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By Geoffrey Dickens | February 23, 2011 | 6:44 PM EST

Chris Matthews went off the deep end on Wednesday's Hardball as he accused conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck of demonstrating "ethnic disdain" for the First Family and even charged former Arkansas Governor and current Fox News host Mike Huckabee of wanting to ethnically cleanse Arabs from the West Bank.

Right after a discussion about Republican contenders like John Thune and Chris Christie not entering the presidential race, Matthews told his GOP strategist guest Todd Harris "You are being left with the crazies now" like Huckabee who Matthews charged wants to "clear out all the Arabs in the West Bank, just get rid of them all!...Talk about ethnic cleansing? He says he's gonna do it."

Then Matthews immediately turned to a clip of Rush Limbaugh critiquing Michelle Obama's health push and claimed the talk show host wasn't merely making fun of nanny state politics, but that there was something more sinister involved as he went on to accuse Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their listeners of being racist, as seen in the following rant:

(video, audio and transcript after the jump)

By Matt Hadro | February 23, 2011 | 6:13 PM EST

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who was raised a Baptist, criticized Dr. Edward Peters, a Vatican canon law adviser, Wednesday on "Morning Joe," for his call to deny Holy Communion to a public figure who is living "in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church."

"Deny Communion? I'm sorry, and not to get religious here, but Jesus said, you know, 'I didn't come here to heal the healthy,'" Scarborough trumpeted from his soapbox.

"Why don't they first open the books on past priests who have victimized children?" columnist and "Morning Joe" regular Mike Barnicle chimed in, following Scarborough's lead.."That shows rigor. That would be a mistake," CNBC anchor Jim Cramer lampooned the Church.

The issue at hand is not a matter of whether Dr. Peters is "butting in" and questioning Cuomo's faith or unduly condemning him. The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law 915 explicitly states that those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy Communion."

By Clay Waters | February 23, 2011 | 5:39 PM EST

New York Times reporter David Halbfinger filed from Trenton, N.J., Wednesday on Gov. Chris Christie’s recently unveiled budget proposal (“Christie Declares ‘New Normal’ in Proposing Tight Budget”) and again displayed a pro-Democrat double standard.

Only last week Halbfinger penned a favorable profile of Connecticut’s Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy, who devoted half the interview to running down, in Halbfinger’s words, the “blustery and bellicose” Christie, whose clips of his back-and-forth engagement with union members have won him a conservative fan club.

Halbfinger’s treatment of Christie was far less friendly than the tone he took toward Gov. Malloy:

By Tim Graham | February 23, 2011 | 5:10 PM EST

Neil Katz at has a new question: "Transgender surgery: should your company pay for it?" Those who would say "No" and resist the latest PC push at major corporations are nowhere to be found by CBS or the AP:

While millions of Americans are grappling with employer-provided health insurance that covers less and costs more, one surprising group is benefiting as of late - transgendered people.

That's according to an Associated Press report [by Lisa Leff] which found that big name companies like Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup and Walt Disney [!] have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers.

By Ken Shepherd | February 23, 2011 | 4:30 PM EST

Those learned theologians on "The View" are at it again.

Discussing how Catholic canon law advisor Dr. Edward Peters has declared that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) committed an "objectively sacrilegious" act that "produces grave scandal" by receiving Communion on January 2, almost every panelist on ABC gabfest "The View" today rebuked the scholar for his pronouncement.

"Peters specifically cited Cuomo's cohabiting with Food Network hostess Sandra Lee as 'publicly acting in violation of a fundamental moral expectation of the Church,' and that 'as long as he persists in such conduct, he should refrain from taking Holy Communion,'"'s Michael Chapman noted on Monday.

[For full disclosure, is owned by the parent company of NewsBusters, the Media Research Center.]

By Matt Hadro | February 23, 2011 | 2:56 PM EST

MSNBC's Chris Jansing, referencing a report by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on "active U.S. hate groups," asked Wednesday if the rise of radical right-wing groups coincided with the motives behind Jared Loughner's assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

When asked about the "hate groups" report, guest Mark Potok of the SPLC immediately pointed to the rise of "radical right-wing groups" and attributed the rise to "resentment over the changing racial demographics," "frustration over the lagging economy," and "mainstreaming of conspiracy theories."

"The economy since the fall of 2008, of course, has really played into this in terms of unemployment, anger with the bailouts, and so on," added Potok. "It's really ginned-up anti-government feeling, in many ways."


By Clay Waters | February 23, 2011 | 1:15 PM EST

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Over the last decade, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has written on the costs of the Iraq war, the federal deficit, the threat of global warming, and the uprisings in the Arab world. In Friedman’s view, all these problems have one simple solution: A $1-a-gallon hike in the gas tax.


In his Wednesday column, “If Not Now, When?” Friedman pushed the tax as having some tenuous connection to pushing democratic values in the Middle East:

By Ken Shepherd | February 23, 2011 | 12:59 PM EST

"U.S. still awaiting Libya's permission to evacuate Americans," blared the headline for a page A6 story in today's Washington Post.

"The United States has been unable to get Libya's permission to evacuate American citizens from the country, State Department officials said Tuesday, prompting the administration to temper its response to the Libyan crackdown," Post staffers Mary Beth Sheridan and Colum Lynch noted.

Gee, you'd think that should be front-page news, and it's difficult to imagine this not being front-page news had it happened under President George W. Bush's watch.

Since that article's publication, the State Department has chartered a ferry to evacuate American citizens from the country. From a story filed by Sheridan and Lynch at 11:15 a.m. EST today:

By Scott Whitlock | February 23, 2011 | 12:37 PM EST

George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday highlighted Paul Begala, his old friend from the Clinton White House, while critiquing Senator Rand Paul and the state of Kentucky.  Without mentioning his personal connection, the Good Morning America host chided, "You know, in the Daily Beast yesterday, Paul Begala, pointed out that Kentucky gets more from the federal government than they give out."

GMA on Wednesday offered no criticism of the union protesters, simply another attack on the actions of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Citing a USA Today poll showing Americans supporting collective bargaining, Stephanopoulos lobbied, "And we've see these protests all across the Midwest. Do you think you may have sparked a backlash here?"

Following up, the former Democratic operative berated, "But I think a lot of people look at this and say, Okay, and especially in Wisconsin, we've seen the public employees say we'll pay more for our health care and pensions. But, you can't take away our rights. Have the governors here gone too far?"

By Geoffrey Dickens | February 23, 2011 | 11:59 AM EST

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie stopped by the Today show, on Wednesday morning, to educate viewers and NBC's Ann Curry about the problems of public employee unions and explained that when it comes to getting government costs under control sometimes you just have to say no. Curry mostly questioned Christie from the left, as she asked if there was "a coordinated" GOP agenda to make unions "scapegoats" for a problem "created by Wall Street" and the "banks" and suggested that "in some ways it doesn't sort of make sense...that the unions really are to blame."

For his part, Christie responded: "It's an issue of wanting to say yes all the time as a public official. You know you never want to say no to anybody because 'Oh you're much more popular if you say yes.' Well you know what? It's time we have to start saying no to certain things to be able to say yes to the things that will help to grow our economy and create a more prosperous future."

(video, audio and transcript after the jump)

By Tom Blumer | February 23, 2011 | 11:15 AM EST

USA Today's Wednesday cover story ("Killings Escalate Piracy Crisis"), has this reference to a quote obtained by the Associated Press:

Killing hostages "has now become part of our rules," said a pirate who identified himself as Muse Abdi in a statement to the Associated Press. "From now on, anyone who tries to rescue the hostages in our hands will only collect dead bodies," Abdi said. "It will never, ever happen that hostages are rescued and we are hauled to prison."

Pretty provocative, right? In fact, it resembles a declaration of war without the rules of war. You might even call it a declaration of t-t-t-t ... terrorism.

The problem is, Abdi's quote is no longer in any story at the Associated Press's home web site, and is rarely present in other Internet news reports.

By Ken Shepherd | February 23, 2011 | 10:55 AM EST

When a sitting U.S. congressman's behavior is so erratic and inexplicable that his own staffers want him to get psychiatric care and some of them quit in horror upon his reelection, it's a legitimate news story for national media coverage regardless of the political party of the person involved.

Of course, if the congressman were a Republican, it's difficult to imagine his political affiliation would go unmentioned in any media account.

But the federal legislator in question is Oregon Rep. David Wu, a Democrat.

In a February 23 Swampland blog post for, Amy Sullivan omitted Wu's political affiliation even as she detailed the troubling behavior he's exhibited over the past few months:

By Noel Sheppard | February 23, 2011 | 10:49 AM EST

Last Monday, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman ironically asked his readers why voters are so ill-informed.

Eight days later, MSNBC's resident Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow, while chatting with the "Tonight Show's" Jay Leno about what's going on in Wisconsin, demonstrated perfectly why so many in our country have little factual knowledge of current events (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Julia A. Seymour | February 23, 2011 | 10:18 AM EST

For roughly a week, a battle has been raging in Madison, Wis. Evening news programs on the three broadcast networks framed these as "citizen uprisings" over pay cuts and "eliminating unions' collective bargaining powers to negotiate wages and benefits."

Reporters also portrayed this as a national union issue, but mostly failed to point out the national problem of pension underfunding.

Actually, the battle is the result of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempts to balance the state budget by asking roughly 300,000 state employees to contribute more to their pension funds and health insurance and give up the ability to negotiate more than their wages. According to CNNMoney, the state faces a $3.6 billion budget deficit.

Only 1 out of 24 network evening stories about the Wisconsin "feud" since Feb. 16, reported a critical number relating to union pensions: $1 trillion. That's the huge deficit facing public workers' pensions in America and the reason Walker and other state governors are facing tough choices including demanding public workers contribute more.

By Humberto Fontova | February 23, 2011 | 9:27 AM EST

For his documentaries on Fidel Castro and Che Guevara Cuban-American filmmaker Agustin Blazquez’ takes a truly revolutionary approach. Rather than expecting officials of Castro’s police state to reveal facts, Blazquez interviews eye-witnesses to Castroism who are (get this!) free to reveal facts without threat of Castro’s firing squads and torture chambers!