Mark Finkelstein has a B.S. from Cornell University, an Ed.M. and a J.D., magna cum laude, from SUNY Buffalo, and an LL.M. from Harvard Law. In 2011, Mark moved to Pecan Plantation, Texas from his long-time home in Ithaca, NY where he hosted "Right Angle," an award-winning local political talk show. Mark is an aviation buff and holds an instrument rating.  He spent ten days in Iraq in November, 2006, mainly in Anbar Province. Email: mark.finkelstein@gmail.com
 

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
February 19, 2008, 6:15 PM EST

Chris Matthews on this afternoon's Hardball, speaking with Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.).
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Congressman Burton, why do you think Cubans on the island still support the Castro brothers? What is it that allows that lock on those people to continue?
DAN BURTON: I don't think they do support Castro, I don't think they supported Fidel or Raul. That is a Communist regime where they have block captains who watch everybody in each invidual block, and anybody that even speaks out against the government ends up in a gulag.
February 19, 2008, 9:12 AM EST

In MSM circles, "swiftboating" is shorthand for false attacks on Democrats, even though John O'Neill and other members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth stand adamantly behind their allegations about John Kerry's war record.

In an interview of Barack Obama conducted yesterday and aired on this morning's Today, Matt Lauer employed the "swiftboating" code to ask whether the candidate is prepared for the Republican onslaught. For good measure the NBC anchor wondered if Obama is ready for Republican racism.

Lauer, introducing the issue, stated that "Senator Clinton has questioned whether he can withstand negative attacks from Republicans in the fall."

 

February 19, 2008, 7:50 AM EST

Update | 3:50 PM: Obama Campaign Clarification: As predicted, the Obama campaign has clarified Michelle's remark. See text at foot.

I sense there's often more than a bit of theater in the arguments between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Not to say Morning Joe's the WWF of political talk, but a little conflict never hurt the ratings.

But there was evidence that this morning's dust-up between the duo was for real. At one point, Scarborough disclosed that a producer had told him through his earpiece to put on a smile, but Joe wasn't buying.

The subject was Michelle Obama's statement that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."

Scarborough opined that whereas the flap over Barack borrowing a line from friend Deval Patrick wouldn't hurt him, the attitude Michelle expressed could. Mika rose to Michelle's defense, and the fight was on.

View video here.

February 18, 2008, 7:23 PM EST

Slip of the tongue, or was the man who gets a thrill up his leg from Barack Obama's rhetoric voicing his innermost apprehension at the prospect of Hillary Clinton regaining the upper hand?

On this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews was discussing the March 4th Texas primary with Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, John Heilemann of New York magazine, and Norah O'Donnell. The MSNBCer made the point that under the arcane Texas rules in which the race is a hybrid of caucus and primary, it's possible for one candidate to win the popular vote and the other to walk off with more delegates.

That seemed to trigger Chris's anxiety reflex at the prospect of Hillary getting good publicity . . .

February 18, 2008, 9:17 AM EST

Update: Rush Reads From Item

Rush Limbaugh read the first two paras of this item during his first half-hour today, citing "our buddies at NewsBusters." Thanks, Rush! Audio here.

If a supremely prominent Republican who was John McCain's chief surrogate had gotten into an angry confrontation at a campaign event, do you think the broadcast networks would have promptly let us know his interlocutor was African-American?

I do. But none of the broadcast network's morning news shows, at least during this morning's crucial first half-hour, disclosed the African-American identity of the man with whom Bill Clinton got into just such an argument yesterday in Ohio.

Not a word of any incident whatsoever at GMA or the Early Show, at least during the first half-hour. Today did mention that Clinton "showed his temper . . . after an Obama supporter tried to disrupt his speech in Canton," but nothing about the man's identity.

View video here.

February 17, 2008, 10:54 AM EST

For a guy who's supposedly a savvy pol, Chuck Schumer has sure made a damning admission about the Dem presidential candidates. The senior senator from New York has suggested that their word is worthless.

On today's Meet the Press, Tim Russert quizzed Schumer about the change in heart of the Clinton campaign regarding seating delegates from Michigan. The DNC ruled last year that none of Michigan's delegates would be seated at the convention, in punishment for the state having moved up the date of its primary in violation of party rules. Hillary would now like those delegates to be seated since she "won" the primary -- in which Obama's name wasn't on the ballot.

TIM RUSSERT: Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton said in October "you know it's clear this election they're having in Michigan is not going to count for anything." Is that your position?

CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, no. Here's the bottom line once again, Tim. Each candidate of course takes the position that benefits them at the moment.
February 17, 2008, 8:11 AM EST

Let's have some fun deconstructing Frank Rich's NY Times column of today. The gist of The Grand Old White Party Confronts Obama is that it will be nearly impossible for McCain to defeat Obama because the Arizona senator reflects the politics of an almost all-white GOP in the age of a changing America.

February 16, 2008, 12:24 PM EST

Interviewing a student advocate of concealed carry on campus, Good Morning America's Bill Weir fretted today that it could lead to an "OK Corral" situation.

Weir spoke with Mike Guzman, a student at Texas State University and a leader of a national group called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. Weir's opening gambit: "Are you carrying a gun now?"

Guzman said that he was, and does so everywhere but on campus. Sort of made me wish Guzman had asked Weir if he was unarmed.

You can view the video of the entire interview here, but I'd focus on this bit of editorializing by Weir:

February 16, 2008, 10:29 AM EST

This is too perfect! Barely an hour after Pat Buchanan proclaimed on NBC that the MSM is full of "out-of-the-closet Obamacans," ABC's David Wright provided a perfect illustration of the genre.

In fact, I'm nominating the GMA segment Wright narrated this morning as the single most slanted episode of the MSM primary season. The screen graphic "On the Attack," set the theme: Hillary is unfairly attacking Obama, and to the extent Barack's gone negative, it's only to rebut Clinton's unfair criticism. Oh, and Hillary's demographic is crumbling. And by the way, Bill's dissing Obama supporters.

View video here.

February 16, 2008, 8:27 AM EST

Ask an obvious question . . .

Amy Robach this morning asked the most rhetorical question in contemporary media: does the MSM have a thing for Barack Obama?

The weekend Today co-anchor didn't need guests Pat Buchanan or Rachel Maddow for the answer. She could have kept things in-house with NBC's own Lee Cowan, who has acknowledged “it's almost hard to remain objective” about Obama.

But pose the question Robach did, and Pat Buchanan gave her a colorful answer.
February 15, 2008, 9:35 PM EST

You vill obey update . . .

The domestic policy differences between Hillary and Obama are negligible. But the Clinton camp likes to claim that his national health care plan would leave 15 million people out, whereas hers covers everyone. Let's put aside for the moment the fact that former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich says the Obama plan would actually wind up covering more people. The key to Hillary's claim that she would cover everyone is that . . . she would punish people who refuse to fall in line.

Naturally, Clinton isn't eager to specify just what such punishment would be. But under intense questioning by Tucker Carlson on his MSNBC show this evening, senior Clinton advisor Kiki McLean employed an Orwellian euphemism. People who didn't comply wouldn't be punished. They'd simply incur an . . . "outcome."

View video here.

February 15, 2008, 2:24 PM EST
The media has been reporting Hillary's latest "talk is cheap" line of attack on Barack. In the same vein, here's the opening paragraph of an email just received from the Clinton campaign:
When the bright lights are off and the speeches are over, who can you count on to listen to you, to stand up and deliver solutions?
Hillary Clinton: delivering in the dark. Good to know.
February 15, 2008, 9:28 AM EST

It's not about Katie Couric's liberal bias today; it's her sheer fatuousness. Couric has been accorded rare access for extended interviews with the women involved in the presidential race. MRC's Brent Baker has detailed how Couric squandered part of her interview of Hillary Clinton, aired on this past Sunday's 60 Minutes, on silly talk.

This morning's Early Show featured excerpts from Couric's interview of Michelle Obama. No huge headlines, but once again Couric wasted time with obvious and trivial questions. The CBS anchor literally apologized to Obama, for example, for posing the much-asked question of what her personal cause as First Lady would be [answer: the challenges mothers face in balancing work and family].

Then there was this.
February 15, 2008, 6:52 AM EST

Andrea Mitchell stopped just short of donning an impromptu Obama campaign-advisor hat. But the NBC correspondent has left little doubt she personally feels the time is ripe for Barack Obama to promote gun control as a campaign issue.

Guest co-anchoring today's Morning Joe, Mitchell was discussing yesterday's shootings at Northern Illinois University with Willie Geist.
February 14, 2008, 7:01 PM EST
It's questionable whether Herbert Hoover actually ever promised to put "a chicken in every pot." But even if Hoover did, he was a piker compared to Hillary Clinton. Check out her remarks in a campaign speech today, as aired on this afternoon's Hardball.
HILLARY CLINTON: Over the years, you've heard plenty of promises, from plenty of people in plenty of speeches. And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don't put food on the table. Speeches don't fill up your tank. Speeches don't fill your prescriptions or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night. That's the difference between me and my Democratic opponent. My opponent makes speeches. I offer solutions.

View video here.

February 14, 2008, 5:28 PM EST

A couple days ago, speculating that Contessa Brewer might be a closet conservative, I expressed the hope that I wasn't making trouble for her at MSNBC. Maybe I did. For the anchor now has gone out of her way to express PC sentiments that almost make you wonder whether she wasn't trying to prove her liberal bona fides to her MSNBC honchos.

 

Jesse Jackson would normally be the last person who'd need to be persuaded to take offense at any comment that could possibly be considered to have racial overtones. Usually, it's a case of duck meets junebug.

But for whatever reason, interviewed by Brewer on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:18 PM ET, Jackson was on his way to taking the high road regarding Ed Rendell's recent remark about some whites in Pennsylvania being unwilling to vote for blacks . . . until Contessa cut in to point out the possible racial slight. Jackson took the hint and proceeded to express the criticism Brewer had apparently been hoping for.

February 14, 2008, 9:13 AM EST
Three voices of the Clinton campaign, three distinctly different takes on its fortunes. James Carville is candid about the pickle Hillary's in. Hillary, true to form, utterly evades the question. Ah, but there's always Terry McAuliffe. The proud graduate of the Baghdad Bob School of Flackery this morning declared that he's "more confident than he's ever been" about winning the nomination.

Carville, appearing on last night's Larry King, couldn't have been more succinct.
LARRY KING: If Hillary loses Texas or Ohio, is it over?

JAMES CARVILLE: Yes.

View Carville and Hillary video here.

February 13, 2008, 10:09 AM EST

As fellow NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth has documented, last night an inspired Chris Matthews declared that in watching Barack Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg."

Joe Scarborough has offered a graphic variation on the metaphor to depict how the Clinton folks might be feeling this morning. It came at 7:05 AM ET during today's Morning Joe, subsequent to a discussion of Matthews' thrill-up-his-leg line.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Look at these numbers; the percentages of victories. You're talking about feelings? If I were running Hillary Clinton's campaign right now, if I were Howard Wolfson, I might have a feeling actually running down my leg.

A shocked Willie Geist could be heard exclaiming "oh God!"

February 13, 2008, 8:00 AM EST

The media loves campaign metaphors. Yesterday, some MSM wag delighted in pointing out that Mike Huckabee's campaign van had twice run out of gas. Today, it was Hillary Clinton's turn. In the wake of her devastating defeats in the Potomac primaries, Good Morning America rolled an extended clip of her struggling up an airplane stairway.

Speaking with Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos had just finished opining that if in Texas Obama cuts into Hillary's coalition of women and Hispanics the way he did last night, he will be the nominee.
February 12, 2008, 4:52 PM EST

OK, it was probably just a Freudian slip by someone with the Potomac Primary on the noggin. But perhaps big-government loving MSNBC should consider it as its official new sign-off. In any case, here's how David Gregory said goodbye at 3:59 PM ET at the end of his stint as network host this afternoon:
DAVID GREGORY: That's going to do it for me. My colleague Norah O'Donnell will take over our coverage. I'm David Gregory, thanks for Washington. Thanks for watching, rather. Stay with MSNBC -- all day coverage of Chesapeake Tuesday. Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will host coverage of the returns. That's at 6 o'clock PM tonight Eastern, only on MSNBC, the place for politics. Have a good afternoon.

View video here.