Like MSNBC, CNN was most enthused about Illinois Senator Barack Obama's announcement today. Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley was dispatched to Springfield to cover the event. She reported Obama "obviously is the only post baby boomer to be running in this race at this point."
Since the baby boom period is commonly defined as the years 1946 through 1964, and Mr. Obama was born in 1961, this doesn't appear accurate. Still, a minor point like that wasn't going to dampen the excitement.
Anchor T.J. Holmes spoke of Obama's "rock star status in politics like maybe it hasn't been seen before or hasn't been seen in a while." Anchor Betty Nguyen chimed in: "And the thing, too, that we really want to note, T.J., is look at all of the people who have turned out to be there during today's announcement. History is being made today, and Barack Obama is doing it his way."
CNN Saturday Morning News included the customary mainstream media genuflection to Senator Barack Obama. Anchor T.J. Holmes and senior national correspondent discussed Senator Hillary Clinton's announcement of an exploratory committee to examine her candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
HOLMES: "So, has Senator Barack Obama just really shaken things up in the Clinton camp to where they have to change things, shake things up, move a timetable up a little bit because of just the rock star power that this guy has and all the attention that he's generating?"
ROBERTS: "I think that Barack Obama really has changed the dynamic for the Clinton folks. . . Suddenly, in comes Barack Obama, steals a lot of the limelight. And he's just one of those guys that the spotlight loves. You know, he doesn't love the spotlight so much as the spotlight loves him, if you understand what I mean."
"We see his well-defined pecs, his perfectly hairless torso, just a bit of padding around the abs and a drawstring dangling from his form-fitting surfer trunks. The aspiring presidential candidate splashes through the water and squints into the distance; he is transformed into Burt Lancaster in 'From Here to Eternity.'"
Chicago Tribune lovelorn columnist Amy Dickinson had some interesting advice yesterday for a woman whose husband has lost that lovin' feeling. If she doesn't initiate it, there's no sex.
Amy tells the frustrated spouse: "For fun and to try to mix this up a little, you two might develop a verbal or visual cue that is more subtle than simply asking for sex. For instance, when one of you mentions Vice President Richard Cheney, that's your code."
Perhaps Mr. Cheney is even more potent than his liberal opponents know.
He writes: "Everything was in place for Gerald R. Ford's state funeral last night -- everything, that is, but the statesmen."
The third paragraph continues:
"President Bush sent his regrets; he was cutting cedar and riding his bike on his ranch in Texas. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his deputy, Richard Durbin, couldn't make it, either; they were on a trip to visit Incan ruins. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a pass, too -- as did nearly 500 of the 535 members of Congress."
Reading this, one might conclude that while the lack of interest in paying respects to the late President is bipartisan, the failure of the current President, a man of the same political party as Mr. Ford, is particularly egregious. How dare Mr. Bush opt to cut cedar and ride his bike rather than participate in a state funeral for another Chief Executive?
"One of his last jokes involved a son sending a prostitute over to his widowed father, in his 90s, still a self-proclaimed ladies’ man. She tells him she is his birthday present and will give him super sex.
'I’ll take the soup,' he says."
It took a few days, but someone at the Times finally figured out that the "joke" wasn't funny. So it gave it yet another try on a December 13 correction:
This morning CNN reports on its Web site that Mississippi Senator Trent Lott has been elected GOP whip, the No. 2 spot in the next Congress.
Included on the site was a photograph of Senator Lott with an upraised arm, mildly reminiscent of a Nazi salute. Surely a more flattering picture was available.
CNN doesn't waste any time in getting to the really relevant part of the story. In the very first sentence, it mentions Mr. Lott was "ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive."
This sort of petty bias is what we've come to expect from CNN, which still audaciously claims it's "the most trusted name in news."
In a riveting 2,000-word thumbsucker for Sunday's Washington Post, the Washington Post asks: "Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?" The author, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, is identified as a writer on national affairs for Rolling Stone. And here I thought that periodical's idea of national affairs was the latest on Britney Spears.
Anyway, the article doesn't answer the questions it poses. At least I don't think it does. When the author began using terms such as "post-racial" and "post-gender," my eyes glazed over and my mind meandered.
I did make it to the part, though, about there being a disparity between African Americans and women in terms of political leadership:
Sprinkled throughout the mainstream media today are news reports about the Army Times and similar periodicals running an editorial Monday calling on the President to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Typical was the story carried on NBC5.com, Chicago's NBC affiliate, "Military Newspapers Call For Rumsfeld Removal." The piece begins, "The Military Times Media Group, which publishes the influential Army Times and other military periodicals, said it will be running an editorial Monday urging President Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld."
But wait a minute. Are these publications actually "military newspapers?" The average reader might well interpret that term to mean that they're produced by active duty military personnel. They're not. Although the newspapers are targeted for service members, the Army Times and all the others are private, independent operations. They are subsidiaries of the Gannett Co., which also publishes USA Today.
In "Church Leader Resigns After Gay Sex Claim," today's Washington Post reports on the resignation of the Rev. Ted Haggard as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. His resignation was prompted by an accusation that he'd paid for homosexual sex.
It didn't take long for Post staff writer Alan Cooperman to link the incident to next week's much-anticipated Democratic sweep. The sixth paragraph:
"Although he has avoided endorsing political candidates, Haggard has been a staunch ally of the Bush administration. Some political observers said his resignation was more bad news for Republicans trying to rally their conservative Christian base to turn out for the midterm elections."
"But with a single word — or a single word left out of what was supposed to be a laugh line directed at the president — Mr. Kerry has become a punching bag again, for Republicans and for his own party."
Gosh darn, just that one, single, individual pesky word that was missed opened Monsieur Kerry once again to that infamous Republican attack machine.
Not exactly. Today the newspaper has appended the following correction:
"A Political Memo article yesterday about the fallout for Senator John Kerry over what he called a 'botched joke' referred incompletely to the differences between prepared remarks and what he actually said about the Iraq war to students at Pasadena City College in California on Monday. Mr. Kerry not only dropped the word 'us,' but he also rephrased his opening sentence extensively and omitted a reference to President Bush. Mr. Kerry’s aides said that the prepared text read: 'Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.' What he said: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
CAFFERTY: Well, listen, it's tailor-made for the media. We get so sick and tired of, you know, running sound bytes of the candidates that when somebody comes along and does something that's even this much out of ordinary, we pounce on it like cats on a mouse and drag it around until it's dismembered on the living room floor.
ZAHN: Will it be dismembered by election night is the question, Jack Cafferty.
CAFFERTY: If we have our way with it, it will be.
BLITZER: I'm sure there'll be something else that will pop up between and probably an hour from now.
"And, of course, Paula, what is really telling here is that Kerry, for most of the day, was alone in his explanations, and trying to figure all of this out -- Democrats quietly saying that they really wish Kerry had kept quiet on this one.
"But, late in the day, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer released a statement, criticizing President Bush's criticism of Kerry. And, then, Paula, late in the day as well, we got yet another press release from Kerry, criticizing, reacting to Bush's criticism of him earlier in the day, calling it smear.
"Rush Limbaugh may not be this country's most disgusting human being, but he surely ranks among the top 10." Mr. Limbaugh, we learn, is part of "the well-honed Republican attack machine" that so viciously attacks liberal Democrats.
Zweifel additionally notes: "The pity of it all is that all too many Americans fall for these tactics of character assassination."
Character assassination is something with which Zweifel is intimately acquainted. Five years ago, he examined the relationship between White House reporters and President George W. Bush and - amazingly - introduced Adolph Hitler into the equation.
"I swear that if this current bunch of supposed White House reporters were covering Adolf Hitler back in the early days of his administration, they'd be writing glowing accounts of how successful the German chancellor was in achieving his goals.
With the elections getting very close, Chris Matthews appears even more rabid, if that's possible. Recently, he's taken to speaking for others. Not just for other liberals, but for everyone everywhere.
Last night's "Hardball" offered an example of this. The topic was the political ads Michael J. Fox is doing for Democrats around the country. There's considerable controversy - and misunderstanding - about what Rush Limbaugh said about Fox's ads and the entire question of Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
For Matthews, however, there's no room for disagreement as the facts speak for themselves:
"Everybody likes Michael J. Fox and nobody agrees with Rush Limbaugh that he was faking it or went off his meds to do a good show."
Everybody likes Michael J. Fox? Nobody agrees with Rush Limbaugh?
Lyn Davis Lear is worried. As Mrs. Norman Lear writes in the Huffington Post, President Bush, Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney appear awfully confident of retaining a Congressional majority. This, despite the fact the mainstream media merrily reports every poll suggesting a huge Democratic victory, if not a landslide, is only two weeks away.
Mrs. Lear frets that Republicans are planning an election eve surprise, or may win by spending so much more than their opponents. Then again, maybe they're planning to just steal the election.
Gore Vidal suggested to her that "the Bush-Cheney henchmen could simply call on martial law." This has her "thinking", too.
So many nefarious schemes, so little time. Mrs. Lear's recommendation is, "we should all be on alert. If for whatever reason we don't win back Congress in November the only real answer will be to take to the streets."
Congressman Harold Ford, running for the Senate in Tennessee, just received free publicity that most candidates can only dream about. With only a couple of weeks to go until the election, he made the cover of Newsweek.
"Not Your Daddy's Democrats" it says next to Mr. Ford's flattering photo, and the accompanying article strongly suggests that Harold Ford is at least a moderate and possibly even a conservative. Yes, the party of Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi has opened a huge tent and today's Democratic candidates - like Mr. Ford - are far from liberal. Or are they?
Once you get past the article's points about Harold Ford appealing to Christians and opposing gay marriage and partial-birth abortion, you learn: "According to Congressional Quarterly, Ford supported his party upwards of 85 percent of the time in most years since Bush took office." Yes, it took more than 20 paragraphs into the lengthy article, but finally it's acknowledged that maybe Mr. Ford isn't all that far away from Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi after all.
CBS News today is carrying the AP story, "Dems to Use Moderation if They Win House." Written by Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor, the article appears intended to quiet any anxieties about what a Democratic majority in the House will mean.
"They're mostly a liberal bunch. Yet the would-be chairmen in a House under Democratic control promise to rule from the center. They'd have little choice, given the likely balance of power they would confront if elected."
Later in the story:
"What won't be seen is any serious move to impeach Bush, even though the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, has introduced a bill calling on Congress to determine whether there are grounds for impeachment over the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
"Conyers already has been overruled by Democratic leaders including would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, who dismiss any talk of impeachment."
"This was a threat that appeared on a Web site. It said that dirty bombs would be detonated this Sunday outside NFL games in seven U.S. cities: Miami, New York, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland, and Cleveland.
"The Department of Homeland Security is saying there is no credible intelligence to support these claims, no credible information to indicate such attacks will take place. But, out of an abundance of caution, they informed the NFL and other officials, so they can take the actions that they deem to be appropriate."
Despite DHS's statement, CNN political analyst and Clinton boot licker Paul Begala was quick to suggest a conspiracy:
Some people still think of the Chicago Tribune as the voice of conservative Republicanism. The truth is that it hasn't been for many years.
Today's editorial endorsements by the newspaper provide fresh evidence of how the once mighty Tribune has fallen. The Tribune endorsed seven Illinois candidates for Congress; every one of them is a liberal Democrat.
Moreover, the incumbent Democrats the Tribune recommends include some of the most liberal representatives in Congress:
Bobby Rush, according to the nonpartisan National Journal, in 2005 voted more liberal on social policy issues than 96 percent of the Representatives.
Jesse Jackson, Jr., according to the same index, in 2005 voted more liberal on social policy issues than 86 percent of his colleagues.
It could have been Speaker Dennis Hastert's team skills or dexterity or experience or ingenuity that is being tested, but no, it's his "mentality."
It takes until the second paragraph for the authors, Michael Grunwald and Jim VandeHei, to make the relevant point that Mr. Hastert is "the beefy former wrestling coach - who's a bit bearlike himself." Just in case that's too subtle, we're later advised: "He looks like a cross between actor Wilford Brimley and Jabba the Hutt, and his unassuming Midwestern public demeanor makes for dull television."
Today's Boston Globe reports: "Former U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds, the first openly gay person elected to Congress, died early Saturday, days after he was admitted to the hospital after collapsing while walking his dog, his husband said."
The reference to a "husband" may take some of us aback, and the timing of Mr. Studds' passing is certainly coincidental in light of the Mark Foley scandal.
Saturday's Washington Post includes the article "Democratic Faces That Could Launch Thousands of Votes." Authored by staff writer Shailagh Murray, the story states: "By a combination of luck and design, Democrats seem to be fielding an uncommonly high number of uncommonly good-looking candidates.
"The beauty gap between the parties, some on Capitol Hill muse, could even be a factor in who controls Congress after Election Day.
"Democratic operatives do not publicly say that they went out of their way this year to recruit candidates with a high hotness quotient. Privately, however, they acknowledge that, as they focused on finding the most dynamic politicians to challenge vulnerable Republicans, it did not escape their notice that some of the most attractive prospects were indeed often quite attractive."
Now it's not my desire to be mean. And certainly I'm not known for my own good looks.
But it seems to me that a party boasting such attractive folks as Barbara Mikulski, Rosa DeLauro, Janet Reno, Madeleine Albright, Michael Moore and John Kerry hasn't practiced "the politics of beauty" all that much.
"A federal grand jury has indicted Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, a top fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, on charges that he demanded millions of dollars in kickbacks from investment firms seeking business from the state teachers' pension system, according to an indictment unsealed today."
The story describes Rezko as a "longtime Chicago developer and active supporter of Republicans and Democrats."
According to Newsmeat.com, which tracks Federal Election Commission data, between 2002 and 2004 Rezko made political contributions (not to Blagojevich) of $20,500. Every dollar went to Democratic candidates.
The mainstream media not infrequently employs the word "archconservative." But if there are indeed archconservatives, are there not also archliberals? Not in the world of the Chicago Tribune. A computer check of the newspaper's archives for the past five years revealed not a single instance of "archliberal" being used.
I suspect that Mrs. Chenoweth-Hage would not have been surprised.