Mitchell: Obama 'Clearly' Wasn't Talking About Palin

Make it a trio of mindreaders at NBC/MSNBC.  As noted here, yesterday Howard Fineman and David Shuster went Carnac on us, emphatically declaring that Barack Obama didn't have Sarah Palin in mind with his lipstick line.  On this morning's Today, Andrea Mitchell joined her network stablemates [no pun intended!] in delving into Barack's brain and assuring us he meant no harm.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Barack Obama has been a punching-bag [aww] for a barrage of criticism from the McCain campaign.  Charges that he slurred Sarah Palin when he said this about McCain and his change argument [cut to clip of Obama's lipstick line]. He was clearly talking about McCain, not Palin.

Well, guess that wraps it up.  But wait. Over at Morning Joe, the group wasn't so forgiving, opining that Obama either did know, or should have known, the implications  of what he was saying.  Mika Brzezinski herself took the first shot.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Did he say it off the top of his head, or was it something they dreamed up?

JOE SCARBOROUGH: What are you talking about?

BRZEZINSKI: Lipstick on a pig.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, lipstick on a pig; I know.

BRZEZINSKI: I'm just saying.

SCARBOROUGH: And again, you look at the audience response.

BRZEZINSKI: You've got to be careful.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah, you've got to be very careful.  If he had said it about a man, we were talking about this earlier, if he had said this about a man, nobody would have --

BRZEZINSKI: That's why, well, that's one of the reasons they picked her.

Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman spelled it out.

MORT ZUCKERMAN: They have had to be aware of what that phrase was.

BRZEZINSKI: I agree.

ZUCKERMAN:  It was loaded. You cannot ignore it. If you're going to ignore that, you're going to be putting your foot in it for the rest of the campaign.  He's way too smart not to have understood that.

Back at Today, Meredith Vieira took the middle road on the matter.  When Paul Begala described the criticism of Obama over his lipstick line as a "preposterous allegation.," Vieira retorted: "when he said 'lipstick,' the minute it came out of his mouth, he must of thought 'geez, I probably shouldn't even have gone done this road.'"

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.