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By Brad Wilmouth | September 27, 2011 | 8:41 AM EDT

On Monday's "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central, host Jon Stewart called both Rick Santorum and Rick Perry idiots as he responded to some of their statements from the most recent GOP presidential debate.

After a clip of Santorum arguing that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should be reinstated, suggesting that members of the armed forces should keep their sexual orientation to themselves as they serve, Stewart responded with censored profanity and ended up calling the former Republican Senator an "idiot":

By Tim Graham | September 27, 2011 | 7:20 AM EDT

The conventional wisdom on cable news branding may be changing. It’s been said that MSNBC found its way being a fiercely liberal channel, while CNN dithered with a calmer (ahem, still liberal) lineup. Now CNN is close to overtaking MSNBC in prime time, reported Bill Carter in The New York Times. So much for "leaning forward."

“MSNBC may be rediscovering the downside of partisan news,” Chris Daly, a professor of journalism at Boston University, told Carter. “That is, the size of your audience is essentially cajoled by the size of the electorate that already agrees with you.” The electorate isn’t getting thrills up its legs over Obama any more.

By Mark Finkelstein | September 27, 2011 | 7:16 AM EDT

Are we witnessing a crack-up within the key demographic President Obama must count on to have any hope of re-election?  Al Sharpton has come out firing at Maxine Waters and other black Dems for their criticism of President Obama's perceived indifference to black unemployment. Last month, long-time congresswoman Waters told the audience at a Congressional Black Caucus event that she and other black leaders were ready to attack President Obama as soon as African-Americans "tell us it's all right and you unleash us."

On his MSNBC show last night, Sharpton accused those who spoke of "unleash us" of being "hypocrites."  According to Sharpton, such people didn't make a peep when Bill Clinton implemented the reinstitution of the federal death penalty and welfare reform.  Sharpton issued a blunt warning: "I'm not telling you to shut up.  I'm telling you don't make some of us have to speak up."  View video after the jump.

By Tim Graham | September 26, 2011 | 11:20 PM EDT

The Washington Post puffed up the rookie performance of liberal Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan on the front page Monday. The headline was “Kagan made her mark in a bold rookie term.” But inside the paper was the more obvious conclusion, in the headline: “Kagan soothed liberal fears by shoring up the court’s left flank.”

Reporter Robert Barnes is one of many liberal reporters who like pretending that Kagan was somehow an ideological mystery during the confirmation process, despite being picked to be Barack Obama’s solicitor general before the high court.

By Tom Blumer | September 26, 2011 | 10:17 PM EDT

Herman Cain's victory in Saturday's GOP straw poll in Florida didn't become headline news at the Associated Press until after the candidate's Monday morning "Today Show" interview. Earlier today at NewsBusters, Kyle Drennen noted how "Today's" Ann Curry tried to frame the result as some kind of "protest vote."

Having delayed dedicating a story to Cain's victory for roughly 36 hours, the headline in AP's unbylined story this morning was: "GOP's Cain says win in Fla. straw poll not a fluke." In other words, it didn't become news at the wire service until someone else in the media put the candidate on the defensive about the significance of his win, thus avoiding giving him any moment of unvarnished recognition for the good old-fashioned butt-kicking he delivered (37% Cain, 15% Perry, 14% Romney, 11% Santorum, all others under 10%). How convenient.

By Tim Graham | September 26, 2011 | 9:38 PM EDT

One-hit pop singer Sinead O'Connor has been treated like a dignitary on MSNBC by Rachel Maddow and promoted as a moralist by The Huffington Post in her recent and vicious attacks on the Catholic Church. Now, she's not saying she's holier than the Pope. She's saying she'll shoot him in a "f***in bloodbath." Let's hope Sinead hasn't made any anti-bullying videos.

Irish Central reports her latest ouburst came on Twitter after a poll was carried out on whether Pope Benedict should visit Ireland. She warned that there would be a "f **kin bloodbath". She tweeted "'Young people of Ireland I love u' said Sinead as she pulled the f ***ing trigger."

By Penny Starr | September 26, 2011 | 9:00 PM EDT

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.)--who was censured by Congress in December for multiple ethics violations--has often told his congressional colleagues: “The Gospel of Matthew made me do it.”

Pelosi made the remarks at a Capitol Hill reception for the unveiling of an oil painting of Rangel that will hang in the hearing room of the House Ways and Means Committee, where Rangel formerly served as chairman.

By Matthew Balan | September 26, 2011 | 6:36 PM EDT

On Monday's Early Show, CBS's Jim Axelrod pressed Gov. Mitch Daniels to anything derogatory about the Republican presidential field, leaving the Indiana politician little time to say anything about his new book. Axelrod also devoted a significant amount of time during the interview to the question of whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would get into the presidential race.

The substitute anchor led the segment with the issue of the recent Florida straw poll, which businessman Herman Cain won: "Cain didn't just win in Florida this weekend. He had more votes than both Governor Romney and Governor Perry combined. What does that tell you about the state of the Republican field?" After his guest gave an initial answer, Axelrod followed up by asking, "When you see what's happening with the inability for a single candidate to, sort of, get some traction, does it make you rethink your decision, at all, to get out of the race?"

By Matt Hadro | September 26, 2011 | 6:20 PM EDT

CNN's Jessica Yellin, reporting on President Obama's virtual townhall Monday afternoon, noted two wealthy persons who wish to pay higher taxes – but didn't mention the small businessman who during the townhall complained to the President about regulations and taxes.

Yellin focused her brief report on a member of the audience who claimed to be a wealthy retiree and asked for higher taxes. CNN ran Obama's response to him, and Yellin added that the CEO of LinkedIn, the sponsor of the townhall, would be "open" to tax hikes on the rich.

By Kyle Drennen | September 26, 2011 | 5:41 PM EDT

On Friday's NBC Nightly News, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd portrayed audience members at recent Republican debates as unruly and an embarrassment to the GOP: "Some Republicans are concerned these audience moments might send the wrong message to swing voters."

Wrapping up a report on Thursday's Republican debate, Todd declared: "These three September debates have also exposed just how stark some of the cultural divides are between left and right. From the cheering of Perry's death penalty record....To the shouts from the audience about whether emergency rooms should treat the uninsured....To last night's jeers of a question about gays in the military."

By Tim Graham | September 26, 2011 | 5:30 PM EDT

Parade Magazine, the nationally distributed Sunday newspaper supplement had a cover reading "GEORGE CLOONEY FOR PRESIDENT" on Sunday. "In his new movie, at least," it said in smaller type.

Inside we were supposed to read a "candid conversation" with CNN political analyst David Gergen -- who was entirely too candid in describing how hanging out with Clooney at his Lake Como villa in Italy led to a "nasty hangover" and "nonstop fun." Apparently, there was Gergen swimming in underpants in the middle of the night. Is this how journalists behave to "soften up their subject"? Clooney can't just wine and dine with the women. He also knows how to seduce journalists into giving him what he wants: puffball publicity. Gergen wrote:

By Matthew Balan | September 26, 2011 | 4:15 PM EDT

Both CBS's "Early Show" and CNN's "Newsroom" sought out Rep. Maxine Waters on Monday for her reaction to President Obama's "stop complaining" rejoinder to the Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday, but neither outlet mentioned the continuing ethics investigation into the ultra-liberal Democrat. CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux even went so far to flatter Rep. Waters as having her "marching shoes" on.

CBS's Erica Hill brought on the liberal politician just minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour and first asked, "What was your reaction to that when he [President Obama] said, 'Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying'?" The representative gently critiqued the President's language:

By Mark Finkelstein | September 26, 2011 | 3:53 PM EDT

If Chris Christie doesn't get into the presidential race, the would-be comics of the MSM might be even more disappointed than the Republican honchos reportedly urging the Jersey gov to run.  Yesterday, I noted how ABC's "Good Morning America" managed to work a number of fat cracks into its report on Christie.  Today it was the oleaginous Martin Bashir's turn.

Bashir never acknowledged his jokes with a wink and a nod.  But from describing Christie as "massively" popular with Republicans, to observing that when it comes to a possible run Christie hasn't "pushed away from the table,"  to suggesting that it wouldn't be that easy for Christie to "roll over" President Obama, there was no doubting the kind of bashing Bashir was up to.  Video after the jump.

By Kyle Drennen | September 26, 2011 | 3:49 PM EDT

Update [17:01 ET]: Full transcript added.

Appearing on Saturday's NBC "Today," MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews proclaimed that efforts by House Republicans to pay for FEMA disaster relief by making budget cuts elsewhere was akin to "what parliaments do right before military coups in other countries." He then declared it was a "Complete disaster, complete failure to do their job." [Audio available here]

The segment began with co-host Amy Robach asking Matthews about the Obama administration discarding key provisions of No Child Left Behind without congressional approval. Matthews staunchly defended the action, ranting: "You have two points of view in the United States Congress. One is revolution, 'It's time to cut everything no matter what the fight, cut the spending, say no to the President.' On the other side, business as usual, 'Let's make the government work.' And in this case, the President gave up on Congress and said, 'I'm going to do it myself.'"

View video after the jump

By Clay Waters | September 26, 2011 | 3:46 PM EDT

New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner took some friendly fire from the paper’s Public Editor Arthur Brisbane in his Sunday column, “Tangled Relationships in Jerusalem.” Brisbane forwarded complaints from a left-wing anti-Israeli blogger about Bronner's business relationship with a conservative Israeli, Charley Levine. But Bronner's history of slanted reporting, especially his hostile coverage of "angry rampag[ing]" Jewish settlers in the West Bank, proves he can hardly be credibly accused of sympathizing with Israeli conservatives.

Conflict of interest, or the appearance of it, is poisonous in journalism. This is particularly so when it relates to reporting on Israel and the Palestinians, a subject that draws a steady stream of skepticism about New York Times coverage from readers and partisans on all sides.