As part of a sweeping NBC-Universal channel wide broadcast that included NBC outlets like MSNBC, USA, Bravo, Syfy and the Oxygen network, Barack Obama was interviewed by Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today, about the state of public education but in a commercial-free half-hour of interview time, Lauer never once asked the President about his opposition to school vouchers, including a very popular program in Washington D.C.
In fact Lauer missed couple of opportunities to press Obama on the issue, when he made reference to the documentary Waiting For Superman, and when an audience member actually pressed Obama if he thought his daughters would "get the same high quality rigorous education in a D.C. public school as compared to their very elite private academy that they're attending now?"
For his part Obama audaciously responded to Kelly Burnett of Florida: "There are some terrific individual schools, in the D.C. system. And that's true, by the way, in every city across the country" but "A lot of times you've gotta test in or there, it's a lottery pick for you to be able to get into those schools. And so those options are not available enough children....I'll be very honest with you. Given my position, if I wanted to find a great public school for Malia and Sasha to be in, we could probably maneuver to do it. But the broader problem is for a mom or a dad who are working hard but don't have a bunch of connections, don't have a lot of choice in terms of where they live."
Lawrence O'Donnell starts his new show The Last Word on Monday night, and over the past few years, O'Donnell put together quite the audition tape to land him a hosting gig for the ever more left-leaning network.
On November 13th, 2009, substitute hosting for Keith Olbermann on his MSNBC show Countdown, O'Donnell engaged in a favorite pastime of that show's regular host, bashing Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin as he managed to paint both of them as idiots in one single rant.
Monday night marks the debut of Lawrence O'Donnell's very own show, called The Last Word, on MSNBC and if his guest spots on various programs on that network and the syndicated McLaughlin Group over the last few years are any indication, he's bound to give Keith Olbermann a run for his money for over-the-top loony tirades.
O'Donnell reared his bigoted side on the December 8, 2007 edition of the McLaughlin Group. He not only went after former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but also his faith, seen in the following rants he made after the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate delivered a speech defending his "demented, Scientology-like" Mormon faith:
Chris Matthews thinks the Republican Party's Pledge to America is all part of a ploy to hide the more "radical" ideas of their party as he, on Thursday's Hardball, announced that the GOP "manifesto" could be "the biggest cover up since Watergate." Matthews went on to speculate that with the Pledge, the Republican members of Congress were doing their best to "disguise the much more serious, more radical proposals" of the Tea Party. The suspicious Matthews then went on to tally the allegedly secret agenda of the GOP that was "hidden under the table." [audio available here]
The following Matthews rants were aired on the September 23 edition of Hardball:
Back in 1994, as the MRC's Brent Baker recalled earlier today with video, Tom Brokaw derided the Contract with America as "long on promises, but short on sound premises." So on the very day that Republican House members were set to announce their Pledge to America, who did NBC's Today show bring on to discuss it? House Minority Leader John Boehner? Rising Republican star Paul Ryan? No, on Thursday's Today, Meredith Vieira invited on Brokaw to, once again, rain on the GOP's parade as he claimed the Pledge doesn't "address, in many ways, some of the toughest issues that are still before us, Medicare, Social Security." [audio available here]
NBC's Tamron Hall blared, "It's being called 'corruption on steroids'" while George Lewis added, "It's been an angry summer in Bell, California, once people learned that city officials awarded themselves huge six figure salaries at taxpayer's expense." However neither of them mentioned, in two different stories on Wednesday's Today show, that those corrupt officials belonged to the Democratic Party. Lewis, strangely, couldn't even bother to identify the party of Jerry Brown -- who has a soundbite in the piece going after the officials -- as he just called him "The California attorney general running for governor."
Incidentally, the Today show wasn't the only news outlet to conveniently drop the "D" label next to those officials accused of bilking California taxpayers. As Newsbusters' Lachlan Markay pointed out on Tuesday, "ABC, CBS, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Francisco Chronicle all reported on the arrests today without mentioning party affiliations."
Bill Maher was invited on Chris Matthews' Hardball show, on Tuesday night, to discuss his old guest panelist Christine O'Donnell's controversial statements about practicing witchcraft in high school, but it was the HBO host's take on Jimmy Carter's recent round of interviews that was particularly jarring as he told Matthews that he wished Barack Obama was a little more like that failed president. Prompted by the one-time Carter speechwriter to comment on his former boss, Maher professed: "I love Jimmy Carter! Jimmy Carter is so honest and out there. You know sometimes, I hear people say, 'Oh, Obama, his term could become like Jimmy Carter's.' Yeah, I wish. You know Jimmy Carter did some real bold things, like returning the Panama Canal. Can you see a president trying to do that today? Or, or getting on national television and telling the American people that they're lazy and they're using too much energy?...I think this country needs a lot more of that sort of forthright honesty." [audio available here]
As for O'Donnell, Maher initially claimed she was "a liar" but, in a blatant booking plea, quickly amended, "But I like her." And after Matthews played a clip of O'Donnell commenting on scientific experiments Maher, along with Matthews, took the opportunity to take a shot at all those science-hating Republicans:
It seems like every few years there's a new mascot for Team Global Warming. First it was the polar bear, then the Arctic fox and now it's the walrus's turn. On Monday's Today show, Lee Cowan traveled to Point Lay, Alaska to report on how shrinking ice sheets are leaving walruses stranded, in between their feedings, adding: "Much like the polar bear, they can't swim forever." In fact it didn't take long for Cowan to bring up the dreaded specter of global warming as he aired a soundbite of a local tribal president worrying: "I always thought the Arctic would be cold, but scientists tell us that there's global warming going on." Cowan even used another local resident to suggest that if something wasn't done soon, that in 10 years "we won't have any" animals.
The following is a full transcript of the segment as it was aired on the September 20 Today show:
NBC's Matt Lauer invited on Jimmy Carter, on Monday's Today, to defend his record and comment on the Tea Party movement as the former President claimed if "all my reforms" had "taken effect" the United States wouldn't be having any energy problems right now and hoped that by 2012 any influence of the Tea Party would be "dissipated." On to promote his new book, White House Diary, Carter also praised the passage of Obamacare but claimed its opponents had "cast it in a very negative light, which it does not deserve." For the most part, Lauer tossed softballs at Carter and since he'll be interviewing another former president, George W. Bush, when his memoir comes out in November, it'll be interesting to see if the Today co-anchor handles that interview in a similar friendly fashion.
The following excerpt of Lauer's interview with Carter is from the September 20 Today show:
Today co-anchor Matt Lauer, on Monday morning, couldn't wait to tell viewers about the revelation that Christine O'Donnell once admitted to practicing witchcraft, as he greeted viewers at the top of the very top of the show: "Casting a spell. She's already won her state's Republican Senate primary and captured headlines across the country. Now a video surfaces showing Christine O'Donnell admitting she dabbled in witchcraft as a high schooler." Lauer's colleague Kelly O'Donnell, then went on to dredge up clips from Bill Maher's old Politically Incorrect show as she called the Delaware GOP Senate nominee a "tempest in the Tea Party."
While most of Kelly O'Donnell's piece was devoted to Christine O'Donnell's "witchcraft talk" that didn't keep her from mentioning that the Tea Party was causing "tension" in the Alaska Senate race: "And there's more Tea Party tension brewing for Republicans. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary, jumped back in the race." O'Donnell also aired a clip of Murkowski claiming her victorious primary opponent Joe Miller had "extremist views."
In the fourth hour of Thursday's Today show NBC's Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb took a strong stance against the right to smoke, pretty much everywhere, as both endorsed Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proposed ban that goes several steps further than just restaurants. During the opening chat session of the hour, Kotbe announced: "So some good news in New York City...Mayor Bloomberg is considering banning smoking in all places like parks, beaches and Times Square." Gifford also praised the move declaring that "Second-hand smoke is a bigger killer than asbestos or a lot of other things" but later seemed to contradict herself as she proclaimed: "I'm all for personal rights. I'm becoming more and more of a libertarian the older I get."
The following is the full exchange as it was aired on the September 16 Today show:
It's quite possible NBC's Meredith Vieira has never shown more concern about the Republican Party's ability to win elections than she did on Thursday's Today show, of course that may be because conservative Tea Party candidates are now forcing out the more moderate members of its ranks. In a segment entitled, "Tea Time, Is The Tea Party Hurting The GOP?" the Today co-anchor invited on Republican Senator Jim DeMint to question if conservative candidates like Christine O'Donnell "can win in November?" To which DeMint responded that the conservative candidates he's been supporting are doing just fine: "Well Meredith, they told me Marco Rubio couldn't win. And he is blowing it away in Florida because he's telling people the truth. And they said the same thing about Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rand Paul in Kentucky. They're well ahead in, in the polls because people want a change in Washington."
The following is the full interview with DeMint as it was aired on the September 16 Today show:
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, on Wednesday's Today show, in reporting on yesterday's primary results threw the conservative label around, as she identified several Republicans that way, but for some reason couldn't manage to attach the "liberal" label when it came time to talk about ethics challenged New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel.
O'Donnell began her piece noting that "Democrats are suddenly very excited" about their chances of winning the open Delaware Senate seat due to "the conservative rebellion" that led to Christine O'Donnell's win in the GOP primary, adding that the "conservative" O'Donnell "was propelled by several Tea Party groups." O'Donnell even relayed Democratic spin that O'Donnell was "an ultra right wing extremist." However when it came to talking about Rangel's primary win the NBC correspondent didn't bother to attach an ideological label, merely calling him "20-term Congressman Charlie Rangel." In total, Kelly O'Donnell used the "conservative" label five times in her piece but never once indentified any of the Democrats brought up in her story as a liberal.
The following is the full O'Donnell story as it was aired on the September 15 Today show:
NBC's Andrea Mitchell reporting live from Tehran on Tuesday's Today show, on the American hikers held hostage in Iran, relayed Iranian government spin, that the Ground Zero mosque protest and controversial Koran "desecrations" have "added to the tension here, the anti-American spirit." Spurred by a question from substitute anchor Carl Quintanilla about the protests in New York city, Mitchell actually held up one of the state-owned newspapers and relayed that "if the government needed any excuse to drum up more anti-American fever," they have it, as she noted "all the headlines" in Iran are about the "desecration" and "burning" threats of the Koran.
The following segment was aired on the September 14 Today show:
NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Tuesday's Today show, demonstrated just how out of touch she is on the Tea Party and the economy as she questioned GOP House members, "Are you worried about the influence of the Tea Party?" and even doubted the positive effect tax cuts can have on creating jobs as she questioned: "What's so good about them?" [audio available here]
On to promote their new book Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, Republican Congressmen Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy were on hand to school the Today anchor, with Cantor having to explain to Vieira that "the last thing you want to do in an economy like this with 9.6 percent unemployment is have a big tax increase on small businesses," as seen in the following exchange:
VIEIRA: One of the key issues also heading into the midterm elections, is this expiration of the tax cuts, Bush's tax cuts. Over the weekend, your leader I guess, your boss, Minority Leader John Boehner said that he would support tax cuts for just middle income earners, if that was his only option. Yesterday he took that back, he did an about-face. Why?
Well you have to give Chris Matthews credit for admitting the obvious. On Monday's Hardball, as he overlooked the bad environment for Democrats this midterm season, Matthews appeared grateful he didn't make his much rumored run for Pennsylvania's Senate seat, as he asked one of his guests: "Do you think it could be the year where guys...like me were smart not to make the run?" [audio available here]
The admission came during a segment in which Matthews, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and local radio talk show host, Dan Gaffney of WGMD, were breaking down the prospects for Christine O'Donnell to upset Republican Mike Castle and go on to win the general election for the Deleware Senate seat with Gaffney explaining that it was a distinct possibility since there is "a lot of anti-establishment, anti-incumbent sentiment" in that state, calling that race "a crap-shoot." This caused Matthews to wonder, if in fact, that attitude extended to Pennsylvania as he asked Gaffney the following question:
NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Thursday's Today show, invited on New York Republican Congressman Peter King and CAIR's Zead Ramadan to discuss the potential burning of Korans by Pastor Terry Jones and the furor over the Ground Zero mosque, but it was only King that was pressed by the Today anchor, as Vieira let Ramadan go unchallenged even when he equated opposition to the mosque to internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II and even slavery.
First up, Vieira, after playing a clip of Feisal Abdul-Rauf, recited the Imam's concerns to King that if he moved the location of the mosque now it "would just be fueling the radicals" to which the New York Congressman shot back that "he seems to be equating the 71 percent of Americans who oppose this as being radicals." Then Vieira let CAIR's Ramadan go on, uninterrupted, as he proceeded to compare the protest surrounding the Ground Zero mosque to some of America's worst moments of intolerance as he went on to say: "The issue with the public sentiment is that when an issue is related to bigotry, unfortunately our history has shown that sometimes we're on the wrong side. For example we interred Japanese during World War II, we segregated our military, our schools, and it took on Executive Order to undo that. And we also enslaved our fellow Americans. So I mean when it comes to bigotry we've got to be careful about the public sentiment." [audio available here]
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the September 9 Today show:
Chris Matthews is still getting a thrill up his leg, and even further, when he hears Barack Obama speak, as the MSNBCer, on Monday's Hardball, announced to the world "I get the same thrill up my leg, all over me," whenever he listens to Obama's 2004 Democratic convention speech. Matthews also revealed he is really sensitive about how his "thrill" moments are described, as he took offense when a guest inaccurately labeled it a "tingle" as Matthews shot back: "It wasn't a tingle, up my leg, that's what right wing fascists say. I got a thrill up my leg. Okay? You're reading the right wing blogs. Start tuning your station." [audio available here]
Matthews, however, is quite aware that the rest of the country doesn't share the same all over body thrill he does as he asked his guests, Roger Simon of the Politico and Jim Kessler of Third Way, "Can President Obama stir us again and help his party keep power this November?"
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the September 7 Hardball:
It's no secret that Chris Matthews once flirted with the idea of running for Senate in Pennsylvania, but since he didn't throw his hat into that race, the Hardball host, on Thursday night, did everything he could to help Joe Sestak beat Republican Pat Toomey, as he urged: "I hope your party gets organized up there, because the Democratic Party of Ed Rendell and you and all those other guys ought to get together with Brady andwin this thing!" And even before Matthews invited viewers to "Meet Joe Sestak" in an interview segment, the MSNBCer began cheerleading for him in a preview as he teased: "Up next, Joe Sestak from my home state of Pennsylvania, he's fighting hard, the good fight against Pat Toomey, the Club for Growther of the far right." [audio available here]
The following exchanges were aired on the September 2 edition of Hardball:
NBC's Matt Lauer wanted one question to stick in the minds of his Today show viewers, as from the top of Wednesday's show, to his interview with Vice President Joe Biden, the Today co-anchor repeatedly asked was the Iraq war "worth it?" As part of the analysis of the President's Oval Office speech last night, in which Barack Obama announced an end to U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Lauer invited on Biden, in the 7am half hour, to press him about the costs of the war as he asked: "There is a question being asked in homes all across the country this morning, after seven years and 4,400 lives and tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women wounded, some of them horrifically, and of course billions and billions of dollars spent, was Iraq worth it?" [audio available here]
For his part Biden responded that since he had a son who served in Iraq for a year, "I could never say to any of those parents it's not worth it" but that didn't dissuade Lauer from pursuing his line of questioning, from the left, as he cited a New York Times editorial to the Vice President:
On the day that the U.S. is ending combat operations in Iraq, the Today show, on Tuesday, brought on their chief foreign correspondent to essentially say the Iraq war wasn't worth it. The noted anti-war reporter, when asked by Today co-anchor Ann Curry did, "Anything positive come from this war?" proceeded to dump on the entire mission as he relayed that Iraqis are upset that the United States "has failed to deliver on its promises," claimed that Saddam Hussein, before the war, was "getting more moderate" and concluded that the mission was "a giant distraction of resources" and if not for the invasion of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan "would probably be over." [audio available here]
As the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out in 2006, Engel isn't exactly the most objective analyst the Today show could've brought on to analyze the war, as he admitted to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that he thinks "war should be illegal" and he told him "I'm basically a pacifist."
The following is the full exchange between Curry and Engel as it was aired on the August 31 Today show:
The news that it could be a good year for women electorally did not cheer up the likes of MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson and the Politico's Jeanne Cummings, because it turns out it's only going to be a good year for women on the Republican side like Nikki Haley, Meg Whitman, and Carly Fiorina or as Carlson put it: "It's not a compassionate women year." [audio available here]
Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, invited on Carlson and Cummings to take a look at "gender politics" and found that it could be a good year for women, just not the kind of women they like, in other words the more conservative momma grizzly types that Sarah Palin supports. Cummings even bemoaned that a loss of the House could result in "one giant blow to women" in that it "could take down the Speaker, Speaker Nancy Pelosi" who was "a real shining star for the achievements and the rise of women in government."
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the August 30 edition of Hardball:
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today show, invited on the not-so balanced panel of the Reverend Al Sharpton and the NAACP's Ben Jealous to analyze Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally that took place on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream speech" with Jealous proclaiming that "if Dr. King stood up there" the conservatives in attendance would not have "responded well" to him. Jealous went on to say Dr. King's "last campaign" was the "poor people's campaign. To make sure that all people...can find a good job, all kids can go to a great school. And Mr. Beck, that's not what he talks about. And that's not, that doesn't seem to be what he actually wants." This led Lauer, ignoring the fact that rally attendees also want those things, that they just differ on the methods to get there, to observe: "It seems like you guys are saying, without saying, that you're looking at what happened and you're looking at Glenn Beck as somewhat of a wolf in sheep's clothing."
The following Kelly O'Donnell set-up piece and Lauer interview with Sharpton and Jealous was aired on the August 30 Today show:
Today co-anchor Matt Lauer traveled to New Orleans, on Friday, to mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and interviewed the likes of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, former FEMA Director Mike Brown, current Democratic Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, but saved any sort of direct shots at George W. Bush for his interview with Laura Bush.
At the very end of his August 27 interview about her charitable work in the region, Lauer laid the following guilt trip on the former First Lady: [audio available here]
NBC's Tom Costello, on Friday's Today show, in previewing Glenn Beck's rally at the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, focused on the racial insensitivity of the Tea Partiers as he reminded NBC's viewers that at last year's rally in Washington "there were a lot of signs that had rather racist overtones. The concern is that might be repeated this time. By the way, many Beck followers, who are coming, are being urged to avoid African-American areas and avoid conflict."
Costello began his story noting that while "Glenn Beck says that Dr. King is a hero of his" he is still "defiant in his right to be here" and then went on to cite political analyst Stu Rothenberg in insisting "this weekend's event could carry risk for Republicans."
The following is the full Costello story as it was aired on the August 27 Today show:
If Democrats weren't nervous about November's midterm elections yet, they could soon be, especially when you consider that even their allies in the liberal media are starting to forecast doom for them, as NBC's Chuck Todd did on Tuesday's Today show, going as far to predict "Democrats are in deep, deep trouble." Todd, appearing in the 7am half hour of this morning's Today show explained to viewers that "The Tea Party has provided an enthusiasm boost to the Republican Party," however he reminded Democrats that they still had "six weeks to turn this around" but then added that "if they don't, they are headed for an historical defeat in November." [audio available here]
Interestingly though Todd and his NBC colleague Kelly O'Donnell, in her set up piece, didn't exactly paint a big Republican win as a defeat for liberals, as they couldn't even bring themselves to attach that label to any Democrats running in 2010. While Todd and O'Donnell used the "conservative" label a total of four times between them, neither of them used the "liberal" label even when they discussed Florida Representative Kendrick Meek who has a lifetime ACU rating of 7 and a lifetime ADA rating of 92 percent.
The following O'Donnell set-up piece and Todd segment were aired on the August 24 Today show:
Chris Matthews bizarrely accused Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of using code language to appeal to the Birther crowd for saying, on Sunday's Meet the Press, that "The President says he's a Christian. I take him at his word." The phrasing of "take him at his word" sent the MSNBC host, on Monday's Hardball, into a rage as he charged McConnell's statement was a "Pitch perfect, dog whistle to the haters."
In fact, Matthews devoted much of his show to "The right wing's attempt to de-Americanize the President" as he invited on Newsweek's Howard Fineman and the Huffington Post's Sam Stein, in the first segment, to dissect what they thought was some sort of nefarious strategy on the parts of McConnell, Reverend Franklin Graham, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to ride a "message of fear" to victory in November.
Matthews began his opening segment by attacking McConnell for failing to denounce any sort of conspiracy theories as he claimed: "The Republican leader of the Senate played Birther politics with abandon." He even brought on Fineman -- who proudly claimed that since he used to work in McConnell's home state of Kentucky and therefore "understands it" -- to explain to viewers that the GOP senator was trying to get Rand Paul elected by playing to a "nativist appeal" that "really works big time" in that state.
However McConnell wasn't the only target of Matthews' ire as the conversation soon turned towards Rush Limbaugh:
On Monday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer opened the show suggesting that Julian Assange was was being smeared by the Pentagon as the Today co-anchor teased: "And payback? The founder of WikiLeaks, the Web site that leaked classified war documents, briefly named in a rape case in Sweden. He says he's innocent. Those charges have been dropped and now he suggests it's all part of a Pentagon smear campaign today, Monday, August 23rd, 2010." However the Today show, never offered any evidence, other than Assange's claim, that the Pentagon was behind any of the charges.
NBC's Ann Curry, in introducing a Martin Fletcher story on Assange, posited: "Is the Pentagon targeting the founder of WikiLeaks for posting thousands of war documents online?" And while the the story did did air a clip of retired UK Colonel Richard Kemp blasting Assange for releasing the classified documents, Fletcher never presented any proof that the Pentagon was behind some sort of smear campaign.
On Friday's edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Mitchell brought on the Boston Globe's Peter Canellos to pine for the widow of Ted Kennedy, Vicki, to challenge Republican Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat, as well as imagine how effective the liberal "lion" would be in championing health care and unemployment extension legislation if he were still around today.
A wistful Mitchell remarked of the the late Senator: "It seems as though his legacy only grows in contrast to how low, what low regard the Senate is now held because of the gridlock and the, the sort of petty differences." Mitchell then set up the Globe's editorial page editor as she questioned if Kennedy "were trying to pull things together politically today, if we were blessed by his presence...do you think it would still be the passion for health care, or would he be looking to the larger economic issues?" To which Canellos remembered fondly: "When it comes to unemployment, I mean you can easily hear him...thundering against those who would deny unemployment to people who have been suffering." [audio available here]
The following is the full exchange as it was aired on the August 20 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports:
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, in a story aired on Friday's Today show, traveled to Arizona to profile Republican Ben Quayle's run for Congress and in the process gave Dan Quayle's son the same sort of treatment the former Vice President received from the media, as the NBC correspondent treated him like a joke. While O'Donnell briefly mentioned that Ben Quayle is a small business owner, the thrust of her piece was making light of foibles of the son and even father.
In her story O'Donnell aired a joke from her NBC colleague Jay Leno to make fun of a Quayle campaign mailer, pressed Quayle to deny he "wrote under the name Brock Landers, a porn star character from the movie Boogie Nights" for a blog and of course dredged up old footage of his dad misspelling the word potato and being ridiculed by Lloyd Bentsen in a 1988 vice presidential debate. [audio available here]
The following is the full O'Donnell story as it was aired on the August 20 Today show: