- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2014

Broadcasters have offered lengthy broadcasts about Gaza and Ukraine but scant criticism about the White House role in the double crises. On the “Big Three” networks, in fact, the criticism amounted to less than a minute — in almost six hours of recent news coverage.

“While the three evening newscasts have offered considerable coverage of the unfolding events, CBS, NBC and ABC have made almost no attempt to evaluate the performance of President Obama, Secretary of State John F. Kerry or the administration generally, and critics of the administration itself have been ignored,” observes Scott Whitlock, a senior news analyst at the Media Research Center.

“Since July 8, the broadcast evening newscasts have aired 79 stories totaling 169 minutes on the Gaza fighting. Only 45 seconds of that included criticism of the administration,” Mr. Whitlock says. “Since July 17, the three evening newscasts have aired 96 stories totaling 209 minutes on the jet shootdown; just 10 seconds of that coverage has included criticism of Obama or his team.”

It’s come to be a pattern.

“During the George W. Bush administration, the networks routinely turned to harsh critics of the president, highlighting and blaming Bush for foreign and domestic problems,” the analyst said. “The networks have devoted huge resources to covering these stories. It’s highly unusual — and a huge favor to the White House — that so little effort has been spent trying to actually evaluate the administration’s performance.”

HILLARITY

“I do sometimes expect perhaps more than I should. And I’ll have to work on my expectations.”

Hillary Clinton to National Public Radio, regarding a recent claim in Politico that she expects journalists to be “100 percent in her corner.”

‘PRESIDENT’ PAUL RYAN, STAGE ONE

Rep. Paul Ryan is said to be a precise, numbers kind of guy, and it shows in the painstaking trajectory of his reinvention. The Wisconsin Republican appears to be moving toward a potential presidential posture in calibrated increments — not too much, not too little, deliberate but not obvious.

“I want to start a conversation. I want to talk about how we can expand opportunity in America. I don’t have all the answers. Nobody does. But by working together, we can build a healthy economy and help working families get ahead,” Mr. Ryan said Thursday upon releasing a humongous list of antipoverty reforms titled “Expanding Opportunity in America.”

(Spare. Buzz words intact. Folksy. Grade: B+).

IMMIGRATION: REPUBLICAN-FRIENDLY TERRITORY

Could the border crisis be a game changer for Republicans? Perhaps.

“Long gone, evidently, are the days when the late, great Sonny Bono, asked for his position on illegal immigration, answered: ‘My position? What do you mean, my position? It’s illegal.’ Still, I have never understood the claim that open borders is a winning political issue for the Democrats,” says Powerlineblog.com columnist John Hinderaker.

He cites a recent Rasmussen Reports poll revealing that 59 percent of likely U.S. voters say the primary focus of any new immigration legislation passed by Congress should be to send the distressed youngsters home as quickly as possible. About a quarter said they should remain in the U.S.

“If Republicans unite around the position that all or substantially all of the most recent wave of illegal entrants should be sent back to their home countries as soon as possible, it will give them a big boost as the election season begins to heat up,” Mr. Hinderaker advises.

But wait, there’s more.

“The number of voters who want to deport all illegal immigrants stands at a record 24 percent. That’s up from 18 percent in May and a low of 15 percent in January,” says Fox News polling analyst Dana Blanton. “Over half of voters — 56 percent — disapprove of how President Obama is dealing with the border crisis. That includes majorities of Republicans (84 percent) and independents (59 percent), as well as whites (60 percent) and Hispanics (58 percent).” The findings were released by the network on Thursday.

TRY 10,000 TROOPS ON THE BORDER

“Why send a team to the border when you can see for yourself just how bad things are on our southern border? I believe that if President Obama were to see firsthand what is really happening at a border spot like Arizona, he would understand the need to deploy the National Guard there immediately,” says Rep. David Schweikert. “Instead of the typical packaged and managed presentations along the border, we would introduce the president to Arizona and the lives that have been affected by the waves of illegal immigration.”

The Arizona Republican recently introduced the Southwest Border Protection Act, which would deploy at least 10,000 National Guard personnel on the Southwest border region until “operation control” is achieved, he says.

FLAGGED MATERIAL

It’s still a grand old tune. “America’s Star-Spangled Story,” an unapologetic and affectionate historical look at the nation’s anthem by Jane Hampton Cook, offers insight into what Francis Scott Key experienced on August 24, 1814, when he penned the lyrics.

“Mr. Key feared that his country was almost lost. Yet he soon had a front-row seat as a witness to a battle that would change everything and give our nation its official song. When sight becomes a gift of beauty and hope, it is called ‘insight.’ That’s what Key would come to see,” writes Ms. Cook. The author will sign copies of her book this weekend in the National Museum of American History on the National Mall, near the very flag that inspired Key. There are some cultural underpinnings as well.

“After an ESPN commentator suggested that ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ shouldn’t be sung at sporting events, I decided to write this book by simply telling the story of how the ‘land of the free’ found its anthem for the ages,” the author says.

WEEKEND REAL ESTATE

For sale: “Historic Bank Street Mansion,” Louisville, Kentucky; built in 1900, four bedrooms, two full baths, 3,436 square feet of living space. All brick, 12-foot ceilings, four fireplaces with original mantles and mill work, sweeping staircase, two-car oversized garage. Renovated gourmet kitchen, formal dining room, living room, enclosed front and back porches, laundry room, finished upper story, double heating and air conditioning systems, fenced yard. Priced at $133,333 through MichaelMawood.com; listed under “featured properties.”

POLL DU JOUR

58 percent of U.S. voters say the Obama administration has been “very” or “somewhat” competent at managing national security; 31 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of independents and 83 percent of Democrats agree.

53 percent of voters overall say the administration has been competent managing the economy; 27 percent of Republicans, 49 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent overall say the administration competently manages Obamacare; 17 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent overall say the administration competently manages fair treatment of Americans by the IRS; 20 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree.

40 percent overall say the administration competently manages veterans’ health care; 19 percent of Republicans, 33 percent of independents and 59 percent of Democrats agree.

39 percent of Americans say the Obama administration competently manages the border crisis; 18 percent of Republicans, 32 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Fox News poll of 1,057 registered U.S. voters conducted July 20-22.

Nervous chittering, mellifluous commentary to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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