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Politics

Pres. Obama’s ISIS Speech Ratings: FNC #1

ObamaISIS304During President Obama’s speech last night, which lasted just shy of 15 minutes, Fox News beat CNN and MSNBC combined in total viewers and tied them combined in the A25-54 demo.

Megyn Kelly anchored with Bret Baier appearing before the speech. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper co-anchored. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow anchored with a panel featuring Chris Hayes, Chris Matthews, Al Sharpton, and Andrea Mitchell.

Here are the numbers. FNC and MSNBC’s are from 9-9:15pmET; CNN’s from 9:02-9:16pmET

Network Anchor Total Viewers A25-54
Fox
Megyn Kelly 4,447,000M 994K
MSNBC
Rachel Maddow 1,890,000M 361K
CNN Wolf Blitzer/Cooper 1,827,000M 633K

And our full scoreboard is here.

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Jay Carney Joins CNN

jay carneyFormer White House press secretary Jay Carney is joining CNN as a political commentator. Carney will contribute across the network starting tonight as part of CNN’s coverage of President Obama’s address on ISIS.

“I’m thrilled to be joining CNN at a time when there is so much happening in the nation and the world,” said Carney.

“Jay’s unique experience as both a journalist and a White House press secretary make him an invaluable voice for the network as we cover the final two years of the Obama Administration and look ahead to the coming campaigns,” says Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist.

Carney was Pres. Obama’s press secretary from 2011 until June. Before that he was communications director for Vice President Biden. Carney spent 20 years with TIME Magazine where he served as Moscow correspondent, White House correspondent and, Washington bureau chief.

He follows in a long line of White House press secretaries who join the news ranks, including Obama’s first press secretary Robert Gibbs who is an MSNBC analyst and George W. Bush‘s press secretary Dana Perino who now hosts “The Five” on Fox News. Bush’s two other press secretaries Ari Fleischer and the late Tony Snow, each joined CNN following their White House runs. Former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers hosted CNBC’s “Equal Time” following her White House stint;  Bill Moyers and Pierre Salinger, press secretaries to Pres. Johnson and Pres. Kennedy, respectively, went on to careers as news correspondents at CBS and ABC, respectively.

Sotloff Spokesperson: Obama Administration Has Made ‘Number of Inaccurate Statements’

SotloffSpeaking with Anderson Cooper last night, a spokesman for the family of beheaded journalist Steven Sotloff claimed the Obama administration hasn’t been relaying accurate information to the American people.

“The administration has made a number of inaccurate statements,” Barak Barfi said.

He countered claims the Obama administration made that Sotloff’s family had been consistently informed of Steven’s status and that Steven and other hostages had been consistently moved by their captors this year.  “We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim [Foley] and Steve are pawns in this game.”

“If there continues to be leaks, the Sotloff family will have to speak out to set the record straight,” Barfi concluded. He also said the family now knows Sotloff was sold by “moderate rebels” to ISIS for $50,000 at the Syrian border. President Obama will meet with Secretary of State John Kerry today to discuss his plan of action against ISIS, which he’ll announce in a speech tomorrow.

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Has Media Played a Part in Bad Presidential Optics?

FNCDuring his interview with Chuck Todd yesterday, President Obama acknowledged the theatre of the presidency doesn’t come naturally to him while also saying he’d love a “vacation from the press.”

This afternoon, Fox News debated whether the media has played a part in any of Obama’s negative optics. “Well maybe he should have thought harder about whether he was qualified to be president,” Fox News contributor Jim Pinkerton said regarding president’s struggles with optics.

Alan Colmes responded that the media is assigning labels to the president that are off the mark. “This narrative that he’s somehow indecisive or not focused or given up or doesn’t care is just not accurate, and that’s the thing that the media has glommed onto for the last couple of weeks,” Colmes said, citing U.S. airstrikes on ISIS (watch after the jump).

During this afternoon’s White House press briefing, which Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN all took, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced the president will outline his plan against ISIS in a speech Wednesday.

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Pres. Obama Calls on ‘Big Cheese’ Chuck Todd First, In Todd’s Last Briefing for NBC News

The broadcast networks broke in Thursday afternoon to carry remarks from President Obama. Lester Holt anchored for NBC, Amy Robach for ABC and Maurice DuBois anchored on CBS as Pres. Obama delivered a statement on the U.S. economy, the continued ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria and the crisis in Ukraine. The president then opened it up to questions:

ToddBriefing“I’m going to start with somebody who, I guess, is now a big cheese. He’s moved on. But I understand this is go to be his last chance to ask me a question in the press room. I want to congratulate Chuck Todd and give him first dibs.” (Watch after the jump) Todd, who is moving on to “Meet the Press,” asked about Syria/ISIS.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Colleen McCain Nelson got the second question, asking the president whether today’s military action by Russia is considered to be an invasion of Ukraine. After three more questions, the president started to leave the briefing room, but returned to take a question on whether he’d make any executive actions on immigration reform. Obama: “It continues to be my belief that if I can’t see congressional action, that I need to do at least what I can in order to make the system work better.”

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C-SPAN Gearing Up for Midterm Elections

CSPANIt’s never too early to talk about campaign coverage, right? This afternoon, C-SPAN is out with its plans for the 2014 midterms.

The network will televise over 100 Senate, House, and governor debates leading up to this year’s midterm elections. Many will be simulcasted on local stations across the country.

“With the balance of power at stake in Congress, especially in the closely watched U.S. Senate races, C-SPAN will be the one place where you can see all the debates in the most competitive races,” Steve Scully, C-SPAN’s Sr. EP and political editor, said in a release. “Our partnerships with the local broadcast stations and cable companies across the country who televise these debates locally make our comprehensive coverage possible.”

The first debate in the lineup takes place September 3 at 7pmET on C-SPAN, C-SPAN radio, and C-Span.org, featuring the candidates for one of North Carolina’s Senate seats.

James Foley’s Brother: More Could’ve Been Done ‘Directly on Jim’s Behalf’

CouricWhile speaking with Katie Couric on Yahoo!, James Foley‘s brother expressed his thoughts on the U.S. government’s efforts to save Jim.

“The United States could’ve done more on behalf of the western and American hostages over there and still dealt with the broader worldwide issues,” Michael Foley, sitting alongside his sister Katie, said regarding the U.S. policy of not trading ransom money for prisoners.

“Take the money aside, there’s more that could’ve been done directly on Jim’s behalf, and I really hope with respect to Steven [Sotloff] that they take some action quickly.”

The interview caps off a big week for Couric. She also had an exclusive with Melinda Gates, who announced a million dollar donation to an online charity funding schools, and an exclusive with Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In that interview, which goes up this afternoon, Sirleaf thanked now Ebola-free Americans Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients in Liberia.

And on Couric’s former TV stomping grounds, James Foley’s parents talked about their own experience this morning. “I actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them [ISIS] if they were willing to send us any sort of communication,” John Foley said in a “Today” exclusive.

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Did Obama White House Get Initial Insight on Ferguson From Al Sharpton?

SharptonPolitico Magazine writes the Obama administration leaned on MSNBC’s Al Sharpton for information after the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown and subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

A few days after 18-year-old Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, White House officials enlisted an unusual source for on-the-ground intelligence amid the chaos and tear gas: the Rev. Al Sharpton, a fiery activist who became a household name by provoking rather than pacifying. In Ferguson, Sharpton established himself as a de facto contact and conduit for a jittery White House seeking to negotiate a middle ground between meddling and disengagement. “There’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down,” a White House official familiar with their dealings told me. After huddling with Brown’s family and local community leaders, Sharpton connected directly with White House adviser and First Friend Valerie Jarrett, vacationing in her condo in the exclusive Oak Bluffs section of Martha’s Vineyard, not far from where President Obama and his family were staying. Obama was “horrified” by the images he was seeing on TV, Jarrett told Sharpton, and proceeded to pepper him with questions as she collected information for the president: How bad was the violence? Was it being fueled by outside groups—and could Sharpton do anything to talk them down? What did the Brown family want the White House to do?

As we reported recently, Sharpton has been in the middle of two high profile cases recently: the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson and the case of Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by NYPD police and later died. “Rev. Al Sharpton is both President of the National Action Network and host on MSNBC,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin told us. “We’ve always been transparent about the dual roles and his work outside of MSNBC.”

Chris Jansing’s Interview with Senator, Doctor, Possible Presidential Contender Rand Paul

JansingPaulNBC’s senior White House correspondent Chris Jansing was in Guatemala this week, accompanying Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on his first international medical mission. Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, performed eye surgeries on people in need. Jansing will report on the humanitarian and political ramifications of the trip, as Paul eyes a run for the White House in 2016.

Jansing conducted multiple interviews with Sen. Paul exploring his political motivations for the mission in addition to immigration reform, U.S. health care, education, and 2016 politics. The interview will air this Sunday on “Meet the Press.” As we told you yesterday, Jansing will host Sunday’s program.

Justice Department Opens Criminal Investigation Into James Foley Execution

JimFoley304Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the Department of Justice is taking action following the beheading of journalist James Foley.

“The Justice department is actively pursuing justice in this case,” Holder said in a speech this morning. “We have an open criminal investigation. And those that would perpetrate such acts need to understand something. This Justice Department, this Department of Defense, this nation; we have long memories and our reach is very wide. We will not forget what happened and people will be held accountable, one way or the other.”

Yesterday, President Obama condemned the murder of the GlobalPost journalist by the terrorist group ISIS. “We share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday, and we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace with it a sense of hope and civility,”

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