NewsBusters readers are painfully aware of the media's utter disdain for President George W. Bush, and their ad nauseum ad hominem attacks on his intellect, his oratory skills, and his policies.
Since the 2008 presidential campaign began on November 8, 2006, you haven't been able to swing a dead cat without hitting a press report about Republican candidates needing to do everything within their power to distance themselves from Bush.
With that in mind, waking up to the following headline in the Boston Globe Saturday shocked me almost as much as if I caught Santa crawling up my chimney (emphasis added throughout):
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith and Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield put together a Christmas wish list for the various Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Of Mitt Romney, Greenfield said the Massachusetts Governor could use voters having "buyers remorse" about Mike Huckabee and:
I have a second gift for Mitt Romney, which is somebody to muss his hair. It's too perfect. A lot of people have noticed a startling resemblance between Mitt Romney and that of the Muppet game show host, Guy Smiley. He's got to have a mussed-up hairdo soon.
Perhaps an even more interesting word of campaign advice from Greenfield was to Hillary Clinton:
Selective memory. She needs the Democrats to remember the good things they liked about Clinton in the '90s, to forget the bad thing apart from the obvious one, the investigations and the turmoil. And if they think of her as that kind of '90s, it's going to be bad for her.
On the news of Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani’s hospitalization and release, ABC’s Jake Tapper spun it as a case of secrecy. On the December 21 edition of "Good Morning America," Tapper reported that after Giuliani and his wife claimed to be in "good health," his lack of details may harm him. "Experts on political crises say Giuliani is handling this the exact wrong way," Tapper suggested.
Tapper also stated, according to former Clinton aide Lanny Davis, 2000 long shot Democratic hopeful Bill Bradley’s lack of health disclosure was the "turning point"of his campaign.
Tapper finally played a sound bite of Giuliani promising a more open government. The ABC correspondent sniped back "apparently that pledge of transparency not applying to his current health crisis."
Methinks This Is No CoincidenceOn the cover of the latest edition of that 1930s paleoconservative throw back publication, the American Conservative, Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani is drawn in "9-11" garb that is starkly reminiscent of an SS uniform circa Nazi Germany.
This missive is not an analysis exercise of the accompanying article. There are Conservative differences aplenty to be found with Giuliani, in fact with all of the current Presidential hopefuls; so too with American Conservative Founding Editor Patrick J. Buchanan.
When David Gregory grilled Hillary Clinton on Today on December 17th, the challenges to her came from his own mouth. Not once was a statement by Barack Obama used to confront Clinton.
But when Barack Obama made back-to-back appearances this morning on Today and Morning Joe, again and again tough questions were posed not in the first person but as coming from Hillary Clinton or her surrogates.
Ed Rollins is Mike Huckabee's National Campaign Chairman. Appearing on this evening's Hardball, the renowned political consultant declined to say that Romney's religion wasn't relevant to the campaign. For good measure, Rollins suggested that a senior Romney aide is . . . an atheist.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Does faith bring you guys together or separate you?
ED ROLLINS: Well, first of all, you and I are Catholics and Ron [Kaufman, senior Romney aide], are you still an atheist or have you basically converted, now that you're rich?
When Larry Summers suggested in early 2005 that, as paraphrased by Slate's William Saletan, "innate differences between the sexes might help explain why relatively few women become professional scientists or engineers," the outcry was immediate, furious, and went to saturation level virtually overnight. The controversy ultimately led to his resignation a year later as Harvard President.
On Wednesday, Mr. Summers, a Democrat who was once Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, made a recommendation in his area of expertise -- that is, that a tax cut would be a good idea to protect against a possible recession. (Yours truly doesn't believe that a recession is anywhere near occurring. But hey, I've said since May, and several times since [here, here, and here, among others] that a tax cut is needed anyway to keep the economy chugging along at a good rate. So if panicked pols want to enact a tax cut for the wrong reason, I'll take it.)
Old Media reaction to Summers has been virtual silence.
CNN’s senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, in a report on Thursday’s "Newsroom" program about college student participation in the Iowa caucuses, featured two supporters of Democratic presidential candidates, one for Barack Obama, and the other a supporter of Hillary Clinton. While host Kyra Philips, in her introduction to the report, highlighted how "all presidential supporters want all the support they can get, and that includes the under-30 crowd," the report did not feature any young supporters of Republican candidates.
Crowley’s report, which aired 16 mintues into the 1 pm Eastern hour, focused on the Obama campaign’s outreach to the "under-30 crowd," and described him in glowing terms. "Barack Obama is a hit on college campuses. He's young. He's new. He campaigns against status quo politics."
While reporting on Rudy Giuliani’s hospitalization on the campaign trail in Missouri on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith also used the opportunity to discuss Giuliani’s struggling campaign: "We are closely following the news that Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized overnight in St. Louis where he's undergoing tests. This at a time when his Republican lead has been challenged and he is slipping quickly in the polls." So Smith is not sure if Giuliani’s health is okay, but he knows the New York Mayor’s campaign is going under. Not much of a get well message.
After a report on Giuliani’s hospital visit by a local CBS News station in St. Louis, Smith moved on to the campaign:
This health scare only adds to Rudy Giuliani's troubles on the campaign trail. He has struggled with persistent questions about his personal life and one national poll shows that he has dropped 13 points. Mike Allen from politico.com joins us from Washington.
Smith then decided to make a joke of Giuliani’s health problem and asked Allen’s diagnosis:
SMITH: You might not be feeling too well, either, had you been looking at Huckabee's rise and Giuliani's drop. Can that be part of -- part of what's going on here?
... "Our whole mission ... is to say: These people are not objective. They're not disinterested, the press and people need to see them for what they are," (Tim) Graham said in a recent telephone interview.
Demystifying the relationship between the press and the Clinton camp is essential for Americans to decide this year's race, (L. Brent) Bozell said.
"Past is prologue," he said. "The kind of behavior that was going on 15 years ago is going on today."
Do all those attacks against Hillary Clinton reduce the candidate to cowering in bed? "Nightline" co-anchor Cynthia McFadden posed this question to the former First Lady on Wednesday's program. She sympathetically asked, "There's never a night when you go back to whatever hotel room, whatever city you're in that night, and crawl in a ball and say, 'I just, this just hurts too much?"
As previously noted on NewsBusters, the ABC program also featured McFadden gushing that the presidential candidate's new campaign web site is "terribly sweet in so many ways" and yet it also shows the double standard that female politicians have to put up with. McFadden, who spent a day with Clinton in Iowa, protectively spun most of her questions. She observed that Barack Obama has been successful with "some people" at painting Clinton as an opportunist and then queried simply, "How do you fight back against that?"
Was This the Slipping Digit?Found within the confines of the Los Angeles Times "Top of the Ticket" blog -- actually in its URL address -- is an interesting bit of a slip of the thumb (or finger, as I have no idea how Mister Andrew Malcolm types).
The entry is entitled "Is (Hillary Rodham) Clinton now planting people in campaign forums?" (we at MRCwould neverinsinuatesuch a thing), and is the average, tepid writing one has come to expect from Hollywood's ideological twin of New York's Times.
It is their web address that is more than a bit amusing:
Does "Good Morning America" mean "good morning all you racists"? Co-host Chris Cuomo seemed to suggest that on December 20. (Hat tip: Howard Mortman) Upon interviewing presidential candidate Barack Obama Cuomo inquired about Obama’s biggest obstacles.
"What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America's inherent racists, racism?"
Obama, though conceding he does not think "race has played a significant role in this campaign," went on to add that many people may vote for or against him because of his race.
Chris Matthews shouldn't count on a Christmas card from Hillary after the way he absolutely unloaded on her on Morning Joe today. The topic was her Christmas ad [view YouTube here], which shows her "giving" a variety of government programs to the American people.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I always thought the problem with Hillary was, her notion of government was, "I am Evita, I am the one who gives gifts to the little people and then they come and bring me flowers and they worship at me because I am the great Evita."
Although just 30% of those polled give Democrats in Congress good marks, they favor the party by a 53%-40% margin in next year’s elections. That represents a silver lining for Democrats, who achieved only a fraction of their ambitious agenda after taking over Congress.
It’s odd because Wolf doesn't indicate how many of those polled gave Republicans in Congress good marks. It's even odder that the 53%-40% election margin Wolf cited is nowhere to be found in the survey detail. Also, neither the article nor the survey detail have an external link to information relevant to this margin.
But the survey detail does tell us that 26% give Republicans in Congress good marks, only 4 points fewer than the Dems. Wolf "somehow” managed not to mention that.
Biting the hand that used to feed him, David Shuster has accused Fox News of being part of the "Republican establishment" and as such, going after Mike Huckabee. Shuster appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour today.
DAVID SHUSTER: What's been so interesting about Huckabee, you're starting to see the Republican establishment, despite him being the "Baby Jesus" candidate [adopting Joe Scarborough's formulation], the Republican establishment is going after him pretty hard now. And you even saw it last night when the, I suppose you could call them the Republican establishment Fox News correspondent was asking some pretty asinine questions --
I've noted previously that Old Media has developed a squeamishness towards describing this time of year in business stories as the "Christmas shopping season."
In the midst of media criticism of Mike Huckabee's Christmas ad, including the Whoopi Goldberg-Joy Behar exchange on "The View" noted earlier today by NewsBusters' Justin McCarthy, how interesting it is that one of Hillary Clinton's latest ads in Iowa joins in the C-word sqeamishness (HT Hot Air, whose Bryan Preston calls it "Hillary's Unintentionally Revealing Christmas Ad").
The ad shows Mrs. Clinton wrapping presents for the American people, including "Universal Health Care," "Alternative Energy," "Bring Troops Home," and "Middle Class Tax Breaks" (where have we heard that undelivered promise before?). In search of the final present to wrap, she asks, "Where's Universal Pre-K?" Finding it, she says, "Ah, there it is."
(Three of these "presents" to the American people would have to be paid for with money coming from the American people in the form of taxes -- but that's for another time.)
Mike Huckabee might want to "revise and extend" the remarks of his Iowa campaign manager. Appearing on this evening's Tucker on MSNBC, Bob Vander Plaats stated that "we're fighting a radical religion in Islam" and that "the war on terror is a theological war."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith played a clip of a recent Hillary Clinton campaign ad featuring her mother and asked Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield: "Is Hillary's mom the real secret weapon in the campaign?" Greenfield responded by describing the ad’s brilliance:
I very rarely look at ads these days and one line just jumps out at me. Hillary's mom lives with her, not mother, mom. Why? Women outlive men. Wives outlive their husbands. Primal fear: 'I will spend the rest of my life alone or in a home.' And the idea thatthis prototypical career woman, who her enemies see as driven and cold, has taken her mom in to live with her, I think that packs a powerful emotional wallop. And in Iowa, women vote in caucuses more than men and older people do more than younger.
Smith agreed with Greenfield’s assessment, "Right. And older women especially. Yeah this is -- boy -- talk about right to the heart."
"The View"co-hosts discussed the Mike Huckabee Christmas ad when Joy Behar moved to quote Ron Paul, ideologically libertarian, whom Behar calls "a very staunch Republican," who quoted Sinclair Lewis: "When Fascism comes to the country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."When they played the advertisement, Behar moaned "we don’t have to listen to him do we?"
Whoopi Goldberg, who previously defended Georgia Governor Perdue for holding a prayer service, defended Huckabee’s ad claiming "if he wasn’t a Christian, I don’t think people would be as freaked out by it." Whoopi also defended those who wish to proclaim Merry Christmas.
KEYS: Do you think it matters? Well, well, do you think it matters?
"But Mika Brzezinski agrees with me!" might not be Mike Huckabee's best pitch to Republican primary voters in defending his harsh criticism of the Bush administration on foreign policy. But the fact is that Mika has done her best to throw Mike a lifeline on the matter.
In a "Foreign Policy" magazine article, an excerpt of which appears below, Huckabee had famously written of "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality."
Interviewing Huckabee on today's Morning Joe, Mika teed up some recent news as supporting evidence for the "arrogant bunker mentality" allegation -- and the candidate was only too happy to take a swing.
Discussing the controversy surrounding his latest campaign ad and the broader issue of his invocation of religion in his political campaign, the normally good-natured Mike Huckabee turned . . . cross on this morning's Today. And while contending he wanted to promote a kinder tone at this time of year, the candidate came prepared to take some pointed shots at Mitt Romney.
Time magazine has named liberal icon Al Gore runner-up for 2007's Person of the Year, second only to the winner, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Richard Stengel, the publication's managing editor, appeared on Wednesday's edition of the "Today" show to announce the decision. Stengel, the man responsible for the final decision, also showed up on Monday's program and toyed with the possibility of choosing Gore, saying he'd be a "superb choice."
[Updated with transcript: December 19, 2007- 10:53 -0500]
Today co-host Meredith Vieira seemed shocked at the decision. Upon hearing the news that Gore had not won Time's prize, she stumbled, "Oh! He wasn't -- oh, interesting." In 2007, Stengel's news magazine repeatedly gushed over Gore. In May, Time writer Eric Pooley lamented the 2000 candidate's decision not to enter the current presidential race and lovingly labeled him a "improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet."
As soon as I realized that Maureen Dowd's column of today, "Rush to Judgment" was indeed about Rush Limbaugh's recent observations about Hillary's looks, I braced myself for the backlash.
Surely Dowd would seek to unload on Rush for having said, in commenting on an unflattering photo of Hillary [displayed here] that turned up on Drudge, "will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?” Added Rush “men aging makes them look more authoritative, accomplished, distinguished. Sadly, it’s not that way for women, and they will tell you.” And Hillary “is not going to want to look like she’s getting older, because it will impact poll numbers, it will impact perceptions [so] there will have to be steps taken to avoid the appearance of aging.”
And so I continued to read, and wait, and wait -- for the comeback that never came.
In an especially glowing interview with Barack Obama on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith lobbed softball after softball at the Illinois Senator, including this question about the successful troop surge in Iraq: "Obama is positioning himself as a candidate for change, particularly on the war. Were you a fan of the surge?" Obama’s response was not surprising, but did defy all logic:
No. And it's fascinating to me how the surge is now being defined as a success. That central question remains -- how do we get a change in behavior amongst Sunni, Shia, and Kurds? The only way I believe to trigger that change is to send a clear signal that we are withdrawing, we're not going to have permanent bases there, we will be a partner with them to help stabilize the country, but they've got to make some decisions.
As noted here, Chris Matthews yesterday named former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack a member of Hillary's "eunuchs chorus," people he derided for "saying whatever the Clinton people told them to say." Today, Matthews might be claiming vindication. In an MSNBC interview with Andrea Mitchell, Vilsack parroted Hillary's word-'o-the-week--"change"--no fewer than eight times.
View the edited video clip of Vilsack crooning Hillary's "Change Chorus" here.
Imagine for a moment that the FBI raided televangelist Pat Robertson's office for any reason whatsoever, much less say his 1988 presidential campaign. It'd be a story in the broadcast evening news programs, right?
So why the utter lack of interest in the December 12 federal probe into Al Sharpton's 2004 campaign? A review of Nexis for ABC, NBC, and CBS network news stories for December 12-18 yielded nothing on a December 13 FBI raid.
Here's an excerpt from the AP's reporting from December 13: