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
March 28, 2008, 11:36 AM EDT

When is a billion-dollar loss a bonanza? When the person suffering it is one of those greedy Wall Street types the MSM loves to hate. Check out how, in opening this morning's show, Today cast the situation of Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne:
MATT LAUER: Payday! His company imploded and thousands of stockholders went bust, but the Chairman of Bear Stearns cashes in and gets $61 million dollars. Will there be a backlash?

Watching the intro, I assumed the Chairman, despite Bears' fall, had received some kind of bonus or golden handshake. It wasn't until Maria Bartiromo came on later that we learned that Bear Chairman James Cayne, far from receiving a bonus or bonanza, had incurred one of the worst personal financial losses in the history of the street.

March 28, 2008, 8:14 AM EDT
People are figuring Hillary Clinton out. And that's a problem. At least, it is if you're Hillary Clinton. That's a theme of Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column of today, Getting Mrs. Clinton. Along the way, the indispensable Ms. Noonan dispenses numerous valuable insights into Hillary's persona. From our NewsBusters perspective, of particular interest were these paragraphs on the way the MSM has come to view her, and vice versa [emphasis added].
Many in the press get it, to their dismay, and it makes them uncomfortable, for it sours life to have a person whose character you feel you cannot admire play such a large daily role in your work. But I think it's fair to say of the establishment media at this point that it is well populated by people who feel such a lack of faith in Mrs. Clinton's words and ways that it amounts to an aversion. They are offended by how she and her staff operate. They try hard to be fair. They constantly have to police themselves.

Not that her staff isn't policing them too. Mrs. Clinton's people are heavy-handed in that area, letting producers and correspondents know they're watching, weighing, may have to take this higher. There's too much of this in politics, but Hillary's campaign takes it to a new level.
March 27, 2008, 6:38 PM EDT
"After me, the deluge" (après moi, le déluge) -- popularly attributed to Louis XV

Look for Chris Matthews to start calling her "Louie." The Hardball host was as roiled as Robespierre today at Hillary Clinton's threat to take the Dem party down in a convention credentials fight over the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates.

In the course of an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News yesterday, Clinton made clear her intention to take things to a floor fight if necessary, and went so far as to preemptively undermine Barack Obama's legitimacy as a candidate if he doesn't go along with her proposal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. That set Matthews off, though it was panelist Tucker Carlson who supplied the most colorful language, describing Hillary as a "kamikaze" who is "ready to wreck the party."

View video here.

March 27, 2008, 8:15 AM EDT

"How much of a surprise is it that they can actually get inside the embassy? How fortified is that?" -- Diane Sawyer, 3-27-08, commenting on reports mortars and rockets had fallen inside Green Zone.

Someone get Diane Sawyer a crash course in indirect fire. Discussing this morning the recent flurry of rocket and mortar attacks landing inside the Green Zone in Baghdad, Sawyer supposed that the insurgents had somehow breached the perimeter themselves and fired from inside the US embassy compound!

March 26, 2008, 8:24 AM EDT

Time to lace up the skates and cut some rhetorical figure-eights. GMA has quoted a Dem official as saying that in her desperate quest for the nomination, Hillary Clinton is down to "the Tonya Harding option." ABC senior political correspondent Jake Tapper cited the skating simile in his Good Morning America segment this morning.

JAKE TAPPER: It is mathematically possible, improbable yes, but possible for Senator Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. What concerns Democratic officials in Washington is what Clinton will have to do to Senator Barack Obama in order for that to happen. One Democratic official told ABC News it is “the Tonya Harding option.”

Cut to clip of Harding, skating at the 1994 Olympics, as Tapper continued.

View video here.

March 25, 2008, 10:05 PM EDT
Hardball had some fun this evening at Hillary's expense over the mystery of The Sniper Who Didn't Fire. Credit Politico's Roger Simon with the most devastating remark.

Hillary's heroic claim has been that "we used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady." Simon said what in retrospect might be obvious but something I hadn't previously heard anyone else observe.
ROGER SIMON: She says I was there because it was too dangerous for the President. It was too dangerous--so he sent his wife and only child? It makes no sense.

View video here.

March 25, 2008, 8:59 AM EDT

Salesman on train: How far you going, friend?
Harold Hill: Wherever the people are as green as the money, friend. -- The Music Man, 1962
Among the many gaps in my knowledge is a broad unfamiliarity with Broadway musicals. So when Chris Matthews said that Bill Clinton would make a perfect Harold Hill in The Music Man, I scampered Googleward and discovered that the Hardball host had just called the former President of the United States . . . a con man. Appearing on today's Morning Joe, what set Matthews off was footage of Clinton slickly making the case to an Indiana crowd yesterday that Hillary is the only Dem who can win in November.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's not get into Cloud Nine here and start thinking the way Bill Clinton wants your mind to think.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: But, but, but, but --
MATTHEWS: That was delusionary that speech, yesterday.
It was a bit later that Chris made his Music Man analogy.
MATTHEWS: Let's remake the Music Man, I think I've got a great guy to play him, Harold Hill. Let's, I'm serious, I'm dead serious. Meredith Willson's been waiting for this guy to come along for years. He'd be perfect as the Music Man.
March 25, 2008, 7:10 AM EDT

Update | 3-26: I wasn't the only one to be impressed by Brooks' column. This morning he was accorded the honor, rare for a Republican pundit, of a solo Today show apperance, and followed it up with a Morning Joe visit.

Sometimes you read something so simultaneously insightful and eloquent that you just have to share it with others. That's how I feel about David Brooks' column in today's New York Times, The Long Defeat.

Brooks begins by convincingly making the case that Hillary's chances of winning the Dem nomination have dwindled to a paltry 5%.

Yet all signs point to her soldiering on to the bitter end. As Brooks puts it: "Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near." By protracting the fight, Clinton would seriously harm Barack Obama's general election prospects. Brooks asks: "why does she go on like this?" and gives this, in my opinion brilliant, answer:

March 24, 2008, 8:50 PM EDT

I count Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace among the fairest and most incisive interviewers in the business, and hope his tenure at Fox News is a long one. Anyone who can relentlessly cross-exam Mitt Romney on his changed position on abortion the way Wallace did a while back, then turn around and have Bill Clinton near the point of taking a poke at him, is doing his job and playing no favorites. But should Wallace ever wish a change of venue, never fear: MSNBC apparently can find a place for him.

Wallace made some news when, appearing on this past Friday's Fox & Friends, he criticized the hosts for dwelling longer than Chris thought appropriate on Obama's comment that his grandmother was a "typical white person."

On this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews devoted a segment to the exchange. Eugene Robinson, the affable WaPo columnist and MSNBC political analyst, suggested that refuge awaited Wallace should he need it.
March 24, 2008, 10:27 AM EDT

While Chris Matthews was waxing so rhapsodic about Barack Obama over on MSNBC this morning that he made Mika Brzezinksi ask if the Hardball host had endorsed him, Matt Lauer was doing his bit on NBC, wondering whether Hillary would be seen as having stolen the nomination if she managed to get it.

The Today co-anchor interviewed Bill Richardson, who's gotten more media mileage out of his Obama endorsement than a Prius coasting down a New Mexico mountain. Lauer's suggestion came toward the end of the segment.
MATT LAUER: Let's talk about political reality. Right now as we stand, with the delegate count, the popular vote count, the state-by-state count. Do you see any scenario under which Senator Clinton could win this nomination where it will not appear to large numbers of Democrats as if the nomination were stolen?

Richardson wouldn't bite on Lauer's controversial suggestion.

March 24, 2008, 9:13 AM EDT

Good thing Chris Matthews was down in DC and Mika Brzezinski in NYC this morning. Had they been in the same studio, it might have taken Springer-show security to pry them apart. Such was the level of bad vibes that cropped up between the MSNBC pair during Matthews' appearance on Morning Joe today.

The first incident to incite Matthews' ire was Mika's suggestion, after an impassioned Matthews plea to forget the Clintons and focus on Obama, that the Hardball host had done what it certainly sounded as if he had: endorsed the junior senator from Illinois. That drew a denial and an if-looks-could-kill glare from Matthews seen here in the screencap.

Later, Matthews got very miffed that Mika was about to end the interview of Hillary spokesman Howard Wolfson without letting Chris pose any questions.

View video here.

March 23, 2008, 2:08 PM EDT
It would be enough to make Rev. Jeremiah Wright's accusation that the government created AIDS for purposes of perpetrating a black genocide sound almost rational. OK, scratch that. Nothing will render reasonable that morsel of moonbattery. But has the Rev. Wright's replacement suggested that NPR is . . . a Republican front operation?

As per this Fox News article, the theme of today's Easter sermon at the Trinity United Church of Christ was “How to Handle a Public Lynching,” the victim in question being the Rev. Wright. The controversial pastor's successor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, lit into the national media, coming up with a string of plays on their names to express his contempt:
March 23, 2008, 12:08 PM EDT

With Eliot Spitzer gone, Chuck Schumer moves to the head of the list of smugly self-righteous New York pols. So it was particularly satisfying to see Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ] put Schumer is his place on This Week with George Stephanopoulos today.

A guest with Kyl for purposes of discussing the economy, Schumer clearly came in with a game plan: to analogize President Bush to the man who presided over the beginning of the Great Depression: Herbert Hoover. After Schumer tried it twice, Kyl had had enough and unleashed a riposte as devastating as it was reasoned.

March 23, 2008, 8:25 AM EDT

There's nothing into which Saturday Night Live can't work its liberal politics--even a conventional game-show sketch. NBC aired a re-run of the February 24th SNL last night, and watching it this morning I spotted what you might call a "subliminable" anti-Ann Coulter product placement.

In "What's That Bitch Talking About?" two contestants viewing a succession of women offering bare snippets of dialogue have to guess what they're talking about. The male contestant is consistently clueless. But Tina Fey's character gets it uncannily right every time, down to details that would in reality be impossible to guess. Sample: a woman murmuring "okay" into a phone is indeed getting directions to a margarita party to celebrate her graduation from DeVry, etc.

The male loser is sent packing, but not before he receives a lovely parting gift in the form of the home edition of "What's That Bitch Talking About?" Cut to a quick close-up of the package featuring four women: Whitney Houston, Queen Elizabeth, a beauty queen who's presumably Miss South Carolina of "US Americans" fame, and, most prominently featured . . . Ann Coulter. See screencap.

View video here.

March 22, 2008, 8:24 AM EDT

Next time, maybe Bill Richardson should consider text messaging. Something along these lines, perhaps:
I M not 4 U. Me & BHO: BFF. CUL8R

Of course we can only imagine how Hillary's reply would have read. But Richardson did have the moxie to make one of the world's tougher phone calls: informing Hillary Clinton that despite having been appointed by her husband to two cabinet positions, he was endorsing Barack Obama. Richardson has now let it be known that his conversation with Hillary got "a little bit heated."

Kidding aside, consider what it says about Hillary's personality that so much press attention has focused on the call. Imagine if Richardson had instead decided to endorse Clinton. Not many people would be wondering about the atmospherics of his conversation with Obama. Richardson appeared on this morning's Today, and weekend co-anchor Lester Holt wasted absolutely no time: his very first question to the NM governor was about that dreaded phone call.

March 21, 2008, 9:37 PM EDT

Somebody better break it to the New York Times: they might still be the paper of record in their own minds, but to the rest of the world they're just one more dead-tree joint struggling for attention.

The Old Grey Lady's unjustified conceit was on display during this afternoon's Hardball, when one of its columnists was aghast that Chris Matthews had had the audacity not to have read her oeuvre.

Deborah Solomon, who has a weekly column in the NYT Sunday magazine, had interviewed the Rev. John Hagee, a minister who has endorsed McCain and has made a number of controversial statements. I'd mention in passing that while Hagee's critics have accused him of anti-Semitism, he has in fact received numerous awards from Jewish groups for his steadfast support of Israel.
March 21, 2008, 9:22 AM EDT

It wasn't quite a "thrill up up my leg" moment, but Chris Matthews clearly hasn't gotten over his love affair with the candidacy of Barack Obama. It was a discussion of NM Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama on today's Morning Joe that inspired an outpouring of emotion in which among other things Matthews acknowledged Obama "gets to me."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think [Richardson's] a gutsy guy, his own man, and I think it's a powerful endorsement. It certainly would have been powerful if it had gone the other way to Senator Clinton. I think it'll be a prized endorsement for Senator Obama, especially coming from a, he also comes from an interesting background. He always says, he says, you know, I've got a, what does he say? I've got an English name, I've got a Mexican mother, and I look like an Indian. I mean, he's, he's always had an interesting --

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: That's fabulous.
March 20, 2008, 9:28 AM EDT
Time editor Rick Stengel made his regular Thursday Morning Joe appearance today, revealing the magazine's cover to be published tomorrow. But while we learned that the Dalai Lama's photo will appear there, the bigger story is the "cover" Time is trying to provide for Barack Obama's Rev. Wright problem.

Here's the gist of Time's defense of Obama, a distillation of Stengel's statements and Time articles by Amy Sullivan and Joe Klein:
  • An important aspect of the problem is that white Americans are incredibly ignorant about black churches in America.
  • In fact, Rev. Wright's church isn't that radical as black churches go.
  • It was understandable for Obama to have joined Wright's church. At the time he was a 27-year old bi-racial man trying to figure out his identity as the son of an atheist father and skeptic mother and needed a church "he could learn from."
  • It's understandable that Obama didn't leave the church: it's like reading a book--you don't necessarily agree with the author.
  • Obama's speech was a "triumph," and Americans will be thinking "small" if they make the Wright thing a big issue in the campaign.

View the video here.

March 19, 2008, 2:03 PM EDT

There's a new entry next to Mika Brzezinski's name in the annals of MSM elitism. The Morning Joe panelist today lamented blue-collar whites who "can't hear" the message Barack Obama propounded. Poor benighted souls. Joe Scarborough called Mika on it.

Brzezinski's comment came in response to Scarborough's exposition of why he didn't think Obama's speech would work with many blue-collar whites.

View video here.

March 19, 2008, 8:54 AM EDT

Like so many of his colleagues, Jeff Greenfield comes to the MSM from a background in Dem politics, having served as a speechwriter for RFK. But more than most, the CBS senior political correspondent demonstrates an ability to put partisanship aside in his analyses.

Witness Greenfields's comments on this morning's Early Show regarding Barack Obama's speech on race on this morning's Early Show. The show's intro referred to the speech as "a defining cultural moment in America" and a "moving moment." Greenfield was considerably more restrained in his praise, suggesting that Obama failed by declining to disassociate himself from a "crackpot."

Co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez spoke with Greenfield and pollster Frank Luntz.