Skip to main content

NewsBusters Archive

Tim Graham | August 29, 2014 | 15:12

MSNBC host Alex Wagner and Sam Kass, the personal chef to the Obama family, will marry this weekend in New York with Barack and Michelle Obama in attendance. This prompted a gushing front-pager on Kass in The New York Times on Friday. The headline is “Obamas’ Foodmaster General.”

Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauer wrote Kass “found himself an astounding beneficiary of luck and timing as he blazed a trail of cruciferous vegetables into the first lady’s heart.” He’s now one of “her top policy advisers.” The Times pulled one of those amazingly selective uses of the jump to keep MSNBC off the front page of this cozy story:

Tom Blumer | August 29, 2014 | 13:06

Politico's Josh Gerstein was in top keister-covering mode last night in dealing with President Barack Obama's latest stated indication that U.S. foreign policy is adrift.

To him, the President's admission that “We don’t have a strategy yet” was just an "awkward choice of words" and an "inartful phrase." (By the way, over six years after after one of Obama's flaks first used it to defend the then-candidate's flip-flop on DC's strict gun ban, something he originally believed was constitutional until the Supreme Court's ruling in the Heller decision, "inartful" is still not a recognized word. Yet its use continues to spread.) Excerpts from Gerstein's grief-stricken groaner follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

Curtis Houck | August 29, 2014 | 12:50

On Friday morning, the major broadcast networks were out in full force to defend President Obama after his remarks at a press conference Thursday afternoon in which he said that “we don’t have a strategy yet” in how to militarily address the Islamic terrorist group ISIS in Syria.

Leading the way was NBC’s Today, where co-host Matt Lauer told NBC News political director and moderator of Meet the Press Chuck Todd that “[c]ritics pounced” when Obama made that remark and wondered if they took “his words too literally.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

Mark Finkelstein | August 29, 2014 | 12:31

Of all the names that it would be embarrassing for an MSNBC network host to blank on, Rick Perry's would have to be at the top of the list.  How countless many times has the Lean Forward network had fun at Perry's expense over his "whoops" moment during a 2012 presidential debate?

But that unfortunate fate befell Jose Diaz-Balart today, hosting his own new MSNBC show.  The topic was the way in which Ted Cruz and Perry would potentially fight over Texas donor dollars if they were to both run for president.  Diaz-Balart got Cruz's name without problem, but when it came time for Perry's, Diaz-Balart stumbled multiple times before giving up and just generically referencing him as the "Governor of Texas."  Whoops indeed! View the video after the jump.

Scott Whitlock | August 29, 2014 | 12:07

Although all three networks covered Barack Obama's admission on Thursday that "we don't have a strategy" for responding to Islamic militants in Syria, ABC, CBS and NBC journalists were really animated by the President's tan suit. GMA news reader Amy Robach on Friday enthused, "Finally this morning, some presidential critics are saying, 'yes, we tan!'" [For a video montage, see below. MP3 audio here.

Over on NBC's Today, Dylan Dreyer lectured Twitter on the superficiality of such a topic: "President Obama had a very important press conference. He was talking about all sorts of world issues. So of course social media was focused on those world issues, right? Of course not. They were focused on his tan suit." Dreyer mocked Twitter in the midst of NBC's obsessing about the suit. 

Tim Graham | August 29, 2014 | 11:12

Chelsea Clinton has announced the obvious: she’s leaving NBC News, telling People magazine in a statement she will “continue focusing on my work at the Clinton Foundation and as [her husband] Marc [Mezvinsky] and I look forward to welcoming our first child." New York magazine tweaked the news that Chelsea was "Leaving Her Unbelievably Cushy Fake Job at NBC."

As NBC nepotism goes, she made Luke Russert look like Edward R. Murrow. She’s been featured in only three reports in the last year, but still making the $600,000 salary. (So that's about $200,000 a story while her "news" career was in limbo, also known as the "Hillary speech rate.") We found her entire career was 30 reports (and four of those ran more than once). From June 14:

Tim Graham | August 29, 2014 | 09:46

Embodying the old Hollywood joke “I’ve always wanted to direct,” Comedy Central star Jon Stewart took an entire summer off last year to direct a film called “Rosewater” about Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahiri being abducted in Iran. In an early review in The Hollywood Reporter, film critic Todd McCarthy implies it’s a direct-to-video dud.

Only Stewart’s adoring liberal fans make this film worth any notice, he wrote. The atrocities of ISIS make the idea of being held hostage in Tehran lack a sense of compelling urgency and feels like a “sideshow” on the current scene in the Middle East (trailer below):

Mark Finkelstein | August 29, 2014 | 09:17

Alexander the Great.  Stonewall Jackson. George S. Patton. To this list of some of history's greatest military strategists, a new name must be added: that of Barack Obama.  That is, if you agree with Joe Scarborough's take on President Obama's statement at yesterday's press conference that "we don't have a strategy yet" regarding possible attacks on ISIS in Syria.

According to Scarborough, speaking on today's Morning Joe, President Obama's "no strategy" statement was "straight out of The Art of War where when you were weak, you make your enemies think you were strong. When you were strong, you make your enemies think you were weak." It's what Scarborough would have done, he told viewers, if he were president. When Sam Stein said that he couldn't tell if Joe was joking, Scarborough assured him: "I'm serious. Dead serious . . . I am dead serious.  I am not joking."  View the video after the jump.

Clay Waters | August 29, 2014 | 09:03

The New York Times invariably casts any GOP inquiry into the intelligence failures that led to the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, as a purely partisan venture. The pattern was noted last year by the paper's own Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, who wrote before hearings in May 2013, "The Times has had a tendency to both play down the subject, which has significant news value, and to pursue it most aggressively as a story about political divisiveness rather than one about national security mistakes and the lack of government transparency. Many readers would like to see more on that front, and so would I."

But the Times is still at it. Friday's story by Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer reduced a deliberative investigative effort by GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy to a politically motivated ploy to damage former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential run in 2016: "Democrats Wary of Benghazi Inquiry Stretching Into ’16 Election Season." They also reveal that Benghazi is an outrage only for "the Republican Party's most conservative voters."

Tim Graham | August 29, 2014 | 08:03

Stephen Colbert tells his interview guests that they’re about to be interviewed by a moron. Sometimes he sounds like that during the rest of the show. On Wednesday night, Colbert mocked MRC president Brent Bozell and others for allegedly arguing that the shooting of Michael Brown was caused by national media coverage.

It’s a completely inaccurate caricature. Only a fake-conservative TV moron like Colbert would argue nobody would be shot if the media never covered a shooting. The clips that Colbert’s crew snipped were about the incessant coverage of the Ferguson protesting, looting and rioting, not about the shooting. Colbert wants to pretend the press showing up to a violent protest scene has no effect on whether the protests and/or violence continues. (Video, transcript below)

Tom Blumer | August 29, 2014 | 00:29

On Thursday, an impatient Terry Moran at ABC News tweeted the following (HT Twitchy): "Say it: Russia has invaded Ukraine. Any other description is just weasel words."

Clearly, both President Obama and the folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, haven't been sympathetic to Moran's plea, instead opting for "weasel words." Obama, when directly asked if he "considered today's escalation in Ukraine an invasion," wouldn't characterize it with that word. At AP, a trio of reporters — Dalton Bennett, Jim Heintz, and Raf Casert — also labored mightily to follow their president's lead in avoiding the "I-word" in a late Thursday story (bolds are mine):

Tom Blumer | August 28, 2014 | 23:03

I struggle to come up with a reason, other than an irresponsible attempt to minimize the impact of the horror, why the headline at a Thursday evening Associated Press story by Zeina Karam and Ryan Lucas about "more than 160 Syrian government troops" massacred by ISIS is "JIHADISTS KILL DOZENS OF CAPTURED SYRIAN SOLDIERS."

But that's how the wire service is presenting it:

Curtis Houck | August 28, 2014 | 22:40

To close out his MSNBC show on Thursday, Ed Schultz invited on a Native American social activist to discuss the push by liberals and sympathetic members of the sports media to force the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name. 

In discussing recent supporters of the name in Sarah Palin and former NFL coach and player Mike Ditka, author and Native American activist Gyasi Ross smeared Ditka for being a “segregation-era football player who became, appropriately, a coach of – of a team – a team – an NFL team that was comprised largely of black players that he could dictate his will to.” [MP3 audio here; Video below]

Randy Hall | August 28, 2014 | 22:26

During a segment on Tuesday evening's edition of The O'Reilly Factor, the Fox News Channel host stated he “does not, does not believe in white privilege. However, there is no question that African-Americans have a much harder time succeeding in our society than whites do.” [video below the jump]

Those assertions led Charles Blow, a columnist for the New York Times, to ask in his Thursday column “Is white privilege real? Not according to Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.” The black writer also criticized the cable news host by declaring: “It is statements like this ... that make you the race hustler.”

Tom Blumer | August 28, 2014 | 21:31

On Wednesday night, Megyn Kelly, perhaps the best host on the air today at adapting and responding to new information, did a double-take when Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry told her that President Obama would be traveling to Rhode Island on Friday for a Democratic Party fundraiser.

Having been so informed, she then made those plans the first topic of discussion with each of her next two guests: Marc Thiessen of the American Enterprise Institute and Democratic Pary strategist Penny Lee. Along the way, it because obvious that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest's claim that the administration has "a comprehensive strategy" for dealing with ISIS is a load of rubbish. Video and transcribed highlights follow the jump (HT Fox News Insider via The Blaze and Mediaite):

Ken Shepherd | August 28, 2014 | 20:31

While competing newscasts on ABC and CBS led tonight with the president's stunning admission at a press briefing that he hasn't formulated a strategy to deal with ISIS yet, NBC placed the story in the third slot in the lineup, after a lead-off report regarding the NFL's "tough new policy" on domestic violence and a story by New York-based correspondent Katy Tur about comedian Joan Rivers's hospitalization.

On top of that, Nightly News substitute anchor Lester Holt completely left out both ISIS and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia from his opening-credit tease. By contrast, both ABC's Amy Robach and CBS's Maurice DuBois led off their opening-credit teases by citing the most quotable nugget from today's presidential presser [LISTEN to MP3 audio here; WATCH video montage below page break]:

Ken Shepherd | August 28, 2014 | 18:00

Left-wing comedian Bill Maher is not one to hide his disdain for conservative politicians he disdains, but he really pushed the envelope today with the help of comedian Will Ferrell's Funny or Die website. 

Noted David Edwards of RawStory.com:

Ken Oliver-Méndez | August 28, 2014 | 17:29

The nation’s top television news broadcasts - in both English and Spanish - have been entirely mum on the latest revelations related to alleged obstruction of justice and politically-directed abuse of power at the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service.

Whether at ABC, CBS and NBC, or Univision, Telemundo and Mundo Fox, these networks to date have essentially censored the admission by a U.S. Justice Department official –revealed by government watchdog group Judicial Watch – that allegedly lost e-mails of Obama IRS official Lois Lerner are in fact accessible, through the federal government’s computer back-up system.

Tom Johnson | August 28, 2014 | 17:17

The Trotskyist-turned-conservative writer James Burnham said that where there’s no solution, there’s no problem. In a Thursday post, American Prospect blogger Paul Waldman analyzed what he considers one such situation: the Republican party’s ongoing shortfall with female voters.

Waldman doesn’t see how the GOP can overcome both its ideas and its tone on women’s issues. He asserted that when Republicans discuss their opposition to abortion and the contraceptive mandate, many of them “can't keep themselves from doing so in the most hostile, contemptuous ways imaginable.”

Kyle Drennen | August 28, 2014 | 16:22

Despite a Thursday New York Post report that President Obama's upcoming Labor Day weekend fundraising junket would shut down airspace across the northeast and hurt business for local pilots, neither NBC's Today nor ABC's Good Morning America covered the controversy. CBS This Morning offered a mere 18-second news brief on the topic.

This Morning fill-in co-host Vinita Nair informed viewers: "...the FAA is forcing no-fly zones beginning Friday. That includes grounding sea planes from the Hamptons to Nantucket. One company says it is a major hit on their busiest weekend of the year." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]