Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
December 10, 2008, 12:01 PM EST

This is just too perfect.  Earlier today, noting that none of the network morning shows explicitly identified Rod Blagojevich as a Democrat, I wondered out loud how the MSM would treat a Republican in like circumstances.   It's taken less than three hours to get our answer.

Let's preface this by saying that Norm Coleman is not, repeat not, the target of an investigation.  To mention him anywhere within a million miles of Blago is unfair.  I'm citing the MSNBC coverage just for purposes of illustrating the double standard.  At about 11:20 AM ET, here's how Contessa Brewer threw it to Norah O'Donnell.

CONTESSA BREWER: Let's head over to Norah now, live at the politics desk, with more on a potential problem for GOP Senator, and the incumbent here in Minnesota, Norm Coleman. Norah.

December 10, 2008, 8:48 AM EST

If Rod Blagojevich were a Republican, what's the over-under on the number of times the network morning shows would have mentioned that fact in their coverage today?

But Blago is a Democrat.  So how often did Today, Good Morning America and the Early Show explicitly identify him as such during their opening half-hours today?  Not once.  The closest any came were references at Today and Early Show today to "Democratic politics" and one at GMA to "the Democratic Chicago machine."  Speaking of GMA, George Stephanopoulos, appearing there, put in the most embarrassingly sycophantish performance of the morning.

December 9, 2008, 1:42 PM EST

Sure, the sitting Democratic governor of Illinois has been arrested and charged with attempting to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat.  But enough about that.  Jay Leno is starting his show 90 minutes earlier!!  

Yes, a bit after 1 PM today, MSNBC actually pre-empted its Blago coverage to go to a news conference at which NBC honchos, with Leno present, announced that the Tonight show host would be moving from 11:30 to 10 PM.

Andrea Mitchell was in the midst of a serious dialogue with Pete Williams, when someone apparently whispered in the NBC justice correspondent's ear . . .

December 9, 2008, 11:32 AM EST

I'm looking for the first MSM wag who will have the gumption to suggest that Rod Blagojevich, the Dem Illinois governor accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, should have put it on Ebay.

Suggested MSM defense of Blago: hey, even with the bailouts, car czars and other government intervention in the economy, we're still trying to encourage the free market system, aren't we?

December 9, 2008, 10:25 AM EST

Promise, or threat?  John Harwood declares "the New York Times isn't going anywhere."  The Times correspondent, who also toils for CNBC, made his unconditional claim on today's Morning Joe in response to Joe Scarborough's envisioning of a future in which major news organizations, including the Times, might disappear. Scarborough was concerned that the public would be deprived of the media's investigative function.

JOE SCARBOROUGH:  The problem is, though, that these people are all being fired. So what are we going to do without a New York Times or a Washington Post or an NBC News?  The investigators that hold government accountable.

That's when Harwood sprang to his employer's defense.

December 9, 2008, 7:49 AM EST

This could go down as the most egregiously misleading graphic in morning show history.  Have a look at the screengrab. Reporting on census data being released today, the Early Show on CBS displayed a graphic, under the headline "Economic Crisis," reporting that in the first part of this decade--the early Bush years:

  • Household income dropped 79%
  • The poverty rate increased 70%
  • Unemployment was up 71%

What??  If those number were true, they would reflect a depression making the 1930s look like life on easy street.

December 8, 2008, 6:25 PM EST

Contessa Brewer has suggested that Pres. Bush should be ashamed of his administration's decision to exempt the chemical perchlorate from federal regulation.   Speaking with a Republican guest this afternoon, the MNSBC host analogized the decision to Bill Clinton's scandalous last-minute pardons.

Did Brewer ever read the official EPA explanation of its ruling, or had she only looked at articles like this one, "subtly" featuring a huge photo of a baby drinking from its bottle?

View video here.

December 7, 2008, 10:58 AM EST

Given the flap that ensued when he famously told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to "spread the wealth," I figured Barack Obama wouldn't be making such a suggestion again anytime soon.  I figured wrong.

Pres.-elect Obama to Tom Brokaw on today's Meet The Press:

I think the important principle, because sometimes when we start talking about taxes, and I say I want a more balanced tax code, people think, well, that's class warfare. No.  It turns out that our economy grows best when the benefits of the economy are most widely spread.  And that has been true historically.

December 6, 2008, 7:41 PM EST

Only a professor, preferably a sociology professor, one with way too much time on his hands, could have come up with this one.  His solution to the Detroit crisis that has the Big Three automakers on the brink of bye-bye?  Unionize their foreign competitors manufacturing in the USA!

Now why didn't we think of that?  Because we're not Jonathan Cutler, associate professor of sociology at Wesleyan University.  His notion in a nutshell, contained in his Los Angeles Times column of today [emphasis added]:

[N]ot to tear down the historic and heroic gains won by prior generations of UAW workers. If there is hope long term -- for the unionized Big Three companies and for the UAW -- it rests in dealing with the unfinished business of the 1980s: unionizing the unorganized transplants.

Let's count the ways that won't work:

December 6, 2008, 7:32 AM EST

Though O.J. Simpson was sentenced for robbery and related crimes yesterday, thirteen years ago he walked on a double-murder charge. That might be an isolated case, but Gail Collins apparently believes there are tens of millions of murderers roaming free in America.  We call them by a different name: hunters.

Collins made her inane hunting = murder analogy in her column today in the course of taking one more gratuitous swipe at Sarah Palin.  The gist of The Senate, Snowe and Dinkytown is that in a Senate where Democrats will fall one or two seats short of the magic 60, the few moderate Senate Republicans will play a crucial role.  Collins focuses in particular on Olympia Snowe of Maine.  And while wondering why McCain didn't choose her as his running mate, the columnist gets off her smear on Palin, and hunters in general [emphasis added]:

December 5, 2008, 9:06 AM EST

Always irreverent, Tucker Carlson seems freer than ever to aim a few jabs at his network and the people that work there.  On today's Morning Joe, Tucker landed a one-two punch. With all the talk focusing on Detroit, Carlson let the cat out of the bag that NBC is implementing layoffs of its own.  Tucker played off that news, tweaking Chris Matthews along the way, by announcing that he too was planning a Senate run, one in which a bailout of the news networks would be the centerpiece.

Tucker, an unreconstructed libertarian, spoke in opposition to the Detroit bailout.  After observing that capitalism without failure is like religion without sin, he made his tongue-in-cheek announcement.

December 5, 2008, 6:40 AM EST

In the social circles of the New York Times editorialists, it's OK to have one kid. Two is pushing the envelope. Three or more is déclassé, and a threat to the survival of the planet.

That being so, there's really no reason to let any car bigger than a Prius be built.  Doing so just encourages the unenlightened to overbreed. And so it is that in its editorial of today, the Grey-but-barren Lady suggests that as a condition of the Detroit bailout, "Congress could consider demanding that Detroit simply phase out S.U.V.’s and vans by a certain date."

December 4, 2008, 4:17 PM EST

The Los Angeles Times recently created a stir among the Pentagon press corps, running a page one story implying that the Defense Department was cheating wounded warriors out of their disability pay.

The LAT shared the story of a Marine “wounded twice in Iraq -- by a roadside bomb and a land mine” and a soldier who “crushed her back and knees diving for cover during a mortar attack in Iraq.”  The LAT indignantly reported: “…in each case, the Pentagon ruled that their disabilities were not combat related.”  

A Department of Defense official tells me that a number of prominent MSM Pentagon correspondents were ready to take the Pentagon to task, but all ultimately dropped the story.  Why?  It turns out that, upon investigation, the LAT’s page-one piece was mostly fiction.

December 4, 2008, 3:22 PM EST

The future of a media dominated by left-leaning professionals seems assured.  At least, it is if my experience addressing an Ithaca College course today is any indication.  Professor Wenmouth Williams, Jr. kindly invited me in to address two sections of his course on media and politics at Ithaca College's Park School of Communications.

Prof. Williams—who identified himself as a registered Dem—couldn't have been nicer or more gracious, and gave me absolute free rein.  After I spent a few minutes at the beginning of each section discussing NewsBusters and related subjects and offering my general take on the MSM and the elections, the students and I spent the rest of the hour exchanging ideas and generally talking politics.

December 3, 2008, 7:36 PM EST

Another Hardball, another opportunity for Chris Matthews, his eyes on a Senate run, to ingratiate himself with his party's powers-that-be.  No one is more powerful than Barack Obama, of course, and Matthews found numerous ways this evening to praise the president-elect, even lauding, as NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens has noted, his dud of an attempt at humor when it came to Bill Richardson's erstwhile beard.

Richardson, too, came in for some Matthews fawning.

December 2, 2008, 9:26 PM EST

Admission: Lawrence O'Donnell is emerging as one of my favorite media liberals.  On the one hand, almost exactly one year ago, his anti-Mormon rant spurred me to action.  But lately, watching him as a frequent MSNBC guest, I've been impressed by his acumen and willingness to call them as he sees them.  

Take O'Donnell's intervention on tonight's "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," where he made the salient point that the scandal of the Marc Rich pardon is, ironically, being held against AG nominee Eric Holder . . . while Hillary Clinton skates.

View video here.

December 2, 2008, 6:57 PM EST

During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry tried to overcome the dubious distinction of being, per the National Journal, the most liberal senator.  His attempts to deny the obvious led to a memorable exchange with NYT's Elisabeth Bumiller [transcript after jump] in which he famously fended off the liberal label as a "laughable characterization."

But four years later, having lost the presidency and just this week failed in his bid to become Secretary of State, perhaps Kerry calculates he has nothing left to lose.  Writing at the Huffington Post, he's letting his liberal flag, or progressive pennant, to be precise, fly.

December 2, 2008, 9:21 AM EST

If Britney Spears wants to launch her grand return with a trite and tacky rough-sex pantomime, I suppose that's her business.  She's not known as a pop tart for nothing. What I do find noteworthy is the way GMA celebrated that bit of rough stuff, featuring it in its opening minutes. Even there, it's not ABC's descent into schlock that jumps out so much as the double standard.  Can you imagine the dutifully feminist ABC applauding such junk if the gender tables had been turned?  Me neither.

Diane Sawyer, uh, teased things during the show opening.

December 1, 2008, 8:17 PM EST

Note to Chris Matthews: when mocking someone for using a ghostwriter, it's best to avoid doing so on a day when Hillary Clinton is prominently in the news . . .

On this evening's Hardball, Matthews went out of his way to mock Joe The Plumber for his use of a ghostwriter on his just-released book.  This on the day Hillary Clinton was in the headlines, having been named Barack Obama's Secretary of State.  You know, Hillary Clinton.  The woman famous, in writing "It Takes A Village," for failing to credit her . . . ghostwriter.

November 30, 2008, 10:21 AM EST

Of all the genres of interviews, those conducted by the media with family and friends of victims of tragedy are among the most difficult and often least successful. 

A remarkable exception to that rule comes in the form of the interview David Gregory conducted on this morning's Today show with Rabbi Shalom Paltiel, who was a friend of the Chabad couple murdered in Mombai and is a fellow member of the Chabad movement.

Gregory demonstrates knowledge and sensitivity, and Rabbi Paltiel exhibits a faith and optimism in the face of tragedy that people of all faiths should find inspiring.  I encourage people to watch.