ABC News and Charles Gibson are no CNN and Anderson Cooper when it comes to skewing the agenda of presidential debates. In the back-to-back Republican followed by Democratic debates from New Hampshire aired between 7 and 11 PM EST Saturday night on ABC, moderator Gibson challenged the presumptions of both sets of candidates with a key talking point being pushed by the other party: He hit Republicans on the lack of national health care and Democrats on the success of the surge in Iraq.
To the six Republicans: “We're the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't insure all of our citizens. If we can afford a trillion dollar war in Iraq, why can't we afford medical insurance for everybody?”
To the four Democrats: “We started the surge early this year. You all opposed it. But there are real signs it has worked....Are any of you ready to say that the surge has worked? And Senator Clinton, let me start with you, because when General Petraeus was in Washington in September, you said it would take 'a willful suspension of disbelief' to think that the surge could do any good.”
Is the MSM deciding that Hillary is irreparably-damaged goods and that it's time to move on to a Dem with a better shot at winning the White House? You might think so after the Today show's dismemberment of the Clinton campaign this morning.
Andrea Mitchell kicked things off with sharp stiletto heel.
Claiming that someone is less popular than venereal disease is a quintessential hit below the belt. So if you were counseling a candidate to hit her opponent above the belt, the last person you'd suggest she hire is a guy who just compared someone to an STD . . . unless you're Chris Matthews.
Matthews's advice to Hillary Clinton is to hit Obama above the belt . . . by bringing in Paul Begala, the man who just this week used the VD comparison to slur President Bush.
The Hardball host was a guest on this morning's Today.
Yeah, it was a yawner. Even so, in its coverage of today's GOP debate the MSM has overlooked one notable nugget: Mike Huckabee's fervent espousal of a radical egalitarianism that, at least in this NewsBuster's view, reflects a fundamental misreading of the Declaration of Independence and a departure from conservative principles.
The 28 Iowa Republican assembled by pollster Frank Luntz for today’s GOP debate had various opinions about the candidates, but were virtually unanimous in panning the performance of Des Moines Register editor and debate moderator Carolyn Washburn, calling her “boring,” “antagonistic,” and “like paint drying.”
In the debate, Washburn frequently cut off exchanges between the candidates, and at one point sparked a mini-rebellion when she asked for a show of hands on the issue of climate change. When former Senator Fred Thompson said he preferred a minute to explain his position, Washburn told him no.
During live coverage on the Fox News Channel a few minutes after the debate ended at 3:30 ET, Luntz turned to his focus group: “How many of you thought that this was a good moderator? Raise your hands.”
As far as Geraldo Rivera is concerned the GOP presidential candidates are guilty until proven innocent on whether or not they "hate" Hispanics. On Sunday's "Geraldo At Large," the Fox News host teased a segment on the GOP Univision debate this way:
GERALDO RIVERA: In the current anti-immigration climate did these Republican debates convince Hispanics that they don't hate them?
Later, on the December 9 show, Rivera continued the slurs against the GOP candidates when he introduced the Carl Cameron report on the debate:
Update 12-03 | 1:55 PM: Barack fires back; claims Hillary becoming "more desperate and negative by the day." See complete update at foot.
Are Hillary's internal polling numbers telling her staffers that she's in big trouble? That's the provocative theory that Chris Matthews floated on today's Morning Joe.
Host Joe Scarborough asked what could have caused Hillary and her senior aide Howard Wolfson to go on the attack against Barack Obama this weekend, respectively questioning his character and accusing him of maintaining an improper political "slush fund." In response, Matthews conjectured that Hillary's helpers have looked at the polling data . . . and seen her support "crashing."
View video here [with apologies for mediocre video quality.]
There was a truly fascinating event on Sunday's "Meet the Press" that could definitely have lasting meaning on the 2008 presidential campaign.
Not only did host Tim Russert bring up former President Bill Clinton's flip-flop on his support of the Iraq war, but also NBC's David Gregory said, "It's a reminder of what some people who don't like Hillary Clinton don't like."
Maybe Bill shouldn't have complained about how his wife was treated by Russert and Gregory during the October debate in Philadelphia.
Possibly recalling the former president's criticism, Russert started this fascinating exchange (video available here courtesy Allah):
Retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, a member of Hillary Clinton's campaign, in the audience at CNN's Republican debate of November 28th, making comments after the airing of his YouTube question on gays in the military.
Do none of the Republican presidential candidates, including the former mayor of New York City, care about crime in the African-American community? According to "The View’s" Sherri Shepherd, they do not. Joy Behar says those encouraging a more stable family structure are "mental midgets" because they will not discuss racism.
On discussing the Republican YouTube debate, Joy Behar said she was "slightly annoyed" that Mitt Romney stated a large factor in black on black crime are unstable families, and that he did not address racism. Sherri Shepherd scoffed that "not one of these candidates ever thought about black on black crime."
Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg also exclaimed why no one ever asks about "white on white crime." Joy Behar did concede that Rudy Giuliani dramatically reduced black on black crime in New York City, but questioned "the way he did it." Sherri Shepherd responded "because one of my cousins called me from jail."
At the now infamous CNN/YouTube Republican debate held last night in Florida, candidates received a number of questions from the over 5000 videos submitted for review. The questions were selected by a panel who went through them all, whittling down the choices to just a small number. Out of all those 5000 questions, CNN failed to choose one question about the issue of health care reform. And then CNN has the audacity to snivel about it on the Political Ticker last night. [Emphasis mine]
The issue of healthcare has sparked some of the most heated debate this campaign season on the Democratic front, but the Republican presidential contenders seemed to all but ignore what is considered a major priority for many voters.
Recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls show healthcare reform is consistently at the forefront of voter concerns along with the war in Iraq and the economy.
Candidates often find a way to include their talking points and campaign priorities in debate answers regardless of what the question posed to them actually is. Since no question was posed to the candidates about their healthcare reform plans, they all but ignored the issue choosing instead to emphasize their stances on illegal immigration and the war in Iraq. –CNN's Emily Sherman
Not only does CNN try their best to muddy Fred Thompson's stance on the Confederate flag but they use a picture that makes the candidate look ashamed of himself or pensive to accompany the piece, cementing the fact that CNN is trying their best to flavor Thompson's flag stance as a "bad" thing for him. This is one of the most manipulative articles I've seen this election cycle thus far, shameful for its slant and subtle enough that many won't recognize it for the anti-Thompson spin that it truly is. But, in many ways, this CNN presentation is a perfect example of the sort of spin that CNN specializes in making the lie to their claims of being purveyors of "news." They are, instead, purveyors of spin designed to harm GOP candidates -- in this case Thompson.
Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube presidential debate for the Republican candidates largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view. But the GOP debate's slant toward conservative questions was less than the July 23 CNN/YouTube Democratic debate's slant toward liberal questions. On Wednesday, out of a total of 34 video questions presented, conservative questions outnumbered liberal questions by 14 to 8, with the remaining questions ideologically ambiguous or neutral. During the Democratic debate, out of a total of 38 video questions, the slant toward liberal questions came in at 17 liberal to 6 conservative, with the remainder ambiguous or neutral.
Mary Katharine Ham briefly chatted with CNN's Anderson Cooper and David Bohrman about tomorrow's CNN/YouTube debate and concerns about the agenda of questions that will be picked. For the whole thing, go here, but I just had to share this priceless gem (my emphasis in bold). First Ham's question, then Cooper's answer:
Q: There’s been a bit of scandal about the screening that CNN did on its “undecided voters” for the last Democratic debate. The diamonds-and-pearls question was attacked by the questioner herself. There were some allegations that several of the voters were in fact liberal activists on quite a few issues (and one Democratic Party operative). What’s the process for checking these YouTube questioners and their affiliations?
AC: “Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job...
If the preview shown on "CNN Sunday Morning" is any guide, Wednesday's CNN/YouTube Republican debate will likely be dominated by questions posed from the left, just as the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate also featured questions posed from the left. CNN correspondent Josh Levs showed clips of several sample questions, including a question from a gay Republican who charges "a vote for you is a vote against my family," a question from a woman concerned about "returning the civil liberties to the American people and stopping these outrageous attacks on our security and our privacy," and a question about CEO salaries increasing faster than the minimum wage. While Levs cautioned that he does not know whether any of the questions used in his piece will be chosen for the debate, none of the questions that appeared in the report were posed from a conservative point-of-view. (Transcript follows)
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the November 25 "CNN Sunday Morning":
If you had any questions about how much Thursday's Democrat presidential debate, sponsored by the Clinton News Network, was staged so that Hillary, who had an abysmal two weeks heading into the event, could mount a comeback, they were answered on Sunday's "Late Edition."
During this installment of the CNN program hosted by Wolf Blitzer, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux actually proclaimed the audience attending the event one of the winners for playing such a significant role.
What did the audience do that was so key in Malveaux's view?
"They booed Senator Edwards, they booed Senator Obama, and really I think kind of framed and changed kind of the tone of the debate" (partial transcript follows, video available here):
"CNN's 'Reliable Sources' is one of television's only regular programs to examine how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover." -- from CNN's "Reliable Sources" website [emphasis added].
When it comes to "how journalists do their job," the story of the week was Wolf Blitzer's spectacular failure to do his. Going into Thursday's debate, the big question was how Hillary was going to deal with the inevitable grilling over her flip-flopping on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. But when Blitzer finally got around to the issue, well into the debate, he didn't bother to ask a single follow-up question to Hillary's terse "no" answer.
So surely Reliable Sources's host Howard Kurtz would put that question squarely on the table on today's show, right? Wrong.
Who'd you bet on in a Mixed Martial Arts match between Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd? You might get the chance. Earlier this week, Krugman called Barack Obama a "sucker" and a "fool," while praising Hillary. Maureen Dowd has now gone after Paul's girl, calling Clinton every name in the headline and a few more.
The theory of Dowd's column today is that while Hillary knows how to shake Barack Obama with her ice-cold demeanor, Rudy will revel in the combat with Clinton. Excerpts from "Shake, Rattle and Roll" [emphasis added]:
It's certainly safe to say that conservatives rarely agree with anything written by liberal bloggers.
However, on Saturday, not only was there a prominent posting at Daily Kos entitled "Clinton News Network = CNN," which received 631 comments in only seven hours, but the website's proprietor, the esteemed Markos Moulitsas, wrote an article of his own that was highly critical of Clintonista James Carville's role at the cable network.
In the end, the hypocrisy was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
But before we get there, the first piece voiced displeasure with the recent shenanigans by CNN during Thursday's Democrat Presidential debate:
There's a great deal of controversy brewing concerning implications that CNN not only stocked the audience at Thursday's Democrat Presidential debate, but also controlled the questions attendees asked.
So much for Wolf Blitzer not caving into pressure from the Clinton campaign.
*****Update: It looks like all six "undecided voters" set up to ask questions at the debate were plants. More at end of post!
One of the most delicious incidents from the debate was reported Friday by Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic magazine blog (emphasis added (h/t Allah at Hot Air):
Did you hear about that challenge famed oilman T. Boone Pickens made on November 6 when he offered $1 million to anyone that could disprove even one charge made against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?
Like most people that weren't at the American Spectator dinner the evening Pickens made the offer, you probably didn't learn about this until Kerry accepted the challenge ten days later.
I guess that's when media outlets figured it was news, for at that point, they circled the wagons, and jumped all over a story that had gone totally ignored for nine days.
As reported by the Associated Press Friday (h/t Dan Gainor):
The lead story on Friday’s CBS "Early Show" focused on the Democratic debate and celebrated Hillary Clinton’s comeback as co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "This morning, Hillary's camp declares a landslide as the Dems sling mud, exchange barbs, in the feistiest debate yet." The segment began with a report by CBS White House Correspondent, Jim Axelrod, who described how, "Hillary Clinton's two top rivals didn't waste any time attacking her...[she] looked confident, taking the attacks in stride." Axelrod later concluded his report by declaring that:
Her performance at this debate makes her prior stumble look like an isolated event. The story line now goes back to Hillary the sure-footed front-runner, where it will stay. At least for now.
Would the Democrats have been better off if Fox News had run their debate? The candidates are boycotting Fox as a way to please their far-left base, but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on this morning’s Fox & Friends criticized how CNN’s Wolf Blitzer repeatedly interrupted exchanges among the candidates last night (“It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”) and forced candidates like Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich to beg for airtime.
“Fox, I have to say, I think we’re smarter,” argued Wallace, who has moderated a couple of GOP debates this year and would presumably play a role in a Democratic debate on FNC if the candidates dropped their boycott. “We let the guy talk for a minute. At the end of the minute, the bell rings, and that’s it. You’ve got a minute, and you can do with it what you want. But instead we have Wolf Blitzer every 30 seconds going, ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”