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By Mark Finkelstein | January 18, 2011 | 8:33 AM EST

Paging Dr. Ron Reagan, Jr. . . .

On Morning Joe today, Carl Bernstein insisted Sarah Palin was "ignorant," but couldn't remember why.  When pressed, he claimed she didn't know where Russia was.  Oops.

Bernstein began by denouncing Palin as a "demagogue."  When Joe Scarborough asked him why he had written a column branding Palin as "ignorant" the day after McCain announced her as his running mate, Bernstein simply couldn't remember. At a loss for words, Carl claimed "she didn't know where the hell" Russia was on a map.

Watch the video after the jump and note Mike Barnicle's mortified reaction to Bernstein's bumble.

By Clay Waters | January 18, 2011 | 7:56 AM EST

New York Times media reporters Jeremy Peters and Brian Stelter sounded a little defensive in Monday’s Business section story on the political blame game that immediately followed the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the killing of six others in Tucson. The confusing headline: “After Tucson, Blanket Accusations Leave Much to Interpretation.”

For every action in politics today, there’s an overwhelming and opposite reaction.

Last week, the reaction came from conservative politicians who bridled at suggestions in the media that Jared L. Loughner may have been influenced by right-wing rhetoric and talk radio when he killed six people and gravely wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords in a rampage on Jan. 8 in Tucson. In her video address on Wednesday, Sarah Palin said that journalists and pundits should not manufacture “a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence that they purport to condemn.”

The question left unanswered: which journalists and pundits?

By Noel Sheppard | January 18, 2011 | 1:19 AM EST

Keith Olbermann started his Special Comment Monday boasting that he was the only political commentator in America that has "expressed the slightest introspection, the slightest self-awareness, the slightest remorse, the slightest ownership of the existence" of violent rhetoric in the nation.

Roughly twelve minutes later, the "Countdown" host concluded his nonsensical blathering by stating, "In an actual open and shut slam dunk case in which a partisan of the Right attempted to kill one of the Left, the Right would blame the victim" (video follows with transcript and loads of commentary):

By Brent Baker | January 17, 2011 | 8:18 PM EST

“The country is pretty unified behind the idea that President Obama found the right words, the right tone at the right time,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos announced Monday night in touting how a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found “78 percent approve of how he handled” the Tucson shooting, in contrast to Sarah Palin, “not so much, only 30 percent approve of her response.”

When Stephanopoulos noted “the support for stricter gun control has dropped over the last few years,” anchor Diane Sawyer expressed astonishment: “Stricter has dropped?” Instead of detailing that trend, Stephanopoulos concentrated on some specific policies with overwhelming support.

The ABC duo ignored how their poll advanced a false media narrative in asking: “As you may know, a gunman shot a U.S. Congress member and 18 other people in Arizona late last week. Is it your impression that the political discourse in this country did or did not contribute to this incident?” [PDF rundown of the poll]

By Mark Finkelstein | January 17, 2011 | 7:45 PM EST

Ed Schultz would like to be more civil.  Really, he would. It's just that those reprehensible Republicans, by failing to agree with him, force poor Ed to advocate things like ripping out Dick Cheney's heart.

That was the Schultz's oft-repeated theme on his MSNBC show this evening.

View video after the jump.

By Noel Sheppard | January 17, 2011 | 7:28 PM EST

As NewsBusters reported over the weekend, ABC News did a deplorable job of informing viewers about a death threat made by a Tucson shooting survivor to a Tea Partier at the taping of a town hall event aired on Sunday's "This Week."

On Monday, Glenn Beck and his radio crew savaged Christiane Amanpour for her involvement in this fiasco while concluding, "That lack of truth is why places like ABC will eventually just go out of business and be looking for a handout from the government" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

By Matt Hadro | January 17, 2011 | 6:26 PM EST

Former dean of the White House press corps Helen Thomas delivered some candid remarks Monday on CNN's "Situation Room." Thomas, who last year retired from Hearst for telling Israelis to "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to their former lands, railed against what she viewed as America unequivocally protecting Israel.

On Friday the Society of Professional Journalists announced that, in light of that controversy, it would "retire" the lifetime achievement award that bears her name.

"I could call President Obama anything in the book, and no one would say anything. You touch one thing about Israel and you're finished," Thomas groused.

CNN's "Situation Room" ran a segment on the 90 year-old journalist Monday afternoon, reporting that Thomas, who currently works for the Falls Church News-Press, is pushing to regain her status as a White House correspondent.

By Geoffrey Dickens | January 17, 2011 | 5:34 PM EST

MSNBC's Chris Matthews honored Martin Luther King Jr. Day by accusing white Republicans of being afraid of black people. During a Monday night Hardball special called "Obama's America," Matthews insultingly asked former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele if, at GOP conventions, black-Americans at those events were told not to "bunch up" because "you'll scare these people" and added: "Did you fear that if you got together with some other African-Americans these white guys might get scared of you?"

Steele, who was the only Republican on the panel, seemed shocked by the question as he responded to Matthews: "No! What are you talking about?" and then proceeded to cite the successful candidacies of Tim Scott, Allen West and others in the GOP field that would suggest white Republicans weren't exactly afraid of, as Matthews put it, "black folk hanging together."

The following is the full exchange from the panel that featured Steele along with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson and Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards, as it was aired on the January 17 edition of Hardball:

(video and audio after the break)

By Ken Shepherd | January 17, 2011 | 5:31 PM EST

Nobody knows better than journalists that the best way an organization can bury an announcement it knows will make news is to do so late on a Friday.

So it's little wonder that the Society for Professional Journalists decided to announce its retirement of the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award on January 14.

By Tom Blumer | January 17, 2011 | 5:24 PM EST

Especially on Martin Luther King Day, it seems worth asking whether or not the assassinated civil rights leaders would have cared more about:

  • Whether a talk radio host told his audience, in reference to the No Child Left Behind Act causing many school districts, including the Toledo Public Schools (TPS), to believe they must "teach to the test" to avoid serious sanctions: "teaching little monkeys to peel bananas and so on and then doing it correctly on cue, does not mean that they’ve learned everything except a funny parlor trick."
  • The fact that TPS is rated dead-last in its metro area, and failed to meet state test-result requirements in 21 of 24 testing categories in the 2009-2010 academic year. The worst examples: In the eighth grade, only 39.0% and 34.3% of TPS students tested as proficient in math and science, respectively. According to Toledo-area blogger and sometime WSPD host Maggie Thurber, the District is also "facing a $38 million deficit and ... 58% of voters said no to their last levy request."

I think it's safe to say that King would have preferred that attention stay focused on dealing with Toledo's schools, and for that matter Ohio's schools in general, as according to the just referenced Ohio Department of Education (ODE) report card, TPS actually outperformed (actually, "less underperformed") "similar districts" in the Buckeye State in 15 of those 24 categories.

But that must not be how the Toledo Blade sees it. The far left Blade, which in distant-past editorials regaled readers with its indispensable importance as a Glass City civic institution and has been in a figurative war with local talk station WSPD for years, clearly thought it saw an opening when host Brian Wilson said the following on January 7:

By Tim Graham | January 17, 2011 | 4:24 PM EST

Time magazine asked a panel of 16 experts to answer the question "Are We Becoming An Uncivil Society?" While Time's selected Republicans and conservatives (including Glenn Beck) stayed civil and didn't point explicit fingers at liberals for trying to smear the Tucson shooting on conservatives, leftist Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas rudely predicted (again) that one side of the aisle, inspired by people like Beck, Sarah Palin, and Sharron Angle were going to get Americans killed:

We have always been an uncivil society. Just ask John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. But being harsh and passionate in one's political discourse isn't the same as walking around with guns intimidating the opposition, or using apocalyptic and Armageddon-style rhetoric to paint your opponents as terrorists and enemies of democracy and freedom. Problem is, we now have a side that is gun-obsessed, whipping people up into a frenzy with lies about Obama taking their guns away and interning conservatives in FEMA concentration camps (to name just two conspiracy theories).

When Sarah Palin tells her followers not to retreat, but to "reload," when Sharron Angle says people should resort to "Second Amendment remedies" if they don't get their way at the ballot box, and when Glenn Beck spreads the latest insane conspiracy theory, well then, it's only a matter of time before people start getting killed.

By Scott Whitlock | January 17, 2011 | 2:55 PM EST

Appearing on MSNBC, Monday, to promote his new special on Barack Obama, Chris Matthews attacked "older white people" for still holding bigoted feelings against the first African American President.

Lavishing praise on younger Americans, he added, "And I think that's a generalization and I'll stick with it. I think younger people do not see race as an obstacle." He then touted the "non-judgmental" attitude of Obama voters, fawning, "In fact, they say [race is] irrelevant and don't even notice it, whereas older people notice it all the time."

If "older white people" are focused on race, Matthews could certainly be one of them. On January 27, 2010, after Obama's State of the Union address, he oddly alerted, "You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour...I was watching, I said, 'Wait a minute. He's an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people, and there he is, President of the United States, and we've completely forgotten that tonight.'"

[See video below. MP3 audio here.]

By Ken Shepherd | January 17, 2011 | 2:38 PM EST

"Let Me Finish" is the title for Chris Matthews's commentary segment that caps off each episode of "Hardball."

But it would have been an appropriate graphic earlier today when the "Hardball" host wouldn't shut up as colleague Chris Jansing tried to wrap up a segment on her "Jansing & Co." program that previewed the Matthews-hosted "Obama's America" special edition of "Hardball" that airs tonight at 5 and 7 p.m. EST.

No novice to cable television, Matthews knows when an anchor is trying to wrap up a segment before commercial break.

"You're like one of the presenters [at the Golden Globes] last night. You're getting rushed here. You're told to wrap," Matthews observed.

Jansing then joked that she was expecting someone to pull her off set with a hook. That's when Matthews sought to chat some about about the Golden Globes.

"Talk about uncivil behavior," Matthews griped about Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais before he got up to leave the set. Moments later as the camera panned out to a wide shot, Matthews could be seen in the background saluting Jansing, who returned his salute.

The video is embedded below:

By Tim Graham | January 17, 2011 | 1:44 PM EST

Nine days after the Tucson shooting, the front page of The Washington Post kept relentlessly recycling the debunked view that “vitriol” was the real cause of Jared Loughner’s Safeway shooting spree. In a story headlined “A place where passions run high,” reporters Kimberly Kindy and Philip Rucker explained Giffords couldn’t even shoot a campaign commercial without some foam-flecked conservative attacking her:

A moderate Democrat in a classic swing district, she walked a main street where American flags hang outside shoe stores and barber shops. A voice-over emphasized her strengths: independence...courage...integrity.

The camera rolling, a man stormed out of the Gadsden Hotel, a historic landmark. He screamed that Giffords was about to get "thrown out" of office, creating such a scene that police intervened.

By Kyle Drennen | January 17, 2011 | 12:23 PM EST

On Monday's CBS Early Show, after reporting claims from Ron Reagan Jr. that President Ronald Reagan may have had Alzheimer's Disease while in office, co-host Erica Hill asked other son Michael Reagan about those accusations: "And your brother has said this is just his own feeling....Could it be possible there may have been something else? Could he [President Reagan] have had dementia?"

Michael rejected the notion: "No, he didn't have dementia. Look what he accomplished in the last four years of his presidency. Reykjavik, START agreements, all the things he accomplished. The speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987 on June 12th. Look what he accomplished in those last four years. Someone with dementia does not accomplish all of those things." He went on to say of his brother: "...we don't even know in the family if Ron voted for his father back in 1981 or in 1984 when he ran for President."