Matthews Smears Neo-Cons; Compares Obama to Denzel Washington --8/25/2008
2. MSNBC's Olbermann: Obama-Biden 'a Very Powerful Combination'
3. Newsweek Editor Touts Democratic 'Two Prize Fighter' Ticket
4. Yellin: Obama 'Thinks Press Loves Biden' So Will 'Go Easy on Him'
5. NBC Uses Presumed Biden Pick to Pursue 'Emblematic' McCain Homes
(Audio: MP3 clip that matches the video)
Matthews explained to his viewers that Obama "referred to it as bluster because if you read the really smart columnists," and those would be "people like David Ignatius and Tom Friedman" who are "in the middle politically," Obama was just "calling it what it is, bluster. It's just words, just sword-rattling, and he called it today. I thought that was profound."
At about 3:42 PM EDT, just after Biden finished speaking, Matthews oozed over Obama's address with "dignity and indignation," comparing him to actors Denzel Washington and Spencer Tracy. Really: "When I was watching Barack, I said there's the fire I've been waiting for. Maybe it was the camera angle, but I was looking up, if you look at some of the stronger performances, and they're almost always strong by the actor Denzel Washington, when he's really sticking it to the bad guys at the end of the movies, when he's really making his sort of Spencer Tracy moment, there's something about the face, there's something about that statement of strength and even anger where you really make your point with dignity and indignation, and I thought he was doing it today for the first time as a candidate: Barack Obama taking the fight to the bluster of the opponent."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday, with audio/video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
IMDb's page for Washington: www.imdb.com
IMDb's page for Tracy: www.imdb.com
On Ignatius and Friedman being "in the middle politically," I'll give him Ignatius, but only someone well to the left could see Friedman as anything other than liberal.
(ABC and CBS went live at about 3:03 PM EDT/2:03 PM local CDT. CBS returned to tennis and then golf after seven minutes, but ABC, with Charles Gibson in on a Saturday, stayed on for more than a half-hour to show the entirety of Obama and most of Biden, though Gibson talked some over them, before joining a Little League championship game already in progress. NBC stayed with it's taped Olympic coverage.)
From MSNBC's post-event coverage of the Saturday, August 23 Obama-Biden event in Springfield, Illinois:
CHRIS MATTHEWS, IN WASHINGTON, DC: What I liked about the performance by Barack Obama was this: He finally took on John McCain on the issue of our time, which is Russia, of course, and it's invasion of Georgia. And he used the word bluster twice. Now, there are a lot of neo-conservatives out there that just love the old black and white Manichaean cold war feeling again. They'd like to get rid of color television, in fact. Let's go back to the '50s [laugher from Olbermann] and let's fight with the Russians again. They're only comfortable in that setting.
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN NEW YORK CITY: In his speech, Joe Biden specifically tied John McCain to swift boating. He made, as Chris just pointed out, the swift boating terms in our country, he put that term and John McCain together and he said flatly that we need to restore America's soul. This kind of terminology, does it effectively lift this campaign out of Democrat versus Republican and make it into something of a well, I hate to use the comparison, but we're doing it obviously in front of Lincoln's state house, does it bring it up to this kind of Lincolnian greater than the sum of the parts public good mission almost?
MSNBC went live shortly before 1 AM EDT Saturday morning, with David Shuster anchoring, to announce that Senator Joe Biden is Barack Obama's pick for Vice President, and Shuster was joined via phone over the next hour by NBC News political director Chuck Todd, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Howard Fineman of Newsweek. One word not heard in that hour or the next as MSNBC remained live until 3 AM (CNN and FNC went to re-runs at 2 AM): liberal. In MSNBC's 2 AM hour, Joan Walsh of Salon.com touted Biden as a "working class hero."
Olbermann hailed the "very powerful combination" of Obama and Biden based on joining Obama's "vision" of restoring America's image in the world and Biden's selfless "fervor to do good" enabled by his "18,000 good ideas" to achieve Obama's noble goal.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted early Saturday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
At about 1:35 AM EDT Friday night/Saturday morning, Olbermann proposed:
The international experience comes from a fervor to do good and to come to a consensus and present America's best foot forward. I can't imagine that there's any, that there's any wedge on this subject that can be driven between these two men because the one is saying "I have a vision of what I want to have America look like internationally" and how he can restore the envy that we used to have, the positive envy we used to have. And the other man is saying, "listen, you want to do that, I've got 18,000 good ideas. Here's where they might fit in and you're welcome to all of them. All I want to do is see it happen." That's a very powerful combination. If you've got a Vice President who looks like he can do something and doesn't want anything more than to see it done, that seems to be a pretty good starting point.
On the roundtable segment of Sunday's Meet the Press, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham exclaimed that the Democratic Party should be elated that for years, the Democrats "wanted a prize fighter. And they have two right now." The NBC show was discussing Meacham's interview with Obama in the September 1 Newsweek, in which Meacham supportively volunteered to Obama that while some worry he won't be tough enough: "I think a careful reading of your life, even a cursory one, suggests the opposite. I just don't think you get to where you're sitting when you're 47 years old by being soft."
The Newsweek interview is all about the touchy-feely matters of Obama's upbringing, and the absence of his father Barack Obama Senior, a theme Meacham highlighted on Meet the Press:
MEACHAM: But at core, Obama says, "I raised myself." And I think that that means this "Obambi" image is probably misplaced.
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
"Interview" is probably too strong a word for this conversation between Meacham and Obama in the news magazine. It sounds more like an awed Obama acolyte trying to flatter Obama into liking him:
Q: As you know, the conventional wisdom of the hour is that you may be too soft to fight this contest with the vigor that it may require. But for what it's worth, I think a careful reading of your life, even a cursory one, suggests the opposite. I just don't think you get to where you're sitting when you're 47 years old by being soft.
A: The nice thing about it is that at least people tend to underestimate me, which isn't a bad thing. I think [my strength] actually comes, in my case, from the absence of a father. At some level I had to raise myself.
Then Meacham turned to his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, and talked up boxing, which sounded similar to Hillary Clinton's stories about her mother telling her to go back out and punch a bullying opponent:
Q: On this toughness theme, I was struck by the detail in which you recalled how your stepfather taught you how to box.
A: That chapter in my first book talking about Indonesia really spoke to impulses that continue in me to this day, and that is between the idealism of my mother and her sense of empathy and compassion, and the hardheaded realism that the world out there can be tough, that there is evil in the world and not every problem can be solved by mutual understanding, and that power will assert itself and may not stop asserting itself until it hits a wall. I think that's true in American politics, and I think that's true in foreign policy. [You need] countervailing power. Which is why you have very rarely seen me in my campaigns throwing the first punch. But I'll tell you what, if I get punched, very rarely have you seen me not hit back hard.
Meacham sounded like he was still gazing with a twinkle at Obama as he continued:
Q: Usually politicians who look back on difficult childhoods re-imagine them to make them more congenial, but you seem to have a much colder eye about things.
A: I don't do too many touch-ups on this. My father was a deeply troubled person. My father was an alcoholic. He was a womanizer. He did not treat his children well. I think that even my mother, who loved him and was always very generous toward him, said to me once that I probably ended up benefiting from not having grown up with him because he was very hard on those children who were in his household, and in a lot of ways he was a tortured soul.
This interview wasn't designed in any way to challenge Obama, but to allow him to continue to paint his own life story in a way he thinks will attract voters. Meacham never pressed him to respond to any of the conservative charges against him. It is simply assumed from the article's first line that Obama is tough, so there's no need for Newsweek to be tough.
The interview in the September 1 issue: www.newsweek.com
One reason Barack Obama selected Joe Biden as his running mate is that Obama's advisers "think the press loves Biden and so the press will sort of go easy on him on the past gaffes and when he's contradicted Obama," CNN's Jessica Yellin revealed minutes before midnight Friday night, just an hour ahead of CNN and other media outlets reporting Joe Biden was, indeed, Barack Obama's pick.
Speaking by phone with anchor John King, Yellin recounted that "if it is Joe Biden" what "one of Barack Obama's close advisers" who "was a strong advocate of Biden" told her were the arguments in his favor, ending with how the media "loves" him:
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
"I'm not so sure on that last point" about how the media will "go easy on him." Well, let's read and watch over the next two months and see who is closer to accurate: the Obama adviser or Yellin.
NBC's Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell on Friday night used their presumption, that Senator Joe Biden would be Barack Obama's VP choice, to showcase, for a second straight night, the Obama campaign's attack on John McCain over his inability to say how many homes he owns. In setting up the lead Nightly News story on VP speculation, Williams highlighted how "the Obama camp is telling the McCain campaign people who live in that many houses shouldn't throw stones."
After asserting that "it is looking more and more like Senator Joe Biden is the choice," reporter Andrea Mitchell contended "Biden, with blue collar roots, could help reinforce Obama's latest message" conveyed in an Obama TV ad: "Call it country club economics. How many houses does he own?"
Following her story, Williams returned to what interested him the most: "Back to the McCain campaign and this issue they're fighting which you predicted yesterday would go down as one of those moments in a campaign. Does this live on and on and on, do you think?" Mitchell maintained it's now an "emblematic" issue which arrived "just when" Obama "needed it." So, what a coincidence the media have pounced to assist Obama. Mitchell answered: "I think it does, it becomes emblematic and it gives Obama an opening just when he needed it. He was having trouble identifying himself, defining himself. The McCain people were having a couple of good weeks. This has definitely been a setback."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Neither the CBS Evening News nor NBC Nightly News mentioned the McCain homes issue on Friday night, though, like NBC, they certainly didn't hold back on Thursday evening. The August 22 CyberAlert item, "Nets Pounce on McCain's 'Housing Crisis,' But Not So Fast with Kerry's '04 Gaffe," recounted:
Four years ago when Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry made his "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it" remark, the CBS Evening News instead ran a soundbite of Kerry promising "we're going to build an army of truth-tellers" as it took the newscast six months (!) to finally air the vote for/voted against clip and the NBC Nightly News didn't play it for nine days. Yet on Thursday night, both newscasts led with what NBC's Lee Cowan declared is "John McCain's personal housing crisis."
ABC, which in 2004 aired Kerry's comment a day later when Dick Cheney raised it, didn't lead Thursday with McCain's failure Wednesday to say how many homes he and his wife own, but devoted a full story-plus to it with Jake Tapper deciding "it could be a seminal moment" in the campaign before George Stephanopoulos relayed how the Obama camp thinks "this is one of those metaphorical moments." He recalled 1992, "when it seemed like President Bush didn't know what a supermarket scanner was."
Fill-in CBS anchor Maggie Rodriguez led: "John McCain couldn't answer a question most Americans would find simple, how many homes do you own?" NBC's Brian Williams, back in Manhattan from Beijing, opened with how though "reporters are busy chasing down all available clues" on Obama's VP pick: "This was not the biggest political story of the day. That came from John McCain in response to a question about how many houses he owns. He didn't answer. The actual answer is a sizable number."
For the full rundown: www.mediaresearch.org
Relevant portions of the lead story on the Friday, August 22 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Good evening. If there were gold medals handed out for secrecy, then the Obama campaign has at least entered the medal round of the competition. The candidate says his mind is made up about a number two. Yet, tonight, there are tea leaves but no hard take them to the bank facts and no evidence that the future vice presidential nominee has been told of the job. We'll all know by tomorrow, unless we find out any minute now. And while this all goes on, the Obama camp is telling the McCain campaign people who live in that many houses shouldn't throw stones. Covering all of it tonight to start us off this Friday evening, NBC's Andrea Mitchell....
....ANDREA MITCHELL: Barring a last-minute change, it is looking more and more like Senator Joe Biden is the choice....
-- Brent Baker