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.
CNN’s Bill Schneider reported tonight that the veteran vote went for Republican Senator George Allen. The anchor seemed baffled as to how such a thing could happen. During election night coverage, he mentioned that Webb was a "veteran" or "decorated hero" three times in four sentences:
Bill Schneider: "These are veterans. Now they could be voting for James Webb because James Webb was the Secretary of the Navy. James Webb is a decorated hero and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He might have done very well with veterans. But this is– If women were a breakthrough for Webb, the veteran vote was a breakthrough for George Allen. George Allen, the Republican, carried 57 percent of the veterans vote in Virginia, despite the fact that Webb is a decorated veteran and a former Naval Secretary."
Around 7:10EST, CNN's Wolf Blitzer continued to frame his coverage from a Democratic perspective, stating, "the Democrats need just 7 seats to become the majority party in the U.S. Senate" he did the same for the House as well.
That is the standard fare for the press, frame things from what the Democrats can do to get things going.
Update 19:20. CNN is highlighting its coverage of its blog party. Each time the network listed liberal bloggers first. Liberal bloggers interviewed: 1. Conservatives: 0.
Update 19:24. Paula Zahn and Bill Schneider surprised that Iraq was not the #1 issue. Schneider pronounces as well: "voters are not rewarding the Republicans for the economy."
19:31. CNN cuts to a live feed of Democratic National Committee. The TVs are tuned into CNN. Blitzer: "Which is encouraging that people are watching."
19:34. John King, asked if he was surprised by an apparent GOP loss of Ohio governorship "I'm not surprised because Ohio is a cesspool--this year. The current governor, the Republican incumbant Bob Taft, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, that's where Bob Ney the congressman pleaded guilty to corruption charges--"
Anderson Cooper: Bob Taft was term-limited though so he had to --
King: Yeah so he couldn't. Yeah but the whole environment is just horrible--anti-Republican.
20:23. CNN continues pushing things from Dem perspective in calling India House race for Dem Ellsworth. "One down fourteen more to go," Jeff Greenfield pronounces.
CNN’s Jack Cafferty, who recently called Donald Rumsfeld a war criminal, chose Election Day to accuse the President of going to war in Iraq for oil and of condoning torture. He also wondered if George Bush was "elected at all." A transcript of the November 7 "Cafferty File" segment is below:
Wolf Blitzer: "Jack Cafferty is here with ‘The Cafferty File.’ Jack?"
Jack Cafferty: "Thank you, Wolf. However today’s election turns out, it’s a safe bet it’s going to be a good long while before anyone successfully pedals a neo-conservative agenda to the American electorate again. George Bush was elected twice by the thinnest of margins, if, in fact, he was elected at all.
Not waiting for voters to finish their work, at least one CNN producer has begun referring to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi as "Madame Speaker." CNN's Dana Bash revealed at about 4:20 on the Situation Room how "Nancy Pelosi came into the Capitol this afternoon. Our producer Ted Barrett bumped into her and jokingly said 'How are you, Madame Speaker?' She smiled ear to ear and said 'I like the title,' but quickly caught herself and said 'Not yet.'"
Bash added that Democrats are busy high-fiving themselves and measuring the drapes: "Now in public Pelosi may be cautious, but we understand that in private she and her staff are already talking about whether or not they should move their office suite into the bigger space now occupied by the Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert. And there was not a lot of caution in a briefing just a short while ago from the two chairmen of the Democratic House and Senate campaign committees. They were actually bubbling with optimism, Wolf."
NBC's Today correspondents on Tuesday made sure to underline that Republicans were seen as racist in the Senate campaigns in Tennessee and Virginia. Reporter Tom Costello began his report:
"Matt, good morning. This has been a hard fought race. It's been injected with advertisements viewed by many as being racist by the Republican National Committee. The Corker campaign repudiated those ads, as did the Ford campaign, of course."
By many? Try "by many Democrats," at least. From there, David Shuster (usually assigned to Chris Matthews on MSNBC), also underlined the alleged-racist angle on the Virginia race:
"Meredith, good morning. A statistical dead heat is not at all where the incumbent Republican George Allen ever thought he would be. Allen had been talked about being a presidential contender in 2008 but his campaign has been set back by a series of missteps including his use of the term macaca and allegations about his use of the N-word to describe blacks, but the key issue in this race has been the Iraq war...
Nasty and bitter is how the Virginia and New Jersey Senate races were described on Monday’s "Early Show" on CBS. No not necessarily the campaigns in general, but the Republican candidates and Republican ads. Additionally, Harry Smith highlighted that while Northern Virginia is "Webb country," the rest of Virginia "clings to its conservative roots." Notice how Smith omits the phrase "liberal" while commenting on Northern Virginia.
Smith noted how the Virginia race is "mean" and "nasty" before remarking on Allen’s gaffes and how they have kept this race close:
As Chris Matthews sees it and decrees it, if voters in Maryland decide to go for Republican Michael Steele today it will be because they prefer African American candidates who are “unthreatening” or “almost...castrated,” and that the “funny” “lighthearted” Steele strikes voters as “a guy I would like to have living next door” — although he quickly added that “that may be pushing it in some cases.”
As Joe Scarborough, one of the rotating anchors of MSNBC’s continuing election coverage tried to interrupt, Matthews justified his comments by insisting that, “I have to tell you, we have an ethnic problem in this country. And it’s coming to the fore, this race problem we have.”
On Monday night’s edition of Nightline, just hours before the polls opened for Tuesday’s midterm election, ABC’s Terry Moran prematurely promoted a potential 2008 Democratic presidential contender. Moran went along with Illinois Senator Barack Obama as he campaigned for Democrats across the country. Moran’s piece was full of praise for the "American political phenomenon," whom, according to Moran, millions see as "the savior of the Democratic Party."
Terry Moran: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon. In state after state, in the furious final days of this crucial campaign, Illinois Senator Barack Obama has been the Democrat's not-so-secret get-out-the-vote weapon. He inspires the party faithful and many others, like no one else on the scene today...And the question you can sense on everyone's mind, as they listen so intently to him, is he the one? Is Barack Obama the man, the black man, who could lead the Democrats back to the White House and maybe even unite the country?"
In his Election Day essay on this morning's Today show, NBC's Tom Brokaw found a shaky Republican in Montana, a squishy GOP senator on the war and thought the Ted Haggard and Mark Foley stories would turn independents the Democrats' way. Running down the various issues voters face today, Brokaw did highlight some positives in the economy but then turned negative as he noted: "But there's so much wrong and a fierce debate about the road ahead. And many more think this country is headed in the wrong direction than in the right direction...Gas prices, health care, housing cost, immigration, gay marriageand the war, always the war." Brokaw then scared up three even Republicans:
One of the most routine (and inaccurate) tics of news coverage of Missouri's cloning amendment and other medical-research stories is to describe the controversy over embryo-destroying stem cell research as simply a fight over "stem cell research." To declare that a pro-life politician is "against stem cell research" is quite inaccurate (since they favor research on adult stem cells and from umbilical cord blood). But Kevin Tibbles did that twice this morning to Sen. Jim Talent on Today, and never once even used the word "embryo" or "embryonic" to describe the specific human lives being destroyed in the research process.
Co-host Meredith Vieira: "You know Kevin we heard a lot about the race after Rush Limbaugh criticized those ads that Michael Fox did supporting stem cell research and the Democratic candidate Claire McCaskill. How much do you think that controversy will play into the voters' minds today when they go to the polls?"
In the 6:00 AM hour of CNN's American Morning on Tuesday, reporter Allan Chernoff singled out Republican New Jersey Senatorial Candidate Tom Kean Jr of engaging in brutal attacks against his Democratic counterpart, Senator Robert Menendez. Chernoff stated in his first report.
Allan Chernoff: "Good morning Soledad. Talk about a dirty race. I think the whole state of New Jersey will want to take a shower tonight after this election is all done with. And certainly Senator Menendez has endured brutal attacks. He's scheduled to vote here in about ten minutes. He'll be glad to have this whole campaign done with because the Kean campaign has consistently been accusing him of corruption, claiming he's under federal investigation."
The polls have only been open for a few hours, and MSNBC is already reporting allegations of voter intimidation in Virginia. Of course, “Hardball’s” David Shuster only discussed Democrat complaints towards Republicans even though the FBI refused to comment (video here). The article on this subject at MSNBC.com stated (hat tip to TVNewser):
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the possibility of voter intimidation in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. George Allen, a Republican, and Democratic challenger James Webb, officials told NBC News.
This just sounds too good to be true: Dan Rather's going to be an election pundit tonight....on the fake-news special on Comedy Central. No, really. (There's no mention if the whole hour is being sponsored by Kinko's Copies.) Gail Shister reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer that the CBS/Viacom offshoot is rolling out the red carpet for the disgraced CBS anchorman:
This is not a joke.
Dan Rather will analyze election results with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert tonight at 11 on Comedy Central's live, hour-long Indecision 2006 special.
"It's a risk, I guess, but what the hell," says Rather, who covered every national election since 1962 for CBS before being drop-kicked in June. Now he's global correspondent for Mark Cuban's HDNet.