

The Dow was up, the deficit was down.

As long as Democrats were the majority,

I could sleep nights,

Not weep nights.

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Brit Hume introduced that clip: "You've probably heard or read that at a Democratic Party fundraiser in Los Angeles over the weekend, Barbra Streisand performed a re-worked version of her famous hit song Memories from the movie The Way We Were. You may have heard that it was called Miseries and was about life under this Republican administration. You may not have believed that this actually happened. Well:"

Afterward, Hume, unable to control his laughter, barely managed to get through his standard closing line: "And that's Special Report for this time. Please come again next time, and in the meantime stay tuned for news: fair, balanced and unafraid."

(Video re-rendered from the MRC's archive by Michelle Humphrey.)

From Tapper's September 17 posting about the stars who attended the two Obama-Biden fundraisers:

...Somewhere between 250 and 300 others signed up for the dinner, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Lee Curtis, Will Farrell -- known for, among other characters, his devastating impersonation of President George W. Bush -- as well as Jodie Foster, Toby McGuire, and Chris Rock.

Not to mention the man Sen. John McCain, D-Ariz., said was his favorite Hollywood "president," Dennis Haysbert, who played the assassinated President David Palmer on Fox's "24."...

Obama then went to the ballroom at the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

Around 800 people -- including Sarah Silverman, Ron Howard, Magic Johnson, and Pierce Brosnan -- were there, each paying $2,500 to the Obama Victory Fund.

We are told, though the press was not permitted (inflicted?) with permission to hear her, that Barbra Streisand ran through little parts of songs, though not entire numbers....

For the full blog posting: blogs.abcnews.com

-- Brent Baker