Since one of the main issues at hand was Fox News' alleged bias, you would have thought NBC would have assembled a more 'fair & balanced' panel than James Carville and liberal sidekick Paul Begala. But just when you thought Meredith Vieira was going to lead a one-sided seance, she actually hit the liberal duo with two tough questions.
Carville provided the opening, ill-advisedly claiming that "not one 'assertation' of fact" by Clinton during his FNC interview has been challenged. Guess what, James? We've got some serious 'assertatin' goin' on over he-ah, in the person of Condi Rice, and Vieira was quick to point that out.
Vieira: "Not everybody agrees what he said is fact."
Let's play one of our favorite games: WIACHSI, which of course stands for "What If a Conservative Had Said It?"
Ready? OK, let's play. What if a conservative attacked a female liberal icon by calling her promiscuous? How many Dem pols, NOW leaders, assorted Naomi Wolfs of the world . . . and Air America hosts would be popping up all over the MSM to proclaim their outrage?
And yet, on today's edition of Tucker Carlson, Air America host and class-action trial lawyer [nice two-fer!] Mike Papantonio leveled the loose-woman charge at none other than Ann Coulter.
The subject was a new book, "I Hate Ann Coulter", written by four authors who have chosen to remain anonymous out of their supposed fear of "gun-toting abortion-clinic bombing, self-proclaimed wing nuts who follow Coulter."
A liberal is someone who will always be able to find the dark lining, so long as it's a Republican sun that's shining. And so here's the latest dispatch from the No-Good-Deed-Goes Unpunished Directorate of the Department of Dark Linings:
Energy prices are down, maybe heading even lower . . . and that's bad.
So writes HuffPoster Raymond Learsy today. He begins by citing that irrefutable authority, Al Gore, for the proposition that "we are near the tipping point of climatic catastrophe." He next bemoans that "never or at least rarely ever, has there been a serious discussion on curtailing the availability of gasoline." By all means, I'd encourage Democrats everywhere to run on that platform!
If there's one person whose essence, whose very being, whose every fiber stands for the proposition that the Roman Catholic church is the one true religion, it is the Pope. The Church does define him as the Vicar of Christ, after all.
So you might forgive the Pope for advocating the notion that his religion is superior. But somehow that notion deeply offends Boston Globe columnist - and former Roman Catholic priest - James Carroll. In his column of today, Pope Benedict's hierarchy of truth, faith, Carroll takes the Pope to task for asserting the superiority of his faith. Referencing the Pope's recent address that has caused a stir, Carroll writes:
Summer's over, but it's still way too warm for hell to freeze over. And yet . . .
The usually reliably liberal Neal Gabler has lambasted Jim McGreevey for his more-than-we-needed-to-know confessions about his homosexuality. Even more shockingly, Gabler singled out Sean Hannity for praise for conducting the toughest interview of the Oprahfied former governor.
On last evening's Fox News Watch, there was unanimity from right to left that McGreevey's book, 'The Confession', and his media blitz to promote it, was an unseemly undertaking in which his family paid the price while he basked in the limelight - and cashed large checks for advances and royalties.
Gabler's fellow liberal Jane Hall was not in a forgiving mood. She let it be known that had she been in Oprah's audience, she would not have been applauding. She noted the pain McGreevey had caused his wife and the "corrupt way" in which he put his alleged lover in office. When Hall spoke disparagingly of McGreevey's "coming of age," Gabler chimed in sarcastically about McGreevey's supposed "courage."
A soldierasked the Secretary to define just who is the enemy. In professorial, avuncular fashion, Rumsfeld carefully described how a limited number of Muslim extremists have hijacked their faith and sought to impose their warped vision on their co-religionists. That others were seeking to regain power lost when the United States deposed dictatorial regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that still others are simply criminal elements.
This is shaping up as a day for lefty unilateralism. As noted here, liberal LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks saw no nuance in her Bush-hatred fueled tirade against any expansion of permitted techniques in interrogating terrorists.
Later, Good Morning America staged a global warming love-in, in which nary a dissenting voice was heard and the only question was whether it was too late to implement Al Gore's costly nostrums.
Diane Sawyer's guests were Gore and British magnate Richard Branson. The proximate cause was the announcement that over a recent breakfast, Gore managed to convince Branson to devote 100% of the profits from Virgin Airlines to the effort against global warming [someone check the OJ for Grey Goose].
The bio of Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks couldn't be much more impressive in terms of conventional credentials: Harvard, Oxford, Yale. Adviser to State Department. Kennedy School Fellow.
But despite having her ticket prestigiously punched time and again, her column of today reveals that nowhere has she learned much in the way of nuance or common sense. Her opposition to President Bush's efforts to clarify interrogation rules so as to allow some more forceful techniques is absolute and implacable, utterly failing to acknowledge the realities of terrorism on a scale unimaginable when the Geneva Convention was drafted.
For NewsBusters types, the question has always been whether Meredith Vieira would be as liberal as her Today show predecessor, Katie Couric. As of this morning, we have our answer. Yesterday, Hugo Chavez stood on the world stage and called the President of the United States a "devil" and claimed the speakers platform still stunk from his presence. Today, Meredith Vieira went on national TV and warned us not to be too quick to dismiss his message.
Interviewing Bill Clinton, she said:
"Now, it's easy to dismiss somebody like Chavez -- and some have -- as a nut. But do you think he is giving voice to to wider frustration in the developing world about this country and this country's policies? Do we need to change the way we act?"
Chris Matthews sees W's favorables going up and the Dem generic congressional edge going down. He's ticked, and on tonight's Hardball he made clear his explanation for this revoltin' development: the MSM isn't churning out enough bad news from Iraq.
Matthews first floated the idea during a segment with GOP strategist Ben Ginsburg and Dem counterpart Steve McMahon. I'll mention as an aside that McMahon strikes me as one of the more reasonable, straightforward Dem partisans.
Quoth Chris: "Does it bother you gentlemen both that when you watch television now that the war seems to have left the TV screen to a large extent and that's helping your [GOP] party? Does that bother you that this war is largely off television now? We're not being shown it that much."
Far be it from ABC to take sides in the fight against nuclear terrorism. As depicted by Good Morning America today, yesterday's UN speeches by Pres. Bush and Iran's Ahmadinejad were simply a battle of equals. And if anything, the guy who wants to wipe Israel off the map came off looking better in ABC's portrayal.
Host Chris Cuomo [son of Mario, brother of current New York AG candidate Andrew] set the tone: "We begin with the showdown at the United Nations, pitting President Bush against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The philosophical battlefield: Iran's nuclear program. Senior national correspondent Claire Shipman is in Washington with more on two leaders, sharply divided."
Interviewed by 'Today' host Matt Lauer this morning, former NJ Gov. Jim McGreevey blamed the "immoral and ugly" way he acted out on his homosexuality on the fact that his parents were straight and thus couldn't serve as role models for him.
Lauer: "Not only as governor but as a state employee, you were living a very risky life-style. Anonymous sex with random men at places like highway rest stops. You write 'I was promiscuous and sexually active in ways I consider immoral and ugly, and I justified this by telling myself I had no other choice and that my sexual urges were irrepressible.'
Asked a sympathetic Lauer: "How hard was it to try to control them?"
That's when McGreevey got off his blame-the-straight-parents defense:
President Bush might have successfully avoided Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN yesterday, but he couldn't escape Meredith Viera's backseat driving on Iran policy on this morning's 'Today.' Perhaps convinced of the value of a good gabfest by her years on "The View," Vieira left little doubt she thinks that George and Mahmoud should soon sit down for nice coffee klatsch.
Vieira's guest was Tim Russert. Alluding to the way that Pres. Bush and Ahmadinejad avoided each other yesterday, Vieira asked him:
"Eventually will [Pres. Bush] have to sit down with this man? How much saber-rattling can you do if you're talking about the potential of going to war?"
If there's one thing you might have thought Meredith would have learned over the last 51/2 years, it's that when George Bush raises the sword, he ain't necessarily planning just to rattle it.
In the course of the last few weeks Keith Olbermann's "Special Comments" have become a Countdown staple in which the host plays to his Daily Kos demographic with vitriolic condemnations of all things Bush. I thought Olbermann had reached the nec plus ultra of nastiness with his suggestion a couple weeks ago that the Bush administration represented "a new type of fascism." I might have been wrong. MRC's Brad Wilmouth has comprehensively documented Keith Olbermann's 'Special Comment' of last night. In the course of those comments, Olbermann chose to invoke, of all things, the people's right to overthrow a tyrannical government.
You wouldn't think that someone who wrote a book condemning all religions as dangerous hokum and who favors higher taxes, drug decriminalization and gay marriage would be in danger of becoming the right's favorite liberal. But in the wake of his LA Times column of today, Head-in-the-Sand Liberals, Sam Harris might be on the way to being celebrated by conservatives and castigated on the left.
The column's subtitle really tells the story: "Western civilization really is at risk from Muslim extremists," and Harris' essential point in that liberals refuse to recognize that fact.
In a surreal clash of the sacred and the profane, the New York Times - that citadel of secularism - has declared in its editorial of this morning that Pope Benedict "needs to offer a deep and persuasive apology," for having quoted a 14th century Christian emperor who said:
“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
The Times is only being fair and balanced, I suppose. After all, hardly a week goes by that you can't pick up the paper and read an editorial condemning this or that mullah, imam or ayatollah for the latest fatwa ordering the death of such-and-such infidel or the destruction of entire countries found to be an annoyance. Or not.
The Boston Globe refers to Charlie Savage as a "staff writer." But judging by the hyper-partisan comments he made on Fox News Channel this afternoon, Savage belongs over on the opinion page.
Interviewed with two other legal reporters by FNC's Martha MacCallum, Savage took these shots at President Bush and his fellow Republicans:
President Bush is "terrorizing" Americans with the terrorism issue for political gain.
Speaking of the current rift between the president and Sen. McCain over interrogation rules for suspected terrorists, Savage snidely observed that McCain had been a POW in Vietnam while Bush spent the war "back in Texas."
Call him a shooting star. Like a meteor lighting a brilliant-but-too-brief trail across the night sky, Tucker Carlson is gone in a blaze of glory from Dancing With The Stars.
The end came shockingly fast, as viewers across the country voted by phone and decided Tucker was the celebrity they could most easily bear not to see again. And thus it was that on Wednesday, Carlson was the first to be voted off the dancing island. All of which is a shame, nay, a national tragedy when you consider that . . . we won't be seeing Tucker's lovely partner Elena Grinenko again any time soon.
Like a baseball player rescued from the nether reaches of the minor leagues and brought up to the Yankees who cuts his hair, shaves the shaggy mustache and minds his grammar in his first TV interview, Keith Olbermann was on his better behavior in a 'Today' appearance this morning.
In a temporary reprieve from the ratings purgatory that is his own Countdown on MSNBC, Olbermann was awarded an interview on Today for purposes of plumping his new book, 'The Worst Person in the World.' Lauer gave Olbermann respectful treatment, inviting him to comment on the issues of the day as if he were actually something more than a drive-by bomb-thrower.
In response, Olbermann managed to restrain most of his inflammatory instincts, perhaps realizing he was playing to a more mainstream audience and not the relative handful of netroots - and the occasional NewsBusters critic - who make up the bulk of his own show's audience.
When Ben Cardin, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Maryland, appeared on this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews played a Cardin TV ad most of which was taken up by Cardin informing voters that:
"I always try to do what's right, what's in the best interest of Maryland families: taking on the drug companies, the oil companies, the insurance companies."
Let's first note Cardin's daring admission that he tries to do 'what's right.' Bold stuff! Actually, come to think of the track record of Maryland politicians when it comes to obeying the law, maybe it is a rather maverick position after all.
But moving to the meat of his message, is this the platform that Dems in general and Cardin in particular want to offer voters? Vote for us: we'll attack our country's biggest employers and taxpayers! You might call the platform: Cardin vs. Capitalism.
Matt Lauer had a chuckle at the expense of his guests - then took Dems to task. Michael Smerconish scolded a Republican. And Meredith Vieira gave further evidence of a style looser than that of her perky predecessor.
That's the nutshell wrap on the first half-hour of this morning's Today.
Politics first. Lauer opened his interview with the chrome-domed duo of James Carville and Philly radio host Michael Smerconish by rubbing his own less-than-hirsute pate and observing with a laugh in the shot captured here: "First time in a long time I feel like I have a luxuriant head of hair."
But things quickly turned serious. Echoing a sentiment expressed by his rookie sidekick yesterday, Lauer left little doubt he feels the Democrats are squandering an electoral opening by failing to propose sufficient specifics on national security. Lauer to Carville: "if you [Dems] ever had an opportunity to take advantage of it, it's now, and the Democrats can't get their act together."
Chris Matthews is as frustrated as an able-bodied seaman after six months without shore leave. While Matthews clearly senses this is the year for the Dems to snatch back the Speaker's gavel, hisfrustration is born of the fear that the Dems will squander the opportunity out of timidity - an unwillingness to attack President Bush on the war in Iraq.
Things boiled over during the 5 PM EDT edition of this evening's Hardball. With guests Howard Fineman of Newsweek and Chuck Todd of the Hotline as witnesses to the meltdown, Matthews first played a hard-hitting Moveon.org ad accusing Republicans of misleading the nation into Iraq and trying to "exploit 9/11" to win elections. Matthews complained that while the Republicans are willing to use the same kind of tactics against the Democrats, Dems "are afraid to run an ad like that."
Nobody likes a nag. But liberal Dems are in danger of becoming the party of scolds. First there was Tom Frank and his "What's the Matter With Kansas," scolding red-state Americans for being too dumb to realize it's in their interest to vote Democrat. Then the New York Times berated investors for reacting too enthusiastically to good economic news, driving up stock prices.
Now Los Angeles Times columnist Erin Aubry Kaplan in Not So 'Hot,' Arnold lashes Latinos and other minorities for being insufficently outraged over comments that Arnold Schwarzenegger recently made. Arnold, speaking of CA Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, said that Latina women with black blood are "very hot."
Was Maureen Dowd kidding about having called Tim Russert to ask if VP Cheney washed his hands after his Meet the Press appearance this Sunday? By all indications she was not, making one fear the Times columnist is slipping ever deeper into Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Dowd writes in her pay-to-read column of today, Vice Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work, "I called Tim Russert to ask if Dick Cheney had washed his hands after their interview on Sunday. Any sort of scrubbing, I wondered? Antiseptic wipe, Purell, quick shower on the way out?"
Russert reportedly replied in the negative.
Dowd was prompted to ask after reading a recent Times' health section article about a new study on the “Macbeth effect," which concluded that people who washed their hands after contemplating an unethical act were less troubled by their thoughts than those who didn’t.
In her Today show debut this morning, Meredith Vieira gave a flash of her ego - but not of her liberal politics. There was the obligatory opening love-in with co-host Matt Lauer in which Vieira claimed "I feel like it's the first day of school and I'm sitting next to the cutest guy." But then there was an interesting exchange that might presage conflicts to come. In what is apparently a Today show tradition, Matt had the crew replay the opening voice-over announcing "Meredith Vieira, live from Studio 1-A in Rockefeller Plaza."
Asked Matt: "Like the way it sounds?"
Vieira: "I do, but it's still 'Matt Lauer' and 'Meredith Vieira.'"
Lauer: "I don't think that's going to change - unless you bump me off."
As the Dancing With the Stars host said, Tucker Carlson - host of the MSNBC show of the same name - "has braved some of the most perilous situations in the world, but now [for] his most intimidating assignment - dancing the cha-cha-cha on national television."
It was Tucker's turn to shine on tonight's episode of Dancing With the Stars. Carlson's professional dance partner Elena Grinenko did her best to lower expectations. Said the sultry Russian "when it comes to Tucker's ability for dancing . . . " She let a grimace express her dubious assessment. But - thanks to MRC's Brent Baker - we have the video: so you be the judge!
What would you call someone who, as per Project Vote Smart, within the last six years has received a 100% rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood and a 0% from the National Right-to-Life Committee? A 100% rating from the ACLU. A 0% rating from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. A 100% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and a 0% rating from the conservative Family Research Council?
Oh, and someone who voted against George W. Bush for president in 2004, against the confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court, and who demands the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq?
I'd call that person a liberal. Not MSNBC. Not Hardball. Not Chris Matthews's field correspondent David Shuster. The person in question is Republican-barely-in-name-only Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. How did Shuster describe him in a set-up piece for Hardball's discussion of the Rhode Island GOP senatorial primary this evening? A "moderate Republican."
Latest dispatch from the MSM moral-relativism front.
MSNBC's Tony Maciulis appeared on the network's 'The Most' show this afternoon to report on a story dealing with Craigslist, the online classifed ad website. A man called Jason Fortuny had posted a fake personal on the Craigslist's Seattle page, posing as an attractive 27-year old woman seeking sex with men. The ad elicited numerous replies, many including explicit photos of the suitors.
Fortuny in turn posted the men's replies, including the photos, on another website, no doubt causing embarrassment if not more for many of them.
'Most' host Alison Stewart asked Maciulis whether the men who submitted the replies "were doing anything wrong?"
Have a look at the poll that Keith Olbermann flashed during this evening's Countdown.
Try to put aside your politics for a moment to describe - in all objectivity - the most striking aspect of the poll results. I'd say it's the fact that by a margin of almost 2:1, Americans feel more safe rather than less safe since 9/11. Pretty good accomplishment by the Bush administration, you might say.
So how did Keith Olbermann characterize the results? "55% combined think we are either as safe or less safe" since 9/11.
Matt Lauer gave it the old college try, doing his best to lure Hillary Clinton into some Bush-bashing on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. But demonstrating savvy political instincts, or at least those of her advisers, Clinton held fire, not deigning to swing at the anti-Bush softballs Lauer served up on this morning's 'Today.'
Lauer: "Are we safer today five years after the attacks of 9-11?"
Hillary: "I think it is fair to say we are safer but not safe enough. We have a lot of work to do."
Lauer lobbed a couple questions inviting Hillary to suggest that our war on terrorism has made things worse:
"I am curious how you feel about this. Do you think there are more or less people today, more or fewer people today who want to bring harm to the United States than there were in the days prior to 9-11 and the actions we have taken post 9-11?"