Updated: Roberts defends himself on Twitter (see bottom of post) | In a segment today on MSNBC Live entitled "Who's Got the Ground Game?" and ostensibly about how both the Democrats and Republicans were working hard to get out their voters to the polls on election day and to the early voting stations before hand, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts set out to attack the GOP for pushing for a "poll tax" with voter ID requirements.
"Did Republicans [put] too much stock in voter suppression issues and not enough in the ground game," Roberts asked Republican National Committee communications director Sean Spicer, asking if the GOP put too much "emphasis" in GOP-controlled state legislatures.
Four Americans are dead from a September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and it's becoming abundantly clear that security at the compound had been incredibly lax and that the Obama administration may have actively attempted to deceive the public about the terroristic nature of the strike in the first few days subsequent to it. A House committee is holding a hearing as I write this to get to the bottom of things.
So how did the Post cover the story in the Wednesday, October 10 paper? By worrying about the political impact on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Here's how staff writer Anne Gearan opened her page A1 story headlined "Deadly Benghazi attack could mar Clinton legacy":
Islamist radicals affiliated with the Taliban shot and critically wounded Malala Yousafzai yesterday. The Financial Times notes that Yousafzai is "a 14-year-old Pakistani activist who won international acclaim for speaking out for girls denied education under the Taliban." Yousafzai was wounded in the leg from a shot fired at her as she left school on Tuesday.
Yousafzai's shooting was the third item in a news brief aired 10 minutes before the close of Andrea Mitchell's 1 p.m. Eastern program:
Tuesday's Washington Post devoted Metro section front-page real estate to the story of a Potomac, Md., homeowner clearing trees from his own property, painting the incident as a scandalous affront to the environment and to hikers on the nearby C&O Canal. Yet nowhere in Miranda Spivack's 22-paragraph article was any comment from property rights advocates who would argue that Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens should not have to pay a fine for felling trees on his own property.
With the folks at MSNBC, it always seems to come back to race. Network host Ed Schultz failed to disappoint this morning when he appeared on Thomas Roberts's 11 a.m. Eastern MSNBC Live and suggested that racism was partly to blame for President Obama's weak performance in the debate (video follows page break):
On Tuesday, three weeks after the deadly terrorist strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, two House Republicans sent a letter to Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton detailing "incidents dating to April" that evidence "a pattern of threats" against the late Amb. Chris Stevens, many of them "new revelations" such as the fact that "Libyans working as private security guards at the U.S. compound were warned by family members in the weeks before the assault to quite their jobs because of rumors of an impending attack."
Yet Post editors placed the story on the matter, headlined "Probe in Libya moving slowly," on page A10 of the October 3 paper. In the same article, Birnbaum and Gearan quote from one Walid Faraj, "a member of the militia that local officials tasked with securing Americans in Beghazi" who "said he saw the attack nearly from start to finish." Faraj insists he has yet to be interviewed by either American or Libyan investigators. "Since that day, nobody has called, nobody cared," Faraj told the Post. "How is it the Americans didn't anticipate anything?"
"When a little boy is kidnapped" and forced to become a child soldier, "that's slavery," President Obama noted in a September 25 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Yet a mere three days later, the president waived-- for the third year in a row, no less -- U.S. sanctions on countries that use child soldiers, including Libya, where, as you may have noticed, we've had some nasty diplomatic security issues of late.
As even the casual reader of NewsBusters is well aware, the MSNBC cable news network is forever on the lookout for racially-tinged "code words" in Republican speeches and "dog whistle" ads by GOP super PACs against Democrats. But the network's keen sense of outrage is conspicuously absent when it comes to attacks by Democratic groups against Mia Love, the African-American Republican Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who is challenging long-time liberal -- he boasts a lifetime American Conservative Union score of 38.61 out of a possible 100 -- Rep. Jim Matheson (D).
Michael Warren of the Weekly Standard reported on Sept. 28 about a Utah State Democratic Committee mailer than seems to have darkened Love's skin tone. Warren also linked to a Blue Dog Democrat-linked Super PAC ad that falsely charged that Love's record is summed up in the words "skyrocketing crime" [video embedded below page break].
Today marks three weeks to the day after the deadly terrorist strike on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and yet the scene of the crime remains "unguarded" and the FBI has yet to do an investigation on the ground there, much to the confusion and dismal of local residents of Benghazi, Washington Post staffers Anne Gearan and Michael Birnbaum reported in today's Washington Post.
Yet the article, headlined "U.S. pulls all personnel from eastern Libyan city," was buried on page A12 of the October 2 edition of the Post.
In an interview last Thursday with Reno, Nevada, station KTVN, Ann Romney said her chief concern with her husband winning the presidency would be his "mental well-being," adding, "I have all the confidence in the world in his ability, in his decisiveness and his leadership skills, in his understanding of the economy, in his understanding of what's missing right now in the economy - you know, pieces that are missing to get this jumpstarted. So for me I think it would just be the emotional part of it."
Obviously, in context, she was not suggesting her husband couldn't handle stress well, just that she knows the presidency is a stressful job and would be emotionally taxing on the man she loves. But to MSNBC's Martin Bashir, it was an opportunity to run a segment on his October 1 program where he strongly suggested that Romney may not be mentally fit for duty as president. [MP3 audio here; video embedded at bottom of post]
Worried that anti-Obama TV spots focused on women voters may have an impact in narrowing the so-called gender gap, MSNBC today brought on former Clinton-Gore ad woman Linda Kaplan Thaler of the Kaplan Thaler Group to blast ads by the Romney campaign and Romney-friendly super PACs that feature children and address the explosion in federal debt under President Obama.
Anchor Thomas Roberts did mention Kaplan Thaler's former affiliation with the Clinton-Gore campaign at the open of the interview, but at no point did he ask her about the policy substance of the advertisements' arguments nor did he bring on an opposing point of view about the effectiveness of the ads. Here's the relevant transcript:
"Consulate attackers had ties to al-Qaeda," blares a page A1 Washington Post headline in this morning's edition. "But terrorist group didn't plan assault in Libya, U.S. officials say," the subheader adds.
Yet six paragraphs into his article, Washington Post reporter Greg Miller noted that (emphasis mine) "The intelligence picture assembled so far indicates that militants had been preparing an assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi for weeks but were so disorganized that, after the battle started, they had to send fighters to retrieve heavier weapons."
Corrected from earlier | Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel appeared on the September 27 Morning Joe to give viewers a preview of the latest issue of the magazine, the cover story of which is devoted to Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. At the tail end of the segment, teasing other articles in the issue, Stengel plugged Bobby Ghosh's interview with Mohammed Abdel Rahman, the son of Omar Abdel Rahman, the "blind sheikh" serving time in a federal prison for his role in aborted 1993 bombing plot targeting the World Trade Center.
"We have a great piece by Bobby Ghosh, who's been on here before about the rise of the Salafis, in the Middle East, they're the Tea Party of Muslim democracy, and that's a fantastic, insightful story as well," Stengel noted. Neither Joe Scarborough not co-host Willie Geist threw a penalty flag at Stengel's unnecessary roughness, comparing the Tea Party to radical advocates of stringent Sharia law. [MP3 audio here; video at bottom of post]
It's no secret that late-night comedians traffic in yukking it up over simple stereotypes about presidents. Clinton was the horndog-in-chief while George W. Bush the bumbling boob. For his part, President Obama could be constantly lampooned as a vapid celebrity, especially given his penchant for skipping hard-hitting media outlets for fluffball interviews with the Miami's own DJ Laz -- aka the "Pimp with a Limp" -- and Entertainment Tonight.
He's a liberal Catholic who thinks the Catholic Church needs to just give it up already with its silly fixation with defending the sanctity of life for the unborn. He also once compared the Church's bishops to Southern segregationists. So it should come as no surprise that Tim Padgett -- who is previously on record as dissenting from the Church on the celibate male priesthood -- should use the "Jesus wife" papyrus discovery as a fresh opportunity to attack the Church on the issue, working in a swipe at the Vatican for its rebuke of theologically-errant nuns for good measure.
Yesterday in the midst of defending his record in a tough interview with Univision, President Barack Obama said that he learned in his term in the Oval Office that "you can't change Washington from the inside" but only from the outside and that "that's how [he] got elected," by appealing to a frustrated electorate to vote for change. At a campaign event later in the day, Mitt Romney seized on the gaffe to jab at the president, saying the voters will be glad to send him home in November. whereby the president all but admitted that Washington can be changed by voting out the sitting president.
But have no fear, Team Obama, MSNBC's Alex Wagner and Politico's Maggie Haberman are here to spin heavily in your favor.
"Nearly 6 million Americans -- significantly more than first estimated -- will face a tax penalty under President Obama's health-care overhaul for not getting insurance" according to analysts for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reported the Associated Press's Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar yesterday. That's 50 percent higher than the 2010 prediction -- when ObamaCare was passed -- of 4 million facing the ObamaCare penalty, which the Supreme Court has declared is really, well, a tax. "The average penalty... will be about $1,200 in 2016," Alonso-Zaldivar noted. That's roughly $100/month in new taxes.
Both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran the AP story in their print editions, but the former placed the 786-word story at the bottom of page A4 with the headline "6 million uninsured expected to face health-care penalty," while the latter ran a condensed 270-word version on page A18 entitled "More Expected To Face Penalty In Health Law." A search of Nexis and NewsBusters/MRC DVR recordings shows that none of the three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- mentioned the story on either their September 19 evening newscasts nor September 20 morning programs.
In a hearing yesterday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, an Obama administration official admitted what all of us already knew through credible reports in foreign media: Amb. Chris Stevens died on September 11 "in the course of a terrorist attack." As Karen DeYoung reported in today's Washington Post, National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen told the committee that "the people involved in the violent assault" on the consulate in Benghazi hailed from "several militant groups, including localized extremists in eastern Libya as well as affiliates of al Qaeda."
Openly gay and outspoken same-sex marriage advocate Thomas Roberts today devoted a segment of his MSNBC program to a pre-recorded interview with Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is publicly supportive of a new Maryland law legalizing same-sex marriage. Yet nowhere in that interview did Roberts mention that it was a Democratic state delegate who tried to silence Ayanbadejo.
As I noted on September 10, the broadcast networks were silent about State Del. Emmett C. Burns's August 29 letter to Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in which Burns called on Bisciotti to "inhibit such [political] expressions" from his players. While Roberts did note that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke out recently in favor of NFL players speaking their minds on political issues, the MSNBC anchor failed to mention that that was in response to a question at a press conference regarding Del. Burns's statement.
The liberal panelists of MSNBC's The Cycle did their level best to help University of Pennsylvania religion professor Anthea Butler defend her now infamous tweet that the filmmaker behind the "Innocence of Muslims" video trailer on YouTube should be throw in jail. Co-host Toure Neblett went so far as to denounce the Twitter "mob" that deluged Butler's Twitter account with critical tweets. Only conservative S.E. Cupp pushed back against Butler by insisting that the YouTube video was a fig leaf justification by Islamists for violence.
"We think of this [free speech] as like an absolute right, but in fact there are limits.... So in this global world where a video clip can get spread around like wildfire, is it in fact going too far, is that beyond our constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of speech?" co-host Krystal Ball asked Butler. [MP3 audio here]
The now-infamous video of Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a private fundraising event in the Sunshine State back a few months ago may have been recorded in violation of Florida law, Tony Romm of Politico reported this afternoon:
The rules in Florida — where Romney spoke at a private fundraiser — generally require consent from both the person recording and the person being recorded when one of the parties has a reasonable expectation of privacy, experts told POLITICO.
Early Friday afternoon, the Washington Post's David Nakamura confirmed that on Tuesday, September 11 -- before the attack in Benghazi that killed Amb. Chris Stevens -- the Obama National Security Council asked YouTube to pull down a video "trailer" for "The Innocence of Muslims," saying it may violate the video-sharing service's "terms of service." Such a move would have removed the film from the site worldwide, something YouTube has refused to do, even though parent company Google "is honoring requests to block the video the site restricted access in Libya and Egypt because of the unrest."
But despite the troubling implications of U.S. government officials waging a specious "terms of service" complaint about a private citizen's video on a video-sharing site, a search of Nexis reveals that absent a very brief mention by ABC's Jake Tapper on the September 14 World News, the broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have ignored the story:
Although Lui briefly quoted from two officials for True the Vote, a conservative anti-voter fraud group that supports voter ID laws, he failed to bring on any representatives of the group, even though Turner was there to rail against what she sees as the racist motives behind the Ohio Secretary of State's move to cut back on in-person voting hours.
The caption accompanying a September 13 TIME magazine photo slide tags the filmmakers behind "The Innocence of Muslims" as "Islamophobes" while those rioting in the Arab street supposedly in reaction against said film are merely "orthodox Muslims.":
NFL commissioner Robert Goodell weighed in on a recent controversy involving a Maryland state legislator who sent a letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens that called upon him to silence linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who supports same-sex marriage. "I think in this day and age, people are going to speak up about what they think is important. They speak as individuals and I think that’s an important part of democracy," Goodell answered diplomatically.
Reporting on the story, Politico's Kevin Cirilli gave readers the background that State Delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr. played in the controversy, but avoided mentioning Burns's party affiliation in both occasions when he referenced Burns, an African-American Democrat and Baptist minister:
Discussing the violent anti-American demonstrations erupting across the Middle East outside U.S. embassies in Arab capitals, MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson put a share of the blame on, well, "horrible" Americans.
It was the "demonization of a predictable minority," in this case Muslims, that was the spark that light the conflagration, Dyson argued on the September 14 edition of the noon Eastern program Now with Alex Wagner. "It's not as if, oh in America, we've resolved this with equanimity and grace," he added, seeking to conflate isolated incidents of hate speech against Muslims inside the United States with the violent response of the Arab street to an obscure low-budget YouTube video. [MP3 audio here; video follows page break]
In a September 13 Washington Post On Faith blog post entitled "When free speech costs human life," Qasim Rashid of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA complained that it was "extreme" to expect Muslims in the Middle East to develop thicker skin and not riot every time someone halfway around the world makes a video or cartoon that offends their religious sensibilities:
In February, I documented how liberal MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell thoroughly went to bat for Planned Parenthood in a biased interview with Komen for the Cure CEO Nancy Brinker. The larger controversy, you may recall, was over Komen's decision to not extend grants to Planned Parenthood chapters, redirecting those funds elsewhere. This was one of the controversies that MSNBC later used as evidence of a conservative "war on women." In the midst of that firestorm, Komen vice president and pro-life Republican Karen Handel was pressured by pro-choice activists to resign her post.
Fast forward to the present, Handel is out with a new book, "Planned Bullyhood," which tells her side of the story. The former Komen executive was interviewed via satellite today by Mitchell, who, of course, stuck to her guns pushing liberal talking points and seeking to discount Handel's version as self-serving spin. [MP3 audio here; video follows page break]
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel informed President Obama yesterday that it found his controversial Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated the federal Hatch Act back in February. ABC News's Jake Tapper noted the finding in a September 12 Political Punch blog post at ABCNews.com, but World News editors apparently thought the matter unworthy of coverage last night. The story was also unreported on NBC's Nightly News and CBS's Evening News.
The Hatch Act forbids federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity and Sebelius did just that in off-the-cuff remarks as the keynote speaker at a February 25 gala for the Human Rights Campaign, Tapper noted (emphasis mine):
Has an empty chair been getting 56.2 percent of the president's intelligence briefings?
In light of the news that fatal attacks on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, may well have been pre-planned by al Qaeda operatives, it would behoove the media to scrutinize just how infrequently President Obama sits in on his daily intelligence briefings. As Marc Thiessen noted in an op-ed in Sunday, September 10 edition of the Washington Post, President Obama sat in on his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) a mere 536 times out of his first 1,225 days in office. That's a mere 43.8 percent of the time. "By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting," the American Enterprise Institute fellow noted.