In the giddy aftermath of a Democratic victory, the cheery tone of morning television can begin to look like excessive enthusiasm. On Wednesday morning's Today, co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed Montana's liberal Democratic Senate challenger, Jon Tester, who at the time was narrowly ahead and not yet declared the winner. Vieira noticed that despite the close call, "yet, you have a smile on your face, sir." When asked how he came this far, Tester said people came out to vote for honesty and integrity, about Iraq, and health care.
Vieira perkily concluded: "Well I hope you keep the smile on your face there Jon Tester. Thank you very much. Back to you, Matt."
Although not as bumpy as the road the GOP encountered last night, I've hit some turbulence on the first day of my Iraq trip. With weather socked in on the East Coast, my US Airways flight out of our little Ithaca airport was cancelled. A quick phone call later I was on the road to Syracuse. For my sins I decided to listen to Air America all the way - the Stephanie Miller Show as it turned out. They spoke of being in "full gloat mode," and that was no overstatement. Multiple renditions of the "nah-nah-nah-nah, goodbye" song, endless repetitions of Paul Begala's slur of Rush Limbaugh, fantasies of Tom DeLay slipping in his own sick - a class act all around.
Oddly, I didn't find it getting under my skin much. After 12 years in the wilderness, I suppose it's just human nature for Dems to revel in the moment. Every dog has its day. Then again, on election night 1994 I don't recall the GOP revolution, welcome as it was, sending me into paroxysms of puerile chest-pounding. Sidenote: the Air Americans mocked the Fox & Friends cast's notion that, after all, many of the successful Dem candidates were of a moderate to conservative stripe. Miller & Co. are apparently expecting Pelosi to govern in accordance to what they gleefully referred to as her "San Francisco values."
In the second half-hour of Wednesday's Good Morning America, ABC financial expert Mellody Hobson insisted Democratic majorities in Congress are "probably going to be very good for the economy," since it will lead to "gridlock," which means "it's not easy to spend money."
Co-host Robin Roberts introduced Hobson: "She is president, also, of Ariel Capital Management. Let's start money first, Mellody. The first time in twelve years that the Democrats have control of the House, not sure what's going to happen in the Senate right now. What does that mean for the economy?"
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien talked with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Wednesday and displayed a snide attitude over the Republicans’ midterm losses. She even tried to goad DeLay into bashing Karl Rove:
O’Brien: "Think Karl Rove is still a genius?"
Delay: "Oh, yes. Just because you lose one ball game doesn't remove your genius."
O’Brien: "Really, you think that -- this is kind of a big ball game to lose. Some people might say, yes, but if you lose the big one, it actually could chip away at your title."
Apparently victories in 2000, 2002 and 2004 don’t mean anything.
Starter topic: Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer on the election's impact: "There are some people who want to argue that ... this was what the
Republicans needed, a kick in the pants [...] But it’s also a
shift of responsibility to the Democrats. They now have to join in the
government in a very hard situation in Iraq and elsewhere. If things
don’t go well, they will share in the blame."
Like Chris Matthews last night, The Times seems to be bitter about not having everything go the Democrats' way last night, putting its usual racism spin on one of the GOP's few bright spots -- Bob Corker's win over Harold Ford Jr. in the race for Senate in Tennessee.
"Tennessee's open Senate seat stayed in Republican hands on Tuesday night after a campaign that drew national attention for its nastiness and for Democratic hopes that it would break a longstanding race barrier."
Nossiter blames racism in Tennessee:
"In addition, Mr. Ford was trying to become the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.
MRC President Brent Bozell appeared with other conservative leaders at the National Press Club this morning to urge that the Republican Party respond to their election defeat by returning to their conservative Reaganite roots. During his remarks, Bozell lambasted the national media’s biased campaign coverage, blasting them as “a laughingstock when it comes to the idea of objective journalism.”
In the press conference televised live on C-SPAN, Bozell listed the missed opportunities and strategic errors made by the Republicans, then focused on the media’s hand in crafting yesterday’s outcome:
“And then they [the Republicans] had the problem with the national press. I will say this unequivocally: In 25 years of looking at the national media, I have never in my life seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news and non-news by the national press.
In their story on the Democrats winning the House of Representatives, al-Jazeera’s English-language Web site blamed the “unpopular war in Iraq” for the GOP defeat and highlighted Nancy Pelosi’s speech demanding a “new direction” on Iraq.
“Staying the course has not made our country safer,” al-Jazeera quoted Pelosi as saying last night. “We cannot continue down this catastrophic path.”
As many NewsBusters have commented, the liberal media were anything but gracious in victory last night. CNN political analyst Paul Begala was a fine example when during the 8PM “Situation Room,” he took the opportunity to attack the most popular conservative radio talk show host in the country (video here with transcript to follow).
As the conversation centered on the Missouri Senate race, and how stem-cell research and Michael J. Fox might have impacted the outcome, Begala said the following (as previously reported here):
But Bill Bennett was not the face and the voice of the anti-embryonic-stem-cell-research debate. It became Rush Limbaugh, a drug-addled gasbag who is self-discredited. That's good for Claire McCaskill.
Obviously, Begala sees himself as a uniter and not a divider. Thankfully, Bill Bennett was there to clean up the mess:
Howard Dean not anti-war enough for Chris Matthews? During MSNBC's election night coverage, Matthews challenged Dean from the left on how soon to pull troops out of Iraq, asking the DNC chairman how he could "justify the loss of another American life or another Iraqi life in a mission that doesn't seem to make any sense at this point? Why stay in Iraq just to make it look good so you'll look like a centrist party?" Although Matthews' questions on Iraq also challenged Dean on the Democratic Party's lack of a clear plan of their own on how to handle Iraq, Matthews did not voice any concerns about whether Democrats might pressure a withdrawal too soon. (Transcript follows)
Matthews began to push Dean from the left after the DNC chairman answered a question from Matthews about what voters could expect to get out of voting for Democrats regarding Iraq. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of Matthews' interview with Dean which aired about 8:40 p.m. EST on MSNBC:
The Supreme Court hears the latest arguments Wednesday from late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart objecting to a partial-birth abortion ban, and the media bias wouldn't be complete without the major media rejecting the term "partial-birth abortion" as a propagandistic pro-life term. Brian Montopoli on the CBS blog "Public Eye" offered a little inside detail:
With the case approaching, CBS News Senior Vice President, Standards and Special Projects Linda Mason sent an email to the CBS News staff regarding the terms "late term abortion" and "partial birth abortion." Mason wrote that CBS News should use the term “late term abortion” when referring to the procedure in question, not "partial birth abortion." I asked her why.
"We thought that 'partial birth' is a color phrase for people who are anti-abortion rights," said Mason. "This is a procedure usually done after 20 weeks. Therefore, 'late term' is appropriate. Now, some colleagues have come back to me and questioned this because the name of the law before the Supreme Court is the 'Partial-Birth Abortion [Act].' When people refer to the case, they should call it by the correct name. But a CBS reporter should call the procedure a 'late term abortion.'"
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales expressed general praise with network election coverage Wednesday morning, especially newbie Katie Couric at CBS, but said the television was really missing the electrifying Bill Clinton, a "shining, gray-haired exception" to Democrats who are generally bad at TV. He compared Slick Willie to who he might have called Clumsy Chucky Schumer:
Neil Cavuto, who hosts a less-than-indispensable daily show on Fox, got into an on-air shouting match with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who understandably took exception when Cavuto kept interrupting him. In Cavuto's defense, Schumer seemed determined to talk as slowly and laboriously as possible, proving himself yet another Democrat who takes to television like a duck takes to oil.
I just heard the opening shot of the 2008 Dem presidential primary!
To paraphrase Hirohito's famous words to his people at the end of WWII, the electoral situation has developed not necessarily to the GOP's advantage. We'll certainly be picking through the rubble in coming weeks. But for the time being, let's look at the bright side: the 2008 presidential race is on! One sure sign of it: Barack Obama has become fair game for criticism - from fellow Democrats.
Hillary Rosen, a Dem consultant and former interim Director of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, was a guest on a Chris Matthews election post-mortem panel early Wednesday morning. Rosen took some real shots at someone who heretofore had only been dutifully referred to by Dems as "a rising star."
In their coverage of the election returns, MSNBC posted a story this morning at the bottom of which was a brief run down of who won and who lost in Congressional races across the country.
Most of these listings were presented without comment of any kind. Like the race in Arizona:
Arizona: Incumbent Republican John Kyl over Democrat Jim Pederson.
That was pretty straightforward. No bias, no nonsense. Just a who-won/who-lost listing. Of the 23 races they list, only a few have any thing by way of extra commentary. Additionally, out of that few they offered further comment on, all were either benign or complimentary.
A Freudian slip from Chris Matthews? About 7:36 pm EST during MSNBC's election night coverage, Matthews was interviewing Chuck Todd of the National Journal, who predicted that if Democrats gained 25 to 30 House seats, it would also mean a Democratic Senate takeover. As Matthews began his response, he proclaimed "that'll be fantastic news. It'll be huge news, I should say," as he went on to say President Bush would have to negotiate his policies with Congress. Matthews: "President George W. Bush, having to actually negotiate every aspect of national policy, including the war in Iraq."
A few minutes later, Matthews chose the words "the damn rich" as he described some of the "populist" sentiments of some Americans angry about the rich making too much money. Matthews: "Every time you ask people questions now, they don't just say I'd like to make more money at work, I'd like to have a higher salary, I'd like to have some break on tuition for the kids, they're saying the damn rich are getting all the money." Matthews went on to mention "Halliburton" and "the rich grabbing it" as reasons some Americans say "we're not doing so well." (Transcript follows)
Video clip of Matthews making his "fantastic" outburst (30 secs): Real (900 KB) or Windows Media (1.1 MB), plus MP3 audio (175 KB)
Just after 11pm EST Tuesday night, MSNBC's Chris Matthews celebrated how Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, a likelihood following the Democratic takeover of that body, will be “a great opportunity for her and a great opportunity for women” and an “amazing moment” when at the next State of the Union address she'll be “the incredibly interesting person” next to Dick Cheney with his “fire hydrant build” and “very distinguished snarl.” Matthews told Keith Olbermann, his co-anchor:
"I think it's a great opportunity for her and a great opportunity for women. I think one of the most stunning, most iconic pictures we'll see on television in the next year is the State of the Union address, where you have Dick Cheney, who has got that sort of, you know, fire hydrant build sitting there with that very distinguished snarl of his, and then this incredibly interesting person next, a woman, first time ever sitting behind the President sharing power with the American government. It's going to be an amazing moment.”
At 12:33 ET, a very reluctant Chris Matthews gave an update on the Tennessee Senate race, unwilling to call the vote (even though it was complete) for Republican Bob Corker. He was overruled from the control room, but still was clearly disheartened that Tennesseans did not vote his way.
Even after being corrected, Matthews continued to express skepticism that the Republican had defeated his preferred fellow Democrat.
We just got word now that the count is complete now in Tennesee and we're not making any projections yet officially as NBC now but as you can see up on the board now [pauses as screen comes up showing Corker projection]
Well we are I guess right now. NBC is--we're projecting that Bob Corker has beated [sic] Harold Ford Jr. after a very, very courageous [voice trails off] It's an apparent winner rather than a projection.
During election night coverage, CNN’s Paula Zahn and Bill Schneider exuded giddiness over what Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee’s defeat meant. Schneider marveled that voters liked Chafee, but "they didn’t vote for him!" Zahn wondered if Chafee’s defeat could be seen as a "mandate for change." A transcript follows:
In the Fox News Channel's “Buzz on the Blogs” segment at about 9:39pm EST Tuesday night, columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin began her look at blog critiques of election coverage by citing “grievances, mostly from the right side of the blogosphere, over the leak of exit polls and what they consider the premature calling of a lot of these races.” She then pointed to NewsBusters' take: “At NewsBusters.org, which is one of the leading mainstream media critic blogs, they've been highlighting the early calls in Pennsylvania.”
As Malkin spoke, viewers saw a split-screen of her and of this NewsBusters posting, “Polls Remain Open in Pennsylvania, But CBS Announces Casey Victory,” by Rich Noyes.
"Newsweek" editor Marcus Mabry, appearing on CNN to deliver a postmortem on Republican Rick Santorum’s loss, attacked the Senator as a "firebrand partisan" and wondered if Republicans would learn a lesson from his loss. A transcript of his comments follows:
Marcus Mabry: "I think while we’ve heard some laudatory things tonight about the bipartisanship, on occasion, of the Senator from Pennsylvania, who only has another two months in office now, we have to remember this was an incredibly politicizing, divisive partisan, both on the floor of the United States Senate, but also back in Pennsylvania.
Speaking of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress, Chris Matthews said, "We’re getting diversity, finally, religious diversity in the United States Congress."
But Andrea Mitchell toned down his optimism, saying the Senate was still racist if Harold Ford loses.
"Before we get too heady about diversity in Congress, if you look at historically what has been going on, if Harold Ford does not win in Tennessee, we will still have one African American in the Senate. There has never been more than one African American at a time in the Senate. It’s quite remarkable. We talk about Ed Brooke, we talk about some of the other senators in past history, but never more than one. It is still the All-White Club, the most exclusive club."
Winding up the 8pm EST hour of election coverage on MSNBC, “Scarborough Country” host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, indignantly lectured Chris Matthews about how he has “spent the past two years trying my best to be very critical of my party. In fact, if you look at my transcripts you will see that I have been bashing my party more than the Democratic party because I want to make sure that I am fair and down the middle.”
So “far and down the middle” means hitting Republicans harder than Democrats? Too bad Matthews, a former staffer to Democratic President Jimmy Carter and Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, doesn’t routinely attack Democrats to prove how “fair and down the middle” he is.
As NewsBusters reported on Tuesday, the media have been all over allegations that Republicans are using a variety of tactics to intimidate Democrat voters in Virginia. Information obtained from the Virginia State Board of Elections (VSBE) suggests that these reports are exaggerations based upon information released by the James Webb for Senate campaign.
Furthermore, there is evidence that liberal bloggers were used to disseminate this material, in particular Daily Kos.
It appears that this firestorm began Monday when the Webb for Senate campaign created a press release that was e-mailed to a variety of recipients (complete text here). Oddly, this release doesn’t appear to be at the Webb for Senate website, and is not materializing in any LexisNexis searches. It does, however, appear at some blogs; more on that later.
20:40. Wolf Blitzer continues framing his coverage in what the Democrats need to do to win.
"Just to be precise. Thirty-three senate seats are up for election this time around, a third of the senate. If Democrats are going to be in the majority, they need to capture 6 and not lose any of their own. They're a little bit of the way there because they didn't lose in New Jersey..."
Jeff Greenfield continues the line, saying journalists are competing to come up with the best cliche to describe what Dems need to do, get an inside straight, etc.
On the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer tonight, they honed in on allegations of voter irregularities and election-stealing, and Lehrer began suggesting a need for the federal government to rule over a regime of nationalized election standards. In the show’s second installment of the panel of liberal Mark Shields and guest conservative Ramesh Ponnuru, the veteran liberal clearly won the battle of the clock: Shields took about twice as much air time to lay out his answers as Ponnuru the newcomer did. Here’s how Lehrer pushed nationalized election systems:
Lehrer: "Ramesh, do you think there should be national standards for all elections, and take it out of the hands of local precinct workers and county judges and people like that?"
During an election night discussion of the Missouri embryonic stem cell debate, CNN analyst Paul Begala slammed Rush Limbaugh as a "drug-addled gasbag who is self discredited." Bill Bennett, also on the panel with James Carville and J.C. Watts, chastised Begala: “Well, it's a nasty comment.”
The discussion, with Democratic strategist Begala's insult, began at about 8:08pm EST Tuesday night on CNN:
CNN's Wolf Blitzer made a point of saying his network would refrain from calling any of the races in Pennsylvania, where polls remain open in two areas where there were problems earlier in the day.
But in an 8pm EST CBS News break-in, new anchor Katie Couric couldn't wait to share the good news with her fellow liberals, announcing that Bob Casey, Jr. had beaten Rick Santorum.
UPDATE, 8:40pm EST: Most of the networks have joined CBS in declaring Casey the winner, and Howard Dean just told Chris Matthews that he would personally invite Senator Casey to speak at the Democratic Convention despite being pro-life (Casey's father, the late Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey, Sr., was excluded from the 1992 Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton). But CNN's Web site lists Pennsylvania as "still voting," so hasn't yet called Casey the victor.