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
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?


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.
January 7, 2008, 8:41 AM EST

Candid criticism, or sour grapes towards a guy who's lapping MSNBC in the ratings? In any case, David Shuster and the rest of the Morning Joe crew took out after Bill O'Reilly this morning in the wake of the incident in which the Factor host was, shall we say, energetic in his efforts to speak with Barack Obama at a NH campaign event this weekend. Shuster called O'Reilly a "jerk" and "such a buffoon." Read accounts of the incident here, here and here.

View video here.

January 7, 2008, 7:02 AM EST
Just in case anyone doubted it . . .

From today's Morning Joe.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The press corps, for the most part, there are exceptions, loathe Mitt Romney. And the press corps loved to see all of the Republicans [at the ABC debate this past Saturday night] kicking the tar out of him, and they were all sitting there smirking. But I thought it was too much. I think if you're sitting at home in New Hampshire, you sit back after a while and you say, first of all, why does John McCain hate personally so much. But secondly, why are they all attacking Mitt Romney? He must be the guy with the ball; he must be the guy who's ahead.
View video here.
January 6, 2008, 1:07 PM EST

Move over, Bill Clinton. There's a new kid on the block when it comes to looking into the camera and not telling the truth to the American people . . . and his name is John Edwards. To his credit, George Stephanopoulos caught Edwards out today on a key tenet of Silky's candidacy . . . but then let things slide.

Edwards was a guest on This Week, and it didn't take him long to don his scourge-of-greedy-corporations mantle. Central to Edwards' pitch is the claim that you don't sit down with corporate interests, you fight them.

View video here.

January 6, 2008, 10:11 AM EST

Fred Thompson today blasted the media for propagating a false rumor about his impending withdrawal, while reinforcing the role he has created for himself as the candidate in this race who does not suffer unwelcome questions gladly.

Back in Iowa, Thompson famously refused to respond to the debate moderator/school marm's demand for a hand-show on global warming. On this morning's Today, he declined to engage in horse-race speculation about his own prospects, then took the media to task for its propagation of that false rumor about his impending withdrawal. Weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed the former Tennessee senator.

View video here.

January 5, 2008, 9:39 AM EST

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd disclosed that the media was poised to take a third-place McCain finish there and use it to catapult him to victory in New Hampshire. McCain actually finished fourth in Iowa, but on Good Morning America today we saw a perfect example of the phenomenon Todd predicted.

ABC declared that McCain is "surging," "rising in the polls," may have "the most momentum," used "The Mac Is Back" as its screen graphic, and portrayed Mitt Romney in a highly unflattering light. There was only one small problem with ABC's depiction of a McCain surge: the latest poll numbers from the organization that nailed the Iowa results . . . reveal that McCain slipped in the polls overnight and lost ground to Mitt Romney.

View video here.

January 4, 2008, 8:37 AM EST

Of all the ways Harry Smith could have opened this morning's historic Early Show, he chose to do so by waving today's Boston Herald with its one-word front page "Shazam!" above a photo of Mike Huckabee. Smith described Barack Obama simply as the "big winner" on the Democratic side.

View video here [with apologies for low audio level].

January 3, 2008, 11:40 AM EST

If things don't work out for Hillary with this presidential thing, she can always do stand-up out in LA. Or not. If you didn't catch her side-splitter on last night's Letterman, you can view it here, as rebroadcast on MSNBC this morning.

For those taking nitrates who might not want to risk a sudden drop in blood pressure by watching the clip, here's the text of Hillary's rib tickler:

Dave has been off the air for eight long weeks because of the writers' strike. Tonight he's back. Oh well. All good things come to an end.

Hillary, stop. You're killing me here.

January 2, 2008, 6:06 PM EST

Credit Chuck Todd for candor. The NBC News Political Director has acknowledged that the media is poised to take a third-place finish by John McCain in Iowa, declare him the winner and catapult the Arizona senator to victory in New Hampshire. Todd appeared with the Politico's Roger Simon on this afternoon's Hardball.

View video here.

January 1, 2008, 9:06 AM EST
The PC guy finally wins one! No, we're not cheering for political correctness here. I'm talking about those ads for Macintosh computers where the cool Mac guy always gets the better of the frumpy PC fellow.