Say what you will about NBC's Today show but they recognize a ratings winner when they see one and they demonstrated that, when they invited Fox News host Glenn Beck back for a second appearance on Wednesday's show. However with that second guest spot came another opportunity to accuse him of fomenting hate.
In the 7am half hour Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira accused Beck of contributing to "a dialogue of hate" that led to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and in the 9am hour it was her colleague Natalie Morales' turn to make that ugly inference as she pressed Beck: "How do you respond to the accusations...that people make" since the Tucson shooting "that you may be somewhat to blame?"
This time around, Beck took a back seat to his co-author psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow who offered this professional diagnosis for those critics that blame Beck and other conservatives like Sarah Palin for the tragedy in Arizona: "Refer them to me, they're crazy."
Fox News host Glenn Beck showed up on Wednesday's Today show to promote his new book The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life, but it was NBC's Meredith Vieira's misperceptions of him and conservatives as a whole that Beck was forced to try to change. After an initial discussion about Beck overcoming his personal struggles, Vieira brought Beck into the debate over whether conservative talk provoked the Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner, as she charged: "You talk about spewing anger in your personal life but also in your professional life, Glenn. I mean there are people who've criticized you and said...you're part of the problem in terms of anger...you've added to this dialogue of hatred."
Beck deftly responded that anything he may have said was not any worse than what Vieira has heard from the likes of Jon Stewart or on The Simpsons, as seen in this fiery exchange:
MSNBC's Chris Matthews honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day by accusing white Republicans of being afraid of black people. During a Monday night Hardball special called "Obama's America," Matthews insultingly asked former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele if, at GOP conventions, black-Americans at those events were told not to "bunch up" because "you'll scare these people" and added: "Did you fear that if you got together with some other African-Americans these white guys might get scared of you?"
Steele, who was the only Republican on the panel, seemed shocked by the question as he responded to Matthews: "No! What are you talking about?" and then proceeded to cite the successful candidacies of Tim Scott, Allen West and others in the GOP field that would suggest white Republicans weren't exactly afraid of, as Matthews put it, "black folk hanging together."
The following is the full exchange from the panel that featured Steele along with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, as it was aired on the January 17 edition of Hardball:
Former Texas Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, on Thursday's Today show, was cornered by NBC's Matt Lauer on his anti-gun control stance, as Lauer pressed: "In the wake of...that shooting out in Tucson, Arizona, do you today feel the same way about gun control that you did when you were an elected official?" DeLay was invited on to discuss being sentenced in his campaign finance case but Lauer felt the need to shoe-horn in a question about the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as he attempted to guilt DeLay into rethinking his support for overturning the assault weapons ban back in 2004.
First up, Lauer's colleague, Norah O'Donnell, foreshadowed the anti-gun bias turn in the interview, in her set up piece as she reported: " In Congress, DeLay was known for his ruthless ability to make his fellow Republicans tow the line, blocking renewal of the assault weapons ban in 2004, in the news again today because of Saturday's Arizona shooting."
Lauer then advanced that line to DeLay in the subsequent interview segment as seen in the following January 13 Today show exchange:
Former NBC Nighty News anchor Tom Brokaw visited the Today show set, on Thursday, to play referee, or more specifically daddy, in the debate surrounding the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as he pontificated that it was "time for the parents to say time out" on the heated political rhetoric. However he then went on to question how Sarah Palin could dare to respond to all the personal attacks on her, many by some of Brokaw's colleagues on MSNBC, as he opined: "I was surprised that she waded back into it frankly."
On to discuss Barack Obama's performance at a memorial service for victims of the Tuscon shooting, Brokaw told Today co-anchor Meredith Vieira, that even though the service, as Vieira herself noticed, seemed more like a "pep rally" at times, Obama was simply doing his best to "Keep the mood of the crowd ebullient." Brokaw then scolded: "I would think that on the political, what I call the political poles, on both ends, it's probably time for the parents to say time out. You know let's, let's take a break here for a couple of days and reflect on what we've been through and where we need to go."
Later on in the segment Vieira prompted Brokaw to weigh-in on the temerity of Sarah Palin, to dare to defend herself as she asked: "Talking about pointing fingers...your views on Sarah Palin and her accusing the journalists of blood libel for blaming political rhetoric on what happened?" Brokaw responded:"I was surprised that she waded back into it frankly...I was surprised that she got back into it in the way that she did. I think we gotta move beyond that."
Director Spike Lee, along with his wife Tonya, came on Wednesday's Today show to promote their new children's book, but he couldn't leave without blaming the NRA for the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and slamming the United States of America for being "the most violent country in the history of civilization."
Chris Matthews, joined by two liberal talk radio hosts on Tuesday's Hardball, essentially blamed the likes of conservative hosts like Mark Levin for creating the climate of hate that led to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as the envious MSNBC host proclaimed: "People like Mark Levin, Michael Savage...every time you listen to them are furious, furious at the left with anger that's just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial, they're just in some rage, every night, with ugly talk....They must have an audience. I looked at the numbers today. They have big audiences! And I guess that's the question. Why and is it ever going to stop if it keeps working?"
Before that Matthews rant, Philadelphia area radio host Michael Smerconish coined a word in his attack on conservative chatter as he talked about "the hatriolic comments" he's heard and in referring to a scene he saw at a town hall meeting worried: "These are people who are on the edge and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all."
E. Steven Collins, another Philly area talker, sided with Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who attacked Rush Limbaugh, as he hailed: "The sheriff in Tucson was absolutely right...It does impact people who may have a mental problem or may not" and added that there was a "direct relationship" with Sarah Palin putting crosshairs on her Web site over Giffords' district and the loss of a life of "that little girl who went down to meet the congressperson."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell just can't let go of the media spin that political rhetoric, specially from conservatives like Sarah Palin, is somehow partly to blame for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as on Tuesday's Today show, she questioned if Palin's use of crosshairs on her Web site to target Democratic districts was "inflammatory?" Mitchell couldn't even report that "There is no direct link" from Palin to the shooting suspect Jared Loughner without adding, "as far as investigators know."
Mitchell actually began her story airing a soundbite from outer space with Giffords' brother-in-law, astronaut Scott Kelly, linking political rhetoric to the attack on Giffords:
ANDREA MITCHELL: From the space station, Gabrielle Gifford's brother-in-law, her husband's twin, fellow astronaut Scott Kelly.
SCOTT KELLY: These days we're constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words.
While Mitchell did eventually allow conservatives to have their say, as she aired soundbites from Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and David Frum, she finished her piece with words from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Giffords, that left the impression harsh discourse was to blame for the tragedy.
Chris Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, used the attempt on Gabrielle Giffords' life, to not only portray America as some sort of gun crazed country, but also to blame the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann for political violence as he blurted: "Sarah Palin using gun play language. What is she talking about crosshairs and reloading...and Bachmann out there with her kind of talk. I mean it seems like the way people talk now has, has gotten more ballistic...Why are guns talked about so much, especially on the right? Why?"
First up, Matthews depicted the United States as a uniquely gun crazed nation, especially in regards to political violence, as he told asked Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva "In Mexico I don't see their leaders getting knocked off every couple of years....This country has a particular, historic problem with assassination of public officials." Apparently Matthews missed the news that just this last summer, in Mexico, a candidate for governor, Rodolfo Torre, was killed.
Then later on in the show, Matthews, along with the Huffington Post's Howard Fineman, went after a couple of his favorite targets, Palin and Bachmann, as seen in this exchange:
On Monday's Today show, NBC's Lee Cowan, inspired by Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's blaming political rhetoric for the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, highlighted Sarah Palin's Web site map featuring crosshairs on Giffords' district, as he scolded: "Not since Timothy McVeigh attacked the federal building in Oklahoma City has a crime sparked so much attention on anti-government rhetoric. That map Sarah Palin put up on Facebook last year, targeting Congresswoman Gifford's seat, made Gifford nervous, even then."
To underscore Dupnik's charge about political rhetoric, in addition to citing the Palin crosshairs map, Cowan aired clips from various health care and immigration protests, but paid close attention to those opposed to the Democratic agenda including Republican Congressman Joe Wilson, as seen in the following excerpt:
NBC's Matt Lauer, at the top of Monday's Today show, alerted viewers that Sarah Palin was being drawn into the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as he teased an upcoming Andrea Mitchell story this way: "Sarah Palin has been coming under some criticism. While there is no evidence her Web site featuring a target on Giffords' district had anything to do with this attack, some are asking if today's political rhetoric is inspiring the lunatic fringe?" For her part, Mitchell made sure to point out "while there is no indication that this suspect was inspired...by political speech" she then proceeded to devote most of her story linking Palin to the attack.
In a story entitled, "Crosshairs Controversy, Palin Criticized For 'Targeting Giffords'" Mitchell noted: "The attack has reopened criticism of the way Palin targeted Gabby Giffords and 19 other Democrats in last year's campaign." Mitchell then went on to report that after Giffords' congressional district, along with 20 others, was targeted with crosshairs on a map on Sarah Palin's Web site, "Giffords' Tuscon office was vandalized" and then aired a clip of Giffords slamming Palin.
Chris Matthews has a new obsession for 2011 and her name is Michele Bachmann. Matthews has gone after Bachmann with the same fervor he used to reserve for Dick Cheney and on Thursday's Hardball he mocked the Minnesota Republican Congresswoman's new appointment to the House Intelligence committee as he snidely observed: "This is great irony here, on the Intelligence committee. I wonder what the rules are for getting on that committee? I guess they're pretty lenient."
Matthews also questioned Bachman's motives for getting involved in public service as he asked The Daily Beast's Shushannah Walshe about a profile she wrote about Bachmann that touched on her religious beliefs:
MATTHEWS: Well what is the religious piece here because I don't want to push it too hard, but is there a kind of Joan of Arc thing going on here? The way you write that piece makes it sounds like she's on a kind of crusade. I'm serious. Almost a Messianic goal here, which goes beyond what we normally consider politics in America.
NBC's Meredith Vieira seemed baffled by the concept of taking a principled stand against Obamacare, as she repeatedly pressed Michele Bachmann, on Thursday's Today show, why Republicans would bother to vote to repeal the health care bill in the House if it wasn't going to get passed in the Senate or signed by the President? Vieira's very first question to the Republican Minnesota Congresswoman set the aggressive tone for the entire interview as she demanded: "Given the fact that the Democratic-led Senate will never go for that and the President has veto power,why make that the first big thing on your plate?"
For her part Bachmann attempted to explain to the Today co-anchor that health care was "the issue that people really reacted against" in the midterms and "were very upset that very few members even bothered to read the health care bill." However Vieira found that to be an insufficient response as she rebutted: "But if you have no chance to repeal it, why go through this exercise?"
On the day the Republicans took over the House, NBC's Today show found time to send correspondent Peter Alexander out to profile New York's "First Couple" of the newly elected Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Food Network chef girlfriend Sandra Lee. While Alexander devoted most of his Wednesday report to Lee's biography, he did air political consultant Dan Gerstein observing that an unmarried First Couple in New York wasn't a big deal considering that Cuomo was following a governor "who was discredited in a prostitution scandal and another governor who admitted not just infidelity but cocaine use." Of course neither Gerstein or Alexander bothered to mention that those two respective scandalized former governors (Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson) were Democrats.
The following is Alexander's puff piece on Cuomo and Lee as it was aired on the January 5 edition of the Today show:
NBC's Meredith Vieira wasted no time in jumping down Paul Ryan's throat, on Wednesday's Today show, as she said it appeared the Republican Party did not care as much about creating jobs, since they seemed to be more focused on repealing Obamacare, which the Today co-anchor characterized as "an act of revenge." For his part the Wisconsin Republican Congressman responded that repealing Obamacare law had everything to do with creating jobs since, as he educated Vieira, "The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs," as seen in the following exchange:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: As of today Republicans control the House, and as Matt just brought up, one of the key points on your agenda will be attempting to repeal the health care plan. But given the fact you do not have the votes in the Senate, as Senator McCain just pointed out, and the President has veto power. And also given the fact that the American voters, in the midterm elections, made it clear that what they care about most right now are jobs and the economy, why go down this path at all? It almost feels like an act of revenge on the part of the Republican Party?
REP. PAUL RYAN: Well, first of all, this is related to jobs and the economy. The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs. So this, don't think that this isn't related to jobs.
(video after the jump)
Vieira went on to belittle House Republicans' move to cut their own budgets but then cited the New York Times to claim they were "backtracking" on their promises to cut spending, which was yet another error Ryan was forced to correct as seen in this back and forth:
Echoing his Election Night accusation that Michele Bachman was "hypnotized" Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, called the Minnesota Republican congresswoman a "zombie" as he insultingly asked GOP strategist Todd Harris to identify who Bachmann is getting her "orders from?" Matthews made the comment during a discussion about raising the debt ceiling and the Hardball host, who is fond of making cinematic comparisons, even referenced Hollywood horror screen legend Boris Karloff in his over-the-top slam of Bachmann, as seen in this exchange from the January 4 edition of Hardball:
It's perhaps the last place you'd expect to find the longtime host of the syndicated McLaughlin Group but on the year end episode of that show, aired over the weekend, John McLaughlin announced his New Year's resolution was to attend the Burning Man Festival. At the end of the show, when all the panelists were asked to reveal their individual New Year's resolutions, McLaughlin drew gasps and laughter when he made the following stunning announcement:
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Monday's Today show, feared cooler heads would not prevail in the newly GOP controlled House as he worried that those who've "staked their entire careers and reputation on dissent" are going "to do a lot of yelling in these first couple of days and weeks." Lauer, apparently not realizing that many Americans voted in the midterms for "dissent" against the likes of Obamacare, asked David Gregory who would win between the aforementioned yellers and those "who really listen to the voters."
Gregory responded that the Tea Party comes to Washington with a "mandate" to "stick to some of the principles" they campaigned on, but then added that the incoming chair of the House Government committee, Republican Darrell Issa, was going to use his subpoena power "to take that opposition to the next level." This prompted Lauer to huff: "But is that what Republicans across the country want, David? Do they want investigations or do they want other things accomplished?"
Later on in the segment, on a different topic, Lauer, Gregory and Todd, piled on New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, as well as New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, asking if their political futures were "hurt" by their handling of the recent snowstorms. Todd affirmed both were hurt as he asserted: "Both of them have sketched out this idea that they are the competency candidates." and "If they ever ran for president they'd be like, 'Look we can make this thing work.' Well the first test of competency is managing an emergency crisis like this. And on this one, right now, it looks like they had a tough time passing that test."
On the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, over the weekend, CNN's Gloria Borger predicted that incoming House Republicans will overreach and make Barack Obama "look good" in comparison and allow the President to become the "grown-up." During a segment in which host Chris Matthews asked his panel to predict how Obama will deal with the GOP, New York magazine's John Heilemann suggested Republicans would "work with him" on issues like deficit reduction and education, which prompted Matthews to ask Borger if this meant Republicans could no longer call him a "socialist."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: So, you're shaking your head. Is one of the advantages of cutting deals with Republicans, they can't call you a socialist anymore?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN: Right! They can't call you a socialist anymore. Although there will be some Republicans, in the new Congress, who are not gonna like the deals that the other Republicans cut. So he's still gonna have those problems. But they will make him look good, by the way. And he will be able to triangulate and to look like the grown-up which is-
MATTHEWS: Oh my favorite word!
BORGER: -what people want.
A little bit later on in the segment the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan insisted a GOP House will allow Obama to become the "President he wants to be" because, as he insisted, "he's not a big spending liberal, never was!"
On Thursday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer pushed Mike Pence to compromise on the tax deal to get the measure passed before Christmas as he hectored the Indiana Republican Congressman that "there are things in this package that neither side likes, but that's the basis of compromise." Lauer even attempted to start an intramural fight between Republicans as he threw the words of Congressman Paul Ryan in Pence's face, as seen in this exchange:
MATT LAUER: You said this is a tough call. How do you think it's gonna go in the rest of the House? Do you think it'll pass?
MIKE PENCE: Yeah I think it is a tough call. Look no, no House Republican wants to see taxes go up on any American. And, and most of us have been fighting to make sure that no American sees a tax increase in, in January. But, for my part, I just believe that this tax cut deal will do little to create jobs. It adds to the national debt. I think we can do better. I think we can take time to do better and Congress should do just that.
LAUER: Even as you make this decision one of your fellow Republicans, Paul Ryan, is criticizing it, saying, "You know what this is a purely political decision." As a matter of fact I think he goes further to say, "It's a purely personal, political decision. That as someone who is being considered or perhaps considering running for president in 2012, you can't be seen as too cooperative with the Democrats or President Obama." How do you respond to that?
On Wednesday's Hardball, Chris Matthews brought on former Washington D.C. chancellor of public schools Michelle Rhee to discuss the state of public education in this country and praised her for work on the part of students but also warned her to "stay away from the right wing" because she was "too good to be grabbed by some ideological fool."
After Rhee explained to Matthews why public school students needed an organization like the one she founded, Students First, to counterbalance the influence of the teachers unions, Matthews congratulated her for not becoming a tool of conservatives.
Time's managing editor Richard Stengel appeared on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, on Thursday, to promote his magazine's Person of the Year issue and after he cited the reasons for selecting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, he explained the reason the Tea Party didn't was because they were a group. After host Andrea Mitchell asked him to explain his rationale for not picking the other runners-up, Stengel lamely told her he disqualified the Tea Party because he's "biased in favor of putting a single person on the cover."
However, devoting a Time Person of the Year cover to a group of people is not without precedent. In recent years Time acknowledged "The Good Samaritans" of Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates in 2005, "The American Soldier" in 2003, and in 2006, when Stengel took over as managing editor of Time he put a mirror on the cover of the magazine as he declared "You" the Person of the Year.
NBC's Peter Alexander, on Tuesday's Today show, decided to explore the softer side of WikiLeaks founder and purveyor of U.S. state secrets Julian Assange as he interviewed an investigative journalist from Oxford University who found him to be "funny, intelligent" and "not at all...rigid" and also aired a clip of Assange's mother speaking up for her son as she demanded that the world "stand up for my brave son."
In fact Alexander never aired a clip or interviewed any one who had a negative word to say about Assange but he did reveal some postings Assange allegedly made to an Internet singles site as Alexander reported:
"He writes, 'I am Danger.' And describes himself as 'passionate and often pig headed activist intellectual seeks siren for love affair, children and occasional criminal conspiracy.' That he's looking for a 'spirited, erotic non-conformist,' concluding 'Do not write to me if you are timid. Write to me if you are brave.'"
Appearing on Monday's Today show to reveal the finalists for his magazine's Person of the Year issue, Time's managing editor Richard Stengel hyped that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is "changing the way we look at" diplomacy, the "perception of secrecy" and hailed he had "an enormous year." Stengel didn't bother to attach a value judgment to Assange and the negative effect he's had on national security, but Today co-host Matt Lauer did remind Stengel that Assange was "embroiled in some personal scandal."
As for another finalist, the Tea Party, Stengel explained the rationale for putting them on the list is that they tapped into a generalized "feeling of frustration that people have of distrust for authority, of distrust for centralized leadership. That's almost a theme of the whole year." Neither Stengel nor Lauer pointed out the Tea Party also represented a backlash to Barack Obama's liberal policies.
Michele Bachmann had a formidable task, on Friday's Today show, as she tried her best to explain to NBC's Meredith Vieira that Republicans wanted to keep taxes low on the job producers to create more jobs, but Vieira wasn't having any of it, as she accused her and the GOP of being "mean spirited" to the jobless for not being more generous on unemployment benefits.
Vieira argued that the unemployed think Republicans who are for "these tax cuts, even for multimillionaires but opposed to extending unemployment benefits that are helping the people who are hurting most" were being "mean spirited." Bachmann responded by correcting the cartoon image many have of those who earn over $250,000 a year as those who were "lighting their cigars with $100 bills" as she explained many of them were small business owners who create jobs and added that what the jobless really want most is a regular paycheck from one of those job creators, as seen in this exchange:
The Republican Attorney General of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, accomplished what many others have failed to do and that is stay calm and collected in the midst of Chris Matthews' increasingly absurd charges, that even bordered on accusations of racism. Invited on Thursday's Hardball, to discuss a possible repeal amendment to the Constitution, Cuccinelli faced down a series of Matthews distortions as the Hardball host, at varying times, accused him of wanting to start another Whiskey Rebellion, questioned if he wanted to overturn the Civil Rights Act and charged that he was playing to "The old Johnny Rebs" and "Civil War buffs" in his state.
After Cuccinelli simply explained to the MSNBC host that the amendment was just an "attempt to bring back the balance of authority between the federal government and what goes on in the states" Matthews went on a tear as he insinuated the attorney general wanted to take America back to Antebellum days, as seen in the following exchange:
NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Wednesday's Today show, hit David Axelrod repeatedly from the left as she lectured the White House senior adviser that the left is "furious" at Barack Obama for making a deal with the GOP on tax cuts as she pressed: "Why shouldn't Americans look at this as a disaster in the making?"
During a segment headlined: "Tax Cut Compromise: Did President Go Too Far In Agreeing With GOP?" the Today co-host regurgitated talking points from the left to Axelrod as she scolded: "One senator went so far as to call" the tax cut compromise "borderline immoral" and demanded "how does he win back these fellow Democrats that he's referred to as sanctimonious?" After Axelrod responded that it would be "immoral" to have "millions of Americans" lose their unemployment insurance at the holidays, in addition to having their taxes raised, Vieira admonished the administration from the left:
On Tuesday's Andrea Mitchell Reports, Republican Senator Judd Gregg had to remind Andrea Mitchell that hardworking Americans' money belongs to them and not the government, after the NBC reporter pressed him to "justify" a "larger tax cut for those who really don't need it."
On to discuss the tax cut deal in Congress, Gregg explained to Mitchell that the "problem we have as a government today isn't that we're an under-taxed people. It's that we're an overspending government." However an undeterred Mitchell then went on to cite billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as saying "at a time of deficit crisis that they don't need these tax breaks," to which Gregg zinged back: "If Warren Buffett and Bill Gates want to send us money, we'll take it."
The following exchange was aired on the December 7 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:
The Today show cast, on Tuesday, previewed a guest appearance by reality show star Kate Gosselin on Sarah Palin's TLC show, and after showing a clip of the former Alaska Governor frightening the celebrity mother of eight kids by firing off a gun, Vieira revealed she shared Gosselin's fears as she yelped: "You're with a woman with a gun. The whole thing makes me nervous, you know?"
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the December 7 Today show:
Invited on Tuesday's Today show to discuss the tax cut compromise in Congress, CNBC's Erin Burnett initially whined that "We can't afford it" but then went on to tell viewers that if Congress were to forego tax cuts we could afford "universal pre-school for free and provide free college tuition for half of the college students."
When asked by Today co-host Meredith Vieira about the "price tag" of the tax cut agreement and whether America could afford it, Burnett went on to bluntly assert "The answer to that is no" and then went on to cite a New York Times analysis that listed all the goodies America could pay for if Congress scrapped a tax break to those earning over $250,000 a year, as seen in this exchange from the December 7 Today show: