Game Change's Backstabbing Failure Steve Schmidt Idolized on Morning Joe

As NewsBusters reported Sunday, despite his failure as the McCain-Palin campaign’s senior adviser, and his subsequent backstabbing of the candidates he represented, HBO’s “Game Change” made him the hero of its Palin-bashing film that premiered Saturday.

The crew on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with Schmidt as its guest, continued with this pathetic idol worship Monday (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):

Co-host Mika Brzezinski began the segment by getting Schmidt’s opinion of the film and if it was accurate.

Not surprisingly given the belief that he was one of the authors’ primary sources of information, Schmidt said, “It was very accurate. I think for all of us who were in the campaign, it really rang true.”

All of us? Well, not including the actual candidates McCain and Palin who since the book came out have said much of its contents were nonsense. In fact, McCain made some comments about Schmidt and the film on Fox News Sunday just 24 hours earlier stating, "It's based on a book that's completely biased and with unattributed quotes."

But nobody on the Morning Joe panel asked Schmidt about that or whether he was a source of authors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's. I guess that would have been too much like journalism for them.

Such was the reverence Schmidt was afforded Monday, as if he were a conquering hero returning from battle having slain a great enemy of the nation.

And it continued throughout as Schmidt complained that the McCain-Palin campaign was an example of political cynicism where folks do what they believe is necessary to win without regard for what’s in the best interest of the country.

He also said the vetting of Palin “was debilitated by secrecy” leading to “a result that was reckless for the country.” Palin “wasn’t prepared” to be on the ticket according to Schmidt.

Yet nobody on this panel – which included Willie Geist, former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), and Mike Barnicle – asked him about whether or not Barack Obama or Joe Biden were prepared to be on the Democrat ticket. Schmidt also wasn’t asked to compare the media’s treatment of Palin versus Obama and Biden.

That wouldn’t have been in keeping with the idol worship. He was there to continue the narrative that Palin was a failed candidate and not to cast aspersions on anyone else, certainly not the current White House resident or his bumbling vice president.

Geist then asked if it was reckless of Schmidt to have picked Palin as McCain’s running mate. Schmidt was allowed to quickly swat this aside by saying he was “part of a team that settled on the result.” And then what should have been a pivotal issue was dropped.

This was the campaign’s senior adviser who just claimed Palin was a seriously flawed candidate, but he was allowed to disavow any responsibility by saying it was a team decision. Never mind that he was the team’s manager.

Think Palin would have been able to so easily deflect blame or criticism?

Schmidt then told his fawning audience, “I would rather lose by ten points trying to win than lose by one point and look back and say, ‘Did we do everything we could to win?’ And for me, the experience on this campaign is that there are worse things than losing.”

Yes, it’s easy to lose when you’re hailed by the media as almost a God for doing so because you decided to attack the object of their disaffection you just so happened to previously be representing.

One quite imagines that if Schmidt had kept his mouth shut and remained loyal to those he had previously served, he wouldn’t be receiving this kind of media adoration nor be a contributor to MSNBC.

Not surprisingly, none of this came up Monday morning.

To further illustrate the absurdity on display, Schmidt told the panel, “This was a person [Palin] who was in distress at some points during this campaign, and I look at did I do as a person, did I interact with a person who was in distress the way that you would want to interact with a person in distress? And I always think that I did a great job on that.”

Brzezinski responded – and I’m not kidding – “Wow!”

So this senior adviser to the campaign that suffered the biggest landslide since Michael Dukakis in 1988 told a panel of three so-called journalists and one former Congressman that he did a “great job,” and the only response was, “Wow!”

Even more preposterous, Ford then asked the backstabbing failure to advise the current Republican presidential candidates on how to pick a running mate.

I kid you not!

Please take this in for a moment: Should the senior campaign adviser who led a team that not only got clobbered in the previous election but also selected in his view a seriously flawed vice presidential candidate be giving anyone advice on how to choose a running mate?

Nobody on the set noticed this pathetic hypocrisy, and Schmidt was allowed to pontificate without interruption as if he were the expert on the subject.


But then Schmidt uttered the line that is going to be played over and over again by Palin-hating media members for days if not weeks: “I think the notion of Sarah Palin being President of the United States is something that frightens me, frankly, and I played a part in that.”

He continued, “I played a part in that because we were fueled by ambition to win. And I think that ambition to win, to victory, it’s what drives people in politics. It is a chess match in a lot of ways, but that result and how we got there is something that troubles me a lot, and doesn’t stand the test of time in my view.”

This elicited several “Wows” from Brzezinski.

Enter NBC’s Andrea Mitchell by satellite who asked Schmidt if “Palin is now a different person and whether she has the qualifications - because we’ve heard ruminations about her playing some role at the convention - whether you think that she has a role as a national leader in the Republican Party?”

Talk about softballs over the middle of the plate. Here’s a man that has been backstabbing Palin for years who just a minute prior said her being President frightens him.

With the seams of the ball bigger than they’ve ever been in front of his eyes, Schmidt said, “I hope not, and the reason I say that is because if you look at over the last four years, all of the deficiencies in knowledge, all the deficiencies in preparedness, she’s done not one thing to rectify them, to correct them.”

How would he know? Did anyone on the panel or Mitchell from another location ask him if he’s had any contact with the former Alaska governor to be qualified to make such a statement?

Of course not. This is exactly what they wanted to hear from their conquering hero about the woman they hate, and he couldn’t have done a better job of once again stabbing her in the back with the cameras rolling.

In the end, politics sure does make strange bedfellows.

In sports and business, backstabbing failures are scorned.

But this is what becomes of failed Republican campaign advisers willing to proudly disparage those they used to work for: they are heralded as heroes rather than goats by a fawning media with what should be an obvious agenda, especially to those on the receiving end of the hypocritical praise.

For his part, Schmidt - clearly lacking a soul or a conscience - is going to ride this wave as far as it can go, as for him, the selection of Palin really was a game change.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.