On MSNBC Live, Washington Examiner correspondent Julie Mason asserted that the "liberal left" was "up in arms about Robert Gates staying on at the Defense Department, and some of these other picks, and even -- even the pick of Hillary Clinton at the State Department." But neither Mason nor anchor Alex Witt mentioned that a recent poll showed strong support among Democrats for President-elect Barack Obama's selections of Gates and Clinton.
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On the December 6 edition of MSNBC Live, Washington Examiner White House correspondent Julie Mason asserted that the "liberal left" was "up in arms about Robert Gates staying on at the Defense Department, and some of these other picks, and even -- even the pick of Hillary Clinton at the State Department." But neither Mason nor anchor Alex Witt mentioned that recent polling data shows strong support among Democrats for President-elect Barack Obama's selections of Gates and Clinton. According to a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted December 1, 89 percent of Democrats approve of Clinton's nomination to be secretary of state, and 79 percent of Democrats approve of Obama's decision to reappoint Gates. The poll also found that 94 percent of Democrats "approve of the way Obama is handling his presidential transition."
Mason also claimed during the MSNBC segment that "[t]here was a bit of an outcry on the left saying, you know, 'This isn't change. This isn't the change that he promised us.' " However, the USA Today/Gallup poll found that 77 percent of Democrats indicated that Obama's administration will be "more effective" because he has chosen individuals who held positions in President Bill Clinton's administration, with only 3 percent saying those choices will render Obama's administration "less effective."
As Media Matters for America has documented, several other media figures have similarly promoted the notion of division among Obama's supporters, claiming that "the left" has been or should be disappointed with his Cabinet selections. But, like Mason, many of these media figures have have not offerred evidence supporting their position, which is undermined by the USA Today/Gallup poll.
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the December 6 edition of MSNBC Live:
WITT: Julie, there is another poll out there, it's a Newsweek poll conducted, which shows that 72 percent also approve of Obama's choices to fill the Cabinet-level positions in his new administration so far. Do you think the more liberal left is in agreement, or do you think they're not inclined to agree with some of the centrist picks?
MASON: Well, that's an interesting question. You know, they seem to support him generally, and they want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, you know, they were up in arms about Robert Gates staying on at the Defense Department, and some of these other picks, and even -- even the pick of Hillary Clinton at the State Department. There was a bit of an outcry on the left saying, you know, "This isn't change. This isn't the change that he promised us." So, there is some concern. But I think, overall, they're still -- they're still taking a wait-and-see attitude. His picks have been very careful, very pragmatic, and we see him not taking any real major risks. And even the Clinton thing, they, you know -- that was leaked weeks before it was actually announced, so people had a chance to really get used to the idea. So, I -- I think the left is watching very carefully, and they -- they do -- they do have some concerns.
WITT: Do -- do you think --
ED O'KEEFE (WashingtonPost.com's Federal Eye blogger): And Alex -- Alex, some of his -- some of his most sensitive picks still remain. They may not be sensitive or high profile on the minds of most Americans, but labor secretary, education secretary, EPA administrator, intelligence director -- all of those are gonna be of big importance to a lot of different liberal groups --
WITT: What -- what --
O'KEEFE: -- in the coming weeks.
WITT: And I'm curious -- what do you think, Ed? Do you think Barack Obama will run into a problem with the very people, the liberal left, who were so eager for him to win?
O'KEEFE: He's probably going to on at least one of those picks, absolutely. I mean, a lot of the labor unions who worked so hard for him during his campaign are very concerned about who he'll pick for labor secretary. There's a great divide in the education world over those that want reform and those that would prefer something along the status quo. You know, there's a lot of big-city school chancellors that people would like to see, and the teachers' unions and others would hate to see that person picked. So, there's plenty of -- of sensitivities and things he'll have to take into account. And -- and again, I think that's where he could very well stumble with at least many members of the base, more so than he has on the higher-profile picks.
WITT: Well, maybe that's why those have yet to be named, at this point -- still being considered. OK, Julie Mason, Ed O'Keefe, thanks so much you two.