COMMENTS: Jeremiah Wright Fallout

The economy or campaign politics? The networks cast a split decision on a day when both CBS News and NBC News published their latest national opinion polls on the status of the Campaign 2008 horse race. At the same time, the Federal Reserve Board cut short-term interest rates again, now down to 2.0%. And the Commerce Department published Gross Domestic Product statistics showing growth, barely discernable growth, but growth nonetheless, in the first quarter of the year--so no recession yet. NBC led with the GDP. ABC led with the Fed. CBS led with Campaign 2008 and the fallout from Barack Obama's repudiation of the Rev Jeremiah Wright was Story of the Day.

CBS had Dean Reynolds start its newscast from the campaign trail with Obama in Indianapolis. Reynolds reflected that April has been "a rough spell" for the Obama campaign, with his loss in Pennsylvania and the emergence of minister Wright, whom Obama referred to as "a perpetual distraction." Reynolds talked to Obama's handlers about whether Tuesday's expression of outrage had ended the candidate's vulnerability by association: "They concede they have no more control over the reaction to Jeremiah Wright than they do over Jeremiah Wright himself."

Both candidates granted high profile interviews in the run up to Tuesday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. Both were asked about--who else?--Jeremiah Wright. "He made his views clear--finally," was the little dig Hillary Rodham Clinton made about her rival to Bill O'Reilly of FOX News Channel, quoted by CBS' Reynolds. Obama himself agreed that he delayed, as quoted by NBC's Andrea Mitchell: "If I had wanted to be politically expedient I would have distanced myself and denounced him right away," he told Meredith Vieira on NBC's Today, with a little dig at his rival. "That would be the standard stock political advice." Mitchell also aired an FNC O'Reilly soundbite from Rodham Clinton that appeared to escalate her stance beyond mere criticism of the words of minister Wright to outright condemnation of Trinity United Church of Christ itself: "I would not have stayed in that church. I think it is offensive and outrageous."

Reynolds noted that Obama's unfavorable rating in the CBS News poll had risen from 14% to 20% in the last four weeks. Over that same timeframe, Tim Russert told us that NBC News' poll found a dwindling proportion of voters believing that Obama identifies with their values (45% down from 50%). NBC News' poll found two major concerns voters have about Obama: that he is "out of touch" with them (34%) and that he has ties to minister Wright (32%). The major concerns about Rodham Clinton are that she changes her positions (36%) and is dishonest (31%).

CBS News also found that Rodham Clinton trounces Obama among white working class Democrats (61% v 23%). Cynthia Bowers went off in search of vox pop to account for the disparity, speculating about Obama's "professorial style" and his "fiery pastor." Yet when Bowers characterized the two Democratic candidates as "desperate to win over average Joes," she muddied the polling premise that set up her reporting. Confusingly, she ignored each candidate's strong point. "Average Joes" include working class voters of all races, yet Obama's weakness in the poll was confined to whites. "Average Joes" refers to male working class voters, yet Rodham Clinton's strength is concentrated among women.


Obama is finally being exposed, as he should have been a year ago. The media knew about his pastor, Wright and the friendship Obama shares with domestic terriost Bill Ayers, whose group bombed the Pentagon, NYC Police Dept, and other federal buildings. How do you claim to love America and yet surround yourself with people who speak out against America and for crying out loud, have bombed American institutes, and show no remorse instead saying they should have bombed more? This is Obama and Ayers 17 year friendship. Total that with Michelle Obama's comments about America and Wright's comments, Obama should drop out. He is unelectable for the Democratic party. Obama, if he is the nominee, will assure the Republican party a victory in November. I voted for Clinton, I have always voted Democratic,but I will support McCain if Obama is the nominee. I could never vote for a person of his character. I will do my best to promote McCain and make certain America is not stained by a President who is encircled by anti-Americans.

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