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
January 21, 2008, 9:45 AM EST

Battered by Bill Clinton, Barack Obama might be up against the ropes, but he can count on having Good Morning America in his corner to apply a refreshing sponge and send him back into the ring. Check out Robin Roberts's softballs to the Illinois senator this morning, followed by even more surprising comment -- and body language -- from George Stephanopoulos.

View video here.

The focus was the way Bill Clinton has been going after Obama. Questions from Robin Roberts:

January 19, 2008, 8:22 AM EST

H/t David Shuster. What's that? David Shuster, liberal MSNBC avenger, now a NewsBusters source? Not exactly, but read on . . .

Watching a special Saturday-morning edition of Morning Joe, I was surprised by CNBC chief DC correspondent John Harwood's willingness to pronounce Fred Thompson's political epitaph even before voters went to the South Carolina primary polls today. Shuster was similarly struck, going so far as to suggest a headline.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: What about Fred Thompson? Is it the end of the line, John, for him tonight, or is there a way he can rejuvenate his campaign?

View video here.

January 18, 2008, 10:17 AM EST

Unlike the sensitive folks over at Media Matters, we NewsBusters are a relatively thick-skinned lot. And no one's ever confused me with Gloria Steinem. So we're not going to overreact to Willie Geist's comment this morning and demand a Matthewsesque mea culpa.

However . . . Willie did manage to diss the intelligence of his compatriots on today's Morning Joe. A Friday show tradition is for Geist and MSNBC celebrity correspondent Courtney Hazlett [a personal fave in the genre for her intelligent perspective] to predict which movie will score best at the box office during the coming weekend. When Hazlett tapped Cloverfield, an action-horror flick in which things go horribly wrong for Manhattan, Geist reacted with, well, horror.

View video here.

January 18, 2008, 7:59 AM EST

Bill and Hillary might be taking flak for the vote-suppressing lawsuit their supporters brought in Nevada, but the couple can count on at least one supporter in the MSM: David Shuster.

On today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough and MSNBC's David Shuster got into an extended argument over Mitt Romney's testy exchange with a reporter over the candidate's claim that Washington lobbyists were not running his campaign [in contrast with McCain's]. But while that dust-up between Scarborough and Shuster had its moments, a couple Shuster comments during the briefer Nevada-caucus discussion were, IMHO, more telling.

View video here, which includes both the MSNBC pair's discussion and footage of Bill Clinton's angry reaction to a reporter who had the temerity to question him about the lawsuit.

January 17, 2008, 8:49 AM EST

What does it say about the secular state of the MSM that a liberal media member has to defensively clarify for the record that she doesn't object to a candidate having "a moral grounding"?

During the opening half-hour of today's Morning Joe, a clip was played of Mike Huckabee describing to a South Carolina gathering how he found his faith as a 10-year old attending a vacation Bible school. He expressed the hope that others had experienced that joy and would share it with others.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: The thing that I found is, if people don't get too down in the weeds about their faith, and don't seem like they're lecturing, then I think it gives people a sense of assurance: "OK, the guy's got a faith system; I'm comfortable with that, and now move on and tell me how you're going to run the country."
That seemed to put Mika Brzezinski on the defensive.

View video here.
January 16, 2008, 1:47 PM EST
The VRWC rides again, but this time it's apparently going after a Republican . . .

Mike Huckabee went on Morning Joe today and toyed with suggesting a "conspiracy" composed of the "Washington power circles" was out to get him. At 7:41 AM ET, the former Arkansas governor was discussing his efforts in South Carolina with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

View video here.
January 16, 2008, 8:06 AM EST
You don't suppose NewsBusters has become Matt Lauer's guilty pleasure; one having a salubrious effect on his thinking? The Today co-anchor this morning suggested an MSM double-standard on the Dem and GOP races and acknowledged the success of the surge.

Matt's guest during the first half-hour was Tim Russert, impressively fresh despite red-eyeing to NYC after moderating last night's Nevada debate. Lauer, after playing clips of the candidates' take on Iraq, suggested that the war is no longer the winning issue the Dems once thought it was.
MATT LAUER: How much of a tightrope are they walking with the apparent success of the surge over the last couple months, how difficult is it for these Democratic candidates to score points on Iraq right now?
View video here.
January 15, 2008, 7:20 AM EST

See update at bottom: Scarborough nails Shuster on Huck/Obama double-standard.

If a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, does Mike Huckabee's sweet way with a word make tolerable views that would be rejected as extreme in the mouths of others less verbally gifted?

That's Willie Geist's view of the matter. The genius of the Morning Joe panelist normally resides in his ability to avoid the controversial while remaining interesting. But the anodyne-if-endearing Geist went out of character in today's opening segment on the subject of Mike Huckabee. And he did so in a manner the former Baptist preacher might not find so fetching.

The subject was a speech Huckabee gave yesterday in which he advocated changing the Constitution to adapt to the word of God.

View video here.

January 14, 2008, 7:59 PM EST

<p><img src="/static/2008/01/2008-01-14MSNBCTCMichelleO.jpg" align="right" height="180" width="240" />When one of Tucker Carlson's guests this evening ventured into the racial minefield that our political landscape has become, the show host chose not to join him on the perilous journey . . . .<br /><br />Carlson began a segment by reading the recent statement by Michelle Obama displayed here. </p><p>View video <a href="/static/2008/01/2008-01-14MSNBCTC.wmv">here</a>.

January 14, 2008, 8:43 AM EST
After reputedly being the victim of rough politics in 2000 at the brass-knuckled hands of the Bush campaign, John McCain has pledged to eschew such tactics. But in the opening segment of today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough called McCain out for honoring that pledge in the breach, accusing him of "dirty campaigning."
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Very interesting. A John McCain mailer went out. John McCain was attacked in 2000, and he was going to be very positive. This is a McCain mailer that went out . . . He attacked Mitt Romney. He said Mitt Romney funded taxpayer-funded abortions. Calls Massachusetts "Taxachussetts," criticizes him for not supporting the Bush tax cuts.
January 13, 2008, 7:58 PM EST
Could a description of Mary Jo Kopechne's death in a car accident possibly not mention Ted Kennedy till five paragraphs later?

Yes.

That's how the Times Leader, the Wilkes Barre, PA-based newspaper reported the passing away at age 89 of Mary Kopechne's mother Gwen, a local resident.

Here's the opening paragraph [emphasis added]:
A mother who lost her daughter in a well-publicized automobile accident in Massachusetts nearly 39 years ago was remembered Saturday as a caring woman who loved talking, drinking coffee and making pancakes for breakfast.
January 11, 2008, 7:26 AM EST

See updates for Huckabee, Thompson responses to this story at bottom.

Scratch Joe Scarborough from the list of those praising the performance of Fred Thompson at last night's South Carolina debate hosted by Fox News. With panelists Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski in supporting roles, the Morning Joe host went off on Thompson today with stunning vitriol, deriding him as "Freddie boy" "pathetic," a "lapdog" and a "hatchet man" for John McCain.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Last night it was so painfully obvious that Fred Thompson went to John McCain yesterday morning [affecting deep Thompsonesque voice] "if I can stay awake through this debate, I'll attack Huckabee for you."
View video here.
January 10, 2008, 5:27 PM EST

Would a Mike Bloomberg presidential candidacy be the Dems' worst nightmare? Yes, according to Bill Schneider. The CNN Senior Political Analyst described the NYC Mayor in terms that should make Hillary Clinton's blood run cold: "a Ralph Nader, with money."

Schneider offered his analysis at 4:40 PM ET today on the Situation Room.

View video here.

January 10, 2008, 8:56 AM EST

To know what's on a morning-show anchor's mind, it's often easy to read between the lines. Katie Couric famously employed the "some say" technique to put her own views in the mouths of unidentified others.

But it's relatively uncommon to hear an anchor flatly express an opinion in the way Matt Lauer did this morning. The topic was whether there were racial overtones to Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" tirade directed at Barack Obama in the closing days of the New Hampshire campaign. Matt's guests were radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and former Clinton advisor Paul Begala.

View video here.

January 10, 2008, 6:45 AM EST

It's one of the great MSM rituals of presidential politics: the labeling of leading Dems as "moderates" or "centrists." Gail Collins honors the tradition in her New York Times column of today. Now it's true that Collins ostensibly speaks more of Obama's tone than of his politics. But, ultimately, as you'll see, she melds the two to portray a thoroughly moderate man. We'll do a reality check, but first let's look at the excerpt from Collins's column [emphasis added]:

Barack Obama turns out to have a positive genius for making moderation sound exciting and is perhaps the only politician in American history who can get a crowd all worked up with a call to politeness. “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said in his New Hampshire farewell, drawing a roar of approval.

In a country where the spoils go to the loudest shrieker, this is absolutely revolutionary and very important. Most Americans want a moderate government, but nobody has ever before been able to make moderate seem interesting, let alone sexy. (Remember Joseph Lieberman.)
January 9, 2008, 10:05 PM EST

Let's play a Wednesday night game of WIARHSI: What If a Republican Had Said It? What if a top GOP consultant compared Barack Obama to a "dog"?

James Carville, who acknowledged he was serving as an unpaid consultant to the Clinton campaign, used the metaphor on tonight's Larry King.

View video here.

January 9, 2008, 10:24 AM EST

To riff off the Alice Roosevelt Longworth line: if you don't have anything nice to say about Rupert Murdoch, go sit next to David Shuster. The MSNBCer and former Fox Newser has no love lost for his old employer.

Shuster's latest is that Hillary, she of long memory, will be holding a grudge against Murdoch, whose NewsCorp owns the New York Post and Fox News, for the unflattering coverage the Post gave Clinton in the closing days of the New Hampshire primary campaign.

View video here.

January 9, 2008, 8:18 AM EST

See Bonus Coverage at foot: "Clinton campaign spent 24 hours slicing and dicing each other."

Could the great irony be that the strong woman won because . . . people felt sorry for her? That's not just some right-wing media critic talking. It's a view emerging from left-wing circles. Apparently the libs are angry that the MSM was too biased towards Obama, so much so that it drove people to Hillary out of spite or sympathy.

Take the comments of Air America host Rachel Maddow during last night's MSNBC election coverage, in a remarkable exchange with Pat Buchanan and Chris Matthews. Who has been singled out for blame by the lefty blogosphere? None other than Matthews himself, who regularly waxed euphoric about Obama, going so far as to claim a week ago that an Obama victory in Iowa would be the greatest story of the century.

View video here.

January 8, 2008, 8:26 AM EST

This space has not served as an unmitigated cheering section for Mika Brzezinski. But kudos to the Morning Joe panelist for the well-deserved shot she took at John Edwards today.

Perhaps it was the Edwards's lack of candor that incited Mika's ire. It's been widely reported, as in this ABC News blog, that the former NC senator tried to exploit Hillary's now-famous emotional moment of yesterday:

Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton's ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.

"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.

But when Brzezinski asked Edwards at 7:10 AM ET today whether he had indeed criticized Clinton for tearing up, Edwards brazenly replied "absolutely not." When Edwards went on to proclaim his own machismo, Mika saw her opening and went for it.

View video here.

January 7, 2008, 4:50 PM EST
This one could leave a mark.

As MSMers go, A.B. Stoddard has been one of my favorites during this campaign season for her grown-up, no-nonsense style. The Associate Editor of The Hill is not someone given to flights of overblown rhetoric. That's why I was so struck by the brutal assessment of Hillary's predicament Stoddard just offered on MSNBC. The topic was Clinton's 11th-hour openness, reflected in her granting an interview to Access Hollywood to discuss her personal side, and epitomized during a campaign stop today when she got a bit misty while discussing the campaign and her hopes for America.

Norah O'Donnell invited Stoddard and WaPo's Chris Cillizza to psychoanalyze Clinton's latest move. At first it seemed Stoddard could be on her way to concluding that Hillary might have discovered a winning strategy. But suddenly, down came the axe . . .

View video here.