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
May 20, 2013, 8:34 AM EDT

Let me preface by saying that I'm not criticizing Bill Karins for his choice of words.  Thank, uh, goodness, we live in a country where we're free to believe in any God or no God at all.

But I do see Karins' construction as a sign of the cultural times. The Morning Joe meteorologist today aired dramatic footage of the weatherman at the NBC affiliate in Wichita, Kansas ordering his colleagues to take shelter because a tornado was headed right at the station. Said Karins: "By the grace of whatever, God or whatever else, it lifted the second it got right to the TV station."  You'll hear Karins hesitate and change course when he realizes he's put himself on a path to say "by the grace of God."  View the video after the jump.

May 18, 2013, 8:15 AM EDT

UPDATE: Not one second about the IRS scandal in the entire show.   GMA just went off the air and managed to avoid mentioning the dreaded I-word.  The second half-hour featured two more Powerball segments, and features on Beyoncé's possible pregnancy, Bieber's monkey, and a kangaroo.  IRS scandal?  What IRS scandal?  ABC couldn't find a second for it.

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Bianna Golodryga opened today's Good Morning America by announcing that it was "a very busy Saturday morning."  So busy, in fact, that GMA couldn't spare one second in its first half-hour for the IRS scandal. That despite yesterday's stonewalling testimony by the outgoing IRS Commissioner in which he had the colossal chutzpah to deny there had been any political motive in the targeting of conservative organizations.

So what kept GMA so busy? By far the longest segment was devoted to . . . the Powerball lottery.  Just in the first half-hour, GMA spent 325 seconds—over five minutes—on the lottery and its big prize.  One report from stores where lottery tickets are being sold didn't suffice. There were two.  Those were followed by an interview with a lottery official.  GMA even managed to squeeze in a report of a bear that had climbed into a tree.  But the IRS?  Sorry: too busy.  More after the jump.

May 17, 2013, 7:53 AM EDT



Call it Luke Russert's version of "bitter clingers" on steroids . . . In Russert's world, there are apparently two kinds of Republican congressmen.  The "smart" ones—to be found on the Ways & Means Committee—and the others, whom he calls the "God, guns and guts people," presumably in reference to this book.

Russert made his statement on today's Morning Joe, responding to Joe Scarborough's question as to whether Republicans would overplay their hand over the current scandals.  According to Russert, Republicans chose well in holding today's hearing of IRS officials before the Ways & Means Committee because that's where the GOP puts its stars: "it's not the God, guns and guts people on the Ways & Means Committee: it's the smart people." View the video after the jump.

May 15, 2013, 9:42 AM EDT

What will be the political fallout of the various scandals in which President Obama is ensnared?  Chris Matthews thinks it will be huge.

Appearing on today's Morning Joe, Matthews mused that the IRS scandal alone would be worth 5-10 points to Republican candidates. He specifically mentioned Mitch McConnell, Tom Corbett and Ken Cuccinelli as Republicans whom the scandal would aid in their 2014 races. View the video after the jump.

May 15, 2013, 8:33 AM EDT

The press and the left. But Lisa Myers repeats herself.  Seriously, though, Myers did make a stunning admission along such lines on today's Morning Joe? H/t NB reader Pam.

Describing the harm done to President Obama by the AP spying scandal, NBC senior investigate correspondent Myers said the effect of the scandal has been to turn "one [sic] of the President's most important constituencies, the press and the left, against him." Did Myers make a double Freudian slip in describing the press and the left as "one" and the press as one of Obama's "most important constituencies"? View the video after the jump.

May 14, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT

Et tu, Roberto?  It was bad enough for President Obama to have Andrea Mitchell jump ship this morning. But now someone who is—arguably—even closer to home has taken a resounding shot at the President's mishandling of the IRS scandal.

Appearing on Mitchell's MSNBC show this afternoon, former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs condemned the president's "exceedingly passive" language in discussing the scandal.  Obama had said there'd be consequences "if" wrongdoing were found, and spoken of "losing patience." Gibbs was scathing: that's what "I do with my nine-year old."  Ouch! View the video after the jump.

May 14, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT

President Obama knows he's in trouble when Andrea Mitchell—Andrea Mitchell!—proclaims the IRS and AP scandals to be among "the most outrageous excesses I've seen" in all her years in journalism [which pre-date Watergate].  The strength of Mitchell's statement drew gasps from Scarborough and Brzezinski. Then Ron Fournier, former AP editor now with the National Journal, darkly described the White House being "consumed" if it turns out someone there or in the Obama campaign had been aware of the IRS targeting of conservative groups. It happened on Morning Joe today.

But hey, President Obama still has his hangers-on.  Take good old Carl Bernstein.  As we reported, on yesterday's Morning Joe Bernstein blathered that he "can't imagine" that President Obama coudl be involved in the IRS mess.  And there was Bernstein again today.  When Fournier spoke of consequences of White House or Obama campaign knowledge of the IRS targeting, Bernstein quickly burped out that "we have no evidence of that whatsoever."  Joe Scarborough had to remind the former Watergate reporter: "that's why you have investigations.  You know that." View the video after the jump.

May 13, 2013, 3:46 PM EDT

Sure, it was just one of those tongue-tied moments we've all experienced.   But if it had been George W. Bush mispronouncing the name of a world leader who is very much in the news, imagine the field day the MSM would have had with it.

At his press appearance with British PM David Cameron today, aired on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, President Obama was seen pronouncing the name of the Syrian dictator Bashir Assad as "Bassar Ashad." PBO pauses before pronouncing, seeming to sense he's about to get it wrong, but decides to plunge ahead.  There's another priceless moment: when the show cuts back to the studio, guest-hosting Chuck Todd is seen with a hilariously baffled look on his face.  View the video after the jump.

May 13, 2013, 8:50 AM EDT

When it comes to investigative reporters, how do you change a bulldog into a lapdog? Easy: change the occupant of the Oval Office from a Republican into a Democrat.

Witness Carl Bernstein's pitiful performance on today's Morning Joe.  The man who teamed with Bob Woodward to bring down Richard Nixon now credulously claims that he "can't imagine" that President Obama is possibly involved in the IRS targeting of conservative groups.  Bernstein instead blames the "hyper-partisanship" in Washington.  Yeah, cause politics were so kumbaya in 1972, Carl.  View the video after the jump.

May 12, 2013, 2:08 PM EDT

Chris Hayes is what passes for a progressive intellectual at MSNBC.

Which makes his simple-minded and manifestly mistaken proposal that much more maddening. Making a peek-a-boo video-clip appearance on today's Melissa Harris-Perry's show, which focused on finding solutions to poverty in America, Hayes was seen holding up a hand-written sign with his solution, reading "Giving people money: It's actually that easy."  View the video after the jump.

May 12, 2013, 10:53 AM EDT

New day and time, same old liberal slop.  Ed Schultz returned to MSNBC yesterday in his new, relegated-to-the-ratings-desert slot of weekend afternoons.  

One of the topics was the targeting by the IRS of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.  Predictably, Schultz & Co. did all they could to sweep the scandal under the carpet.  Schultz suggested the IRS had nothing to apologize for, while the ever-prolix Michael Eric Dyson actually claimed it was "much ado about nothing,"  and was even willing to diss President Obama's power, saying he lacked the "juice" to have ordered the IRS targeting. View the video after the jump.

May 10, 2013, 8:24 AM EDT

Al Hunt prefaced his remark by describing the issue of ethnicity and IQ as a "swamp".  But did he then proceed to wade right into it?

Morning Joe today took up the topic of the flap over a report on immigration produced by the Heritage Foundation. The panel's particular focus was a statement by report co-author Jason Richwine contained in his Harvard dissertation that "the average IQ of immigrants is substantially lower than that of native whites." Rather than rejecting the notion out of hand, Bloomberg's Hunt asked "is that true of Asian immigrants? Is that true of all immigrants?"  Ruh-roh! Did Al just suggest Richwine might have been on to something regarding the IQ of non-Asian immigrants?  View the video after the jump.

May 9, 2013, 9:46 AM EDT

By the end of Tom Coburn's Morning Joe appearance today, Joe Scarborough could be heard, off-camera, whistling in astonishment.

Not surprising, since the plain-talking Republican Senator from Oklahoma had just unloaded on Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid. Coburn called Reid "dishonest" in his dealings with him, saying that Reid was "not truthful" and had "not kept his word." For good measure, Coburn added that Reid had been a "failure" as Majority Leader. View the video after the jump.

May 8, 2013, 12:58 PM EDT

The Associated Press could not very well ignore today's hearing at which whistleblowers are testifying as to the events surrounding the Benghazi attack and the Obama administration's failed response thereto.  So AP did the next best thing from its liberal perspective: it downplayed the hearing's significance, casting it as a purely partisan event in its headline as a "GOP hearing."

That is not mere MSM spin: it is blatant journalistic malpractice.  This is not some unofficial hearing held under Republican auspices.  It is an entirely official hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  Yes, there has in recent times been a faux House "hearing" held by a political party for partisan purposes.  That would be the "hearing" held by Democrats in February 2012, featuring Sandra Fluke.  More after the jump.

May 8, 2013, 9:26 AM EDT

Chuck Todd has defended the Obama admin's decision not to send more special ops to Benghazi.

Appearing on today's Morning Joe, NBC News political director Todd claimed that the decision to send only two special ops to Benghazi was "very rational."  He also literally laughed off the notion that Benghazi could boil into a major scandal.  View the video after the jump.

May 7, 2013, 8:02 AM EDT

On Election Day in South Carolina, as Republican Mark Sanford seeks to regain his old congressional seat, Mika Brzezinski did her best to stop Joe Scarborough from mentioning an ugly slur that the Chairman of the state's Democratic party had made against Republican Governor Nikki Haley.

Former South Carolina Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian was caught in controversy this week as he pledged to send Haley—daughter of Indian immigrants—"back to wherever the hell she came from.” According to the Morning Joe panel, Harpootlian has apologized for that remark.  But Harpootlian has never apologized for his 2012 remark, comparing Haley with Adolf Hitler's mistress Eva Braun.  When Scarborough began to cite that slur, Mika sought to silence him. Brzezinski actually resorted to the schoolkid technique of repeating "bah, bah, bah, bah" in order to drown Scarborough out, adding "we don't need to repeat it." View the video after the jump.   

April 27, 2013, 12:46 PM EDT

Bob Herbert: columnist from the Planet Benzar?  Seriously, what the former New York Times op-ed writer had to say this morning is enough to make you wonder whether he occupies the same orb as the rest of us.  Appearing on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show, Herbert literally laughed out loud at the notion that American media leans liberal.  According to Herbert, the bias in the American media is "overwhelmingly" to the right.

Herbert's snicker came in response to a statement by New York Times reporter Amy Chozick, also an MH-P guest.  Chozick recently wrote an article reporting on the Koch brothers' possible interest in buying the Tribune Company, which among other media outlets owns the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. According to Chozick, the brothers' interest was in part sparked by their outrage in seeing the liberal bias when they pick up American newspapers. View the video after the jump.

April 26, 2013, 9:23 PM EDT

What is it with Martin Bashir and his tendency to talk dirty to women guests?

A couple of months ago, we noted the MSNBC host claiming to guest Karen Finney that Senator Marco Rubio, in his questioning of a hearing witness, was seeking to show that he had "very strong testicles."  This evening, taking things a vulgar step further, Bashir told another Dem woman that Americans so detest Congress that they "would rather contract gonorrhea" than show respect for that institution.  View the video after the jump.

April 26, 2013, 8:59 AM EDT

Carl Bernstein claimed that because he's Jewish, he could accuse "Jewish" neo-cons of talking George W. Bush into starting an "insane" war against Iraq.  Joe Scarborough wasn't so sure. H/t NB reader Paul J.

Jewish neo-cons?  The single most salient statement from the pre-war period was that by CIA Director George Tenet, who personally told President Bush that Saddam Hussein's possession of WMDs was a "slam dunk."  So which temple does Tenet attend?  What?  He's Greek Orthodox?  Never mind. Joe Scarborough offered a strong rebuttal to Bernstein's allegations. View the video after the jump.

April 26, 2013, 7:44 AM EDT

As per his 1994 NRA questionnaire, Joe Scarborough: Opposed an assault weapons ban.  Opposed expansion of background checks.  Opposed limitations on magazine sizes.  Today, he supports all such measures.  

So how would you describe his two very different sets of opinions?  Why, as being "very consistent," of course--if you're Joe Scarborough. On today's Morning Joe, responding to the NRA's promulgation of the NRA questionnaire he submitted in 1994 as an aspiring Republican congressman, Scarborough did indeed claim that his positions today, despite the multiple flip-flops, are "very consistent."  View the video after the jump.