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By Ryan Robertson | | October 4, 2012 | 3:54 PM EDT

Something odd happened to the liberal media after the first presidential debate on Wednesday. They couldn't for the life of them put any postive spin on the president's lackluster performance. There was nothing they could say that could take away from Mitt Romney's clear victory, but then came the excuses. Some blamed Jim Lehrer for his inability to moderate properly, others cited what must've been an incumbent debate curse, there was even some mention of Obama's reluctance to come across as an angry black man.

But the dopiest analysis by far was from former Vice President Al Gore, on his Current TV network -- think an even farther left version of MSNBC with fewer viewers -- who blamed altitude sickness on Obama's poor performance: [ video below after page break ]

By Mark Finkelstein | | October 4, 2012 | 3:42 PM EDT

Did Frank Rich, back in his drama-critic days, ever pan an actor's performance this profoundly?

Making it much worse is that Mika Brzezinski knows and avidly supports the actor in question: Barack Obama.  On today's Morning Joe, Brzezinski exclaimed that Obama's disastrous debate performance "makes me sick to my stomach."  View the video after the jump. Hat tip reader cobokat.

By Scott Whitlock | | October 4, 2012 | 3:40 PM EDT

Politico editor Jim VandeHei appeared on MSNBC, Thursday, to blame Barack Obama's poor debate performance on the burdens of the office. The journalist spun, "The President had to be the President, and had to be a candidate, and so he didn't have nearly as much prep time." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

VandeHei did not try and sugarcoat the debate performance itself, knocking the President for thinking he could "just walk on there, play it safe, and do well." But the former political reporter for the Washington Post journalist did offer this whopper about how the triumphant Mitt Romney would be treated going forward: "He has a week or two, I think, of probably pretty positive coverage." The liberal media giving Romney two weeks of positive coverage seems stunningly unlikely.

By Brent Bozell | | October 4, 2012 | 3:08 PM EDT

As even former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw acknowledged today, liberal journalists were loaded and ready to pronounce this election over and Romney’s campaign dead after the first debate: “If it had been Romney performing like the president last night, it would have been over.” But the beating Obama received last night was so complete that virtually no one (the New York Times excepted, as usual) denied it.

But how did they report Obama lost? Therein lies the rub: they -- as well as Democratic operatives -- are pushing the spin that this was all about style and presentation. Obama was "flat," "lackluster," "not himself," and “not firing on all cylinders.” In other words, Obama wasn't Obama last night. Some are going further, pushing the narrative that Romney was somehow mean-spirited and even deceptive in his presentation.

By Mark Finkelstein | | October 4, 2012 | 2:26 PM EDT

John Sununu, did you just call Barack Obama lazy?  Quick: someone call the PC police! But before we slap the race-card cuffs on you, Andrea Mitchell, being the nice MSM lady she is, will offer you the chance to take back your horrifying comment!

That's essentially what went down on Mitchell's MSNBC show this afternoon.  Critiquing President Obama's listless debate performance, Romney adviser Sununu said that it revealed how "how lazy and detached" he is. Replied an appalled Mitchell: "Governor, I want to give you a chance to maybe take it back. Did you really mean to call Barack Obama, the President of the United States, lazy?"  Sununu did not back down, providing an example of a recent statement by President Obama revealing how he was reluctant to prepare for the debate. View the amazing video after the  jump.

By Jack Coleman | | October 4, 2012 | 1:55 PM EDT

You might think of this one as a sequel to the Debacle in Denver.

MSNBC weekend host Chris Hayes was not his chirpy self last night after running into a buzzsaw known as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in an exchange reminiscent of that between a befuddled President Obama and a nimble Mitt Romney (video after page break) --

By Matt Hadro | | October 4, 2012 | 1:04 PM EDT

President Obama left his "greatest hits on the cutting room floor" for Wednesday night's debate, claimed CBS This Morning co-host Norah O'Donnell after the debate. According to her, "contraceptive rights" and "free mammograms" in ObamaCare are some of the President's "greatest hits."

"There was no mention of Bain," she said on Wednesday night's Charlie Rose. "There was no mention of the auto industry saved. There was no mention of the wars ended, and in the discussion about ObamaCare, he didn't mention that that would turn back many provisions that protect women's health, free mammograms, contraceptive rights."

By Mark Finkelstein | | October 4, 2012 | 12:45 PM EDT

Watching Mitt Romney last night as he revived his campaign while demolishing President Obama was surely a bitter pill for Jon Meacham to swallow.  

On Morning Joe today, the former Newsweek editor sought to console himself.  Meacham—twice—pointed out that although Mark Twain famously wrote that rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated, Twain did eventually die.  Nice analogy, Jon!  View the video after the jump.

By Ken Shepherd | | October 4, 2012 | 12:21 PM EDT

With the folks at MSNBC, it always seems to come back to race. Network host Ed Schultz failed to disappoint this morning when he appeared on Thomas Roberts's 11 a.m. Eastern MSNBC Live and suggested that racism was partly to blame for President Obama's weak performance in the debate (video follows page break):

By Scott Whitlock | | October 4, 2012 | 11:43 AM EDT

The liberal freak out over Barack Obama's poor debate performance continued on Thursday morning. Left-wing comic Jon Stewart appeared on Good Morning America to lament the President's "very difficult night" and jokingly warn, "I'm concerned that he may not reelect us. He may walk away."

The comic even admitted Obama might not be as smart as he first imagined. Stewart mocked, "You know, I used to think the pauses, he was just trying to think of smaller words for the little brains to figure out what he was saying. This time, I really think the pauses were just, 'I like food.'...'My children are nice.'" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

By Clay Waters | | October 4, 2012 | 11:21 AM EDT

The first Obama-Romney presidential debate of 2012 ran under this less-than-informative banner headline in Thursday's New York Times: "Obama and Romney, in First Debate, Spar Over Fixing the Economy." The actual headline to the story by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg also failed to capture the sense, overwhelming even among the liberal press, that Romney had helped himself with a sharp, energetic performance at the University of Denver: "Feel of Seminar as Accusations Fly From Rivals."

The Washington Post's banner headline was more direct and captured the consensus of the night: "Romney takes fight to Obama," while the story claimed the president "found himself on the defensive repeatedly." Other headlines from around the country captured the same effect.

By contrast, you had to parse the Times to sense that Romney won the night. (One significant Timesman, former Executive Editor Bill Keller, reluctantly awarded Romney the debate on his Twitter feed, calling Romney's performance "shameless but masterful.")

By Tim Graham | | October 4, 2012 | 11:21 AM EDT

MRC's Christian Robey suggested a letter to the editor on Monday for David Carr's strange column attacking MRC's letter attacking the media for rigging this presidential election by hounding Romney and protecting Obama. Carr wrote Brent Bozell assembled "conservative royalty" to attack "ostensibly tendentious coverage."

Some of us were skeptical that a liberal newspaper would deign to publish a letter from an organization that critiques the media on a daily basis. Every blog post here is a bit of a letter to the editor (or executive producer). But with this advice, Brent Bozell allowed me to draft a letter and we sent it along, and we received notification that they were interested in publishing it. It appears near the bottom of the editorial page Thursday on page A26. The headline is simply "Bias In The Media":

By NB Staff | | October 4, 2012 | 10:56 AM EDT

We're focusing on last night's debate so please use this thread to post on any other news topic that you'd like.

By Kyle Drennen | | October 4, 2012 | 10:55 AM EDT

Picking up where he left off Wednesday night, on Thursday's NBC Today, MSNBC's Chris Matthews continued to whine over President Obama's poor debate performance and ranted that Mitt Romney has "been accused of etch-a-sketch, last night was his greatest achievement. Everything he said within days ago, he's ignored." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Prior to Matthews' appearance, co-host Savannah Guthrie noted that he had been "very vocal" during MSNBC's post-debate coverage and played a sound bite of the Hardball host blasting Obama: "I don't know what he was doing out there. He had his head down, he was enduring the debate rather than fighting it. I don't know how he let Romney get away with the crap he threw out tonight about Social Security. Where was Obama tonight?!"

By Noel Sheppard | | October 4, 2012 | 10:50 AM EDT

There has been a lot of harsh criticism for Barack Obama's performance at Wednesday's presidential debate, but maybe the strongest came Thursday from former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.

Appearing on MSNBC's Daily Rundown, Brokaw said, "I think that this morning we have a kick-start to this presidential campaign. If it had been Romney performing like the president last night, it would have been over" (video follows with transcript and commentary):