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By Mark Finkelstein | June 30, 2010 | 9:55 PM EDT

ROTF, laughing my Demos off . . .

Barack Obama is president.  Oil is gushing in the gulf.  America was eliminated from the World Cup.  Looking for a laugh break? Try this: MSNBC has described DEMOS as "non-partisan."  OK, I hadn't heard of them, either.  But their web site just happens to mention that Barack Obama is "a founding Board member."

But that didn't stop Chris Hayes of the lefty Nation mag, on MSNBC this evening subbing for Ed Schultz, from, yes, describing DEMOS as "non-partisan" in introducing the group's Washington, DC director, Heather McGhee.  And who is Heather?  From the DEMOS site: "previously, she was the Deputy Policy Director, Domestic and Economic Policy, for the John Edwards for President 2008 campaign."

View video here.

By Brent Baker | June 30, 2010 | 8:26 PM EDT
CBS and NBC took time Wednesday night to showcase Democratic Senator Al Franken's artistry -- not to scold Franken's frivolity, but to luxuriate in it. As CBS displayed Franken's drawing of Republican Senator Jeff  Sessions next to a picture of the Alabamian, fill-in anchor Scott Pelley admired what Franken had created during the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan:
A look over Franken's shoulder reveals his talent. On his pad is a sketch of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Not bad. Suitable for framing.
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams relayed, sans Pelley's “suitable for framing” puffery:
Well, if you have ever wondered what Senators do during committee hearings when they're not talking? Here's what one of them does. Senator Al Franken drew this depiction of fellow committee member Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a pencil drawing on United States Senate stationery. Franken said he would give the signed original to Sessions.
By Mike Bates | June 30, 2010 | 7:32 PM EDT
Maybe it's the sheer joy of celebrating recovery summer along with The Anointed One and Plugs Biden.  Perhaps they're just Blagoed out. Whatever the reason, most of the mainstream media failed to report something intriguing said by the usually most quotable former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  From an FBI tape recorded last November and appearing on Fox Chicago News's Web site, Blagojevich spoke of president-elect Barack Obama:
BLAGOJEVICH I thin-, you know, it's really, I get that I'm a big boy and I can handle that, but it's really f***ing galling, this guy is more Tony'd up than I am. And it's almost like they f***ing conspi-, made a concerted effort and they got the Chicago media to f***ing make me wear Rezko more. To f***ing dilute it from him.

Blago's disillusionment with Obama stemmed from a rebuff conveyed by a Service Employees International Union (SEIU) official used by the president-elect to let the Gov know of Obama's interest in Valerie Jarrett filling his Senate seat.

By Jeff Poor | June 30, 2010 | 6:36 PM EDT

It's a curious phenomenon to see what the minds at The Huffington Post deem funny, and at least this one wasn't filed under the category "HuffPo Religion," but a series of images depicting Jesus Christ making unhinged statements wins the HuffPo's "Comedy" classification.

In a June 30 post, Katla McGlynn wrote that mocking Tea Party protestors by "juxtaposing" "hateful, ignorant, or otherwise nonsensical rants" but at the same time mocking a religious figure many hold very is sacred isn't only funny but it is also instructive about what she described as "people who claim to be Christians."

"The concept behind the site Tea Party Jesus is simple: Put the words of conservative Christian social and political figures in the mouth of Christ," McGlynn wrote. "The juxtaposition of hateful, ignorant, or otherwise nonsensical rants with serene photos of JC himself isn't only funny, but says a lot about the people who claim to be Christians."

By Alex Fitzsimmons | June 30, 2010 | 6:03 PM EDT
In covering Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, CNN and MSNBC have repeatedly lauded the Supreme Court nominee for her "flashes of humor" and "disarming ease."

In tune with the reverberations of the network morning shows' echo chamber, correspondents like CNN's Dana Bash and anchors like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday praised Kagan for her ability to inject humor into otherwise "hollow and vapid" hearings and charm hostile Republican senators into docility.

"But just on a color note, what struck me, Candy, has been the way Elena Kagan has tried to use a sense of humor to really disarm the senators, particularly Republicans," noted Bash.

Maddow's guest, Dahlia Lithwick of the liberal Slate magazine, gushed over Kagan's "gut-wrenching" sense of humor, her masterful ability to balance "seriousness and levity and humor," and her "disarming and charming and kind of likeable" personality.

"A likeable liberal. Dear me, I know," quipped Maddow.
By Scott Whitlock | June 30, 2010 | 5:03 PM EDT

Appearing with Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, liberal journalist Maureen Dowd derided Barack Obama as "thin-skinned" and not happy with media coverage. This prompted Stephanopoulos to admit, "And his press hasn't been nearly as bad as he thinks."

Dowd prefaced her critique by analyzing Obama's self image: "...I cut him a lot of slack here, because many presidents like JFK and W have rich daddies. And so, they have a lot of confidence. But he's had to develop a lot of shields."

The New York Times columnist continued, "So, he's thin-skinned. And when you're thin-skinned, you like to control the image. And he doesn't often like the image that the media has of him." [Audio available here.]

By Matthew Balan | June 30, 2010 | 4:59 PM EDT
Elizabeth Vargas, ABC Correspondent; George Stephanopoulos, ABC Anchor; & Dan Harris, ABC Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgThe morning programs of the Big Three networks all sang the praises of CNN host Larry King after he announced on Tuesday his upcoming retirement from his program, while overlooking his liberal bent at times. Both Willie Geist on NBC's Today show and CBS's Harry Smith labeled King "legendary," while ABC's George Stephanopoulos heralded how he was "on top of his game" for most of his career.

NBC correspondent Peter Alexander reused Geist's "legendary" label, and chronicled the CNN personality's "perch in prime time" during his 25 years on his Larry King Live program, spotlighting how he "has interviewed nearly 50,000 people over more than 50 years in broadcasting." Alexander underlined this with clips from King's interviews of Frank Sinatra, Ross Perot, and Paris Hilton, noting that "if you wanted the country to listen, you sat down with Larry King."  The correspondent also included a clip from Ken Baker of E! News, who stated that "whoever is going to replace Larry King has obviously very big shoes to fill."
By Katie Bell | June 30, 2010 | 4:49 PM EDT

The "struggle" illegal immigrants face as they seek the same benefits and services afforded to U.S. citizens is the same that faced civil right activists in the middle of the 20th century, according to the Associated Press.

"Students fighting laws that target illegal immigrants are taking a page from the civil rights era," reporter Rusell Contreras wrote, "adopting tactics and gathering praise and momentum from the demonstrators who marched in the streets and sat at segregated lunch counters as they sought to turn the public tide against racial segregation."

Contreras cited several illegal immigrant activists comparing themselves to protestors of the civil rights era. He compared the fact that undocumented students "don't qualify for federal financial aid and can't get in-state tuition rates in some places" to the segregation of black and Mexican-American students in the 1950s.

By Lachlan Markay | June 30, 2010 | 4:37 PM EDT

The White House has gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent the press corps from having meaningful access to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. Such measures are hardly unprecedented, though they stand in stark contrast to then-candidate Barack Obama's message of openness and press transparency.

But now the White House has outdone itself in media opacity. It apparently blocked a New York Times reporter from sitting in on Kagan's brother Irving's constitutional law class at Hunter College High School. Yes, that's right. The White House is now trying to determine who can or cannot sit in a school class for teenagers.

According to watchdog group Judicial Watch, White Hosue Deputy Press Secretary Joshua Earnest intervened after hearing of Times reporter Sharon Otterman's intention to sit in on one class. "I'm definitely not comfortable with this at this point," Earnest told Kagan, according to documents it obtained from the school.

By Geoffrey Dickens | June 30, 2010 | 4:16 PM EDT

[UPDATE: Matthews addresses Daily Kos/Research 2000 polling issue on June 30 Hardball. Text after the jump.]

With the news that Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas is suing the polling group Research 2000 for providing "bunk" results that his Web site published, the question has to be asked: Will those figures in the media who've advanced Daily Kos poll results, like MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews, let their viewers know of the suspect data? Back on the February 2, 2010 edition of Hardball, Matthews as part of his Sideshow segment, alerted viewers to the results of "a wild new poll of Republicans" that showed 58 percent of them didn't believe or weren't sure that Barack Obama was born in the U.S. and 64 percent of GOPers agreed or weren't sure that the President was a "racist who hates white people." Matthews granted the poll so much credence he cited Research 2000's discovery that 68 percent of its Republican respondents wanted Obama impeached as that day's "Big Number."

The following is from the "Sideshow" segment aired during the February 2 edition of Hardball:

By Jeff Poor | June 30, 2010 | 3:28 PM EDT

Can anyone think of an angrier group of writers in political punditry than the ones currently published at

Throughout the Elena Kagan hearings, both Joan Walsh and Joe Conason have written anti-Republican screeds accusing GOP lawmakers of all sorts of unsavory things to score political points despite what's likely be a certain confirmation.

However, this disposition goes beyond just the SCOTUS hearings.

On MSNBC's June 30 "Morning Joe," Conason went after Harvard Professor Jeffrey Miron, who appeared to promote his book "Libertarianism, from A to Z." Apparently what drew the indignation from Conason was the theory that government can actually make things worse in an economy: 

By Nathan Burchfiel | June 30, 2010 | 3:26 PM EDT

"He's got the whole world in his hands?" To one atheist, it's more like ‘He's got the whole world under his thumb."

David Smalley, the editor of American Atheist magazine and a self-described "civil rights activist," wrote in a personal blog post June 7 that Christian daycare "a form of child abuse."

"In short, by starting your child off in a Christian environment, you are heading them down a path of forced ignorance," Smalley wrote. "At least let your child begin in a secular world, and if he or she chooses Christianity after an age of accountability, then so be it. But forcing them to learn things as fact that you don't even know to be true is a form of child abuse: inducing psychosis with thoughts of good and evil watching over them, as if they are constantly being graded or evaluated."

Smalley further stereotyped and generalized religion-based childcare by suggesting "it's bad for positive self-esteem, and slows social development later in life."

By Dan Gainor | June 30, 2010 | 3:01 PM EDT

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a blogger. Millions of bloggers, actually. And they are taking back freedom of the press from journalists unwilling and unable to use it in a fair and responsible manner. A few weeks ago, we saw Helen Thomas confess her nutty anti-Semitism because a blogger caught her in an unusually candid moment. We found out what many have long suspected: that she's a disgusting bigot. Then there was the Gen. McChrystal controversy as our top general in Afghanistan reportedly criticized the Obama administration to a Rolling Stone reporter. Blogger critics argued "The Runaway General" showed the journalistic beat system prevents warts-and-all portrayals such as this one. Reporters are often too cozy with sources to make them look bad. Adding to that ethical issue, The Washington Post followed with a story saying the reporter in this case might have violated rules about what would be off the record. Rolling Stone denied it of course. But nothing got more press than the seemingly simple resignation of self-immolating Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel. Weigel was hired by the Post three months ago and continued his previous anti-conservative efforts with an attack on those "anti-gay marriage bigots" and making a joke about Matt Drudge "diddling" an 8-year-old boy. He was forced to apologize but remarkably kept his job.

By Tim Graham | June 30, 2010 | 2:15 PM EDT

Larry King's announcement that he's stepping down from his perch at CNN has been declared an end to a cable news era. On The Early Show on CBS Wednesday morning, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz wondered “Is there still room in an increasingly partisan cable television universe for this kind of variety show, where you talk to a president one day and Lady Gaga the next? I mean, Larry losing the ratings to Sean Hannity at Fox, Rachel Maddow at MSNBC, it's a lot more opinionated out there than Larry ever allowed himself to be.”

Signaling the end of King's long reign last month, New York Times TV writer Brian Stelter sounded a similar note: “Larry King Live is the last trace of an earlier age of cable TV, one that had little interest in the opinions of its hosts.”

King’s show is definitely not in the Hannity or Olbermann molds, but to suggest he didn’t venture an opinion would not match the record. Conservatives remember his occasional shot at “wackos” on the “far right,” especially in the Clinton years. Here’s a short listing of a few King items we published in our Notable Quotables newsletter:

By Lachlan Markay | June 30, 2010 | 1:09 PM EDT
Andrew Breitbart has found a simple remedy to at least some of the problems that ail contemporary journalism: cold, hard cash. Yesterday he offered $100,000 to anyone who will supply him with the full archive of JournoList, the email listserve that brought down Dave Weigel.

"$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save, " Breitbart wrote yesterday. Americans "deserve to know who was colluding against them," he added, "so that in the future they can better understand how the once-objective media has come to be so corrupted and despised."

And there's the rub: Breitbart is attempting to out liberal journalists as just that: liberal. His tactics and his objectives have been dubbed by some on the left as "digital McCarthyism," in the words of Michael Roston, "in which any of us could become the next Dave Weigel based not on the public output of our journalism, but based on our private sentiments."