Now that Barack Obama is assuming the presidency, partisan criticism is suddenly so passé. Just ask Chris Matthews. In the course of cheerleading anchoring the MSNBC coverage of Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing today, Matthews suggested that the media shouldn't cover the Republican National Committee's criticism of Clinton.
The comments came during the Hardball host's chat with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. A few minutes earlier, Matthews had assured us that those who had the privilege of knowing Hillary personally were aware of what a "wonderful" person she is. Then it was time to attack Republicans for refusing to join the Hillary love-fest.
On World News Saturday, during the show’s "A Closer Look" segment, ABC anchor David Muir gave attention to those who question whether CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has sufficient qualifications to be Barack Obama’s surgeon general. Muir even played a clip of David Letterman poking fun at Gupta twice during the show: "The choice, it was between a Gupta, Dr. Phil, and a guy on Scrubbs. I don’t know what the hell-" He also recounted that Muir was forced to apologized to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore after making errors in a report fact-checking Moore’s film Sicko. As Muir gave voice to those in the pro-Gupta camp who believe it is important for the surgeon general to be well known to the public, the ABC anchor reminded viewers that Dr. C. Everett Coop talked about AIDS while President Reagan was "largely silent," and that President George W. Bush’s surgeon general resigned in protest in 2006 charging he had been "muzzled by the White House."
Does Maureen Dowd moonlight at MSNBC as Andrea Mitchell's writer? Here's how for, purposes of defending Caroline Kennedy in her NYT column today, Dowd mocked former New York Republican Senator Al D'Amato [emphasis added]:
[B]elieve me, she talks a whole lot better than the former junior senator from New York, Al D’Amato, who once wailed that he was “up to my earballs” in some mess, and another time complained to me that those “little Jappies” bring over boats full of cars and then take the boats back empty.
Now check out Mitchell's comments made during her 1 PM time slot on MSNBC today:
On Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Michael Crowley, editor of the liberal magazine The New Republic, about some of Obama’s recent appointments, including former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Panetta, for CIA director: "Dianne Feinstein, had her, you know, was -- her feathers were ruffled to say the least. Is this just the way of the Senate saying you've got to go through us first? Or is there real opposition to Leon Panetta?"
Crowley explained that their was some "real opposition" to Panetta: "Now, a little bit controversial here...some people are concerned that Panetta does not have an intelligence background. Has never worked at the agency, never had a national security-specific job." However, Crowley quickly added: "Other people say he is a competent, tough, good organizer, and someone Obama trusts. So, looks like he's going to have a smooth confirmation after a little bit of initial complaints." Smith agreed and remarked: "Somebody who can connect the dots, maybe. That's the most important thing."
Barack Obama nominates someone to head the CIA whose major qualification is his inexperience. Even Democrats are dismayed. John Travolta's son, sadly, died. So in its crucial first half-hour this morning, the Early Show naturally devotes almost five minutes to the Travolta story while ignoring the controversy surrounding Leon Panetta's appointment. Far from revealing that even senior Dems like Senators Feinstein and Rockefeller have signalled their displeasure over the naming of Panetta, CBS' Chip Reid painted the pick as a sign of how Obama is briskly taking charge. Here was the sum total of the Early Show's discussion of the matter:
CHIP REID: He may not be Commander-in-Chief just yet. But Mr. Obama is wasting no time, on Monday picking former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta to head the CIA, and retired Admiral Dennis Blair to be director of national intelligence.
The most important thing to remember when reading this Berkshire Eagle article, "Making the case for Caroline Kennedy," by WAMC Northeast Public Radio CEO, Alan Chartock, is that it was not meant as satire. However, Chartock's reasons for appointing Caroline Kennedy as senator from New York come off as absolutely hilarious even though he is trying to be completely serious. So enjoy the bellylaughs from inadvertent comedian Chartock (emphasis mine):
...Respectfully, I think David Paterson would be dumb not to appoint Kennedy. Here's my reasoning: She is fabulously wealthy. Some guesstimates have her in the $500 million range. She owns a considerable chunk of Martha's Vineyard beach front, and she is one of the most popular New Yorkers.
In its opening half-hour, Good Morning America found time to tell us—twice—that Pres.-elect Obama choked up with emotion as he viewed his packed-up old home. But somehow ABC never got around to mentioning that a possible pay-to-play scheme was behind Bill Richardson's bye-bye as Commerce Secretary nominee.
After the show-opening roll in which the president elect was shown heading to DC, Robin Roberts literally bounced in her co-anchor's chair: "so excited, so excited, so excited . . . It's a new day, new year, new everything going on." Added Diane Sawyer helpfully: "And a president-elect." "Yes," concurred Robin, as if it wasn't clear that's what her excitement was really all about.
Then came the first mention of the Pres.-elect getting misty. Roberts: "He was home alone in Chicago. And one of Malia's friends came over and had a little scrapbook that he wanted delivered to his ten-year old, and he was flipping through it, and I would imagine, got a little choked up." When senior political correspondent Jake Tapper came on, he provided crucial additional details about the warm and fuzzy moment, complete with a clip of the president-elect recounting the story to reporters. But Tapper gave short shrift to the Richardson matter, and, appearing later, George Stephanopoulos was equally tight-lipped.
Looking for a column loaded with racism, hyperbole, praise for a man embroiled in scandal, and an obvious disregard for the integrity of a Senate seat? Then you're in luck if you've read Ruben Navarrette's latest efforts.
Completely dropping the ball on why some people are apprehensive about any appointment that Rod Blagojevich could make for the vacant Senate seat, Ruben litters his article with some stunning phrases - statements which heap praise upon the disgraced Illinois Governor. Such phrases as:
These December 31 stories are just too giggle-inducing to take seriously, but reporters are somehow avoiding the giggles (CNN stayed sober reporting both of these in its 10 am hour):
From Oregon: "An 80-year old woman grabbed a naked man named Michael Dick by the crotch and gave him a good squeeze; police nabbed him a few minutes later."
From New York: "Clintons Leading Times Square New Year's Eve Ball Drop."
All this humor can't help but remind me of Brent Baker's special 2,000th Cyber Alert, with oddities like this famous John McLaughlin line, delivered without laughter: "When we come back, is William Clinton a lame duck or a fighting cock?"
Baker also dredged up stories of naked Geraldo, Carville's jokes about his manhood, and Matt Lauer's tale of lion genitalia. That's enough of the oddball stuff for today.
Ain't this post-racial period great? Here we have one of the more famous members of the Black Congressional Caucus accusing Senate Democrats of threatening to act like Orville Faubus, George Wallace and perhaps the most iconic of segregationists, Bull Connor.
Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther who is now a congressman from Chicago, levelled his accusation on the CBS Early Show this morning in reaction to the letter signed by all 50 Senate Democrats declaring that they would not seat Roland Burris, the African-American that Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday named to take Barack Obama's Senate seat.
The ostensible subject was Caroline Kennedy. But in the course of, you know, discussing Kennedy's foundering effort to, you know, be anointed senator, Mika Brzezinski said something of more enduring interest. The Morning Joe co-host provided a telling glimpse into the liberal mindset, as Brzezinski cast her vote for Big Mommy government.
Host Joe Scarborough observed that New York Gov. David Paterson was letting Kennedy twist in the wind. Rather than spending his time taxing everything in sight, the guv would be better off appointing Caroline or someone else, so the new senator could hit the ground running once Hillary is confirmed as Secretary of State, opined Scarborough.
That's when Mika made her pitch for taxes as a tool for reforming those not living the lifestyle approved by the latest member of the Lititz landed gentry.
ABC correspondent David Muir offered an admiring “window into Camelot” on Monday’s Good Morning America as he reported on U.S. Senate aspirant Caroline Kennedy’s interviews with New York media over the past weekend: “Caroline Kennedy, opening up, calling herself an unconventional choice, offering personal reflections, knowing the political fight that lies ahead.” However, instead of focusing on any political details relevant to the federal office she seeks, Muir focused on her entertainment preferences: “Kennedy calls herself a Yankees fan, whose last movie was ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.... Kennedy, who grew up in the 70s, says the music of that era still fuels her. Her iPod is filled with Al Green, Grateful Dead, and Bob Marley.”
Muir’s report, which aired 15 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the ABC morning program, began with anchor Robin Roberts introducing the “Camelot” theme of the report, which the media too often conjures up when covering the Kennedy family: “The daughter of JFK did a series of weekend interviews, giving us a rare glimpse inside of Camelot.” The correspondent then began with a saccharine introduction of the famous First Daughter: “For decades, Caroline Kennedy was seen far more than she was heard....‘Shy Caroline,’ as she was sometimes called, is shy no longer.” He also continued the “Camelot” theme throughout the report by including old family photos and home video of when Kennedy was a child.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals. And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars. Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.
Before moving to the substance, a word about the roundtable's lopsided composition, which resembled nothing more than Homecoming for public radio types. To "balance" David Brody of CBN, ABC chose Kurt Andersen of Public Radio International, Alison Stewart of NPR, and John Dickerson of Slate and . . . NPR. Andersen kicked off the Supreme Court segment with his "moderate" liberal comment. Dickerson followed with his pre-emptive warning about that potential Republican "fake fight."
Sure, its revenues might be plunging along with its share price, but the New York Times is still good for something. In these somber days of winter, the Gray Lady, her name notwithstanding, can still inject the sunshine of humor—albeit of the unintentional variety.
Take its current editorial, Getting Immigration Right -- please. With jobs at a premium and the collapse of the Big Three automakers attributable in no small part to the role of the unions, the Times naturally comes out in favor of:
making it easier for illegals to get into the country to compete for what jobs are left, and
granting the right of illegals once here to . . . unionize.
The people just don't know Caroline like I do. That was the essence of Andrea Mitchell's defense of the would-be senator after Pat Buchanan analogized her to another nominee who famously flopped. Appearing on Morning Joe, Buchanan unleashed a merciless metaphor.
PAT BUCHANAN: It's not only entitlement. It appears–we are getting close to Harriet Miers country, where Bush put her out there, and it became transparent when people started going after her that she wasn't quite up to this --
The top-left corner of the Saturday Washington Post carried the decidedly inaccurate headline "For Obama Cabinet, A Team of Moderates." Reporter Alec MacGillis asserted that Obama finished assembling "a team full of outsize personalities with overlapping jurisdictions and nominees who are known more for pragmatism than for strong leanings on the issues they will oversee." Hillary Clinton and Tom Daschle, no strong liberal leanings?
Naming Rep. Hilda Solis (lifetime American Conservative Union voting score: a tiny 2) to the Labor spot wasn’t moderate: "the daughter of a union family who has a strongly pro-labor voting record, came as a relief to some liberals who had grown slightly anxious about Obama's commitment to organized labor's agenda....But many of Obama's other picks reflect his apparent preference for practical-minded centrists who have straddled big policy debates rather than staking out the strongest pro-reform positions."
Liberals have "the strongest pro-reform positions." Can't a centrist be a reformer? The Post story stars former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner warning about all this pragmatism as a potential problem:
Next time you find yourself in a room with Andrea Mitchell, be careful what thoughts you permit to cross your mind. The NBC correspondent evidently has the ability to read them. Defending Caroline Kennedy on today's Morning Joe, Mitchell stated as a fact that Kennedy's press-evading performance in upstate New York was due to her desire not to appear presumptuous.
Continuing her advocacy, Mitchell went on to praise the very remarks Kennedy made yesterday that I found dangerously sleep-inducing. She then dismissed Charles Krauthammer's criticism of Kennedy as "an opinion piece" coming from "the right." For good measure, Andrea accused Andrew Cuomo—a rival for the Senate seat—of leaking to the press unflattering information about Kennedy's failure to have voted in many elections.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen came to the defense of would-be New York Senator Caroline Kennedy, who has faced criticism for her lack of experience: "This is so unfair. I mean, look, the system is set up the way it's set up and Governor Paterson decides and that's it. Leave her alone, everyone." That comment followed a report by correspondent Meg Oliver, in which Kennedy avoided tough questions from the press: "She quickly got a taste of the pressure that comes with seeking a high-profile political office...questions mostly went unanswered."
Chen was not so quick to defend Sarah Palin from critics during the campaign. When Tina Fey began impersonating Palin on Saturday Night Live in September, Chen remarked: "Tina Fey has just so much material to work with, this is like, probably a dream come true for her." Earlier in September, Chen wondered about Palin’s foreign policy experience: "The education of Sarah Palin. The Alaska governor has her first meetings with world leaders as they gather at the U.N. How will she do?"
At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Julie Chen declared: “Caroline Kennedy gets a boost in her quest to become a Senator from the woman she hopes to replace.” Later, co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment about Kennedy’s qualifications: “There are reports this morning that Senator Hillary Clinton has told her supporters to stop questioning if Caroline Kennedy is qualified to replace her. Kennedy is the latest in a long line of high-profile candidates who have sought a Senate seat. So, what actually qualifies someone to be a Senator?”
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Bill Plante acknowledged criticism of Kennedy’s qualifications, even quoting New York Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman, who compared Kennedy to Jennifer Lopez. However, Plante then brushed such concerns aside, instead praising Kennedy’s celebrity status: “Caroline Kennedy is just the latest celebrity to seek a Senate seat. In 1974, astronaut John Glenn won a Senate seat in Ohio. Bill Bradley won election to the Senate from New Jersey in 1979...Governor Patterson of New York, who will appoint the person to fill that Senate seat, has to run in two years. Who wouldn't want to run with a Kennedy on the ticket, who can raise lots of cash?”
An environmentalist's dream might be a businessman's nightmare. But when it came to describing the the environmental team Pres.-elect Obama has assembled, it was sugar plum fairies for GMA this morning. Rachel Martin, who came to ABC from NPR, narrated the segment.
RACHEL MARTIN: They are calling it the "Green Dream Team."
Which invites the obvious question: who's "they," kimosabe? Running down the team line-up, Martin viewed things from an environmentalist perspective.
On Monday’s The Situation Room, CNN correspondent Jamie McIntyre conveyed a dissenting view of whether retired General Eric Shinseki, Barack Obama’s choice for Veterans Affairs Secretary, can accurately be described as having advised the Bush administration to send more troops to occupy Iraq. McIntyre: "But Shinseki has his critics, too, who say, in fact, he never stood up to Rumsfeld, never pressed for more troops for Iraq, and, when asked in a private meeting of the Joint Chiefs if he had concerns about the war plans, never said a word, according to two people who were in the room. Asked by Newsweek two years ago to respond to the criticism he didn't press his concerns, Shinseki e-mailed back: ‘Probably that's fair. Not my style.’"
Then candidate Barack Obama listens to Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano during an economic discussion in June 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama recently named Napolitano head of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Though O.J. Simpson was sentenced for robbery and related crimes yesterday, thirteen years ago he walked on a double-murder charge. That might be an isolated case, but Gail Collins apparently believes there are tens of millions of murderers roaming free in America. We call them by a different name: hunters.
Collins made her inane hunting = murder analogy in her column today in the course of taking one more gratuitous swipe at Sarah Palin. The gist of The Senate, Snowe and Dinkytown is that in a Senate where Democrats will fall one or two seats short of the magic 60, the few moderate Senate Republicans will play a crucial role. Collins focuses in particular on Olympia Snowe of Maine. And while wondering why McCain didn't choose her as his running mate, the columnist gets off her smear on Palin, and hunters in general [emphasis added]:
During a report on Thursday’s American Morning, CNN correspondent Alina Cho used personal anecdotes in attempt to show how Barack Obama’s Chief-of-Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel has “softened over the years.” Cho cited the outgoing Illinois congressman’s unnamed rabbi, who said he is “really just a nice guy, intensely spiritual, even polite.” She also stated how despite being labeled a “street fighter with a killer instinct,” Emanuel also has more of sensitive side: “His congressional colleagues say he’s the kind of guy who will chew you out then send you a cheesecake.”
A clip of comedian Andy Samberg doing an impression of Emanuel on Saturday Night Live preceded Cho’s report, which began 18 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. The correspondent began by bringing up Emanuel’s notorious use of “colorful language,” which Samberg parodied in his sketch. She also contrasted the “street fighter with a killer instinct” imagery with his rabbi’s “nice guy” label.
Another Hardball, another opportunity for Chris Matthews, his eyes on a Senate run, to ingratiate himself with his party's powers-that-be. No one is more powerful than Barack Obama, of course, and Matthews found numerous ways this evening to praise the president-elect, even lauding, as NewsBuster Geoffrey Dickens has noted, his dud of an attempt at humor when it came to Bill Richardson's erstwhile beard.
Richardson, too, came in for some Matthews fawning.