RATNER: Well I think when we get to one nominee; there will be comparisons because the debates are focused a little more on comparisons of issues than presidential debates. They're done by a presidential commission and I think they're good.
SCOTT: One of the topics that CNN didn't include is Thursday's debate, President Obama's State of the Union address. But we'll take it on next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: As long as I'm the president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on the economic crisis in the first place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: President Obama during his State of the Union address there Tuesday night with a pointed message to Republican members of the Congress.
Jim, the overall coverage was that this was a wonderful speech.
PINKERTON: Right. Rich Noyes, at NewsBusters, had a piece commenting about how each of Obama's speeches in the State of the Union are the first -- his inaugural address, the media all go crazy over it. They're all different and they all make different points about bailouts versus banks versus winning the future now to class warfare, but each one of them, they all love them, each and every one. It's like four children in a row. They all love them.
SCOTT: NBC described it as rousing and an optimistic speech. They couldn't give it enough praise. Jonah --
SCOTT: Jonah Goldberg called it doggerel. Who's right?
RATNER: First of all, I am a liberal. And I liked what the president had to say. But what NBC did was off the charts. If one of our staff had written that, I’d be like furious.
But I want to say, another thing that happened is there was a love fest from the networks. And even though Fox was one of the groups in there, the president had lunch with the anchors. This is not a well-known thing. But every president has done it. How come what --
SCOTT: Ahead of the speech.
RATNER: Ahead of the speech. How come the news media did not make that connection by who attended the lunch, what they said, and is there some kind of self censorship with that?
THOMAS: I think a better connection was made. The Republican National Committee put this out first and Fox picked it up. I don't if the other networks went with it, because I didn't see them all. I tend to doubt it. Where they compared the lines that President Obama had used in his previous two States of the Union that were almost verbatim. The other thing is, you mentioned what Brian Williams says, I would hold out some words the networks used when George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and other Republicans were president. They said things like, "still" and "it raises questions," and "not everyone agrees with the president." You didn't hear any of that at least from NBC after this State of the Union address.
SCOTT: He started out by commending U.S. military forces and then ended by reminding everyone that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. Is there a coincidence?
Look, I think it was a very smart way to do the speech. He was trying to appeal to people sort of better sides and say this is something we can agree on. We have an amazing military. Look how they pull together under every circumstance. It was a smart way to honor the military and also to try and get people to get along.
SCOTT: Ellen, it was also the lowest rated of his State of the Union addresses. Are people growing tired of it?
RATNER: I have to say, as a press person who has been covering speeches since 1993, I'm like, how many times do we have to hear the same thing? And it was interesting it was one of the public radio stations pulled from a Reagan speech, pulled from a Carter, pulled from a Bush, and showed they take the same lines of the speeches and they sort of reformulate them. And --
RATNER: Give me a break, yes.
PINKERTON: This is the best you can do, if you're the media, and you love the president and have a weak product to deal with, you take the bad news and turn it into good news. So Chuck Todd leads off with, hey, competent, confidence about right track and the economy has gone from 22 to 30. Well, 30 is still a low number but to them it was big news. It was an eight point increase, so you do the best you can with what you have.
THOMAS: Let's have a new rule. Let's have it the way the airlines do it. You must stay seated until the speech comes to a full and complete stop.
It looked like Whack-a-Mole out there, up and down.
SCOTT: It would make for a quicker evening, wouldn't it?
Then after the speech, the president hit the road and went to, among other places, Arizona, where this photo was taken of him as he met with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. The media had a heyday with this one.
Jim, was that fair?
PINKERTON: Yes. One MSNBC commentator, compared it to the Little Rock, Arkansas case in 1957 --
Seriously, I'm not making this up. As in her pointing the finger at him and who knows who started saying what.
Is the equivalent of white racist heckling of black students in an integrated school. That --