Someone should tell Chris Matthews to go pick on someone his own size . . .
Matthews enjoyed himself at the expense of a local legislator during last night's MSNBC coverage of the primaries. Kirk Watson [shown in a clip from today's Morning Joe] is a state senator from Texas and an Obama supporter. Matthews cornered Watson at length over his inability to name specific accomplishments by Barack. Credit Kirk for keeping a smile on his face, but there's no denying he was put badly on the spot [HuffPo speaks of Matthews having humiliated the guy].
After looking at what MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said on Tuesday's "Morning Joe," the answer to Stephenson's question is: media that don't ignore Obama's disgraceful comments will likely defend them.
Fortunately, conservative talk radio host Mark Levin isn't part of the mainstream media establishment, and on his program Monday, said what most press representatives would if they had any spine, and didn't behave like shills for the Democrat Party (audio available here):
I'm in the unusual position of defending uber-liberal Margaret Carlson. Carlson, formerly of Time and CNN's old Capital Gang, now with uber-liberal Al Hunt's Bloomberg News, was unfairly ripped by Taylor Marsh over at Huffington Post Saturday.
Carlson sent an e-mail to someone suggesting that, as far as Hillary Clinton's candidacy is concerned:
..... I covered the Clinton White House for 8 years and don't think it would be good for the country to go back there.
Relatively innocuous stuff.
Not according to Marsh, who launched into a major rant:
In MSM circles, "swiftboating" is shorthand for false attacks on Democrats, even though John O'Neill and other members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth stand adamantly behind their allegations about John Kerry's war record.
In an interview of Barack Obama conducted yesterday and aired on this morning's Today, Matt Lauer employed the "swiftboating" code to ask whether the candidate is prepared for the Republican onslaught. For good measure the NBC anchor wondered if Obama is ready for Republican racism.
Lauer, introducing the issue, stated that "Senator Clinton has questioned whether he can withstand negative attacks from Republicans in the fall."
Bill Clinton’s yelling at pro-life protesters in Steubenville, Ohio didn’t get processed by the networks as a sign of bad temper, or of sour and hyperbolic attacks on pro-lifers. On Monday’s Good Morning America, reporter Jake Tapper’s quick summary of what was going on with the top presidential candidates only noted he "took on some anti-abortion protesters" and ran this soundbite: "We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree!"
That is clearly a sentiment that media liberals support, but it’s only a fraction of what he yelled. ABC’s Political Radar blog carried more detail, but in neither report did ABC seem to ponder the the political oddity of Clinton’s angry retort: that he and Hillary were in effect more pro-life than the pro-lifers – not to mention it’s always odd to hear Clinton yelling at others to "Tell the truth! Tell the truth!" Over a cheering liberal crowd, Clinton said:
Update | 3:50 PM: Obama Campaign Clarification: As predicted, the Obama campaign has clarified Michelle's remark. See text at foot.
I sense there's often more than a bit of theater in the arguments between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Not to say Morning Joe's the WWF of political talk, but a little conflict never hurt the ratings.
But there was evidence that this morning's dust-up between the duo was for real. At one point, Scarborough disclosed that a producer had told him through his earpiece to put on a smile, but Joe wasn't buying.
The subject was Michelle Obama's statement that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."
Scarborough opined that whereas the flap over Barack borrowing a line from friend Deval Patrick wouldn't hurt him, the attitude Michelle expressed could. Mika rose to Michelle's defense, and the fight was on.
Slip of the tongue, or was the man who gets a thrill up his leg from Barack Obama's rhetoric voicing his innermost apprehension at the prospect of Hillary Clinton regaining the upper hand?
On this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews was discussing the March 4th Texas primary with Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, John Heilemann of New York magazine, and Norah O'Donnell. The MSNBCer made the point that under the arcane Texas rules in which the race is a hybrid of caucus and primary, it's possible for one candidate to win the popular vote and the other to walk off with more delegates.
That seemed to trigger Chris's anxiety reflex at the prospect of Hillary getting good publicity . . .
I see that Bill Clinton is once again taking credit for the "good things" that happened in the 1990s, as Jack Tapper at ABC's Political Punch reports:
"There are two competing moods in America today," Clinton said. "People who want something fresh and new -- and they find it inspiring that we might elect a president who literally was not part of any of the good things that happened or any of the bad things that were stopped before. The explicit argument of the campaign against Hillary is that 'No one who was involved in the 1990s or this decade can possibly be an effective president because they had fights. We're not going to have any of those anymore.' Well, if you believe that, I got some land I wanna sell you."
I also see that Tapper is letting Mr. Clinton's claims pass as if they are undeniable facts, as others in Old Media have done for so many years:
Rush Limbaugh read the first two paras of this item during his first half-hour today, citing "our buddies at NewsBusters." Thanks, Rush! Audio here.
If a supremely prominent Republican who was John McCain's chief surrogate had gotten into an angry confrontation at a campaign event, do you think the broadcast networks would have promptly let us know his interlocutor was African-American?
I do. But none of the broadcast network's morning news shows, at least during this morning's crucial first half-hour, disclosed the African-American identity of the man with whom Bill Clinton got into just such an argument yesterday in Ohio.
Not a word of any incident whatsoever at GMA or the Early Show, at least during the first half-hour. Today did mention that Clinton "showed his temper . . . after an Obama supporter tried to disrupt his speech in Canton," but nothing about the man's identity.
Complaints about the size and placement and content of photographs are a constant at newspapers. On Sunday, Washington Post reader's advocate Deborah Howell tried to look at the big picture of presidential primary photos on the newspaper's front:
One day's photo choice does not mean much, but so many readers mentioned Page 1 photos that my assistant Jean Hwang and I looked at two months' worth of images. Between Dec. 16 and Friday [Feb. 15], Obama was on the front page 16 times; Clinton, 13; McCain, 12; Mitt Romney, 7; Rudolph Giuliani, 4; and Mike Huckabee, 2. John Edwards and Fred Thompson appeared on the front page only when they pulled out of the race. Democrats were on the front page 29 times, including two photos of Bill Clinton, and Republicans, 25 times. The difference is small but noticeable. We will continue to monitor it.
I'm not sure what got into Howard Kurtz Sunday morning, but the Washington Post/CNN media analyst, and "Reliable Sources" host, really laid into the press for their horrible coverage of the presidential campaign.
Maybe more surprising, Kurtz voiced his displeasure with both print and television news coverage, as well as what was being written and said about the candidates on both sides of the aisle.
So go get some popcorn, and prepare yourself for a media bashing guaranteed to put a smile on your face:
In changing his tune on whether delegates from Michigan and Florida should be able to vote their preferences at the Democratic National Convention based on the results of those states' primaries, Harold Ickes has gone from DNC hack to Hillary Clinton flack.
Yesterday, Associated Press reporter Hope Yen gave Ickes an open microphone to "explain" himself, and showed no skepticism regarding Ickes's hopefully conflicting positions (bolds are mine):
Harold Ickes, a top adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign who voted for Democratic Party rules that stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates, now is arguing against the very penalty he helped pass.
For a guy who's supposedly a savvy pol, Chuck Schumer has sure made a damning admission about the Dem presidential candidates. The senior senator from New York has suggested that their word is worthless.
On today's Meet the Press, Tim Russert quizzed Schumer about the change in heart of the Clinton campaign regarding seating delegates from Michigan. The DNC ruled last year that none of Michigan's delegates would be seated at the convention, in punishment for the state having moved up the date of its primary in violation of party rules. Hillary would now like those delegates to be seated since she "won" the primary -- in which Obama's name wasn't on the ballot.
TIM RUSSERT: Senator Schumer, Senator Clinton said in October "you know it's clear this election they're having in Michigan is not going to count for anything." Is that your position?
CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, no. Here's the bottom line once again, Tim. Each candidate of course takes the position that benefits them at the moment.
Let's have some fun deconstructing Frank Rich's NY Times column of today. The gist of The Grand Old White Party Confronts Obama is that it will be nearly impossible for McCain to defeat Obama because the Arizona senator reflects the politics of an almost all-white GOP in the age of a changing America.
Rich begins by mocking the the "collection of sallow-faced old Beltway pols" who flanked McCain during his victory speech on the night of the Potomac Primaries. Adding insult to injury, Rich replays Letterman's line about the GOP presidential hopefuls looking like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club.”
This is too perfect! Barely an hour after Pat Buchanan proclaimed on NBC that the MSM is full of "out-of-the-closet Obamacans," ABC's David Wright provided a perfect illustration of the genre.
In fact, I'm nominating the GMA segment Wright narrated this morning as the single most slanted episode of the MSM primary season. The screen graphic "On the Attack," set the theme: Hillary is unfairly attacking Obama, and to the extent Barack's gone negative, it's only to rebut Clinton's unfair criticism. Oh, and Hillary's demographic is crumbling. And by the way, Bill's dissing Obama supporters.
Amy Robach this morning asked the most rhetorical question in contemporary media: does the MSM have a thing for Barack Obama?
The weekend Today co-anchor didn't need guests Pat Buchanan or Rachel Maddow for the answer. She could have kept things in-house with NBC's own Lee Cowan, who has acknowledged “it's almost hard to remain objective” about Obama.
But pose the question Robach did, and Pat Buchanan gave her a colorful answer.
Some see the Democratic race as slipping away from Hillary Clinton, but others persist in seeing the race as "tick tight," to quote Dan Rather. On his Stumper blog, Newsweek cub political reporter Andrew Romano forwards the bundle of nervous energy that is Eleanor Clift, wondering if Al Gore will come to the rescue on the second ballot of the Democratic convention in Denver. Romano's take?
He foresaw global warming. He "took the initiative" on the Internet. And he knew exactly how Iraq would turn out. Who's to say that Al Gore hasn't known all along that the Democratic race would descend into some weird state of gridlock--and that only he, the Goreacle, could rescue the party from civil war?
The domestic policy differences between Hillary and Obama are negligible. But the Clinton camp likes to claim that his national health care plan would leave 15 million people out, whereas hers covers everyone. Let's put aside for the moment the fact that former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich says the Obama plan would actually wind up covering more people. The key to Hillary's claim that she would cover everyone is that . . . she would punish people who refuse to fall in line.
Naturally, Clinton isn't eager to specify just what such punishment would be. But under intense questioning by Tucker Carlson on his MSNBC show this evening, senior Clinton advisor Kiki McLean employed an Orwellian euphemism. People who didn't comply wouldn't be punished. They'd simply incur an . . . "outcome."
In Friday's Post Politics Hour on washingtonpost.com, Anne Kornblut, the Post political reporter deployed to travel with Hillary, suggested that now that the Clinton-juggernaut image has been junked, it's funny that Hillary didn't make any verbal mistakes, that the mistakes could be attributed more to Bill and her staff. (Her ice-queen personality and wooden vocal delivery and persistently high negatives had nothing to do with it?)
McLean, Va.: Anne: We were told by any number of reporters and pundits (including -- ahem -- you, I believe) that the Clintons had this awe-inspiring, flawless political machine set to roll through the primaries. Given that they've blown their lead (not to mention their aura of inevitability), care to re-evaluate?
A conservative Christian group yesterday criticized a large Methodist church in the District for planning to offer services that recognize gay and lesbian relationships, saying they violate the United Methodist ban on same-sex unions.
Foundry United Methodist Church, which Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton attended when he was president, decided last month to support its senior pastor's decision to lead services that "recognize and honor" committed gay relationships. Foundry clergy, however, do not perform union ceremonies, the local bishop said.
Americans will be in far greater danger of a terrorist attack after midnight Saturday due to House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.), deciding to leave town for a break rather than vote on a surveillance bill that cleared the Senate Tuesday.
Sadly, the good folks at the Associated Press don't seem concerned, for instead of painting an accurate picture of this truly abysmal delay tactic by the left, the wire service chose to defend Pelosi and the Democrats while conveniently ignoring some key facts.
As reported moments ago (emphasis added throughout):
It's not about Katie Couric's liberal bias today; it's her sheer fatuousness. Couric has been accorded rare access for extended interviews with the women involved in the presidential race. MRC's Brent Baker has detailed how Couric squandered part of her interview of Hillary Clinton, aired on this past Sunday's 60 Minutes, on silly talk.
This morning's Early Show featured excerpts from Couric's interview of Michelle Obama. No huge headlines, but once again Couric wasted time with obvious and trivial questions. The CBS anchor literally apologized to Obama, for example, for posing the much-asked question of what her personal cause as First Lady would be [answer: the challenges mothers face in balancing work and family].
Andrea Mitchell stopped just short of donning an impromptu Obama campaign-advisor hat. But the NBC correspondent has left little doubt she personally feels the time is ripe for Barack Obama to promote gun control as a campaign issue.
It's questionable whether Herbert Hoover actually ever promised to put "a chicken in every pot." But even if Hoover did, he was a piker compared to Hillary Clinton. Check out her remarks in a campaign speech today, as aired on this afternoon's Hardball.
HILLARY CLINTON: Over the years, you've heard plenty of promises, from plenty of people in plenty of speeches. And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don't put food on the table. Speeches don't fill up your tank. Speeches don't fill your prescriptions or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night. That's the difference between me and my Democratic opponent. My opponent makes speeches. I offer solutions.
A couple days ago, speculating that Contessa Brewer might be a closet conservative, I expressed the hope that I wasn't making trouble for her at MSNBC. Maybe I did. For the anchor now has gone out of her way to express PC sentiments that almost make you wonder whether she wasn't trying to prove her liberal bona fides to her MSNBC honchos.
Jesse Jackson would normally be the last person who'd need to be persuaded to take offense at any comment that could possibly be considered to have racial overtones. Usually, it's a case of duck meets junebug.
But for whatever reason, interviewed by Brewer on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:18 PM ET, Jackson was on his way to taking the high road regarding Ed Rendell's recent remark about some whites in Pennsylvania being unwilling to vote for blacks . . . until Contessa cut in to point out the possible racial slight. Jackson took the hint and proceeded to express the criticism Brewer had apparently been hoping for.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith introduced a fawning segment on Barack Obama: "On the campaign trail, Barack Obama is often treated like a rock star. People wait hours just to hear him speak." The segment did not focus on campaign strategy or policy, but rather it focused entirely on Obama’s rhetoric as correspondent Tracy Smith touted MSNBC’s Chris Matthews being "thrilled" by a speech from the Senator from Illinois:
TRACY SMITH: They come in droves, by the tens of thousands at times, to hear Barack Obama speak...With soaring rhetoric, Obama is moving his audiences not just politically, but emotionally. Even some political commentators who've seen it all can't help but gush.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: You hear Barack Obama's speech, my -- I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often.