Media Praise for Barack Obama, Less for Teresa Heinz Kerry --7/28/2004
2. CBS's Storm Tosses Softballs to Edwards' Wife and Daughter
3. Mitchell Scolds MSNBC's Scarborough for Anti-Teresa Point
4. CBS Features Michael Reagan to Rebut Ron's Anti-Embryo Speech
5. ABC and NBC Tout Michael Moore's "Rock Star Reception"
6. Katie Couric Joins Liberal Stars Hobnobbing with John Kerry
The networks' enthusiasm for the Democratic convention appeared to have ebbed this morning. Although the anchors and reporters of the broadcast morning shows rewarded the Democrats with uniformly positive reviews, none exhibited the excitement of the morning after the Clintons spoke. The networks focused their praise more on keynote speaker Barack Obama than on the future presidential nominee's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
NBC's Katie Couric called Obama "very impressive" and "a real rising star," while Tim Russert noted how some were already wondering if Obama could be "the first black president." CBS's Cynthia Bowers called Obama's speech "the night's most electrifying moment," while ABC's Charles Gibson gushed that Obama had "brought down the house." He giddily predicted: "Last night, a political star may have been born."
But when it came to Mrs. Kerry, Couric simply asked Russert whether the aspiring First Lady's comments about opinionated women would "resonate with female voters." Russert was ambivalent: "They had no choice, that is who she is. They had to try to make it a strength and a virtue, and I think they did the best they could." Last night, Mrs. Heinz Kerry earned better reviews from Russert's NBC colleague Andrea Mitchell. (See item #3 below.)
Introducing this morning's Good Morning America, ABC's Gibson also goofily claimed that convention speaker Ron Reagan had "crossed party lines," as if the very liberal Reagan had ever voted for his father or any other Republican. "This morning in the convention spotlight, Teresa Heinz Kerry speaks out for her husband, as the son of the late President crosses party lines to make an impassioned appeal."
Gibson ran through the evening's speakers with former Clinton campaign operative George Stephanopoulos, now an ABC anchor, a conversation that MRC's Jessica Anderson took down. Stephanopoulos began by reviewing Mrs. Kerry's speech, which he called "the most feminist political speech" of any convention.
"This was a very atypical First Lady speech. First of all, the first half of it didn't even talk about her husband. It was all about her and the things she believed in, she introduced herself to the convention. Secondly, and I mean this in the best sense of the word, it was the most feminist political speech I've ever heard on a convention floor. You saw, you played the bite where she talked act being opinionated. She followed that with a line that said she looks forward to the day when opinionated women are treated as smart and well-informed just like men. Boy, every woman in the crowd just shot right up, but you know a lot of the men were still sitting down. It was very different for a political convention."
Gibson moved on to the keynote speaker: "Now, this fellow Obama, he was, he had this crowd in the palm of his hand."
Stephanopoulos was enthusiastic: "He's the Tiger Woods of the Democratic Party right now, not just because of his blended background, but because of his ease. He's such a natural politician and because he's got cross-over appeal. One of the things that he did on the podium last night, very few other speakers have done it, he reached out to Republicans, to Independents, and that's what he's done in his campaign in Illinois, reached out across party lines."
Gibson saw "conservative themes" in Obama's address: "It was an inclusive speech and, to some extent, there were some conservative themes in it."
Stephanopoulos agreed, but admitted that the policies were liberal: "Conservative themes on top of some liberal policy, and that could be something he's going to have to watch over the course of the years, but you know, Charlie, I talked to so many strategists, strategists who worked for Bill Clinton, strategists who worked for John Edwards. They say this guy's got more natural talent. Remember, he's only a state senator, only a state senator, and we're all talking about him."
NBC also saved its enthusiasm for Obama. Couric told Russert her view: "Barak Obama, very impressive last night. A real rising star, what is so appealing about him?"
Russert suggested a future White House run: "His uniqueness, father's Kenyan, a mother a white woman from Kansas, raised by white grandparents. Someone who went to Columbia University, Harvard Law School. He seems to have all the tools, Katie. He's a state senator, and people are already holding their breath last night saying he's going to be the first black President."
If Obama does ever run for President, he can certainly count on a helpful news media -- if the three network news divisions are still in business, that is.
Elizabeth Edwards made the rounds of the Big Three this morning with oldest daughter Cate to tout her husband's speech tonight. CBS's Hannah Storm hailed her husband as "such a gifted speaker" and described the nature of his campaign as "very positive." The interviews largely stuck to personal questions about the family's nerves and preparation, but all of them asked Mrs. Edwards about Teresa Heinz Kerry's "shove it" remarks. CBS and NBC underlined the newspaper in question was "conservative" without a liberal label for the aspiring First Lady.
MRC's Brian Boyd transcribed Hannah Storm's questions on CBS's Early Show, noticing that Storm waited until her sixth question to raise the gaffe of the week: "I want to ask you about John Kerry's wife, Teresa. There was a big flap this weekend, Mrs. Edwards, about her comments to a reporter from a conservative newspaper. Is she being unfairly scrutinized or does this go with the territory?"
Edwards disdained the media's persistence in repeating the story: "Well, you know, I think that it must have been a kind of slow news day for that to have gotten the kind of attention that it got. I think that it's the normal kind of frustration somebody feels when someone doesn't sort of let go of or accept an answer and I think she was frustrated. So I think it got more attention that it needed to have gotten."
Storm also boosted John Edwards in questions two and three. Storm asked Mrs. Edwards: "Well, your husband has promised a very positive speech in keeping with the nature of his campaign, thus far. What voters have said they really want to hear this week, Mrs. Edwards, is specifics on Iraq, on the economy, on terrorism. Will he be offering specifics tonight?"
And to Cate Edwards she inquired: "Cate, your father is such a gifted speaker. He's had a lot of closing arguments in his day. And since you will be speaking tonight, as well, what sort of advice has he given you?"
On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer's second question after asking for a review of Mrs. Heinz Kerry's speech was: "And can you be the, I guess you're the last person to weigh in on the now famous, now legendary shove-it episode. What did you say to her about it? And do you have a final pronouncement on the whole episode?"
Mrs. Edwards: "You know, I think that sometimes the press can be pretty annoying, sometimes they get under your skin, and I think that's just what happened. It's one of those things."
Sawyer replied jokingly: "I'm just shocked to hear you say that."
On NBC's Today, co-host Katie couric asked: "As you know, she has gotten a lot of attention for remarks she made to an editorial writer of a conservative newspaper on Sunday, she told him to shove it, that has gotten a lot of attention. What is your take on not only the remark, but the coverage of it?"
Mrs. Edwards replied, as transcribed by MRC's Megan McCormack: "I hope that her wonderful remarks last night get nearly the kind of play that that did," and then lauded Mrs. Heinz Kerry's Tuesday night speech. "If that gets the amount of play that the remark to an irritating media person, not that there are very many irritating media people, but if it gets the same kind of play I'll be very pleased."
CBS and NBC both highlighted the newspaper was "conservative" without a label for the aspiring First Lady. She's at least the wife of the "liberal" candidate in the race. Last night, she promised that under President John Kerry "global climate change and other threats to the health of our planet will begin to be reversed," and she touted "a moral nation that rejects thoughtless and greedy choices in favor of thoughtful and generous actions."
They loved Teresa last night. Well, mostly. NBC's Andrea Mitchell was mighty impressed by Teresa Heinz Kerry's convention speech last night, insisting that "she completely innoculated herself against all the charges that she speaks too bluntly." And Mitchell glared at MSNBC's conservative host Joe Scarborough when he mildly suggested her speech "won't play in Peoria," predicting that there will be "one Teresa Heinz-Kerry moment that's going to alienate a lot of people in middle-America."
Mitchell shot back, "Now you know why there's a gender gap. There's a gender gap right at this table!"
On CNN's NewsNight, which aired at 11pm EDT after all the convention speeches were over, the Boston Globe's Nina Easton applauded Mrs. Kerry, saying "she came off as the finest European actress...likable....gorgeous...spectacular." Anchor Aaron Brown agreed, saying of her remark about being an opinionated woman, "I thought, boy, she handled that perfectly." Wall Street Journal reporter John Harwood dubbed her the "sexiest spouse of a national candidate in my memory."
But over on the Fox News Channel, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes was unimpressed, telling anchor Brit Hume: "This was the first time that the spouse of a nominee, a presidential nominee, was a featured speaker at a convention, and I suspect it will be the last given her performance. Brit, you used the word 'unusual.' What a euphemism. It was eccentric, it was bordering on the bizarre, it was different, and it was extremely self-indulgent."
A few minutes earlier, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace took his own shot at Mrs. Kerry: "I have to say, by the end, I half expected her to break out into 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina.'"
Now, more on the exchanges on MSNBC and CNN, which took place after the 11pm conclusion of the second night of the Democratic convention. On CNN, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd took down reporters' tributes to Teresa Heinz Kerry, starting with the Globe's Easton:
"I thought it went fantastic, frankly. I mean, this is the week that started with the news that she had told a reporter to shove it, which made all the rounds of the Internet, and yet she stood at that podium, and I thought she came off as the finest European actress really. I mean, she was likable, she's gorgeous, she was kind of warm and earthy, and for people who don't know her -- and this was your first introduction to her -- I thought she did spectacular."
Brown cited his favorite moment: "There was that moment where she said 'people talk of me,' and then she did air quotes, 'as being opinionated,' and I thought, boy, she handled that perfectly."
Easton: "Well, she walked -- the first thing she said when she walked up to the podium -- she said, 'I guess this will surprise you, but I have something to say,' and the entire hall burst out laughing."
Then the Wall Street Journal's Harwood jumped in with his own praise: "I'll tell you what else, Aaron. People talk about John Edwards being the sexiest politician in America. I think Teresa Heinz may be the sexiest spouse of a national candidate in my memory. She comes across pretty strong, soulful, tender even in a way, so I think she had an effective performance."
At roughly the same time, MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed that on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell was declaring Mrs. Kerry's speech a total success: "I think she appeals to women and I think she completely innoculated herself against all the charges that she speaks too bluntly when she said that women cannot just be called opinionated that women have earned the right to have opinions."
Added anchor Chris Matthews, "And to be called smart and well-informed."
Mitchell agreed: "Exactly. Women respond to that. She also dealt with something which was the theme of the day for the Kerry campaign. Which is that you can be smart as well as strong. That being stubborn, which is what they claim George Bush is in going to war, you know, that there were too many on that wall on the Vietnam Wall and too many people in Iraq."
Then, after Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, said he believed her speech "won't play in Peoria," he drew Mitchell's wrath by suggesting that some Kerry backers believe Mrs. Kerry could cost her husband votes: "I spoke with somebody that's known the Kerry, known John Kerry for a long time, loves John Kerry, wants him to be the next president of the United States. He says everybody close to John Kerry is horrified. Horrified that there's gonna be that one Teresa Heinz-Kerry moment that's going to alienate a lot of people in middle-America."
Mitchell threw up her hands: "Now you know why there's a gender gap. There's a gender gap right at this table!"
The morning after the late President Reagan's son Ron gave a Democratic convention speech in favor of expanding embryonic stem cell research, CBS's Early Show brought aboard Reagan's half-brother Michael to present the other side of the issue. Meanwhile, ABC's Good Morning America interviewed a former Bush White House advisor who disagreed with the liberal Reagan's position.
NBC's Today was the only program that did not interview a guest who disagreed with Ron Reagan's view on embryonic stem cells this morning. As viewers know, Ron Reagan is an MSNBC contributor.
MRC's Brian Boyd noted how CBS's Hannah Storm's first question to Michael Reagan was about why, if Ron Reagan had no political motive, did he not speak at the Republican convention: "The first thing your brother said last night was that this issue should not have anything to do with partisanship. Why do you think that he chose to speak to the Democratic national convention rather than the party of your father?"
Michael Reagan replied: "Because he really doesn't want George Bush re-elected, and this became an issue that he could use for the Democrat convention. I mean, nobody's surprised, I think, in the family that he would be at the Democrat convention. He's never really supported Republicans at all. I don't think -- he never voted for George Bush in the first place. I think he voted for [Ralph] Nader the last time around."
Michael Reagan also pointed out that those watching Reagan's convention speech might be misled into thinking that President Bush had banned embryonic stem cell research: "Hannah, the disservice that's really being done here is there's this belief that embryonic stem cell research is not going on as you and I speak. Embryonic stem cell research is going on...."
On ABC, Diane Sawyer interviewed Jay Lefkowitz, the former director of the White House Domestic Policy Council who helped craft the current policy. Sawyer hit Lefkowitz from the left: "So what about what Ron Reagan is saying? How do you tell the child who has diabetes and faces that future, someone who has Parkinson's disease, someone who has a spinal injury, that his government is not going to do everything possible and known to science to try to find a cure?"
This morning, NBC and ABC each promoted radical left-wing film-maker Michael Moore's "rock star reception" in Boston and his gimmicky trip to President Bush's hometown of Crawford, Texas, to show his anti-Bush movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. ABC's Jake Tapper did call Moore "liberal" and "polarizing," but NBC's Carl Quintanilla wouldn't go beyond "fiery."
On Good Morning America, MRC's Jessica Anderson noted, ABC's Charles Gibson promoted Moore: "We do start this half-hour, Diane, with someone who is here at the convention getting an enormous amount of attention and he's not a politician, he's not a delegate, he's Michael Moore, who so injected himself into this political year with the movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, and he had an interesting debate here with, well, something of a rival. So we're going to turn, for that story, to Jake Tapper."
Jake Tapper began: "Well, the Kerry campaign is doing everything it can to project an image of positivity, and that includes going through speeches before they're delivered and taking out parts, anything that might be construed as exceedingly negative or polarizing, anything at all that might turn off undecided voters. Now, that is a decidedly different approach from that being taken by liberal, polarizing filmmaker Michael Moore, whose considerable presence is being felt here as well as at the box office."
After playing snippets of Bill O'Reilly's Fox News Channel debate with Moore -- but only choosing clips where Moore was putting questions to O'Reilly instead of the other way around -- Tapper explained: "Moore told us he was not there to tell anyone else how to vote. That said, clearly there is one man Moore will not be voting for this November....But that's not stopping him from asking the President out on a date. Today, Moore is flying to the home of the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas where he is planning to show his film." Tapper added that Moore's "rock star reception has not escaped the attention of the Republican Party," which he said is making hay out of Moore's presence and spreading around his most controversial quotes.
On NBC, Katie Couric began: "No matter where you go around this convention here in Boston, you're likely to bump into Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore. He's apparently a big hit here with the Democrats."
MRC's Megan McCormack took down Carl Quintanilla's soft-peddling of Moore's inflammatory role: "Michael Moore is not a delegate here at the convention. He's not a speaker. He's a guest of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Democrats can't seem to get enough of him. Forget the flags, forget the balloons, the one thing you can't avoid at this convention sits under a green Michigan state baseball cap. Michael Moore is everywhere. Addressing the Congressional Black Caucus, mobbed by reporters, interviewed by Ron Reagan."
Quintanilla noticed "Moore talks about politics, too, and it's not the kind of positive talk the Democratic Party is looking for this week." In a soundbite, Moore said "They're not patriots, they're hate-riots. And they believe in the politics of hate-riotism." But still, Quintanilla used no labels as he explained "Democrats seem to crave his fiery style."
He concluded: "Today, Moore says he'll show his film on the side of a barn in Crawford, Texas, where the president is spending the week on his ranch, and he's invited Mr. Bush with a formal letter saying, 'Thank you for considering this invitation, and enjoy your vacation, for however long it may last.'"
CNSNews.com reporter Marc Morano caught Moore's speech yesterday to a raucous audience in Boston, which also included this line against conservatives: "They are better fighters than we are. You have to give them their props for that. They are up at six in the morning trying to figure out which -- you know -- minority group they are going to screw today -- the hate that they eat for breakfast."
For the full Morano story, see www.cnsnews.com
Tuesday night's tribute to Ted Kennedy at Boston's Symphony Hall was attended by a bevy of stars. The list included Glenn Close, Christine Baranski, Bono, Larry David of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm....and Katie Couric.
In Wednesday's Boston Globe, reporter Geoff Edgers noted that in addition to old Democratic presidential hopefuls Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, and George McGovern, "Red Sox owner John Henry said he had avoided many parties during the week, but this was one he wouldn't miss. Same for his Red Sox partner, Tom Werner, who was accompanied by Today show co-host Katie Couric." The event was also attended by ex-NBC star Maria Shriver, Ted Kennedy's niece.
It's been quite a week of hobnobbing with Democratic leaders for Couric, who on Sunday night sat near John Kerry at the Boston Red Sox game. As an AP report picked up by MSNBC.com recalled, "Kerry then watched the game from the owners' box with his wife, his two daughters...Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner, and Katie Couric, the co-anchor of NBC's Today show who is dating Werner."
For more, see: www.boston.com