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By Ken Shepherd | March 7, 2011 | 12:31 PM EST

Presenting the same-sex marriage debate in Maryland's state legislature as one about "marriage equality," openly gay MSNBC host Thomas Roberts discussed the matter with Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, who is also openly gay.

The segment, entitled "Cold Feet In Maryland?" aired today at 11:17 a.m. EST.

"Supporters of Marriage Equality Wavering on Bill" the lower-thirds caption read as Capehart described how supporters of same-sex marriage are a few votes shy of passing the bill in Maryland's House of Delegates. A similar bill has already passed the Democrat-dominated Maryland Senate and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has pledged his signature should the bill reach his desk.

By Geoffrey Dickens | March 7, 2011 | 12:06 PM EST

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough appeared on Monday's Today show to deliver a forecast of doom for Republicans on the budget fight and their 2012 presidential prospects. On their skirmish with Democrats in Congress the host of Morning Joe told NBC's Matt Lauer he thinks Republicans "have the most to lose" and in explaining the late start for GOP entrants into the 2012 race proclaimed, "they are afraid of Barack Obama," as seen in the following exchange:

(video, audio and transcript after the jump)

By Scott Whitlock | March 7, 2011 | 11:39 AM EST

Even though there's still a year and eight months to go until the 2012 presidential election, Good Morning America's John Berman on Monday derided the GOP field for not joining the race yet. As a mocking trombone sound played, Berman joked that Newt Gingrich "had us on the edge of our seats" last week by establishing only an exploratory website.

Highlighting Mitt Romney's failure to officially enter the race, Berman offered this insulting aside: "But will it be him? What other possible explanation could there be for the  fact that Romney, who was trying to shake the reputation that he was born in a business suit, has apparently has lost all of his neck ties?"

Highlighting a conservative for dismissing other conservatives, the ABC reporter quoted, "Some Republicans feel timing isn't the problem, but the field. Columnist George Will writes, 'If pessimism is not creeping into Republicans' thinking about their 2012 prospects, that is another reason for pessimism.'"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

By Rich Noyes | March 7, 2011 | 11:20 AM EST

The Media Research Center is out with another edition of our bi-weekly Notable Quotables newsletter, a compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. Highlights from this issue include: Network reporters contrasting left-wing union protests in Wisconsin with recent uprisings against brutal Middle Eastern dictators, and journalists suggesting a “coordinated” Republican “assault on unions,” with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski badgering Governor Scott Walker: “How this is not an attempt to crush the unions.”

In other NQ news, we think we’ve finally fixed the problems that have plagued MRC’s e-mail newsletters over the past few weeks, so if you’d like to subscribe (or unsubscribe) to Notable Quotables or any of the MRC’s other fine newsletters, click here.

Now, here’s a sample of our best quotes from the past two weeks, including six video clips — for the full edition (Web page or full-color, printer-friendly PDF), visit www.MRC.org.

By Noel Sheppard | March 7, 2011 | 11:09 AM EST

Two weeks ago, George Soros went on CNN claiming that Rupert Murdoch and Fox News are like Nazis dangerously trying to deceive the American people.

On Sunday, an organization that Soros funds attacked Fox News by cherry-picking 53 seconds from an almost 12 minute segment to make it look like host Chris Wallace and the network he works for support the disgusting views of the Westboro Baptist Church (videos follow with transcripts and commentary):

By Julia A. Seymour | March 7, 2011 | 10:58 AM EST

The unemployment rate finally dropped below 9 percent in February 2011, after 21 months at that rate or higher. The Labor Department reported March 4 that the rate had dropped 0.1 percent to 8.9 percent. The New York Times called it a “notable” improvement, but in 1983, the Times was downbeat about better jobs news.

“The economic waiting game may soon be over, as businesses signal that they are finally willing to resume widespread hiring,” the March 5, 2011, story by Catherine Rampell began.

In that report, Rampell also emphasized that the 192,000 jobs added that month were the most for job growth in almost a year. Her Times report suggested the rate “could rise temporarily in the next few months, as stronger job growth lures some discouraged workers to look for jobs again.”

The last time the unemployment rate dropped below 9 percent after a long period above that marker was in 1983 under President Reagan. Back then the Times was much less encouraged by the jobs report, despite a monthly drop that was five times the size of this year’s.

By Matthew Philbin | March 7, 2011 | 10:43 AM EST

If they ever take a break from publicizing Charlie Sheen’s cocaine dos and dont's, or detailing the power politics within his Beverly Hills harem, the networks should grab a copy of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. And they may want to pay special attention to this entry: “Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.”

From Feb. 1 through March 6, the three networks distinguished themselves by devoting 20 times more broadcast time to Charlie Sheen’s porn stars and drug issues than to the Planned Parenthood video scandal and the subsequent vote in the House of Representatives to defund the organization.

(Video below the fold)

By Kyle Drennen | March 7, 2011 | 10:39 AM EST

On Sunday's Face the Nation, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman denounced the proposed White House plan to use the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to curb rising gas prices: "That would rank in my top five worst ideas of 2011 so far....one thing we should finally be doing is using this opportunity to have a credible energy policy that begins to reduce our addiction to oil."

Friedman's idea of "credible energy policy" was to force Americans to continue to pay higher gas prices: "Gasoline is almost $4 a gallon. We know that's a red line where people really start to change their behavior. At a minimum, I'd be talking about a tax that basically says we're going to keep it at $4. If it goes below we'll true it up, if it goes above that we're not going to touch it."

By NB Staff | March 7, 2011 | 9:21 AM EST

The milestone is as telling as it is grim. The Hill reported Monday that after the latest bout of waivers awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services, the number of businesses and unions lucky (or connected) enough to avoid the law's onerous coverage requirements now stands at 1,040 - and the number of Americans exempted at roughly 2.6 million.

HHS posted 126 new waivers on Friday, bringing the total to 1,040 organizations that have been granted a one-year exemption from a new coverage requirement included in the healthcare reform law enacted almost a year ago. Waivers have become a hot-button issue for Republicans, eager to expose any vulnerabilities in the reform law.

By Noel Sheppard | March 7, 2011 | 9:10 AM EST

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman doesn't believe education is the key to solving America's economic woes.

Quite the contrary, in his recent article "Degrees and Dollars," the Nobel Laureate argued that the path to a more prosperous nation is for unions to have increased bargaining power and for everyone to have "free" healthcare:

By Matthew Vadum | March 7, 2011 | 8:30 AM EST

It appears the progressive New York Times is running an ugly campaign of character assassination against a real-life American hero who saved lives and helped to safeguard the nation’s sacred democratic process. The man with the bull’s eye on his back is Brandon Darby, formerly a far-left community organizer. The Old Gray Lady has accused Darby of encouraging a plot to firebomb Republicans at the 2008 nominating convention, when in fact he was instrumental in thwarting the conspiracy and saving the lives of Republican delegates and police officers.

Darby stands accused by the New York Times and by angry radical groups of acting as an agent provocateur. In the article Anarchist Ties Seen in ’08 Bombing of Texas Governor’s Mansion published February 23, 2011, the paper said Darby urged two radicals to firebomb the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to NYT reporter James C. McKinley Jr.:

By Tim Graham | March 7, 2011 | 8:12 AM EST

On the New York Times website on Monday morning, these stories were stacked on top of each other, dramatically underlining how the liberal editors there handle the issue of religious groups being associated with violence:

Mexican Church Starts Scrutinizing Donors By DAMIEN CAVE

A crime syndicate leader was a major donor to the church in Pachuca, Mexico, above. The Roman Catholic Church has been trying to confront its historic ties to traffickers.

White House Seeks to Allay Muslims’ Fears By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

As hearings approach on the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism, the White House is trying to reassure Muslims.  

By Brad Wilmouth | March 7, 2011 | 7:03 AM EST

 Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, the Today show on NBC, and the NBC Nightly News all gave attention to potential Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee’s recent words from the Michael Medved Show lamenting the example set by the unwed pregnancy of actress Natalie Portman. But, while Huckabee might have been better served if he had also made a point of praising her for keeping her child and planning to marry the father during his original comments, the reports on ABC and NBC mostly ignored that it was host Medved who decided to bring up Portman, and Huckabee was responding to him rather than making a point of bringing her up on his own.

But only Saturday’s Today show even briefly mentioned that Medved introduced Portman into the conversation as substitute anchor Savannah Guthrie read a statement from Huckabee on the matter.

By Noel Sheppard | March 6, 2011 | 11:25 PM EST

It's certainly not surprising that the New York Times would publish a hit piece on Glenn Beck, but coming hours after CNN's Howard Kurtz spent almost ten minutes bashing the Fox News commentator makes me smell a rat.

Add to this the increased pressure Beck has come up against from MSNBC personalities since Keith Olbermann surprisingly left America's most liberal television news network in January, and one has to wonder what Times author David Carr had in mind with his Monday piece "The Fading Power of Beck’s Alarms":

By Brad Wilmouth | March 6, 2011 | 11:24 PM EST

 On the Sunday, March 6, Good Morning America on ABC, as the Daily Beast’s John Avlon appeared as a guest to make predictions about which Republicans will ultimately choose to run for President, he ended up complaining that "Obama Derangement Syndrome" has recently "gotten worse" and "deserves to be called out" because it is "divisive" and "unnecessary."

Host Dan Harris asked Avlon about his recent criticisms of Republicans: "I know you're no stranger to the Republican Party. You used to be the chief speech writer for Rudy Giuliani when he was the mayor of New York City. You’ve been pretty critical - I would say scathingly critical - of the type of rhetoric Republican, potential Republican candidates have been using against the current President, Mr. Obama. Why?"

Avlon began his response:

Well, because, look, I think there's no question that the Obama Derangement Syndrome on the right was preceded by a Bush Derangement Syndrome on the left, but it’s gotten worse. We’ve seen this sort of anti rhetoric saying that President Obama is somehow anti-American or un-American bubbling up to the upper reaches of the presidential campaign. And that deserves to be called out. It's divisive. It's unnecessary.

He then continued: