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.
Three voices of the Clinton campaign, three distinctly different takes on its fortunes. James Carville is candid about the pickle Hillary's in. Hillary, true to form, utterly evades the question. Ah, but there's always Terry McAuliffe. The proud graduate of the Baghdad Bob School of Flackery this morning declared that he's "more confident than he's ever been" about winning the nomination.
Carville, appearing on last night's Larry King, couldn't have been more succinct.
LARRY KING: If Hillary loses Texas or Ohio, is it over?
Late on Tuesday afternoon, Bill Clinton submitted to an interview with longtime Washington, DC radio talker WMAL-AM (the D.C. home of Rush Limbaugh). The former president complained about media bias like it was brand new: "the political press has avowedly played a role in this election. I’ve never seen this before." (What about 1992?) He repeatedly insisted "two comprehensive, objective studies" show Barack Obama gets better press than his wife. When asked about the David Shuster "pimped out" remarks about Chelsea, Clinton praised his wife for countering the blatant sexism in the media: "I think she did the right thing to stick up, not just for our daughter, but for women everywhere. The level of blatant, vicious sexist comments by some people in this campaign has been appalling." He also applauded her for standing up for "basic human decency."
Clinton was interviewed by WMAL host Chris Plante (formerly a longtime CNN Pentagon reporter/producer) around 5 PM yesterday, and Plante aired most of it on his show from 8 to 10 PM. WMAL replayed clips of it several times again this morning. (Audio, whole or in parts, is presently here.) Plante began by asking if Hillary was now the underdog, and momentum was slipping away. Clinton went straight to media bias:
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith discussed the ‘Potomac Primaries’ with Democratic Strategist Dee Dee Myers and Republican CBS Political Analyst Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush Administration Communications Director, who said of John McCain’s conservative critics: "The more that we see kind of the crazies like Ann Coulter out attacking John McCain, the better Republicans feel about their chances in the general election."
This attack upon conservatives critical of McCain, who include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and others, was prompted by Harry Smith asking about Mike Huckabee’s continued support in the race:
SMITH: Nicolle, let's talk about the Republicans, because McCain, he said himself a week ago, now I'm the frontrunner. This lingering Huckabee thing. Huckabee got a lot of votes in Virginia. These conservatives they're -- they're still -- they're not happy. They're not happy about this guy.
NICOLLE WALLACE: And, you know what, Republicans are beginning to say that's okay.
On Monday, my colleague Brent Baker reported on the "silly girl talk" that occurred the prior evening when CBS's Katie Couric interviewed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on "60 Minutes."
24 hours later, former CBS reporter Bernie Goldberg was Steve Malzberg's guest on WOR radio, and he not only concurred with Baker's impression of this "60 Minutes" segment, but also called it "seriously embarrassing."
In fact, this was such bad journalism that Goldberg quipped, "If Mike Wallace were dead, he'd be turning over in his grave" (audio available here):
Hillary Clinton should be nobody’s idea of a paragon of civil discourse in the political arena. Her personal style of political warfare is ruthless, a bare-knuckles fight to the death. Ask Ken Starr. Her idea of employee relations is also rough. Paul Fray, an Arkansas campaign worker said she cursed him out with F-bombs and ethnic slurs after Bill Clinton lost his one race for Congress in 1974. A co-worker told NBC News in 1999 that he heard cussing from Hillary that night like he’d never heard before.
So it’s a little strange to see Hillary appearing so upset over MSNBC reporter David Shuster suggesting that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by Hillary’s campaign. Shuster was substituting as host of Tucker Carlson’s show and used the P-word as he suggested to liberal radio host Bill Press that it was wrong for the Clinton campaign to have Chelsea call supporters, but not grant reporters any access to her.
As fellow NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth has documented, last night an inspired Chris Matthews declared that in watching Barack Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg."
Joe Scarborough has offered a graphic variation on the metaphor to depict how the Clinton folks might be feeling this morning. It came at 7:05 AM ET during today's Morning Joe, subsequent to a discussion of Matthews' thrill-up-his-leg line.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Look at these numbers; the percentages of victories. You're talking about feelings? If I were running Hillary Clinton's campaign right now, if I were Howard Wolfson, I might have a feeling actually running down my leg.
A shocked Willie Geist could be heard exclaiming "oh God!"
The media loves campaign metaphors. Yesterday, some MSM wag delighted in pointing out that Mike Huckabee's campaign van had twice run out of gas. Today, it was Hillary Clinton's turn. In the wake of her devastating defeats in the Potomac primaries, Good Morning America rolled an extended clip of her struggling up an airplane stairway.
Speaking with Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos had just finished opining that if in Texas Obama cuts into Hillary's coalition of women and Hispanics the way he did last night, he will be the nominee.
During MSNBC's live coverage of Tuesday's presidential primary elections, after the speeches of Barack Obama and John McCain had aired, Chris Matthews expressed his latest over the top admiration for Obama's speaking skills as the MSNBC anchor admitted that Obama's speech created a "thrill" in his leg: "It's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." Minutes later, Brian Williams poked fun at Matthews' confession: "Let's talk about that feeling Chris gets up his leg when Obama talks ... That seems to be the headline of this half hour." (Transcript follows)
At about 10:13 p.m., right after McCain finished his speech, which came after Obama's speech, co-anchor Keith Olbermann remarked that, due to Obama's unusual speaking skills, it was a good idea for any other speaker to speak before the Illinois Democrat instead of after him. Matthews then expressed what he referred to as an "objective assessment" of Obama's speech:
Joy Behar warned of the imminent "Republican attack machine" and of course it’s "lethal." On the February 12 edition of "The View," the co-hosts discussed, surprisingly, that Obama has been getting excellent press. They must have gotten the permission from the Clinton campaign to say that. Sherri Shepherd then noted, if Obama wins the Democratic nomination "it’s going to be unleashed with force."
Joy Behar then jumped in on the "Republican attack machine" and alluded to some attacks against Vietnam veterans such as Max Cleland and John Kerry and promised Obama will get "swift boated." Behar maybe missed the point that John McCain is the Vietnam veteran in the race and Barack Obama has no military service. Who could literally get "swift boated?"
OK, it was probably just a Freudian slip by someone with the Potomac Primary on the noggin. But perhaps big-government loving MSNBC should consider it as its official new sign-off. In any case, here's how David Gregory said goodbye at 3:59 PM ET at the end of his stint as network host this afternoon:
DAVID GREGORY: That's going to do it for me. My colleague Norah O'Donnell will take over our coverage. I'm David Gregory, thanks for Washington. Thanks for watching, rather. Stay with MSNBC -- all day coverage of Chesapeake Tuesday. Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will host coverage of the returns. That's at 6 o'clock PM tonight Eastern, only on MSNBC, the place for politics. Have a good afternoon.
What does Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and the February 12 "Potomac Primary" have to do with a BlackBerry outage? Beats me, but apparently Reuters writer Wojtek Dabrowski found a way to work the presidential candidate's campaign staff into his Toronto-datelined February 12 story, "RIM reports 'critical' BlackBerry outage.'
RIM's worldwide subscriber base reached about 12 million people by late last year, mainly executives, politicians, lawyers and other professionals who rely on the BlackBerry to send secure e-mails. Sleeker new models are also catching on with students and others outside professional circles.
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, said, "While the outage did confirm our widespread addiction to BlackBerry service, fortunately it did not cause more than a temporary inconvenience."
Former CBS correspondent and best selling author Bernard Goldberg noted the clear double standard NBC and MSNBC has on liberal versus conservative commentators. On the February 11 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor," Goldberg discussed the corruption at NBC News after the fallout from the David Shuster "pimped out" comments.
Goldberg alluded to left wing partisan commentator Keith Olbermann, without mentioning him by name, and noted that has anchored the election night coverage and moderated a presidential debate. Goldberg posed the question "would NBC News have Rush Limbaugh anchoring their election night coverage on MSNBC? Would they have an angry, ideological right winger like Michael Savage anchor their election night coverage on MSNBC?" He then answered his own question "of course not!" And added that "they do have a left wing bomb thrower doing it."
As reported by Politico Monday evening, John Harris interviewed the presidential candidate, producing the following delicious exchange (emphasis added, h/t NB reader Thomas Stewart and Inside Cable News):
How deep into the Dem mindset is Joe Klein? The Time columnist can't figure out why Hillary Clinton drives Republicans round the bend. Klein candidly admitted so today, chatting with Brian Williams on MSNBC.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: On the Republican side, does John McCain blunt back the attack, the insurgents on the right?
JOE KLEIN: I think to a certain extent he will. He'll have a lot more -- you know Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee would give him a great assist. Because the Republicans are completely berserk for reasons that kind of escape me about Hillary Clinton. She's not a wild lefty, she's a fairly moderate person. But she's the enemy, and if she materializes on the Democratic side, you're going to have a united and fierce Republican party.
The blogosphere began buzzing yesterday afternoon because of a Cuban flag superimposed with a picture of Che Guevara that was flown in an volunteer, unofficial office for Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama in Houston, Texas, captured by a local Fox News affiliate.
Allahpundit likened it yesterday to be the equivalent of flying a Timothy McVeigh flag in a John McCain office, and noted that if that had occurred, media outlets would have more than likely made more of an issue of it than they have in this instance.
I don't however, share the condemnation heard yesterday of the Obama campaign itself over this particular story from some of my friends on the right. I think James Joyner's take on the issue is even-handed, in that:
I wouldn't want to create problems for Contessa Brewer [file photo]. But again today the spirited MSNBC anchor said something that made me wonder whether she might be a closeted conservative in the belly of the liberal beast.
Janet Huckabee, responding to Brewer's question on the possibility that her husband would withdraw from the presidential race, drew a contrast between the Romney and Huckabee campaigns.
David Shuster’s suspension was a topic of discussion on the February 11 edition of "The View," as at least Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg disagreed with the Clinton campaign for demanding an even harsher punishment for Shuster. Walters first expressed mixed feelings that many people rely on "The View" for news adding "sometimes we’re very wonderful and very accurate and sometimes we’re not."
An offended Joy Behar chimed "I don’t think we’re less accurate than a lot of the shows that I watch, because I watch all of them," adding "we do our research here." Barbara Walters apologetically replied "I shouldn’t have said that."
Non-naturalized immigrants, especially illegal ones, can't vote in federal elections. Nonetheless, the day before the so-called Potomac Primary (D.C., Md., and Va.), the Washington Post devoted a 22-paragraph Metro section story to "The Frustration of Being Illegal."
The story, by staff writer Marcela Sanchez, aims at tugging at the heart strings by recounting the plight of one immigrant who fears her deportation will separate her from her children. Here's an excerpt:
Celia Llanes came to the United States 4 1/2 years ago with typical immigrant aspirations. She hoped to provide for her family, earn enough to buy a patch of land back home and perhaps take her girls to Disney World. Today, her wish is far simpler: that when she is deported her girls will be deported with her.
The "pimped out" controversy surrounding MSNBC's David Shuster - destined to be called "Pimp Gate" - took a turn for the bizarre when Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent a letter to Steve Capus, President of NBC News.
Published for all to see at the Washington Post's "The Trail" blog Saturday, the letter demonstrated a disturbing number of hypocrisies and double standards inherent in today's liberally biased media.
See if you can find them all (emphasis added to assist your search):
After publishing an astoundingly positive column about Republican presidential candidate John McCain Thursday, the Washington Post's David Broder must have felt the need to bash some conservatives or risk being excommunicated by his liberal friends.
Looking to make amends, Broder went on Sunday's "Meet the Press," and disparaged CPAC attendees as being "aginners" with "a limited constituency."
Yet, moments later, he returned to his McCain love-fest.
[A] synthetic product leeched of most human qualities. -- Frank Rich, on how Hillary Clinton is being marketed, Feb. 10, 2008.
If Frank Rich is the voice of elite liberal opinion, Hillary Clinton is in deep, deep trouble. How many folks on the Upper West Side and reasonable facsimiles thereof from Boston to Madison to LA will be opening their hearts -- or credit cards -- to Hillary after reading Rich's stunning indictment of Clinton and her campaign this morning?
The jumping-off point for Rich's column is the live prime-time special the night before Super Tuesday that the Clinton campaign conducted. Flashing his theater-critic roots, Rich panned it as a "boring" "pseudo-event," noting that "some in attendance appeared to trance out." But if the staging was bad, the substance was much, much worse in Rich's view. For he claims that it reflected nothing less than Clinton playing from a "thick deck of race cards."
Want to know how Barack Obama would intend to run against John McCain? Consider this line from Obama's speech to the Jefferson-Jackson dinner this evening in Virginia:
This week, this week, we found out that the presumptive nominee of the Republican party will be Senator John McCain [scattered boos in the audience.] Now, I believe John McCain is a good man and a genuine American hero. And we honor his half-century of service to this nation.
Call it Today's homage to John Lennon: imagine there're no conservatives. The NBC show so much enjoyed the conservative-free citizens panel it hosted back in November that it brought it back this morning.
As I wrote about at the time, two timid Republicans were pitted against two partisan Dems. In November, one of the "Republicans," Susie O'Neil, claimed that the country is in decline due to the war "and because corporations are totally influencing our Members of Congress and the Senate." Call Susie a Michael Moore Republican.
The other Republican on the panel back then, Sarah Hungerford, said she was thinking of voting for . . . a Democrat. The pair were back this morning, again matched against two partisan Dems who both had apparently become Obama supporters.
Admission: over the course of my NewsBusting, I've actually developed a certain admiration for Bob Herbert. Not that I agree with virtually anything the NY Times columnist has to say, but that I appreciate his directness and the absence in his work of the superfluous sarcasm that marks that of a number of his colleagues.
That said, I offer up Herbert's lament of this morning, "Where Are the Big Ideas?", as the epitome of wrong-headed liberal thinking. Herbert's complaint is that when it comes to the role of government, the presidential candidates aren't thinking big enough. Hillary and Obama's proposals to subject 1/7th of the nation's economy [or whatever the current proportion that health care represents] to government control are small beer in Bob's eyes. He dismisses their plans as "masterpieces of minutiae."
Herbert says that "the essential question the candidates should be trying to answer — but that is not even being asked very often — is how to create good jobs in the 21st century." The columnist gives us an idea of the kind of big-government thinking he has in mind to answer his question:
As the blogosphere picks up with talk of David Shuster's remark about "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton, something should be made clear. The media spent the 1990s using Chelsea and Gore kids to improve the public image of the Clintons and the Gores. When someone (like Al Gore III) misbehaved by speeding at 90 MPH, the media covered up. But they used young Al to burnish old Al for all those high school football games he attended as a devoted dad. See this NRO piece from 2000.
It's still happening now, with Chelsea used routinely to warm up Hillary's ice-queen image. Last August, Brent Bozell wrote up a particularly embarrassing piece from Jodi Kantor in The New York Times, treating Chelsea Clinton as, well, a nearly silent American Idol. "We’re told that 'people seem delighted just to watch her lips move and hear sound emerge.' As Kantor described her Jewish boyfriend, she identifies Chelsea as 'a Christmas-cookie-baking, churchgoing Methodist.'”
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) enters the voting booth to vote in the New York primary election at the Douglas Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York February 5, 2008.
Friday’s edition of Today on NBC had several conservative-denigrating moments over the ideological direction of presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. Matt Lauer interviewed columnist Ann Coulter. He threw a spitball about conservatives being babies: "Critics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They haven't been able to choose their nominee and it's the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, ‘if you can't play the game the way I want to play, I'm taking my football and I'm going home.’ How do you respond to that?"
Tim Russert acknowledged in his pundit’s corner that conservatives must be assuaged, but that if McCain gives an inch to his right, "the Straight Talk Express will be derailed." For liberal media types, since 2000, Straight Talk was a way to equate talking liberal with talking "straight," that liberalism has all the straight answers. Here’s a fuller bite of Russert: