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.  Mark spent ten days in Iraq in November, 2006, mainly in Anbar Province. Email: mark.finkelstein@gmail.com
 

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
August 29, 2007, 8:10 AM EDT
Talk about your bigotry of low expectations . . .

Brian Williams has defended armed looting during Katrina as the work of heads of family providing for their own.

The NBC Nightly News anchor is in New Orleans on the second Katrina anniversary. He appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at 7:30 A.M. EDT. Williams first passed along a predictable race-and-classed based explanation of the mismanaged relief efforts.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: That's when human life started to degrade. That's when people ran out of of bathroom facilities and started having to use the entire [Superdome]: no power, no circulating air, and worse, no information from the outside world. Somebody said "they [the victims] just weren't worth it."
A bit later, Williams offered up this defense of armed looting.
WILLIAMS: The looting we witnessed downtown, you could hear gunfire in the streets of the 25th-largest city in the United States. We keep saying human behavior degraded that week. There was a desperation that you can only get when you're the head of a family. You don't know where a meal is going to come from, you can't find bottled water. You don't know how you're going to get your family to high ground.
View video here.
August 29, 2007, 6:54 AM EDT

Update 15:34 (see bottom of post): Cox explains her rug joke.

I had great expectations when Ana Marie Cox turned up on the "Morning Joe" panel, confident the tart-tongued former Wonkette would produce plenty of grist for our NB mill. But over the course of the week, Cox has been disappointingly subdued, leaving it to the congenial Tamron Hall to produce our headlines. Perhaps Ana Marie's new gig at staid "Time" magazine has caused her to hide her acerbic light under a barrel.

But the strain of being restrained was maybe too much for Ana Marie, for she began this morning's show with a catty swipe at Katie Couric.

Host Joe Scarborough began the opening chit-chat by noting that CBS Evening News anchor Couric has announced her plans to visit Iraq and Syria. That's when Ana Marie pounced.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: So Katie's going off to the war zone. Did you read that? Katie Couric.

ANA MARIE COX: Needs some rugs, maybe. I don't know.

R-e-o-o-w-w-w!

View video here.

August 28, 2007, 5:49 PM EDT
Chris Matthews, opening this afternoon's "Hardball":
Idaho Senator Larry Craig, cultural warrior of the right, stands naked tonight, exposed as both a sexual deviant and a world-class hypocrite.

View video here.

August 28, 2007, 6:43 AM EDT

Last week, as noted here, Tamron Hall mentioned that "Us Weekly" aside, her main news source is the New York Times. Two days earlier, Hall had defended CNN's "God's Warriors" by suggesting that Christian and Jewish groups could be the next to turn violent. Today comes further evidence of Hall's liberal leanings, as the MSNBCer spoke openly of her participation in events on behalf of the National Organization for Women.

The disclosure came on today's "Morning Joe" at 6:09 A.M. EDT. Host Joe Scarborough, discussing the Michael Vick case, suggested that whereas there has been tremendous media focus on the dogfighting charges, allegations that pro athletes abuse women don't get as much attention.

August 28, 2007, 6:00 AM EDT

Advice to members of Congress: take the train. Our illustrious senators and congressmen seem to have a penchant for getting into trouble when they venture into airports. We're all familiar with how things went wrong for Rep. Patrick Kennedy in 2000 when he tried to barge his way past an airport screening employee. When just eight days ago Rep. Bob Filner (D-Ca.) was charged with assault and battery for his run-in with an airline employee at Dulles International outside DC, I noted here that CNN managed to get through its report on the matter without mentioning Filner's Democratic-party affiliation.

So naturally I was curious to see how some of the major papers dealt with the arrest of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and his guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport earlier this month.

Whereas CNN was shy about mentioning Filner's Dem roots, the Washington Post had no such hesitation when it came to indicating Craig's Republican-party membership. Indeed, the very first word of its headline announced it:

GOP Senator Pleaded Guilty After Restroom Arrest

August 27, 2007, 2:03 PM EDT

Granted, it came at the very end of the forum on cancer that Lance Armstrong organized today in Iowa. But if in response to your final question a presidential candidate recites an ode to collectivism, a denunciation of individualism, and throws in the mind-boggling claim that people don't want tax cuts, don't you somehow find a moment to follow up?

Not if you're Chris Matthews.

August 24, 2007, 8:49 AM EDT

Joe Scarborough prides himself on being an independent thinker. Apparently that extends to not uttering a peep of protest, and indeed tending to concur, when a left-wing guest flatly accuses the Bush administration of using Nazi tactics to suppress democracy.

At about 7:45 A.M. EDT today, Naomi Wolf was a guest on "Morning Joe," there to promote her new book, the pretentiously-entitled The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot. The operating thesis of this alarmist screed is that the Bush administration represents a clear and present danger to democracy.

View video here.

August 24, 2007, 6:51 AM EDT
MSNBC's Tamron Hall [file photo] is a big "Us Weekly" fan. Even more disturbing: she believes that guilty pleasure is expiated by her reliance on the New York Times for her news.
August 23, 2007, 6:04 PM EDT
Views on abortion are basically binary: you're essentially either pro-life or pro-choice. And Americans are almost evenly divided. According to the Gallup Poll:
August 23, 2007, 6:30 AM EDT
Oh sure, Hugo Chavez might have his quirks. But at least he's not George Bush. That's Gail Collins's operative thesis in The Great Clock Plot [subscription required] in this morning's New York Times.

Collins riffs off an announcement Chavez made this week of his plan to move Venezuela's clocks ahead by half an hour. Writes Collins:
August 22, 2007, 8:12 AM EDT

Mika Brzezinski might be taking a break from "Morning Joe," but the MSNBC show hasn't missed a liberal beat with her replacement. Tamron Hall today seemed to suggest that Christians and Jews could be next to emulate Muslim terror tactics.

At 6:35 A.M. EDT today, talk turned to the CNN series "God's Warriors," a classic exercise in moral equivalence. Hosted by Christiane Amanpour, the series focuses on extremists in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Earlier today, Hall had watched the segment on Jewish extremists. Scarborough called CNN on its moral relativism.

JOE SCARBOROUGH [Note: speaking very much tongue-in-cheek]: I'm sure we're going to find that there are Jewish and Christian organizations, international terror networks, that are set on the destruction of entire civilizations as we find in the Muslim world.

That's when Hall began to rise to CNN's defense.

View video here

August 22, 2007, 5:29 AM EDT

Update with video posted below fold.

File this one under the rubric "Unintentionally Revealing Moments of MSM Bias." ABC publishes an article about media watchdog groups and singles out two for mention: NewsBusters and Media Matters. But the article goes on to cite the work of and publish comments by a representative of only one of those groups. Which one do you think it was?

Yesterday, ABC posted an article by its Samantha Wenders entitled The Camera Is Always Watching: The Internet Has Helped Citizens Play 'Gotcha' With the Press; Is That a Good Thing?"

Wrote Wenders: "Media watchdog groups like the conservative Newsbusters and the liberal Media Matters regularly post examples of what they see as bias in the media."

August 21, 2007, 6:42 AM EDT

Dispatch from the Department of Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, MSM Division . . .

Today's New York Times contains an article about sleight of hand. Elsewhere in the paper, the Times engages in some statistical prestidigitation of its own.

You're the New York Times and its minor-league subsidiary, the Boston Globe. You obtain government data showing that Americans' incomes have risen every year since 2002. So how do you spin it in your headline? If you're the Times: Average Incomes Fell for Most in 2000-5. The Globe had its own gloomy take: More Americans making ends meet with less money.

What-t-t? How did the papers manage this statistical shell game? How did they transform income growth into income decline? Read the opening sentence of the Globe article:

August 20, 2007, 5:56 PM EDT
Looking to sample the political opinions of regular Americans? What better cross-section than the denizens of MSM newsrooms! That seems to be Mike Barnicle's attitude, at least. The former Boston Globe columnist-turned-MSNBC contributor is guest-hosting for Chris Matthews on this afternoon's "Hardball."

Chatting with guests Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and Holly Bailey of Newsweek, talk turned to the topic of Americans' desire for political change. At one point Barnicle made this observation:
MIKE BARNICLE: The force for change that's out there, if you talk to regular people, people like me, people like you, the idea that they want a change is a very powerful force.

View video here.

August 20, 2007, 4:27 PM EDT

Update with YouTube video below.

When is it unimportant to the MSM to inform viewers of a congressman's party affiliation?

At 3:51 P.M. EDT today, CNN aired a "Just In" report on filing of assault and battery charges against California Congressman Bob Filner. Anchor Kyra Phillips said the CNN report was in turn based on a report from its Arlington, VA affiliate, WJLA-TV.

According to the WJLA report:

August 19, 2007, 6:48 PM EDT
Was ABC's George Stephanopoulos [file photo] moderating a presidential debate in Iowa today [transcript here], or running an internal Dem strategy session over how to most propitiously handle U.S. surrender in Iraq?

Imagine that instead of being a former Clinton operative, you're a bona fide journalist dedicated to challenging candidates about their assumptions. When talk turned to Iraq, wouldn't the first questions out of your mouth have been along these lines?:
  • Some of your Democratic colleagues, members of the House and Senate, who recently visited Iraq, have acknowledged that the surge is working. Rep. Brian Baird of Washington, a previously anti-war Democrat, said just Friday that "we're making real progress. I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security." Doesn't this give you pause about your unconditional plans to withdraw?
August 18, 2007, 4:44 PM EDT

See incredible Roberts double-standard Update at foot.

Michael Vick, victim. That's how Selena Roberts's article in today's New York Times largely portrays the NFL QB accused of involvement with dogfighting. The article's headline sets the tone: Vick Is Trapped in His Circle of Friends.

Excerpts:

  • The crooked circle Michael Vick drew around himself has tripped and squeezed him.
  • The first to fail Vick was Davon Boddie, a cousin and personal chef. His marijuana possession charge in April led police to a white house with black buildings behind it on Moonlight Road in Surry County, Va. [Darn that Davon. If only he hadn't been busted on the pot charge, Vick might have been able to continue -- allegedly -- killing dogs that didn't make the grade.]
August 18, 2007, 6:18 AM EDT

Last week, I described Gail Collins' condescension to what she sees as the bumpkins of Middle America. The New York Times columnist is back at it again this morning, suggesting that illegal immigration is not so much a problem as an issue exploited by Republican candidates to stir the passions of gullible Republican rubes. And yes, to Collins' ear, "sanctuary city" has a nice ring.

The jumping-off point for Collins' [p.p.v.] Of Mitt, Monks, and Mowers is the criticism Mitt Romney has levelled at Rudy Giuliani for the latter's embrace of New York's status as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants when he was Big Apple mayor. Note that Rudy has since toughened his stance, vowing to end illegal immigration.

In Collins' eyes, telling police and others to ignore the fact that people they encounter in the course of their duties are in the country illegally is "a perfectly rational position."

August 17, 2007, 7:33 PM EDT

Melanie Morgan might not have a profile as high as some other pundits on the right, but she is emerging, in my book, as one of conservatism's most fearless and articulate advocates.

Last month, I noted an epic dust-up on "Hardball" between talk radio host Morgan and feminist Naomi Wolf. On today's show, the two again clashed. Last time around, I suggested that Wolf might be America's most passive-aggressive woman. Today, she showed herself to be one of its most alarmist. The topic was the controversy over the extent to which Alberto Gonzales [at the time Pres. Bush's White House counsel] pressured a then-hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft into approving the extension of the anti-terror wiretap program.

View video here.

Morgan was unapologetic.

MELANIE MORGAN: Anbody that doesn't get what a truly dangerous world we live in should just take a look at this wireless wiretapping program. It was a valuable program and it still is. And if there was pressure applied by Gonzales, then good! . . . We needed that program and I'm really glad that if there was pressure applied, it kept it in place, because otherwise, Americans could die.

Wolf's response was a case study in breathless, alarmist, deconstruction-speak.

NAOMI WOLF: What's scary to me about listening to Melanie and various people at the White House is how Orwell [bonus points for Orwellian allusion] describes people who want to close down an open society don't just lie, they make lies the ground of the discourse. There's this extraordinary fudging [demerit for use of everyday word; consider "circumvention" next time] of reality, not just to change the record, but to disorient us [seems to have worked on Naomi].

August 17, 2007, 4:52 PM EDT
On November 17, 2005, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.), who had previously supported the Iraq war, announced his call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The story led all three broadcast network evening news reports.

A mirror-image shift of position was reported today: a previously anti-war Dem has announced, after a visit to Iraq, that he now opposes withdrawal at this time. Will the MSM give anything like equal time to the story?

Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa.) is a five-term member of Congress, representing Washington's 3rd District. Baird voted against the initial resolution authorizing the war. But now, having recently returned from Iraq, he has another perspective on events there, telling his hometown newspaper, the Olympian, as reported in this article, the following, :
We're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to the Iraqi people and a strategic interest in making this work.

I think we're making real progress.
I think the consequences of pulling back precipitously would be potentially catastrophic for the Iraqi people themselves, to whom we have a tremendous responsibility … and in the long run chaotic for the region as a whole and for our own security.