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.  He spent ten days in Iraq in November, 2006, mainly in Anbar Province. Email:

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
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.

February 6, 2008, 7:34 AM EST

Joe Scarborough has given away the MSM's dirty big secret: it hates Mitt Romney and is letting that animus distort its coverage of the Republican race. Joe went on an impassioned riff at the opening of today's Morning Joe.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I want the media mavens in Manhattan and Washington, DC to listen what I'm about to tell you, because it goes against your narrative, but it is the truth. Look at the map; let's put the map back up there. Last night was a good night for John McCain, he won the big states . . . but starting at about 9 PM last night, before a lot of the Western states were closed, we heard over and over again that Mike Huckabee had now raced into second place, and once again friends that Mitt Romney should drop from the race . . . McCain had nine states won, Romney had seven states won, Huckabee had five states won. And yet, what did we hear time and time again, at this network and every other network: Mike Huckabee has now raced into second place.

View video here.

February 5, 2008, 9:34 AM EST

Is it just me, or was there a defiant tone in George Stephanopoulos's voice this morning as he declared that Rush Limbaugh can't stop John McCain? The "This Week" host was a guest commentator on today's Good Morning America, and co-anchor Robin Roberts began by playing a clip of a recent Rush comment.

ROBIN ROBERTS: Let's start with the Republicans. Of course John McCain, the big lead over Romney, but not everyone is rallying around McCain. Let's listen to this for a moment.

Cut to Rush clip.

View video here.

February 5, 2008, 8:04 AM EST

Sore winner?

You'd think a man who might be on the verge of taking a giant step toward winning the Republican nomination would go out of his way to be gracious. But John McCain couldn't suppress his spiteful streak on this morning's Today.

In the course of his interview by Matt Lauer, the Today co-anchor cited criticism of McCain by former and current Senate colleagues Rick Santorum and Thad Cochran. McCain retaliated with a personal swipe at their reputations, and later declined to describe Mitt Romney as a fine man.

View video here.

February 4, 2008, 8:31 PM EST

Don't take NewsBusters's word for it. According to Lanny Davis, with one exception MSNBC has donned flippers and goggles to go entirely in the tank for Barack Obama.

Davis, who made his bones tirelessly defending Bill Clinton during the dark Lewinsky days, appeared on Tucker Carlson's show this evening. Tucker opened the conversation by asking whether Davis sensed Obama's momentum. But Lanny was more interested in getting his point on the record about MSNBC's pro-Obama bias.
February 4, 2008, 2:14 PM EST
The voters had a temper tantrum last week . . . Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old. -- Peter Jennings, November 14, 1994, on the Republican landslide.

[C]onservatives . . . can choose to stand aside from history while having a temper tantrum. But they should consider that the American people might then choose not to invite them back into a position of responsibility for quite a while to come. -- William Kristol, February 4, 2008, on conservative aversion to McCain.

It's one thing to have been bawled out by the late Peter Jennings. But do conservatives have to have their knuckles rapped by one of their own, Bill Kristol? Apparently yes, as per the Weekly Standard editor's New York Times column of today, Dyspepsia on the Right.
February 4, 2008, 12:24 PM EST
H/t ML.

How fixated is the MSM on its beloved Democrats? In a recent week, the media bestowed more coverage on Bill Clinton than on any of the Republican presidential candidates.

That's the finding of the The Project for Excellence in Journalism [PEJ], a part of the Pew Research Center, which has never been accused of right-wing tendencies.
February 4, 2008, 10:37 AM EST
When a Democrat pulls off an upset in California, it's a "win." If a disfavored Republican does the same, he's "stealing." Just ask George Stephanopoulos, appearing on today's Good Morning America.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS [pointing to map]: This is Barack Obama's targets tomorrow night, this is what I'm going to be watching. If he wins Massachussetts, where he's got the support of Ted Kennedy, he's going to have a good night. If he wins Missouri, right in the middle of the country, he's going to have a great night. If he wins California tomorrow night, it is going to be very hard to deny him the nomination.

View video here.

February 4, 2008, 8:50 AM EST

Opening for Hillary? Obama has spoken some sense on the surge . . .

Whereas Obama's claim to foreign policy fame among Dems has been his opposition from day one to the Iraq war, it appears he may have now put himself to the right of Hillary Clinton on the issue of sustaining the surge.

Readers will recall that when Tim Russert asked Clinton on Meet the Press of January 13th whether she would be open to sustaining the surge through the end of the year if General Petraeus requested it, Hillary tersely answered "No, and here's why, Tim."

But confronted with a similar hypothetical on this morning's Early Show, Obama evinced more flexibility.

View video here.

February 4, 2008, 7:15 AM EST

Serious question: why does Mika Brzezinski bother? Why does she sustain the charade of non-partisanship? Not a day goes by that host Joe Scarborough doesn't proclaim his conservative Republicanism. But despite a mountain of evidence as documented here over the months, Brzezinski continues to deny the undeniable: that she is a partisan Democrat.

On today's Morning Joe, Mika first put her GOP consultant cap on, counseling Republicans to stop supporting Romney, then floated the notion that she might actually vote Republican in the fall. The duo were mulling the latest poll numbers, which showed Mitt Romney having jumped up over the last month.

View video here.

February 3, 2008, 4:43 PM EST

On this Super Sunday, it's fitting I suppose that Mike Huckabee would be out there blocking and tackling for Team McCain. Appearing on this morning's Today show, the former Arkansas governor made a pro forma claim that he's still running for president and not the veep slot. But Huckabee certainly seemed to be acting as what Mark Steyn described in a recent Hugh Hewitt interview as McCain's "wing man."

Consider Huckabee's reply to a question from Sunday co-host Jenna Wolfe [a resident, coincidentally, of Chappaqua, NY, home to Bill and Hillary.]