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:
Bill Press appeared on Fox News' Geraldo At Large, on Sunday night, as part of a discussion about whether the Bush era tax cuts would be extended and the former CNN host couldn't get his story straight as he recommended that Congress go back to the Bill Clinton era "tax cuts." In fact Clinton, back in 1993, passed the largest tax increase in history but this bit of truth didn't get in the way of Press claiming, three times, that Clinton had cut taxes.
Oddly enough Press, near the end of his segment, eventually backed into truth, when he bragged: "I have to add Bill Clinton raised taxes, not one Republican voted for it, and 20 million jobs created under Bill Clinton."
The following exchange was aired on the December 5 edition of Geraldo At Large:
During a Norah O'Donnell report, on Friday's Today, about how well books written by the likes of Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Glenn Beck are selling, the New York Times' Jenny Schuessler rationalized the only reason conservative books are outpacing liberal ones is because "conservatives have some really strong media personalities" like Beck and Bill O'Reilly " that have a platform that they can promote their books from."
There's just one flaw in that piece of logic, something O'Donnell failed to point out, liberals including her fellow NBC colleague Keith Olbermann, who has a nightly "platform" on MSNBC, routinely put out books that flop. At the time of publication of this article Olbermann's Pitchforks and Torches, just released in October, is currently ranked at 3,997 on Amazon.com.
O'Donnell began her piece highlighting how both Bush and Palin's books are competing with each other on the New York Times Bestseller list as she hyped: "Call it Bush versus Palin, and the winner? President Bush is number one" and then later added that it wasn't just right leaning politicians that were burning up the book charts, but that conservative radio and TV talkers were holding their own as well, which led to a soundbite from Schuessler suggesting they were moving book sales simply because they were on the airwaves.
Chris Matthews, on Thursday's Hardball, assailed Republican Congressman John Boehner for, in his view, trashing the planet because the soon-to-be Speaker of the House announced the slashing of the House committee on global warming. Making fun of his smoking habit the MSNBC host derisively theorized that Boehner was going to treat the "whole planet" like he does his "ashtray."
The following Matthews outburst was aired during the "Sideshow" segment on the December 2 edition of Hardball:
On Wednesday's Today show NBC's Ann Curry managed to thread the theme of global warming through three different news stories, during her 9am news update. The co-anchor began by notifying viewers about the "wild weather" of record rainfall and tornadoes in the South to snow in the Midwest and then told her audience that "unusual weather seems to be a growing trend" as she delivered the latest bit of alarmism coming out of a climate conference in Mexico. Curry then wrapped up her update with a quirky eco-friendly news story about a Tokyo aquarium that is using an electric eel to light up its Christmas tree.
The following series of news briefs from Curry were aired on the December 1 Today show:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on all three major morning shows, on Wednesday, and was pressed by ABC, CBS and NBC's anchors about whether or not the President would fold and compromise with the Republicans on keeping the Bush era tax cuts in place - but it was the Today show's Meredith Vieira that hit him the strongest question from the left as she asked Gibbs what kind of "message" would Barack Obama "send to his base" if he doesn't raise taxes on the wealthy, adding, "many of whom already wonder what happened to the fighter they elected president?"
Vieira began her interview with Gibbs by noting that, according to her NBC colleague Chuck Todd, White House officials were "privately conceding that the President will bend on this tax issue" and that would include "tax cuts for every one, including the very wealthy" and continued to repeatedly push Gibbs to say if Obama would support tax increases on the rich, something Matt Lauer also did in his interview yesterday morning with Republican Congressman Eric Cantor.
Over on ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos bolstered the left's soak the rich line as he tried to get Gibbs to reassure Obama's base: "You just said extending the tax cuts for the wealthy is a line in the sand. Does that mean the President would veto any bill that extends the tax cuts for the wealthy?"
Instead of leading with how Army Private First Class Bradley Manning may have jeopardized national security with his document dump to WikiLeaks, NBC's chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, in his profile of Manning on Tuesday's Today show, told viewers he was the "most unlikely suspect, with a youthful smile" and portrayed him as an abused victim of the military. Miklaszewski used the New York Times' Ginger Thompson in his report to tell the tale of young man who apparently decided to avenge the abuse he had taken over the years, dating back to high school, by selling out his country.
Before throwing to soundbites from Thompson, Miklaszewski teased that the New York Times reporter "profiled Manning and found that as a young man he was an outcast who tried desperately to fit in." Thompson then went on to reveal that Manning "was teased all the time in elementary school for being a geek" and was beaten up in high school for "because kids figured out that he was gay." After Miklaszewski added that the abuse continued when he joined the Army, noting "once in the military, he quickly became a target," he aired another clip of Thompson claiming "As a gay man in the military, he was, you know, he was outcast and he was, you know, teased and harassed."
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Tuesday's Today show, invited on soon to be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to discuss today's meeting of Republican congressional leaders with Barack Obama, and in the process tried to force Cantor to move in the President's direction on raising taxes. The Today co-anchor opened the conversation by wondering if Cantor was going into the meeting in the mood for "compromise or confrontation" and then quickly brought up the issue of extending the Bush era tax cuts as he pressed: "Could you not see possibly raising taxes just a little bit?" on those making over $250,000 a year.
Cantor responded that job growth and tax cuts were intertwined as he educated Lauer: "We want to make sure that we're doing everything to get people back to work right now and that means we've got to ensure that taxes don't go up on anybody, especially on the small businesses that we're expecting to create jobs so we can finally bring the unemployment down."
NBC's Matt Lauer, on Thursday's Today show, invited on Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski to applaud her presumptive write-in ballot win over Republican candidate Joe Miller and asked if she would now "stand up against" Republicans "who may feel that the only way for them to succeed" is for Barack Obama to fail. After Lauer went through the perfunctory congratulations, he asked the candidate who failed to win her party's own primary, if she would, essentially, become a thorn in the side of Republicans as seen in the following question:
MATT LAUER: You, you talk about governance based on anger or fear. You're a moderate Republican. You've said that you do not pass the purity test that the Tea Party has set out. You said something else. You said, said "I will tell you I'm not one of those who wants Obama to fail." Will you stand up against other Republicans who may feel that the only way for them to succeed is for the President not to succeed?
Lauer also made sure to note that since Sarah Palin endorsed Joe Miller, Murkowski's victory could also be seen as a diminishment of the former Alaskan Governor's "prestige" and "power," as queried: "There are a lot of other people who are saying you defeated Sarah Palin. She backed Mr. Miller in her home state, put the prestige of her power behind that, that endorsement. How much does this say about her power and impact going forward, in your opinion?"
NBC's Andrea Mitchell, hosting her self-titled MSNBC show on Wednesday, got into a bit of a tiff with Republican Senator John Barrasso over, of all things, a scheduling conflict. Mitchell opened her broadcast of Andrea Mitchell Reports asking why the Republicans delayed a meeting with the President as she whined: "How about that for setting a new tone of bipartisanship in Washington?" Then the NBC News correspondent brought on Barrasso to explain the great slight to the President as she pestered: "Senator so what happened? You guys are just too busy tomorrow?"
Mitchell even brought up the complaint via her Twitter account where she compared it to when a then House Speaker Newt Gingrich once complained about his seating arrangement on Air Force One during the Clinton administration:
Dissing POTUS -sources say white house wanted to meet, GOP "couldn't" - is this like newt complaining abt his seat on af1? could backfire?
The following is the full exchange as it was aired on the November 17 edition of Andrea Mitchell Reports:
Bobby Jindal, on Monday's Today show, slammed the Obama administration for its slow response to the BP oil spill off the coast of Lousiana, charging that: "It seemed like the federal government was disconnected from the facts on the ground." However Today co-anchor offered excuses for the President as he queried the Louisiana Republican Governor: "In fairness though, Governor, in those early days of the spill did any one really have an idea of the scope of this and have immediate solutions, ways to fix it?" On to promote his new book Leadership and Crisis, Jindal was told by the Today co-anchor that his harsh criticism of the President probably got him "dis-invited to the White House Christmas party."
The following is the full interview as it was aired on Monday's Today show: