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:

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
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?


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.

February 12, 2008, 2:25 PM EST
How deep into the Dem mindset is Joe Klein? The Time columnist can't figure out why Hillary Clinton drives Republicans round the bend. Klein candidly admitted so today, chatting with Brian Williams on MSNBC.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: On the Republican side, does John McCain blunt back the attack, the insurgents on the right?

JOE KLEIN: I think to a certain extent he will. He'll have a lot more -- you know Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee would give him a great assist. Because the Republicans are completely berserk for reasons that kind of escape me about Hillary Clinton. She's not a wild lefty, she's a fairly moderate person. But she's the enemy, and if she materializes on the Democratic side, you're going to have a united and fierce Republican party.

View video here.

February 12, 2008, 9:15 AM EST
Putting all those things together, it does seem to suggest that your industry is looking to make more money off its credit card holders. Do you deny that? -- Chris Cuomo to banking industry representative, GMA, Feb. 12, 2008.

This year's Media Research Center DisHonor Awards haven't been distributed yet, but we might already have a candidate for next year's competition . . .

Give banking industry representative Nessa Feddis, um, credit for not bursting out in laughter in response to Chris Cuomo's question. Yes, Chris, businesses are, well, in business. And the people from whom they make their money do tend to be their customers.

View video here.

February 11, 2008, 5:35 PM EST

I wouldn't want to create problems for Contessa Brewer [file photo]. But again today the spirited MSNBC anchor said something that made me wonder whether she might be a closeted conservative in the belly of the liberal beast.

Janet Huckabee, responding to Brewer's question on the possibility that her husband would withdraw from the presidential race, drew a contrast between the Romney and Huckabee campaigns.

View video here.

February 10, 2008, 8:05 AM EST

[A] synthetic product leeched of most human qualities. -- Frank Rich, on how Hillary Clinton is being marketed, Feb. 10, 2008.

If Frank Rich is the voice of elite liberal opinion, Hillary Clinton is in deep, deep trouble. How many folks on the Upper West Side and reasonable facsimiles thereof from Boston to Madison to LA will be opening their hearts -- or credit cards -- to Hillary after reading Rich's stunning indictment of Clinton and her campaign this morning?

The jumping-off point for Rich's column is the live prime-time special the night before Super Tuesday that the Clinton campaign conducted. Flashing his theater-critic roots, Rich panned it as a "boring" "pseudo-event," noting that "some in attendance appeared to trance out." But if the staging was bad, the substance was much, much worse in Rich's view. For he claims that it reflected nothing less than Clinton playing from a "thick deck of race cards."

Writes Rich [emphasis added]:

February 9, 2008, 11:09 PM EST

Want to know how Barack Obama would intend to run against John McCain? Consider this line from Obama's speech to the Jefferson-Jackson dinner this evening in Virginia:
This week, this week, we found out that the presumptive nominee of the Republican party will be Senator John McCain [scattered boos in the audience.] Now, I believe John McCain is a good man and a genuine American hero. And we honor his half-century of service to this nation.
February 9, 2008, 9:19 AM EST

Call it Today's homage to John Lennon: imagine there're no conservatives. The NBC show so much enjoyed the conservative-free citizens panel it hosted back in November that it brought it back this morning.

As I wrote about at the time, two timid Republicans were pitted against two partisan Dems. In November, one of the "Republicans," Susie O'Neil, claimed that the country is in decline due to the war "and because corporations are totally influencing our Members of Congress and the Senate." Call Susie a Michael Moore Republican.

The other Republican on the panel back then, Sarah Hungerford, said she was thinking of voting for . . . a Democrat. The pair were back this morning, again matched against two partisan Dems who both had apparently become Obama supporters.

View video here.

February 9, 2008, 7:28 AM EST
Admission: over the course of my NewsBusting, I've actually developed a certain admiration for Bob Herbert. Not that I agree with virtually anything the NY Times columnist has to say, but that I appreciate his directness and the absence in his work of the superfluous sarcasm that marks that of a number of his colleagues.

That said, I offer up Herbert's lament of this morning, "Where Are the Big Ideas?", as the epitome of wrong-headed liberal thinking. Herbert's complaint is that when it comes to the role of government, the presidential candidates aren't thinking big enough. Hillary and Obama's proposals to subject 1/7th of the nation's economy [or whatever the current proportion that health care represents] to government control are small beer in Bob's eyes. He dismisses their plans as "masterpieces of minutiae."

Herbert says that "the essential question the candidates should be trying to answer — but that is not even being asked very often — is how to create good jobs in the 21st century." The columnist gives us an idea of the kind of big-government thinking he has in mind to answer his question:
February 8, 2008, 10:50 AM EST

H/t DW.

Chris Matthews went off on one of his patented tirades on today's Morning Joe, imagining how conservatives would relish going after a President Hillary Clinton with a vengeance. Might Matthews, understandably, be short on sleep? He also bit Mika Brzezinski's head off for a harmless statement.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well you know a lot of Republican talk show people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, I think authors, successful authors, I must say, like Ann Coulter, they wouldn't be so unhappy to have Hillary Clinton to beat up for four or eight years, especially four years. And Mr. DeLay would probably love to have Hillary to beat up for two years and then win back the house in '10. I mean I could see the strategy -- sometimes in bad weather you let the other team have the ball. You elect to kick rather than receive. Let them have the ball in the Ice Bowl. Let them try to move it past the second or third yard while you come down hard on them. The people like Bill Kristol out there, the neo-conservatives. Imagine Hillary Clinton as president for a couple of months with about a one-point advantage coming into office? They will crash around her, hitting her with everything they've got.

Chris wasn't done with his diatribe . . .

February 8, 2008, 8:35 AM EST

I'm not talking about endorsing Hillary. I'm talking about raising money for her because apparently the Republican 'strategery' is relying on fear and loathing of Hillary to unite everybody. -- Rush Limbaugh, Feb. 7, 2008

There's nothing the MSM loves more than Republican in-fighting. And of late, conservatives have concededly given the liberal media plenty to gloat about in that regard. Well-founded concerns about John McCain's unconservative positions on a host of issues have famously led to much heartburn in conservative circles. And yes, Rush Limbaugh has been leading the charge in raising the red flag about McCain.

But that doesn't justify Diane Sawyer's utter, complete, 180-degrees-wrong distortion and misrepresentation of what Rush said yesterday about possibly raising funds for Hillary. Sawyer portrayed Rush's comments as evidence of continuing conservative discontent. In fact, they were precisely the opposite. Here are the facts.

February 8, 2008, 7:11 AM EST

David Shuster: not just an MSNBC "correspondent" anymore -- now a Dem campaign consultant too! In the opening segment of today's Morning Joe, Shuster offered a kernel of consulting wisdom to the Obama campaign, and the message was clear: Barack needs to get rougher with those mean-spirited Republicans.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: We did get some comments from Barack Obama yesterday about Mitt Romney dropping out.

WILLIE GEIST: I thought that was very interesting. Obama was responding to the comments we just heard earlier where Mitt Romney said Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will "surrender to terror." Here was Obama's response.

Cut to clip of Obama speaking to reporters on a campaign plane.

February 7, 2008, 10:56 PM EST

In the age of Daniel Pearl, who does a leading MSMer refer to as a "throat cutter"?

The essence of Howard Fineman's Newsweek column about the demise of Mitt Romney's campaign is the glorification of authenticity, and Romney's perceived lack of it. Ironic, then, that Fineman would resort to one of the oldest, and least authentic, journalistic dodges: suggest the worst about someone, then slyly slink away. To wit [emphasis added]:

[M]aybe the campaign revealed what his closest friends never imagined him to be. They thought he was a decent classy guy. But maybe he really is a soulless throat-cutter who would do and say anything to win.
February 7, 2008, 7:10 PM EST


Update 2-08: Shuster apologizes, suspended.

Appearing on Tucker Carlson's show a few days ago, Hillary fan Lanny Davis observed that Tucker's is "about the only show on MSNBC that consistently allows a Clinton perspective to be expressed." But maybe not so much when, as this evening, David Shuster is the guest host. Employing one of the more graphic metaphors to be heard about a Clinton from the MSM, Shuster tonight claimed that Chelsea Clinton is being "pimped out" by her mother's campaign.

The jumping off point was a clip in which three members of The View mentioned having been called by Chelsea on behalf of her mother. Shuster's guests were Dem pundit Bill Press and columnist Bob Franken.

View video here.

February 7, 2008, 7:13 AM EST
With Joe Scarborough away, the mice did play during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe . . .
WILLIE GEIST [facetiously]: David, I know how you like to speak for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of that group.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: He's going to the [CPAC] convention.

GEIST: You're the voice of that community, but can you make sense out of this? Are they willing, the conservatives, the Limbaughs, the Hannitys of the world, to concede the election, to not have John McCain be president, to take Hillary Clinton over them, just to take a principled stand?
View video here.
February 6, 2008, 12:10 PM EST

Mike Huckabee won five races last night. Mitt Romney won seven. Mike Huckabee has 190 delegates. Mitt Romney has 269 [see results here]. The only closed Deep South state left on the primary calendar is Mississippi. Romney has the message and money to compete across the USA.

So when Huckabee claims it's now a two-man race between McCain and himself, a journalist would surely challenge him on it, no? No. Not Robin Roberts, at least. To the contrary, she bought into his logic to the extent of asking only about his strategy going forward.

There were also some intriguing comments from Huckabee about allegations of backroom West Virginia deals and the importance of politesse . . .

View video here.

February 6, 2008, 8:34 AM EST

Well surprise, surprise!

He danced the complete Kabuki, right down to the mandatory move about considering John McCain for his VP slot. But at the end of the day, Mike Huckabee has admitted the obvious: he'll take the Veep nomination if John McCain offers it.

Huckabee was a guest on this morning's Today.

View video here.