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Frustrated by Lack of 'Red Meat,' Not 'Hitting McCain Hard Enough' --8/27/2008


1. Frustrated by Lack of 'Red Meat,' Not 'Hitting McCain Hard Enough'
Most prevalent theme during Tuesday night's convention coverage, after speculation over healing the Clinton-Obama fued: journalists worrying Democrats are not adequately aggressive in their attacks against John McCain as reporters, especially on CBS, repeatedly pressed for more "red meat" and wondered if the speakers are being "hard enough" or "tough enough" on McCain? CBS's Bob Schieffer rued to keynoter Mark Warner that "normally keynote speeches" deliver "a lot of red meat," but "I didn't hear a lot of that." Over on NBC, Brian Williams pushed Warner: "You know there's some in the party who feel that this gathering isn't tough enough against a John McCain who, after all, hasn't let up for a day against this party." Back to CBS, Jeff Greenfield asserted Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton "to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts." Couric even asked Michael Dukakis "if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?" Clinton's speech left Couric unfulfilled: "We expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight...Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?" On MSNBC, Chris Matthews lamented: "It seems like they're pulling their punches." Eugene Robinson yearned: "I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word 'torture'..."

2. Couric Hails Hillary's Impact; Williams: 'If Not Her, Who, When?'
Paying tribute to Hillary Clinton hours before her address to the Democratic National Convention, on Tuesday night CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric delivered a nearly five-minute-long review of Senator Clinton's campaign and why it came up short, though Couric ended on a laudatory note: "She did leave her mark in the history books." Following a soundbite from former Clinton campaign operative Geoffrey Garin touting how "for the next woman who runs for President, they don't have to wonder what the model looks like. The model looks like Hillary Clinton," Couric trumpeted: "And the party platform, where for the first time, the issue of sexism in America is raised." Over on the NBC Nightly News, sitting with NBC political director Chick Todd inside the Pepsi Center to preview the upcoming speech, anchor Brian Williams rued: "And I assume she's going to talk about that glass ceiling, i.e., a woman President of these United States, which begs the question as we listen to her tonight, if not her, who and when?"

3. Fawn Over 'Incredible,' 'Impressive,' & 'Inspiring' First Night
All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it "couldn't have been a more compelling first night" and Chen describing Michelle Obama as "so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak." Over on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first "an incredible night" and then "a night to remember for all ages." NBC's David Gregory described Michelle Obama's speech as "moving" and "heartfelt," but asserted "the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy" for speaking on Obama's behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor. All three network morning shows emphasized how Michelle Obama's task was, as CBS's Bill Plante put it, "to reintroduce herself, to soften her image," but only NBC's Gregory reminded viewers how Obama herself had sowed doubts about herself by claiming earlier this year that now that her husband is a leading candidate for President: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country."

4. Matt Lauer Scolds: Don't Question Michelle Obama's Patriotism
On Tuesday's Today show, co-host Matt Lauer practically dared John McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace to challenge the narrative created by Michelle Obama in her speech during the previous night of the Democratic National Convention. Lauer cited Mrs. Obama's goal as trying to "put to rest some of the stories that have been going around, and a lot of them being talked about on conservative talk radio, about her lack of patriotism." The NBC host then challenged Wallace: "So, let me ask you on the record, how she did, and does the McCain campaign doubt her love of country?" Of course, Lauer offered no specifics as to what he meant by "some of the stories that have been going around," nor did he mention the now famous quote of Michelle Obama asserting that "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country," thus making it sound as though conservatives were just making things up about the candidate's wife.

5. CNN Worries Tuesday Afternoon Over Lack of Attacks on Republicans
During Monday's convention coverage, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin fretted that the Democrats weren't doing enough Bush-bashing (see the August 26 CyberAlert). Tuesday afternoon, CNN aired two segments during the 1:00 PM EDT hour of CNN's Newsroom in which they promoted Democratic fears that Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner "won't go for the jugular" in his then-upcoming speech. Congressional correspondent Dana Bash labeled the Democratic former Virginia Governor a "moderate" and "more socially conservative" and drew parallels between his keynote address and that of Obama's in 2004 before she noted "there's a little bit of concern about the fact that he's not going to be -- sort of go for the jugular the way that many Democrats are hoping that they really step up here at this convention here in Denver."

6. ABC's Cuomo Hits Obama from Left:' Why Not Universal Health Care?'
All week (and apparently next week during the Republican convention), ABC's Good Morning America will use its liberal prism to evaluate how the candidates' policy proposals might help families with the last name of Jones, with a segment titled "Meet the Joneses." On Monday, reporter Chris Cuomo hit Barack Obama's tax proposals from the left, suggesting that even his tax hikes on "the rich" might not leave enough money for the government. Tuesday, Cuomo found a family that was willing to go on camera and whine about having to spend $160 per month -- yes, just one-hundred sixty dollars and no cents -- on their daughter's health care without being reimbursed by their evil HMO. After not being reassured that Obama's "reforms" could guarantee that this specific family would save the average $2,500 per year, Cuomo pressed Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee from the left: "Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?"

7. MSNBC's Abrams Overlooks Ayers' Terrorism and Connection to Obama
During the 11am EDT hour Tuesday on MSNBC, host Dan Abrams interviewed Reuters Washington correspondent John Decker about Senator Barack Obama's campaign seeking a criminal investigation against the American Issues Project over an ad which links Obama to terrorist Bill Ayers. While none of the American Issues Project ad was shown, MSNBC did help Obama rebut any claims of a connection between Obama and Ayers by airing part of Obama's response ad: "Why is John McCain talking about the sixties trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers? McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes committed when Obama was just 8 years old." Just like in the Obama ad, Abrams only referred to Ayers as a "radical," and never mentioned the bombings Ayers took part in or his September 2001 statement that "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."

8. CNN Wondered Monday About 'Too Liberal' Democratic Convention
Catching up on a tidbit from Monday night's coverage, CNN co-anchor Anderson Cooper actually wondered aloud whether the evening's line-up of Democratic speakers -- Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Jr. -- was "too liberal" to attract independent voters. Usually, the networks never even label Democratic speakers, while constantly berating Republican speakers as extreme or right-wing, so this is either a refreshing change of pace, or a sign that Democrats have gone way over the edge if even CNN is worrying about a "too liberal" convention. Responding to that suggestion, CNN analyst David Gergen admired how "Jimmy Carter has won a Nobel Peace Prize here recently. He's one of the two Democrats speaking at this convention -- Al Gore being the other -- who won Nobel Peace Prizes. That must be a first in history." But, previewing Democratic consultant James Carville's complaint two hours later, Gergen decried how the Democrats "have offered almost no substance" in their convention program: "We've had very little that's been compelling thus far."

9. 'Top 10 Ways to Make the Democratic National Convention More Fun'
Letterman's "Top Ten Ways to Make the Democratic National Convention More Fun."


Frustrated by Lack of 'Red Meat,' Not
'Hitting McCain Hard Enough'

Most prevalent theme during Tuesday night's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, after speculation over healing the Clinton-Obama fued: TV journalists worrying about how the Democrats are not adequately aggressive in their attacks against John McCain as reporters, especially on CBS, repeatedly pressed for more "red meat" and wondered if the speakers are being "hard enough" or "tough enough" on McCain?

CBS's Bob Schieffer rued to keynoter Mark Warner that "normally keynote speeches" deliver "a lot of red meat," but "I didn't hear a lot of that." Over on NBC, Brian Williams pushed Warner: "You know there's some in the party who feel that this gathering isn't tough enough against a John McCain who, after all, hasn't let up for a day against this party." Back to CBS, Jeff Greenfield asserted Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton "to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts." Couric even asked Michael Dukakis "if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?" Clinton's speech left Couric unfulfilled: "We expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight...Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?"

Previewing Ed Rendell early in the evening, CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered: "Let's see if he has some red meat." On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was "amazed why they don't have more fun with the man who calls himself Dick Cheney," as he lamented: "It seems like they're pulling their punches." Analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post yearned: "I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word 'torture' I'm waiting for someone to take the podium, say the word 'Iraq' I'm waiting for someone to take, to take the podium and talk about domestic surveillance..."

Not to be left out, ABC's Charles Gibson set up a series of clips of speakers attacking McCain even as he maintained that convention attendees want to know "when are they going to start going after John McCain?" Apparently, they have:
"One of the things that has been raised about this convention is when are they going to start going after John McCain? I talked about the under-card of speakers a few moments ago. There's been a stream of speakers that have been going on through the late afternoon and early evening here in Denver. And they have been taking some very direct shots at John McCain. So, we're going to give you some sense of what's happened in this convention today, right up until now. Let's take a look."

ABC viewers were then treated to clips of Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Senator Bob Casey Jr., Governor Ed Rendell and former Virginia Governor/Senate candidate Mark Warner. CBS also ran a similar highlight reel of the very attacks on Republicans journalists pined for.

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

U.S. facing "the greatest financial crisis we've had probably since the Great Depression." The most ridiculous exaggeration of the night came from Tom Brokaw on NBC News at about 10:32 PM EDT, just before Clinton took the platform: "This country is facing very serious problems. We've got a financial crisis, the greatest financial crisis we've had probably since the Great Depression. Two wars abroad."

Fuller quotes from the coverage aired Tuesday night, August 26:

# CBS News, on the air for about 72 minutes starting at 10 PM EDT:

BOB SCHIEFFER TO KEYNOTER MARK WARNER: We heard the speech. It was a very high minded, it was a very lofty, a very thoughtful speech. But normally keynote speeches at conventions like this, you get a lot of red meat. I didn't hear a lot of that.
SCHIEFFER PLEADED: Isn't somebody going to have to really draw some contrasts with the Republicans?

JEFF GREENFIELD ON MARK WARNER: You can say Barack Obama really needs something from Hillary Clinton. He needs her to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts.

KATIE COURIC TO MITT ROMNEY: Senator McCain continued his attacks on Barack Obama today. He called him inexperienced on national security at the American Legion convention in Phoenix. Is there a risk that this negative tone will ultimately hurt McCain's brand as a different kind of politician?

COURIC ABOUT MICHAEL DUKAKIS: A funny thing happened to me on my way to the Pepsi Center earlier today when I was at a security check point. I ran into the man who was the Democratic nominee 20 years ago, Michael Dukakis. So we grabbed our hand-held camera and started rolling. I asked him if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?

COURIC TO BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you surprised that Hillary Clinton is really the first person to come out as the real attack dog against John McCain?

COURIC, AFTER HILLARY CLINTON SPOKE: Bob Schieffer, you know we expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight. While she did attack John McCain, but primarily GOP policies. She said at the very start, "no way, no McCain." Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Oh, I thought it was a very effective attack, Katie. I mean, she really did go after him. When she said "It's not surprising that George Bush and John McCain will be together in the Twin Cities because you can't tell them apart," that's what Democrats want this to be about. That's what they want this election to be about is about George Bush and the last eight years. So I thought it was a very effective speech. I don't know how Barack Obama could have asked for more.

(Yet Couric, after all her pushing for tougher attacks on McCain and Republicans, complained to Mitt Romney: "Is there a risk that this negative tone will ultimately hurt McCain's brand as a different kind of politician?")


# CNN, some highlights as compiled by the MRC's Matthew Balan:

7:29 PM EDT, WOLF BLITZER, 7:29 PM EDT: I want to go to the podium. The Governor of Pennsylvania, a key battleground state, Ed Rendell, is speaking. Let's see if he has some red meat for the Republicans.

8:22 PM, CAMPBELL BROWN: One of the other interesting points I think John made, in talking about those crucial states, as we have heard David Gergen and others say -- how there isn't enough sort of red meat and excitement coming out of the convention. But the people who are on the stage are the governors of those states, people representing those battlegrounds, speaking directly to those people. It's not necessarily a national audience always, right?

9:04 PM EDT, CANDY CROWLEY: So, yes, it is about unity within the party tonight, but it's also about bipartisanship and getting things done. And we sort of forget in this, you know, let's have some red meat, let's have -- you know, let's have them really beat up on John McCain, that's what these delegates want, and it is. But part of the Obama message is we have to be a different sort of government. We have to change the way things are done in Washington. We have to be more bipartisan, and that's the message that Warner brings to the table tonight as the keynoter.


# MSNBC, as gathered by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens:

7:23 PM EDT, NORAH O'DONNELL: Well why not position a Senator, like Claire McCaskill, up there for five minutes and let her throw some red meat out to the crowd?

7:37 PM EDT, CHRIS MATTHEWS: You have to wonder, politically, why the Democrats at this convention don't mention the name Dick Cheney. He's the least popular American in maybe 100 years and he's been holding those secret meetings with the oil companies for years now. And the only gain we've gotten out of that is more secrecy. Because we were never told, or at least he never was, apparently, Keith, if I might bring you in here, he knew the situation in the oil industry because he was meeting with these guys all the time. Didn't they ever tell him, "Hey the price of oil might begin to spike at the pump?"

9:32 PM EDT:

MATTHEWS: Keith I am amazed why they don't have more fun with the man who calls himself Dick Cheney. Why more references? Why no, why don't they talk about these villains, as they see them? Why don't they talk about Bush, who they see as a villain.
OLBERMANN: I know it works for me. I, sorry.
MATTHEWS: It seems like they're pulling their, ha! They're pulling their punches and I'm waiting. Somebody said that last night, said, "well last night was a mellow night about love and family and Teddy getting on." And, and maybe it ought to start so it begins to smell like a convention. Or am I pushing them?

10:07 PM EDT:

EUGENE ROBINSON, WASHINGTON POST: I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word "torture." I'm waiting for someone to take the podium, say the word "Iraq." I'm waiting for someone to take, to take the podium and talk about domestic surveillance and to talk about all the reasons that Democrats want to get rid of George Bush.

12:06 AM EDT:

NORAH O'DONNELL: There's been a lot of complaining among Democrats, even a lot of former Clinton White House staffers who said there's not been enough red meat, at this convention. I thought Hillary Clinton was throwing it to the crowd tonight.

...

EUGENE ROBINSON: It was closer to red meat than anything we've heard at this convention. It really was. I think it was more effective than anything we've heard at this convention. I think, but you know, red gets a bit redder than this.
MADDOW: Meat does get redder.
ROBINSON: It does get redder. This was kind of, you know, medium rare at best. It gets juicy.
PAT BUCHANAN: It gets a lot redder than this, I will tell you. But no this was lightly done, quite frankly....I didn't see the real red meat.

Couric Hails Hillary's Impact; Williams:
'If Not Her, Who, When?'

Paying tribute to Hillary Clinton hours before her address to the Democratic National Convention, on Tuesday night CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric delivered a nearly five-minute-long review of Senator Clinton's campaign and why it came up short, though Couric ended on a laudatory note: "She did leave her mark in the history books." Following a soundbite from former Clinton campaign operative Geoffrey Garin touting how "for the next woman who runs for President, they don't have to wonder what the model looks like. The model looks like Hillary Clinton," Couric trumpeted: "And the party platform, where for the first time, the issue of sexism in America is raised."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, sitting with NBC political director Chick Todd inside the Pepsi Center to preview the upcoming speech, anchor Brian Williams rued: "And I assume she's going to talk about that glass ceiling, i.e., a woman President of these United States, which begs the question as we listen to her tonight, if not her, who and when?"

Todd answered: "Brian, if John McCain does not pick a woman on his ticket, it will have been 24 years since Geraldine Ferraro's nomination. It's actually a stunning amount of time. That's a generation. I don't think any of us thought it was going to be a generation of folks before we would see another woman on the ticket. Maybe it's Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas on the Democratic side or Kay Bailey Hutchison down in Texas. She wants to run for Governor. But watch these women that run and win these governorships. We all know it's a lot easier to go from a governorship to the presidency than to the United States Senate because this is an anomaly this year that we actually have two sitting Senators on their way to, potentially on their way to the White House. Normally, there's at least one Governor in this mix."

(Williams twice more posed the same formulation during NBC's 10 PM EDT prime time hour-plus.)

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

From the end of Couric's lengthy piece on Hillary Clinton's journey to Denver:

COURIC: But she did leave her mark in the history books.
GEOFFREY GARIN, CLINTON CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: For the next woman who runs for President, they don't have to wonder what the model looks like. The model looks like Hillary Clinton.
COURIC: And the party platform, where for the first time, the issue of sexism in America is raised.
HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: There's many good things that are going to come out of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and addressing that is one of them.
COURIC: Nearly 70 percent of registered voters believe Clinton made it easier for other women to one day try for the White House, a point of pride for the candidate herself as she delivered her last, and perhaps most difficult speech, of the campaign.
HILLARY CLINTON, JUNE 7: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it's got about 18 million cracks in it.

Fawn Over 'Incredible,' 'Impressive,'
& 'Inspiring' First Night

All three broadcast morning shows were thrilled with the opening night of the Democratic convention in Denver. CBS co-anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Julie Chen were the most effusive, with Rodriguez gushing that it "couldn't have been a more compelling first night" and Chen describing Michelle Obama as "so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak."

Over on ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer was also swept away, calling it first "an incredible night" and then "a night to remember for all ages." NBC's David Gregory described Michelle Obama's speech as "moving" and "heartfelt," but asserted "the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy" for speaking on Obama's behalf despite his battle against a cancerous brain tumor.

All three network morning shows emphasized how Michelle Obama's task was, as CBS's Bill Plante put it, "to reintroduce herself, to soften her image," but only NBC's Gregory reminded viewers how Obama herself had sowed doubts about herself by claiming earlier this year that now that her husband is a leading candidate for President: "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country."

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

Highlights from the Tuesday, August 26 morning shows, starting with ABC's Good Morning America, which was transcribed by the MRC's Justin McCarthy:

Opening tease, about 7am EDT:

DIANE SAWYER: An incredible night: A return and a roar from the lion of the Democrats.
SENATOR TED KENNEDY (D-MA): The work begins anew! The hope rises again! And the dream lives on.
SAWYER: And the debut of Michelle Obama.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president....

DIANE SAWYER: And good morning America. I am Diane Sawyer from the floor of the Democratic Convention in Denver, Colorado, and Robin Roberts in New York. You can almost still feel and hear the echo of the roar that went up last night when Senator Edward Kennedy returned to the convention.

ROBIN ROBERTS: It was electric. I'm here in Times Square on this Tuesday, August 26. And Diane, so many people talking about that site last night on that stage behind you when Senator Kennedy knowing what he has been through recently in fighting that brain tumor giving a seven minute speech. What was it like in the arena last night?
SAWYER: Oh, people were overwhelmed, simply overwhelmed. They knew it was a night to remember for all ages. And by the way, we learned that he did come out of the hospital to come here. And something else, we can see before he spoke that up there behind the podium there was a stool. But then it just disappeared. And we're told he saw it and said "take that away. I'm going to do this my way."
ROBERTS: Of course, the other headliner last night, Michelle Obama, and it was such a family affair. She was introduced by her brother, college basketball coach Craig Robinson. But daddy's little girls, they stole the show....

DIANE SAWYER: But let's get right to it because it was a night to remember last night here on the convention floor.
MICHELLE OBAMA: I come here as a daughter, raised on the south side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me.
SAWYER: She said her life shows how parents, education and support can give other kids like her a future.
MICHELLE OBAMA: With a current of history meets this new tide of hope and you see, that is why I love this country. See the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He's the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, determined to give her something he never had, the affirming embrace of a father's love. ...

SAWYER: And also last night the patriarch of a family which has moved conventions across the generations left a hospital room to come here and prove why they call Teddy Kennedy the lion.
CAROLINE KENNEDY: I know someone else who's been inspired all over again by Senator Obama. In our family he's known as Uncle Teddy.
SAWYER: As the crowd roared, the daughters of Camelot looked at their Uncle Teddy.
SENATOR TED KENNEDY (D-MA): My fellow Americans, it is so wonderful to be here. And nothing, nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight. And I pledge to you, I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate. We reached the moon. We scaled the heights. I know it. I've seen it. I've lived it, and we can do it again!
SAWYER: And who could forget 1980, 28 years ago when Teddy Kennedy after his defeat left another convention with these words- TED KENNEDY: The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
SAWYER: And last night he slightly altered the words, a different battle cry for a lion now in winter.
TED KENNEDY: The work begins anew. The hope rises again, and the dream lives on.


# CBS's The Early Show, as transcribed by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, starting with the opening tease at about 7am:

HARRY SMITH: America meets Michelle -- her Denver debut.
MICHELLE OBAMA: Let's stand together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States of America. Thank you.
SMITH: But did she quiet critics and soften skeptical voters?...

SMITH: We're at the site of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. That's a picture outside the Pepsi Center, where all the action takes place. And this is what it looks like inside. Quiet, certainly this morning, but a rousing crowd in here last night, to first hear Ted Kennedy. Everybody knew Ted Kennedy was going to be in the building but not too many folks knew that he was going to speak. And what a rousing speech he gave followed, of course, by Michelle Obama, who had a task in front of her of trying to reintroduce herself to the American people. All eyes on her. Her dress, her style, the substance of what she had to say. We'll analyze all of that ahead as we say good morning to Maggie Rodriguez in New York and Julie Chen as well. Good morning, guys.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Good morning, Harry.
JULIE CHEN: Good morning, Harry.
RODRIGUEZ: You know, I think all of us on this shift stayed up a little bit later than we should, watching what I think couldn't have been a more compelling first night of that convention.
JULIE CHEN : Yeah, Michelle Obama, so impressive, so, just inspiring to watch her speak. And so many headlines this morning out of Denver, Harry.
SMITH: Yeah, indeed. ...

HARRY SMITH: The first night of the Democratic convention was filled with drama. Senator Ted Kennedy gave a stirring speech that brought delegates to tears and it was a night this crowded arena anxiously waited for, to hear Barack Obama's wife. We are joined by CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, who's across the convention floor. Good morning, Bill.

BILL PLANTE: Good morning to you, Harry. It was Michelle Obama's night to reintroduce herself, to soften her image. And she got an unexpected and powerfully emotional boost from Senator Edward Kennedy. He was only supposed to appear on video, but Kennedy, under treatment for brain cancer, brought Democrats to their feet when he walked on stage....
PLANTE: For Michelle Obama, the evening's headliner, it was a chance to define herself and her husband.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
PLANTE: The Harvard-educated lawyer talked of the middle class family values with which she and her husband were raised and she praised those who work for the American dream, including-
OBAMA: People like Hillary Clinton. Who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling. People like Joe Biden, who has never forgotten where he came from.
PLANTE: Joined by her daughters Sasha and Malia, Michelle Obama then talked to her husband, who had been watching with a family in Kansas City, Missouri.
BARACK OBAMA: How do you think mom did?
SASHA OBAMA: I think she did good.
PLANTE: Politico's Mike Allen says Michelle Obama showed she's someone voters can feel comfortable with.
MIKE ALLEN: Michelle Obama did exactly what she tried to do, which was take away the hard edges....


# NBC's Today, as transcribed by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, also starting with the 7am teases:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Good morning. Tears and cheers.
TED KENNEDY: Nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering, tonight.
VIEIRA: Senator Ted Kennedy, battling brain cancer, makes an emotional appearance at the Democratic convention, while Michelle Obama tries to show the human side of her husband.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.
VIEIRA: Tonight, it's Hillary Clinton's turn to take center stage....

MATT LAUER: You know, people talk about political conventions and they say it's all scripted. There are no surprises. But, you know, when it came right down to it, there was some drama at the Democratic convention last night.
VIEIRA: It sure was. No one knew for sure if Senator Kennedy would be healthy enough to appear. But after a video tribute, the moment of truth. The so-called lion of the Senate took to the stage and gave a rousing speech leaving many in the crowd in tears, and coming up in just a moment, we're going to hear from his son Patrick about his dad's big night and how his dad is doing....

VIEIRA: But let's begin with an emotional night at the Democratic National Convention. NBC's chief White House correspondent David Gregory is in Denver with more. David, good morning to you.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning, Meredith. It did amount, this opening night of the convention, to an emotional split screen. Senator Kennedy's surprise appearance, his moving words and the spotlight on Obama family values. The opening night message was Michelle. She took center stage, hoping to open minds and ease doubts about her husband.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believe he will be an extraordinary president.
GREGORY: Her political test, to connect the story of the Obamas to the story of average Americans.
MICHELLE OBAMA: In this great country where a girl from the south side of Chicago can go to college and law school and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House-
GREGORY: Her speech, a moving description of her middle-class roots as the daughter of a Chicago city worker, was also at its core a rebuttal, an attempt to quiet critics who seized on comments she made earlier in the year to question her patriotism.
MICHELLE OBAMA: And for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country.
GREGORY: Monday night, a different tone.
MICHELLE OBAMA: All of us driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won't do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as should be. And you see, that is why I love this country....
GREGORY: But as heart felt as the appearance of the Obamas was, the emotional highlight of the night belonged to Ted Kennedy, battling brain cancer, the 76-year-old lion of the Senate made a surprise showing.
TED KENNEDY: Nothing is going to keep me away from this special gathering tonight.
GREGORY: His early endorsement of Obama changed the dynamic of the race and Monday he doubled down on his commitment, promising to work along side a President Obama.
KENNEDY: I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate....
GREGORY: Senator Kennedy was on the stage for no more than about seven minutes but I can tell you having been on the floor how incredibly emotional those moments were and symbolic as well. Here is one of the most- America's most important political families passing the torch as he talked about -- and elevating the Obamas to their new place of prominence in the Democratic Party. Meredith?

Matt Lauer Scolds: Don't Question Michelle
Obama's Patriotism

On Tuesday's Today show, co-host Matt Lauer practically dared John McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace to challenge the narrative created by Michelle Obama in her speech during the previous night of the Democratic National Convention. Lauer cited Mrs. Obama's goal as trying to "put to rest some of the stories that have been going around, and a lot of them being talked about on conservative talk radio, about her lack of patriotism."

The NBC host then challenged Wallace: "So, let me ask you on the record, how she did, and does the McCain campaign doubt her love of country?" Of course, Lauer offered no specifics as to what he meant by "some of the stories that have been going around," nor did he mention the now famous quote of Michelle Obama asserting that "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country," thus making it sound as though conservatives were just making things up about the candidate's wife.

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

In contrast, in an earlier segment, reporter David Gregory did play that clip. Just prior, however, he lauded Mrs. Obama's speech as "a moving description of her middle-class roots as the daughter of a Chicago city worker" and labeled it "a rebuttal, an attempt to quiet critics who seized on comments she made earlier in the year to question her patriotism." To put it mildly, Gregory described the speech on Monday as containing a "different tone" from previous statements.

He also insultingly touted another goal of the address by saying, "She [Mrs. Obama] took center stage, hoping to open minds and ease doubts about her husband." So, those that have doubts about the senator also possess closed minds?

At the very least, Lauer, like his colleague Gregory, should have provided the context of the controversial comments that prompted Michelle Obama to feel she had to make such a speech.

A transcript of Lauer's interview with Nicole Wallace, which aired at 7:15am on August 26:

MATT LAUER: Nicole Wallace is a spokesperson for it's McCain campaign. She's also in Denver, I guess, checking out the competition. Nicole, good morning to you.
NICOLE WALLACE (McCain spokesman): Good morning, Matt. LAUER: Let's talk about what you saw last night and let's start with Ted Kennedy, the lion of the Senate, battling cancer. Standing there in front of the delegates bringing some to tears with his words. Putting aside your policy differences for a second, Nicole, how did it rate in terms of pure political theater?
WALLACE: Well, Matt, either I'm losing my edge or Republicans have hearts, too, but I don't know how you couldn't be moved by all of the tender moments last night. And the Kennedy family is certainly, you know, they are Democratic legends, and I don't think you have to be a Democrat to appreciate his courage and his strength. I mean, it was obviously his will that got him to this floor last night. So, it was extraordinary for anybody to see.
LAUER: Let me ask you, then, about Michelle Obama. She spoke last night and her job seemed to be to lay out the life story of her husband Barack Obama and their lives together and also, I think, try to put to rest some of the stories that have been going around, and a lot of them being talked about on conservative talk radio, about her lack of patriotism. So, let me ask you on the record, how she did, and does the McCain campaign doubt her love of country?
WALLACE: Of course not. And, look, I thought she had an incredible night last night. She looked beautiful. I never heard anyone speak in such a large forum with such high stakes about their father in such a tender way. So, I thought that Michelle Obama's talk about her father, how he grew sick and woke up earlier, I mean, it was really a tender moment. Now, I think the question, Matt that we all have to ask is, will these tender moments start to bridge the gap and solve his political problems? And I'm not smart enough to no if they will. I think-
LAUER: His political problems, such as what?
WALLACE: Well, his number one deficiency in the views of the voters that haven't made up their minds yet is that he lacks the experience and judgment to step into the role of commander in chief. So, I didn't see anything last night that leads me to believe that he's begun to bridge that gap. You know, we're very proud. We fought hard and will continue to fight hard every day of this election to win over some of the people who thought that Hillary Clinton would make the best president. At least some of them, I'd say a lot of them, thought she was the best candidate because she has the experience to step into that commander in chief role.
LAUER: Yeah, but Nicole-
WALLACE: And I don't think I saw anything that shows that Barack Obama fixed that worry in the minds of the former Clinton supporters or in the minds of a lot of voters.
LAUER: But, Nicole, there's a big hurdle there for the McCain campaign and you know what it is. If you have got some staunch Hillary Clinton supporters, are they going to switch over and vote for John McCain when there's a major issue like, abortion rights? Are a lot of people who are in favor of a woman's right to choose going to cross over and vote for a pro-life candidate?
WALLACE: We'll have to wait and see. I think rebuilding this economy, breaking our dependence on foreign sources of energy. You know, moms are in a lot of households of people who drive carpools, run errands, who are in their cars all day. And there is nothing that animates you more in some of the town hall meetings we go to than when we talk about John McCain's very specific strategy for breaking our dependence on foreign oil. Making our nation energy dependents. They care about jobs and they care about keeping this country safe.
LAUER: Right.
WALLACE: So, we think we have a shot at those voters. We know it will be uphill. John McCain does best as the underdog who is working uphill. You know, I think we'll get nervous if we ever end up ahead. I think that the Democrats can expect a 10 to 15 point bounce out of this convention. They've got a head of steam with their VP announcement.
LAUER: Right.
WALLACE: And, you know, as we've been talking about, it was a moving night last night.
LAUER: When you mention VPs, your candidate, John McCain, called Barack Obama's choice for vice president, Joe Biden, quote, "wise and formidable." Did Obama's choice of Biden in any way influence or change the decision John McCain is about to make for his vice presidential candidate?
WALLACE: I'm not sure. You know, John McCain I think, knows himself and knows what he's looking for. I think that we have a lot of respect for Senator Biden. He and Senator McCain have been friends and colleagues a long time. I think the only danger for Barack Obama is that in some ways it puts a neon sign above his head that said, yeesh, I'm not ready for the commander in chief aspect of the job. So, I think it was an interesting choice. I think it was the person he needed but, again, I'm not sure it telegraphs to voters that he feels confidence or ready to lead this nation as its commander in-chief.

CNN Worries Tuesday Afternoon Over Lack
of Attacks on Republicans

During Monday's convention coverage, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin fretted that the Democrats weren't doing enough Bush-bashing (see the August 26 CyberAlert). Tuesday afternoon, CNN aired two segments during the 1:00 PM EDT hour of CNN's Newsroom in which they promoted Democratic fears that Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner "won't go for the jugular" in his then-upcoming speech.

White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux highlighted the split between Hillary Clinton supporters and Barack Obama supporters in the first segment: "A lot of the Clinton camp want that kind of attack dog, want that red meat to be thrown to the delegates. They're ready -- they're ready for that fight. The Obama folks, a little bit more laid back about it, saying, look, you know, we're reaching across the aisle. We want to reach out to the independents and some of the Republicans. A little less, though, of that red meat style."

In the second segment, congressional correspondent Dana Bash labeled the Democratic former Virginia Governor a "moderate" and "more socially conservative" and drew parallels between his keynote address and that of Obama's in 2004 before she noted "there's a little bit of concern about the fact that he's not going to be -- sort of go for the jugular the way that many Democrats are hoping that they really step up here at this convention here in Denver."

[This item, by the MRC's Colleen Raezler, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Transcripts of the August 26 segments:

# 1:08

O'BRIEN: What are the expectations for Warner's speech tonight?
MALVEAUX: Well, actually, there's -- there's a little bit of -- already a little bit of dust-up about that, as well, because we have heard from our own CNN contributors and Clinton supporters, Paul Begala, as well as James Carville, complaining that Warner says that he -- this is going to be a note to bipartisanship. He's going to be reaching across the aisle. You know, he's running for U.S. Senate. So he needs independent voters. He needs some Republicans, as well. So we don't expect kind of the red meat that some are looking for from him. Perhaps they'll get it from Hillary Clinton.
But what it really signifies, Soledad, is a difference in style here. A lot of the Clinton camp want that kind of attack dog, want that red meat to be thrown to the delegates. They're ready -- they're ready for that fight.
The Obama folks, a little bit more laid back about it, saying, look, you know, we're reaching across the aisle. We want to reach out to the independents and some of the Republicans. A little less, though, of that red meat style. So you're seeing almost a jockeying of two camps, trying to come together at this convention. So we'll see how it plays out tonight.
O'BRIEN: We certainly will. Suzanne Malveaux for us. Thanks, Suzanne.

# 1:36

O'BRIEN: Besides Hillary's speech, what do you think we should be watching for specifically tonight, Dana?
DANA BASH: Well, tonight is also the keynote address. The keynote address of the convention. And that's a pretty important slot. And you'll remember the last time around in 2004, that was given to Barack Obama and that's how he made his name on the national stage because of the speech that he gave.
Tonight it is going to be Mark Warner. He's the former governor of the state of Virginia. He's also somebody who was running for the Senate seat in Virginia. And he is somebody who the Democrats wanted to showcase for a number of reasons. One is because Mike [sic] is what Barack Obama was then. He is an up and comer in the party. He also is somebody who is perhaps more socially conservative and might help bring in into the fold others into the Democratic Party. But I've got to tell you, there is a little bit of concern that we're hearing among some Democrats about the kind of address he's going to give, Soledad. Because of the fact that he is a moderate, he is making pretty clear that he isn't going to be the kind of guy he is going to give a red meat speech. He said, actually, to the Politico that if that's what they wanted, I'm not their guy.
Well, there's some Democrats saying, wait a minute, that's exactly what we need. We need red meat, especially from the person who we gave this very important speaking slot to. So, there's a little bit of concern about the fact that he's not going to be -- sort of go for the jugular the way that many Democrats are hoping that they really step up here at this convention here in Denver.
O'BRIEN: And there's a little time for speech tweaks to be made if they need to be made, I suppose. Dana Bash for us. Thanks, Dana.

ABC's Cuomo Hits Obama from Left:' Why
Not Universal Health Care?'

All week (and apparently next week during the Republican convention), ABC's Good Morning America will use its liberal prism to evaluate how the candidates' policy proposals might help families with the last name of Jones, with a segment titled "Meet the Joneses." On Monday, reporter Chris Cuomo hit Barack Obama's tax proposals from the left, suggesting that even his tax hikes on "the rich" might not leave enough money for the government.

Tuesday, Cuomo found a family that was willing to go on camera and whine about having to spend $160 per month -- yes, just one-hundred sixty dollars and no cents -- on their daughter's health care without being reimbursed by their evil HMO. After not being reassured that Obama's "reforms" could guarantee that this specific family would save the average $2,500 per year, Cuomo pressed Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee from the left: "Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?"

[This item is adapted from a Tuesday afternoon posting by the MRC's Rich Noyes on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

And again, Cuomo cited only liberal think tanks as his source for data. Tuesday it was the Urban Institute; Monday it was the Tax Policy Center, a joint endeavor of the Urban Institute and Brookings. As the MRC's Justin McCarthy recounted in a posting to our NewsBusters blog, Cuomo cited the Tax Policy Center's Robertson Williams as suggesting Obama's proposed tax increases would still not be enough: "His proposed cuts in spending would not be enough to off set the reduction in revenue. He will likely make the federal deficit worse than it currently is."

To read more about Cuomo's liberal approach to Obama's tax plans, see: newsbusters.org

If Obama's plans are not liberal enough for ABC, how will they react to McCain's platform? And do you think they'll turn to conservative or free market think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute for data and expertise?

Here's the transcript of Tuesday's "Meet the Joneses" segment on health care, as transcribed by the MRC's Justin McCarthy:

CHRIS CUOMO: Welcome back to Denver. We want to introduce you now to another Jones family. Here's some information we just got from the Urban Institute. People without insurance are expected to spend $30 billion out of pocket this year. Health care is a huge issue for Americans all over the country. So the question is, what could a President Obama do for the Joneses? Meet Lourdes and William Jones of California. They're homeowners, both working, their lives full raising three children.
LOURDES JONES: We're busy with the kids and just playing sports and living a normal life.
CUOMO: The average American family with the average commute to work, 25 minutes. They even exercise the average amount of every day, 28 minutes. And in this election their top concern is health care because their young daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Her treatment costs $160 a month and their insurance won't cover it. The Joneses say they've had to cut back on doctor visits as a result.
LOURDES JONES: We realized with the HMO, it's kind of hard to get the support we needed. We have to pay out of pocket.
WILLIAM JONES: We try to find solutions to help her and to eventually, you know, be less stressful for her and also our family.
CUOMO: Health care is a key issue in this election.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): We will guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for everyone who wants it.
CUOMO: But would Senator Barack Obama's health care plan keep up with the Joneses? Obama's campaign told us their plan would help the Joneses by giving them the option of purchasing different insurance through their proposed national health exchange. And they are promising the Joneses $2,500 a year in overall savings by, quote, "eliminating waste and improving the effectiveness of the health care system." Austin Goolsbee is Obama's senior economic adviser. [to Goolsbee] How under the Obama plan does a family like the Jones get out from underneath the HMO that they don't like and have choice injected into their health care reality?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: The main way that it helps them is by directly reducing the cost of care to get their premiums down. We're making clear what should be covered in the plans ought to be determined by doctors and health professionals not by some bureaucrat in the business division of the insurance companies.
CUOMO: You don't guarantee that everybody gets covered, just kids, right?
GOOLSBEE: It does not mandate adults to get covered.
CUOMO: Why not take the big step and say universal health care? Or is that just too ugly a word?
GOOLSBEE: As Senator Obama has said, if you're going to start from scratch and build a health system you would never build a health system we have, that's clear but getting from where we are to something different is always the hardest thing to do.
CUOMO: But that's leadership.
GOOLSBEE: For the average family, the specific cost reduction things he does, the emphasis on preventive care and specific steps to get costs down would reduce premiums by about $2,500.
CUOMO: But would those steps really guarantee a savings of $2,500 for families like the Joneses or is it a campaign promise that will be hard to keep? We asked ABC's medical editor Dr. Tim Johnson who studied the Obama plan.
DR. TIM JOHNSON: I tend to be skeptical when I hear a very specific amount being offered for all families or across the board. On the whole the idea that we're going to be able to easily cut $2,500 for all families I think is an unproven idea. We don't have the details. I think it's going to be harder than it is to say.
CUOMO: The Jones family, if I'm elected, here's $2,500. You don't know that for sure.
GOOLSBEE: No, not the full $2,500 is not going to be in the first three months of the Obama administration.
CUOMO: How realistic is this? This is a tall task.
GOOLSBEE: Yes, it's ambitious. I'm not disputing it and, yes, we're going to have to sit a lot of people down around the table and hammer out a program, but if you look at his program its primary focus is getting the cost down and getting everyone covered and we have to do that.
CUOMO: Getting the insurance industry to change the way they do business will certainly take a new and bold kind of leadership.

MSNBC's Abrams Overlooks Ayers' Terrorism
and Connection to Obama

During the 11am EDT hour Tuesday on MSNBC, host Dan Abrams interviewed Reuters Washington correspondent John Decker about Senator Barack Obama's campaign seeking a criminal investigation against the American Issues Project over an ad which links Obama to terrorist Bill Ayers.

While none of the American Issues Project ad was shown, MSNBC did help Obama rebut any claims of a connection between Obama and Ayers by airing part of Obama's response ad: "Why is John McCain talking about the sixties trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers? McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes committed when Obama was just 8 years old."

Just like in the Obama ad, Abrams only referred to Ayers as a "radical," and never mentioned the bombings Ayers took part in or his September 2001 statement that "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."

Abrams also neglected to inform his viewers of the essential details of the Obama-Ayers connection, such as Ayers' political contributions to Obama and the fact that they served on board of the Woods Fund of Chicago together.

[This item, by MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Interestingly, though, John Decker actually chided the Obama campaign's call for a criminal investigation over the Ayers ad. After being prompted by Abrams to talk about what Obama has to do to respond to attack ads (as though John McCain is never attacked by outside groups like MoveOn.org), Decker asked:

DECKER: Well, you're a lawyer. Do you think this is the best way to respond to an attack ad?
ABRAMS: That, by, you mean in another attack ad?
DECKER: Well, by actually calling for a criminal investigation. Actually bringing in the lawyers to respond to some sort of political advertising.

Abrams then tried to explain that the action taken by the Obama campaign is purely political: "Because, you know what, in the end it's not a legal response. In the end, it's really a political response. What they're doing is they're effectively putting on a show. A legal show. They're saying this is so bad, this is so wrong, this is so awful that we want lawyers to get involved. I think it's a way to make their point. So I actually think that in the end it's probably not legal analysis as much as it is political analysis."

Still, Decker thought that a criminal investigation was a little much: "I think that the way they need to respond to advertising is with more hard hitting advertising, not criminal investigations or asking for a criminal investigation or, you know possibly filing, I know we're not there yet, a lawsuit, or asking for some sort of injunction from television stations to prevent....But to prevent an ad from being aired. I think that they need to come up with a response to this. If they think it's a big deal they gotta hit John McCain hard."

A transcript of the August 26 segment:

DAN ABRAMS: Barack Obama's campaign crying foul today over a new independent attack ad hitting the airwaves in some battleground states. The American Issues Project is spending $2.8 million dollars to link Obama to 1960's radical Bill Ayers. Now the Obama campaign is launching an aggressive effort to block the ad, actually asking for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project. The campaign is also pressuring television networks not to run the ad, and they're airing a response to the ad in Ohio. John Decker-
CLIP OF AD: Why is John McCain talking about the sixties trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers? McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers' crimes committed when Obama was just 8 years old.
[GRAPHIC: TERROR ATTACK AD: THIRD PARTY GROUP RELEASES AD LINKING OBAMA TO TERROR]
ABRAMS: John Decker is Washington correspondent for Reuters. All right. This has gotta be an important issue, uh, in this campaign in terms of strategy which is how do we deal with attack ads? How quickly do we respond?
DECKER: Well, you're a lawyer. Do you think this is the best way to respond to an attack ad?
ABRAMS: That, by, you mean in another attack ad?
DECKER: Well, by actually calling for a criminal investigation. Actually bringing in the lawyers to respond to some sort of political advertising.
ABRAMS: Because, you know what, in the end it's not a legal response. In the end, it's really a political response. What they're doing is they're effectively putting on a show. A legal show. They're saying this is so bad, this is so wrong, this is so awful that we want lawyers to get involved. I think it's a way to make their point. So I actually think that in the end it's probably not legal analysis as much as it is political analysis.
DECKER: It's interesting you say, because you are a legal scholar-
ABRAMS: Thank you so much.
DECKER: You're welcome. And I would say that, you know, for most Americans, they're not impressed with lawsuits. They're not impressed with criminal investigations. If you get hit hard-
ABRAMS: Lawsuits are different than criminal investigations though.
DECKER: Okay.
ABRAMS: People hate lawsuits. Criminal investigations, if they think the bad guy's will get caught, it's different.
DECKER: Okay, when you think criminal investigation, you don't think political advertising though.
ABRAMS: No. Not usually.
DECKER: Yeah. I think that the way they need to respond to advertising is with more hard hitting advertising, not criminal investigations or asking for a criminal investigation or, you know possibly filing, I know we're not there yet, a lawsuit, or asking for some sort of injunction from television stations to prevent-
ABRAMS: Bush did Gore. [laughter]
DECKER: Well, that's true. But to prevent an ad from being aired. I think that they need to come up with a response to this. If they think it's a big deal they gotta hit John McCain hard.
ABRAMS: Which they did. I mean, you saw that ad we just played. We played the response ad there. Right away, they're going after them. They must have a major effort in place of people sitting around who are only responsibility is respond to the attack ads.
DECKER: Oh, absolutely. Look what happened at the beginning of this convention. Two quick ads from John McCain's campaign surprisingly aired 3:00 in the morning, getting back to Hillary's three o'clock ad, one featuring Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and the other, you know, going after Barack Obama as to words that were used against him in the campaign. Both campaigns have well oiled machines for this.
ABRAMS: John Decker, thanks so much. You're never suppose today answer a question by asking one back.
DECKER: I put you on the spot, didn't I?
ABRAMS: John, good to see you.

CNN Wondered Monday About 'Too Liberal'
Democratic Convention

Catching up on a tidbit from Monday night's coverage, CNN co-anchor Anderson Cooper actually wondered aloud whether the evening's line-up of Democratic speakers -- Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Jr. -- was "too liberal" to attract independent voters. Usually, the networks never even label Democratic speakers, while constantly berating Republican speakers as extreme or right-wing, so this is either a refreshing change of pace, or a sign that Democrats have gone way over the edge if even CNN is worrying about a "too liberal" convention.

Responding to that suggestion, CNN analyst David Gergen admired how "Jimmy Carter has won a Nobel Peace Prize here recently. He's one of the two Democrats speaking at this convention -- Al Gore being the other -- who won Nobel Peace Prizes. That must be a first in history." But, previewing Democratic consultant James Carville's complaint two hours later, Gergen decried how the Democrats "have offered almost no substance" in their convention program: "We've had very little that's been compelling thus far."

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

A few minutes earlier, the panel had been wondering aloud why former President Carter had not spoken, although he had starred in a convention video that CNN showed for several minutes. The video featured Carter's scornful attack that hurricane Katrina showed "the world that our own government couldn't take care of our own people." Carter:

One of the most vivid lessons that we saw after Katrina was a sharp distinction in the economic and social status of citizens who lived here in this devastated area with tens of thousands of suffering poor people, most of them African-American, with no care, and the federal government practically ignoring their plight. And it was not only a demonstration to Americans of the inadequacy of the support from Washington, but it sent a signal around the world that our own government couldn't take care of our own people....It's a lesson we hadn't ought ever to forget in this country. And I don't have any doubt that when we have a Democrat back in the White House this January, Barack Obama, that he will make sure that this never happens again.

Gergen was upset that Carter hadn't spoken live: "I think he should have been given the stage."

Shortly after 9pm EDT, Anderson Cooper tried to pose the question of the Democrats' "too liberal" line-up to conservative radio host Bill Bennnett, but wound up tossing it to GOP consultant Alex Castellanos who was apparently the only right-leaning analyst available:

ANDERSON COOPER: I want to go to some of our panelists in New York who have been following this convention along with us, in particular, some of the Republicans -- Bill Bennett. What do you think the message that this convention tonight is sending out to Independents, to people around the United States? I mean within this auditorium -- Alex Castellanos is there, I'm told. Within this auditorium, Alex, obviously, Jimmy Carter plays very well. Senator Kennedy plays very well. You had Jesse Jackson, Jr. speaking earlier. But are they sending out too liberal a message on this, the opening night of this convention?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, if you did a ballot question -- if you asked the American people if they were going to vote today for John McCain or Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter probably wouldn't do so well. And that's the same thing with, I think, you know, John McCain versus Nancy Pelosi, or versus -- even Ted Kennedy, as much respect as I think we all have for him. You know, this is a very liberal evening for the Democrats. And I think that's what we're -- that's not necessarily the message, I think, that the convention wants to put out.
COOPER: David Gergen, do you think that's a mistake on the part of the Democrats?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN ANALYST: Yes. And I think for a couple of things. First of all, Jimmy Carter has won a Nobel Peace Prize here recently. He's one of the two Democrats speaking at this convention -- Al Gore being the other -- who won Nobel Peace Prizes. That must be a first in history. And I think he should have been given the stage.
But more to the point, Anderson, what really has surprised me so far is that we're two hours into this and the Democrats have offered almost no substance for television purposes. You know, we've had very little that's been compelling thus far. I'm sure this is working well in the hall and the excitement in the hall is palpable, you know, in the coverage.
But for the large television audience that's watching and waiting to hear what the message is, to get two hours into a convention -- you know, it is really stunning to me. And I think -- having worked on the choreography of these before, you need to grab people's attention with a message early on and then build to your 10:00 hour, not let these hours sort of get frittered away in a lot of hoopla, which is -- you know, it's fun and interesting, but I don't think it's compelling.

'Top 10 Ways to Make the Democratic National
Convention More Fun'

From the August 25 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways to Make the Democratic National Convention More Fun." Late Show home page: lateshow.cbs.com

10. Offer John McCain $1 million if he correctly guesses how many homes he owns
9. Every night, one lucky lady gets to go home with John Edwards
8. In honor of party mascot, serve assortment of delicious donkey and mule treats
7. Each delegate gets a kitty, superdelegates get a super kitty!
6. Special appearance by the exhumed remains of Lyndon Johnson
5. Call the Pepsi Center something crazy like the Bird's Nest or the Water Cube
4. Give John Kerry's crazy wife five minutes to say whatever she wants -- remember her?
3. Kick things off with a song from Dennis Kucinich
2. Five words: hot volleyball babes in bikinis
1. Try to squeeze Al Gore into the same suit he wore at the 2000 convention

-- Brent Baker, with the night team: Geoffrey Dickens, Brad Wilmouth, and Matthew Balan, plus Michelle Humphrey and Karen Hanna on the DVRs