When the latest installment of Saturday Night Live parodied Friday’s presidential debate, the NBC comedy program gave attention to Barack Obama’s connections to convicted criminal Tony Rezko, corrupt Chicago politics, and Obama’s recent attempts at "playing the race card," which notably are all matters that the mainstream news media have given little attention to. While the show also took a number of shots at John McCain, several times having him propose a bizarre gimmick like challenging Obama to a pie-eating contest for example, the Illinois Senator also received several noteworthy jabs. One line involved McCain’s character, played by Darrell Hammond, referring to Obama, played by Fred Armisen, as making an earmark request titled "Tony Rezko Hush Money." Obama’s character also bragged that his tax cut plan would benefit Chicago politicians and city employees "because my plan would not tax income from bribes, kickbacks, shakedowns, embezzlement of government funds, or extortion."
The Obama character later promised that he would "play the race card" against dictators like North Korean President Kim Jong Il if necessary to guilt-trip them into dismantling their nuclear programs, as he would accuse Kim of refusing to cooperate with him because "I’m not like the other guys on the $5 and $10 bills."
During a phone interview with FNC anchor Megyn Kelly, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who already voiced disapproval of Barack Obama's attempt to suggest that Kissinger would agree with his intention to meet personally with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, on Saturday elaborated on his disagreement with Obama, and clarified his views on how America should negotiate with Iran. The segment began with a soundbite of Obama from the debate trying to lecture McCain about Kissinger’s views. Obama: "Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who’s one of his advisors, who, along with five recent Secretaries of State, just said that we should meet with Iran, guess what, ‘without precondition.’ This is one of your own advisors."
Asked by Kelly if he supported having a President "meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions," Kissinger responded: "No, I don’t. I have argued that, at some point, negotiations with Iran are important. But it is my view that they should be on the working level, and that the President should not be involved until we know that we are close to an agreement, or that we know what the nature of the agreement is." Kelly soon sought clarification: "So, in other words, you favor negotiations at the lower level, perhaps all the way up to the Secretary of State, but you do not believe an American President should sit down without preconditions, as Barack Obama says he would like to do." Kissinger: "That is correct."
Since Friday’s presidential debate, all three major broadcast networks have highlighted one of Barack Obama’s more commanding moments when he charged that John McCain was wrong in some of his pre-Iraq war predictions, but the media have so far ignored Obama’s incorrect assertion that "there was no Al-Qaeda" presence in Iraq before America’s invasion in 2003. Before the 2003 invasion, various news sources – some American, some from other countries – were already citing the governments of various countries as they reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, not only was already in Iraq plotting attacks to be carried out in Europe, but that he already had an association with Osama bin Laden and had spent time in Afghanistan. But during Friday’s debate, Senator Obama asserted: "Now, keep in mind that we have four times the number of troops in Iraq, where nobody had anything to do with 9/11 before we went in, where, in fact, there was no Al-Qaeda before we went in, but we have four times more troops there than we do in Afghanistan."
By contrast, ABC, CBS, and NBC have all played the following soundbite of Obama from the debate which is more favorable to the Illinois Democrat: "John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003. And, at the time, when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy, you said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong. You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shia and Sunni. And you were wrong."
Notably, back in January 2003 and again in March 2004, the NBC Nightly News relayed claims that the Bush administration had "passed up several opportunities to take [Zarqawi] out well before the Iraq war began." The below was first posted on February 29 of this year, and lists some of the relevant reporting on Zarqawi from various sources and countries:
During Friday’s post-debate coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews portrayed Barack Obama as appearing "more presidential" while he complained that John McCain "was crunched over, almost grumpy in physical manner," as he contended that McCain "may not have been presidential." Matthews also complained that McCain did not look at Obama at all during the debate, a theme which Matthews touched on repeatedly that night. Matthews: "[McCain] may not have been presidential, however. Not once tonight, in an hour and a half, did he look at his opponent. He was crunched over, almost grumpy in his physical manner. I think a lot of people will take that body language as contemptuous of his opponent. They won’t like it. Barack Obama, on the other hand, who kept agreeing with McCain, over and over again, saying I agree with the point you made, I agree with the point you made, looked more presidential, although I believe on points, he gave away too much."
Matthews also characterized McCain as "troll-like" and "grumpy," and asked if Americans "really want to put up with four years of that," and described McCain as seeming "really contemptuous" of Obama. Guest John Heilemann contended that McCain "hates Obama." Matthews: "Do people really want to put up with four years of that? Of sitting there angrily, grumpily, like a codger? Like, like, I don’t want to push it too far, but didn’t he seem really contemptuous of his opponent? Do you want to put up with four years of that?"
During a special edition of MSNBC’s Countdown show after Friday’s presidential debate, Keith Olbermann seemed to insert a joke about the weight of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger into a conversation about the performance of John McCain and Barack Obama. As previously documented by the MRC’s Matthew Balan, the Countdown host brought up McCain’s difficulty in pronouncing the name of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and liberal Air America and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow contended that Obama’s most memorable line was when he accused McCain of being "wrong" about Iraq. Referring to Obama’s line in which the Illinois Democrat incorrectly suggested that Kissinger agreed with him about meeting with dictators like Ahmadinejad, Olbermann, who has a history of making fat jokes about conservatives on his Countdown show, made a quip at Kissinger’s expense in which the MSNBC host seemed to pick on his weight: "Or, perhaps, throwing Henry Kissinger back in Senator McCain’s face, which is physically a tough act to do certainly."
Fox News recently picked up on a piece by the National Post’s Jonathan Kay which takes on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) because one of its columnists, Heather Mallick, recently included incendiary comments in her September 5 column, on CBC's Web site, "A Mighty Wind blows through Republican convention," about Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, contending that Palin has the "toned-down version of the porn actress look," and attacking people in small towns as she charged that Palin "added nothing to the ticket that the Republicans didn't already have sewn up, the white trash vote, the demographic that sullies America's name inside and outside its borders yet has such a curious appeal for the right."
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann charged that the Republican Party, which he referred to as the "Grand Old Terrorism Party," is engaging in "terrorism" against Americans by distributing DVD copies of an anti-terrorism film, which Olbermann referred to as "neocon pornography." The film in question, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," analyzes the threat of radical Islam and shines a light on the antisemitic, anti-West propaganda that many children are subjected to in some schools in predominantly Muslim countries, and the media that are tolerant of this kind of radical message in these countries. Even though the film opens with an on-screen disclaimer emphasizing that "most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror," and that "this is not a film about them," Olbermann portrayed the film as a "hate DVD." Olbermann: "[Republicans] are polluting the nation with more neocon pornography today. ... The disk is of a lunatic fringe, right-wing film ... In it, scenes of Muslim children are intercut with Nazi rallies. The organization behind the hate DVD has endorsed Senator McCain."
Notably, just a month ago, Olbermann accused "neocons" of engaging in a conspiracy to ignite a new Cold War with Russia, as he theorized that they "may think terrorism is dead, at least as far as its usefulness as a weapon to frighten Americans, and they've decided to foment the return of an oldie but a goodie, that threat from those godless commu-, I'm sorry, that threat from those czarist Russians."
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, Keith Olbermann referred to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly as "inducers to violence" as the MSNBC host, during the show's "Worst Person" segment, attacked conservative talk radio host Eddie Burke of Anchorage, Alaska, for making inflammatory remarks calling two women who organized a protest against Governor Palin "socialist, baby-killing maggots," and for giving out the women’s cell phone numbers to his audience leading the women to receive death threats. Olbermann suggested that Burke would fit in with Limbaugh or O’Reilly: "Mr. Burke, he got a paltry one-week suspension, and, no doubt, consideration to fill in some day for comedian Rush Limbaugh or Billow or some other of radio’s inducers to violence."
And during the show’s regular segment, "McCain in the Membrane," a recently added portion of the program whose purpose is, according to Olbermann, to cover "the most outrageous or untrue things said by or on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain," the MSNBC host charged that it was "sick" for Palin to tout herself as an advocate for special needs children after she had, in Olbermann’s words, "gutted" funding for the Alaska Special Olympics. But Olbermann ignored the recent finding by FactCheck.org that, as governor, Palin secured a substantial increase in state spending for special needs children in the education system, thus strengthening her credentials as a advocate for special needs children. Update: As documented by NewsBuster Noel Sheppard, it seems Olbermann was incorrect in his accusation that Palin reduced spending on the Alaska Special Olympics. Click here for more details.
While FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor this week has been featuring portions of Bill O’Reilly’s interview with Barack Obama which stands out as being more challenging to the Democratic candidate than those interviews conducted by the more liberal mainstream media, it is noteworthy that on Tuesday’s show, during the "Pinheads and Patriots" segment, O’Reilly awarded Michelle Obama the "Patriot" distinction because she danced with Ellen Degeneres during a Monday appearance on her show Ellen. But, by contrast, he then suggested that conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck, co-host of ABC’s The View, may deserve the "Pinhead" dishonor because Hasselbeck recently criticized Michelle Obama for having a list of demands when she appeared on The View, as Hasselbeck spoke at an event praising Cindy McCain. O’Reilly: "I say [Obama and Degeneres are] both patriots because we need all the dancing we can get in America. It lightens the mood. On the pinhead front, I'm not sure about this, so you can decide if View host Elisabeth Hasselbeck was out of bounds at a fundraiser honoring Cindy McCain." Notably, last February, O'Reilly seemed to suggest that conservatives were acting like a "lynching party" for their attacks on Michelle Obama's declaration that "for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country."
Tuesday's Countdown show on MSNBC showed a portion of Keith Olbermann's interview with Barack Obama in which the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that Obama was "just about 100 percent on the spot" in his predictions of the troop surge in Iraq, and downplayed the signficance of the reduction in the number of Iraqis who are the victims of violence. Olbermann: "Your predictions about the surge, your language about the surge seemed to have turned out to be just about 100 percent on the spot. ... If you are right, why have the Republicans and the conservative media been so effective in suggesting that you were wrong and somehow you need to atone for that?"
Ironically, during an interview with Olbermann on January 10, 2007, Obama had expressed his view that "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse." And in another irony, on Tuesday's show, Olbermann lambasted Sean Hannity as having "fantastically poor short-term memory" during the show's "Worst Person" segment because Hannity denied that anyone at FNC had suggested Obama was a Muslim, without mentioning that some FNC personalities had pushed stories about the possibility Obama had a Muslim background during childhood.
Monday night featured MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow finding fault with Sarah Palin's religious beliefs and some of the teachings of her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, as the two harped on a speech the Alaska governor delivered at the Wasilla Assembly of God last June.
On the first episode of her new television program, the "Rachel Maddow Show," the eponymous host misinterpreted Palin's request that church members pray for American troops, as the Alaska governor expressed her hope that the Iraq war is part of "God's plan," with the MSNBC host claiming that Palin was "asserting" that the war factually is "God's plan."
Maddow claimed that Palin "said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq War is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D." On Countdown, Olbermann and Maddow took exception with Palin's account of a minister who prayed that she would be successful in her political life as they mocked the concept of praying in the hopes that prayers might be answered. Olbermann referred to Palin as "Elmer Gantry" and "Amy Semple McHockey Mom."
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged conservative talk radio hosts Mark Levin and Sean Hannity as "lunatic right-wing" hosts, and Hannity as "not-so-smart." Responding to a recent joke Levin made on Hannity's radio show that the National Organization for Women is really the "National Organization of Ugly Women," Olbermann called Levin's show "psychotic" and charged that the conservative host "knows his ugly."
The MSNBC host's attacks on Hannity and Levin came during the Countdown show's regular "Best Persons" segment, which, contrary to its name, often includes people Olbermann means to be attacking, similarly to the show's "Worst Person" segment. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, September 8, Countdown show on MSNBC:
As Chris Matthews appeared as a guest on Friday's Tonight Show on NBC, while the MSNBC host did have a few positive things to say about John McCain and Sarah Palin, he also conveyed his feeling that he is "worried" that Hillary Clinton will not help Barack Obama win swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, because their "relationship" has not been sufficiently mended. Matthews: "I really worry about that relationship, if it's solid enough, because I really do believe in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Hillary did really well, Hillary could go in there and campaign with this fellow, Barack Obama, like gangbusters." He also erroneously conveyed the impression to viewers that the Bush administration is responsible for 80 percent of a $10 trillion national debt as he misquoted the federal budget deficit, claiming that "we've added a trillion dollars in debt every year." In fact, the deficit for FY 2007 was about $500 billion, higher than most of the other Bush years.
And, while Matthews is not known for acknowledging that Obama is liberal, he also characterized Sarah Palin as extreme as he listed off her opposition to abortion and gun control, and her doubts about climate change, tagging her as "very conservative" and as "pretty far over." After several audience members applauded Palin, as if he were surprised that some people actually approve of these conservative views, he glanced at the audience with a smile and added, "Some people like this stuff." Matthews even tagged McCain "more conservative" but did not label Obama as "liberal." Matthews: "We got an older guy, we got a more conservative guy, we got a younger guy, a Democrat. I think these are great candidates."
On Friday's Countdown show, liberal Air America host Rachel Maddow, substitute hosting for Keith Olbermann, characterized Condoleezza Rice's talks with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi as a scandal during the Countdown show's regular "Bushed!" segment which purports to update viewers on Bush administration scandals. Presumably seeking to portray the Bush administration as hypocritical for holding talks with Gaddafi while criticizing Barack Obama's promise to meet personally with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Maddow missed the point that Gaddafi has already made concessions to the U.S., the MSNBC host dubbed the talks as "Pillow Talk with Terrorists-Gate." She then sought to embarrass Rice by quoting overly affectionate comments made by the Libyan dictator in which he called Rice "Leezza" and "my darling African woman," and gushed that "I love her very much."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, September 5, Countdown show on MSNBC:
RACHEL MADDOW: But first, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals: "Bushed." ...
During FNC’s Republican Convention live coverage, former Dukakis campaign manager and liberal FNC analyst Susan Estrich voiced her disapproval of the "vicious and mean-spirited attacks" on Sarah Palin by the media as she appeared late Tuesday/early Wednesday night with anchor Greta van Susteren. Estrich: "I’ve never seen anything this bad in my life ... I was with Geraldine Ferraro in ‘84 – and this is worse. ... I have never seen from some of my friends such vicious and mean-spirited attacks on her most personal choices, which is what they are."
A bit earlier at about 12:05 a.m., conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham had also complained of Palin’s treatment. Asked by van Susteren if Palin was getting "fair treatment," Ingraham argued that Palin is being "reviled and hated" because she is conservative and pro-life. In response to van Susteren’s question of "who’s reviling her," Ingraham elaborated: "Did you read the New York Times today? Have you read some of the left-wing blogs about her? Have you heard some of the comments on our competitor networks? It’s vile, it’s nasty, it’s vicious."
On Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, the day after he labeled Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "showcase appointments," Chris Matthews retracted his comment, chalking it up to a bad choice of words, as he contended that he should have called Powell and Rice "high-profile" appointments, rather than "showcase" appointments. Matthews: "I should have said 'high-level, high-profile' appointments. They were genuine appointments. They were not tokens." And, although Matthews did seem to demean Rice on Thursday by referring to her position of Secretary of State as a "nice title," Matthews on Friday used a different tone: "Nobody on Earth believes that Condoleezza Rice is not this President's chief foreign policy advisor. Or nobody challenges their ability. Personally, I love the guy, although I wish he'd had opposed the war, General Powell. So I used the wrong word. I should have said 'high-level, high-profile,' not 'showcase,' because some people took that as 'token.' And damn it, I certainly didn’t mean that."
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged John McCain as the day’s "Worst Person in the World," as he charged that McCain is "suffering from at least one actual delusion," and "an utter disrespect for the meaning of the loss of life," because the Republican presidential candidate recently characterized Iraq as a "peaceful and stable country." Citing recent suicide bombings that have killed 78, Olbermann slammed McCain’s comments from what the MSNBC host referred to as a "frightening" interview. Olbermann: "So an average of four people a day dead in suicide bombings means a country is peaceful and stable, but a peaceful and stable country does not mean victory has been achieved and we can get our men and women out of there. One way or the other, you are witnessing a man suffering from at least one actual delusion, to say nothing of an utter disrespect for the meaning of the loss of life. It is not funny. It is shameful. John McCain, today’s 'Worst Person in the World.'"
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, August 29, "Worst Person" segment from MSNBC"s Countdown show:
On Friday’s Countdown show, while appearing as a guest, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, also an MSNBC political analyst, contended that, regarding her level of experience, Sarah Palin "makes Barack Obama look like John Adams." Host Keith Olbermann called her "the least experienced vice presidential candidate probably in American history," and repeatedly applied labels to her suggesting extremism, calling her "fanatically anti-abortion," "hard right," "global warming denying," a "rabid conservative," a "red meat conservative," and a "fire-breather." Picking up on a joke by Fineman that there are not many "pro-drilling, anti-polar bear, and anti-abortion women" who were Hillary Clinton supporters who would move to support Palin, Olbermann asked Fineman: "Was her real appeal the fact that she is a red meat conservative? I mean, she is, as you suggested, pro-drilling. She’s this side of ‘melt the Arctic,’ this side of ‘imprison abortionists,’ she’s run up the debt, ‘purge the lefties’ fire-breather."
Tuesday’s Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC highlighted recent criticisms from Catholic Church leaders toward Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her recent claims that "the Doctors of the [Catholic] Church have not been able to make that definition" of whether human life begins at conception. Appearing on Sunday’s Meet the Press on NBC, when host Tom Brokaw turned to the abortion issue and asked her when she believes human life begins, Pelosi responded: "I would say that, as an ardent practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time, and what I know is, over the centuries, the Doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition."
On Sunday’s Meet the Press, during an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, NBC host Tom Brokaw brought up Barack Obama’s recent declaration at the Saddleback Forum that the question of "at what point does a baby get human rights," is "above my pay grade." After playing the relevant clip of Obama from the August 16 candidates forum, Brokaw asked of Pelosi: "Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, ‘Help me out here, Madame Speaker, when does life begin?’ what would you tell him?"
After Pelosi, labeling herself as an "ardent Catholic," avoided giving a straight answer, and contended that "over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition," Brokaw jumped in: "The Catholic Church, at the moment, feel very strongly it begins at the point of conception."
Ed Morrissey writes about Pelosi's response to Brokaw's question, and includes video here.
On a special Saturday edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while previewing that night's presidential candidates forum hosted by evangelical leader Rick Warren, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd seemed to suggest that it is not out of the ordinary for evangelical Christians to feel "personal hatred" toward a Democratic presidential candidate. Todd, who is normally relatively balanced in his coverage of politics, once even admitting to being a "fan" of the MRC despite a history of working for liberal Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, made the uncharacteristic remarks as he contended that the forum would give Barack Obama an opportunity to keep evangelicals from feeling "personal hatred" toward him. Todd: "It's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama."
Update: NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reports that Todd has since apologized for his comments.
On Sunday’s This Week on ABC, host George Stephanopoulos seemed to buy into the idea that Georgia provoked war with Russia as he asked guest Mitt Romney, "Didn’t President Saakashvili of Georgia bring some of this on himself by going into South Ossetia?" After Romney informed viewers that Georgian troops were deployed in response to violent attacks by South Ossetians, the ABC host followed up by asking Romney to respond to charges that the push, presumably by the United States, to expand NATO and build a missile defense system was perceived by Vladimir Putin as "belligerent and aggressive." Stephanopoulos: "How do you respond to the argument that by pushing for Georgia to be in NATO, by pushing for Ukraine to be in NATO, by putting a missile defense system in Czechoslovakia, this was seen as belligerent and aggressive by Putin and kind of brought him in?"
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blamed the Bush administration for the fighting between Russia and Georgia, charging that "the U.S. knowingly provoked Moscow for years by building up Georgia's military," and asked if "the administration essentially stoked the fires of this conflict by the way we contributed to the building up of Georgia and sort of encourage its president to do something like this." The MSNBC host was also distressed at the words of "neoconservatives" who favor a firm response against Russia, and referred to "troubling neocon echoes." Guest Flynt Leverett expressed his concern that "a very powerful group of neoconservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party" would undermine Barack Obama's "more nuanced approach" to dealing with the situation as these neoconservative "elements" move into the Obama campaign. (Transcript follows)
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked Sean Hannity for his recent declaration on FNC's Hannity's America that Obama "can’t point to a single instance in which President Bush or McCain or Karl Rove or Sean Hannity or talk radio or any other major Republican has made an issue of Obama’s race." Missing Hannity’s point that conservatives are not attacking Obama for being black or suggesting voters should be afraid to vote for him because he is black, Olbermann cited quotes from Hannity and Rush Limbaugh which, in the MSNBC host’s mind, proved Hannity wrong, and that "short-term memory is often the first thing to go right after ethics." Olbermann mocked Hannity and Limbaugh by concluding that, "What Hannity means when he says nobody has made an issue of Obama’s race is: He and Limbaugh haven’t called him the ‘N’ word." After a brief pause, Olbermann added: "Yet." Olbermann, who has a history of distorting the words of conservatives, read quotes from Hannity from the past about Obama and the race issue without conveying the context that Hannity was referring to Obama’s links to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan, who are known for espousing racist views. (Transcripts follow)
Saturday's Fox News Watch devoted a few minutes to the controversy, which was documented previously by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, over NBC's Matt Lauer claiming during an interview for the Today show that "some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life, something around 80 percent," but that in America, "only about 25 percent." Liberal panelist Patricia Murphy of Citizen Jane stated her belief that Lauer simply made an "error" in misstating a Pew Research poll which found that, when asked if they were "satisfied with the direction of the country," 86 percent of Chinese respondents said yes, but when asked about "personal satisfaction," that "the number was much, much lower."
Conservative columnist Jim Pinkerton theorized NBC was being soft on China because the network is making money off the Olympics: "Could it be because NBC paid China a billion dollars to cover the Olympics? And they can't afford to have their reporters and sportscasters kicked out for telling the truth about China. So they have no choice but to cover up." (Transcript follows)
When Washington Post columnist and, until recently, regular Countdown guest Dana Milbank used an edited quote from Barack Obama that was arguably a distortion of the Illinois Senator's words, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann suspended Milbank from appearing on his show insisting Milbank correct his transgression against the Democratic presidential candidate. But if Olbermann's MSNBC bosses held him to the same standard, the Countdown host himself would have been suspended numerous times during the past four years if he were required to correct either distortions of people's words or his reporting of stories that turned out to be inaccurate. But while in Milbank's case the Washington Post columnist's infraction was against a liberal target in Obama, Olbermann has primarily targeted conservatives, as detailed below. Notably, while it is no secret that Olbermann is very pro-Obama as he conducts his show, on the June 26 show, Olbermann came closest to admitting he hopes Obama becomes President as he defended the Illinois Senator's decision to vote for a FISA bill opposed by the left. Olbermann: "If you get as hot about the issue as I have, you would rather see a President Obama prosecuting the telecoms criminally, rather than a Senator Obama throwing away a vote to keep open the civil suits when most of the other Democrats already caved in."
On Thursday’s Countdown show, one night after accusing President Bush of not doing enough to protect America from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization before the September 11th attacks, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed sympathetic to the plight of bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan, during the show’s regular "Bushed" segment which purports to update viewers on what the Countdown host sees as Bush administration scandals. Following Hamdan’s sentencing in a military court during which the judge expressed an apology to the bin Laden aide as he handed down a sentence that would make Hamdan eligible for release in six months, the American military indicated Hamdan may still be kept prisoner at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely in spite of the ruling, prompting Olbermann to accuse the Bush administration of "urinating" on the Constitution, and making Hamdan one of the "victims" of its "medieval" justice system. Olbermann: "So, besides urinating on the Constitution and the rights and freedoms every American soldier has ever fought to win and protect, the Bush administration has now decided that when its victims have actually served their sentences, doled out under its own medieval, quote, "justice," unquote, system, it still might not choose to set them free, thereby giving that Constitution and our country a second pass on the way out." (Transcripts follow)
On Monday's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly and FNC analyst Bernie Goldberg discussed the media's reluctance to report the National Enquirer's claims about John Edwards fathering a child with a mistress. O'Reilly expressed his own hesitance to delve into the matter, which he only vaguely referred to as "a difficult personal deal," contending that "I can't verify the story," and expressed concerns about the distress public exposure would cause the Edwards family. He further suggested that after more facts could be verified, that "I'll mention it, but I won't dwell on it."
Goldberg spoke of the double standard employed by the New York Times in its reluctance to cover the 2001 story of Jesse Jackson fathering a baby with an employee, while the Times more blazenly printed less solid allegations this year against John McCain. Goldberg: "The National Enquirer broke that story [about Jesse Jackson]. And when the New York Times finally decided to run it, they put it on page 21 under a one-column headline. Compare that to a story with two unnamed sources that think that maybe that I'm not sure, but I think that John McCain was having an affair with a lobbyist. That winds up on page one of the New York Times."
Could Barack Obama's paparazzi end up being the undoing of his presidential chances? According to a recently released poll by the Pew Research Center, when asked the question, "How much have you been hearing about Barack Obama?" 48 percent selected the response "too much." Even 34 percent of Democrats agreed they were hearing "too much." These numbers compare to just 26 percent of the general public who say they have heard too much about John McCain, while 38 percent say they have not heard enough about the Arizona Senator. Even 26 percent of Democrats say they have heard "too little" about McCain.
Pew's "Summary of Findings," which can be found here, observes: "By a margin of 76% to 11% respondents in Pew's weekly News Interest Index survey named Obama over McCain as the candidate they have heard the most about in recent days. But the same poll also shows that the Democratic candidate's media dominance may not be working in his favor."
Influenced by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's recent claims on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the McCain campaign deliberately included "phallic symbols" along with images of attractive young white women in an ad attacking Barack Obama to exploit racial resentment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann latched onto this theory on Monday's Countdown show and observed that the ad featured "two underdressed blondes mixed with the black guy," and contended that the ad included "three phallic symbols, two blondes and Barack Obama," opining that the ad is an example of "miscegenation," and that it suggests Obama is "going to wind up dating those women."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, also an MSNBC political analyst, charged: "That's the oldest and deepest racist, you know, canard in American history, really, is that, you know, the slave is going to come after the wife of the plantation owner." And, ignoring the GOP's history of portraying white Senator John Kerry as elitist during the 2004 campaign, Alter further charged that Republicans are "trying to portray [Obama] as being uppity," and hinted at the racially charged connotation of the word "uppity." (Transcript follows)