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.
Their infidels are committing suicide by the hundreds on the gates of Baghdad . . . Be assured, Baghdad is safe, protected. There are no American infidels in Baghdad . . . There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad. -- Saddam's Information Minister Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, AKA "Baghdad Bob."
Not bad, Bob. But if you want to see how flackery is done at its supremely sycophantic best, you should have tuned into tonight's "Tucker" to catch Lanny Davis's act, as he defended Bill Clinton's claim to have opposed the Iraq war "from the beginning."
As reported by NewsBuster Matthew Balan, Barbra Streisand's endorsement of Hillary Clinton provoked liberal CNN columnist Jack Cafferty to call Streisand a 'reclusive, over-the-hill vocalist'. However, unlike supposed professional journalist Cafferty, 'Wheel of Fortune' host Pat Sajak managed to take an analytical approach to the entire celebrity endorsement system, and in the process, expose more than a few of them as emperors without clothes. Sajak has a remarkably clear view of the actual role of a celebrity and he appears to be well aware that most celebrities are experts in exactly nothing. He writes in Human Events online magazine,
If any group of citizens is uniquely unqualified to tell someone else how to vote, it’s those of us who live in the sheltered, privileged arena of celebrityhood.
Wednesday's editions of the CBS "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" show both ignored Bill Clinton's incredible assertion on Tuesday that he opposed the Iraq war from its inception. Only "Good Morning America" correspondent Jake Tapper pointed out the obvious fact that Clinton was no vocal critic of the military action. Filing a report on the subject, Tapper incredulously wondered, "Bill Clinton opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning?"
After acknowledging that the ex-President did call for the U.N. weapons inspectors to have more time, Tapper clarified the record: "...[Bill Clinton] was hardly, at least publicly, an opponent of going to war against Saddam Hussein." The ABC journalist then read from a 2003 speech on the Clinton Foundation's website that featured the former Commander in Chief asserting, "I supported the President when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." So, despite the fact that ample information exists calling into question the validity of Clinton's recent statement, only GMA covered the story.
"You sort of have to be a little careful. There's a whole campaign handbook of things that you say to dismiss polls. But you should mire them in a little bit of truth." -- John Zogby, responding to criticism by Mark Penn, chief Hillary Clinton strategist, of Zogby's online polling.
Mark Twain, famously warning against getting into a spat with newspapers, said "never pick a fight with someone who buys their ink by the barrel." To his chagrin, Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist, is learning a modern corollary: never pick a fight with someone with three hours of national airtime. And for gosh sakes, don't use arguments in picking the fight so false as to be child's play to disprove, and don't leave obvious fingerprints when you try to intimidate the networks.
In his "Final Word" at the end of Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer made the cliched charge:
Candidates now race to tell us what we want to hear. They load us down with spin, tiptoe around controversial issues, and give us tortured explanations of how a change in their position really wasn't a change at all.
This pandering to popular public sentiment toward politicians was brought on by Schieffer quoting a November 20 Op/Ed piece by "New York Times" commentator David Brooks, who wrote of Rudy Giuliani’s recent shift to a tougher stance against illegal immigration. Schieffer took the last line of the "Times" article, where Brooks lamented how "Some day Rudy Giuliani will look back on this moment and wonder why he didn't run as himself." How dare Giuliani pander to those right-wingers who want secure borders.
Conservatives examining whom to support in the primary elections might do well to welcome an examination of both candidates and how they have departed from GOP orthodoxy on numerous social and fiscal issues. And while Rudy and Mitt aren't the only candidates being grilled by conservative activists for less-than-conservative positions, it's a good starting point, even if much of Romano's piece is snarky in tone (which it is).
According to "Nightline" host Terry Moran, Iowa voters are listening to Barack Obama's "real argumentthat he is tomorrow, a fresh face who represents a real change from our bitter, polarized politics." The ABC anchor, who profiled the Democratic candidate for Tuesday's edition of the program, spent part of the interview interpreting the feelings of caucus voters. He gushed, "...You get the sense they know they might be part of something big here, something historic." After listening to one Iowan laud Obama's leadership, he prompted the man: "It would be an historic thing, Barack Obama?"
Upon noting that Obama is "hitting his stride on the stump in this state after some poor reviews earlier in the campaign," Moran allowed that the senator is "not a perfect candidate." However, a November 2006 "Nightline" segment might lead viewers to wonder which "poor reviews" he's referring to. Then, as with the November 26, 2007 piece, Moran spent the day with Obama. For that report, the ABC journalist gushed that Obama is "an American political phenomenon." Just as he would more than a year later, Moran speculated as to what the voters were thinking:
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...
For years, NewsBusters and its parent, the Media Research Center, have been reporting on the disparity in economic coverage by mainstream media outlets during the Clinton and Bush administrations.
In the past seven years, economic data that would have been praised when Bill Clinton was in the White House has continually been presented as recessionary, or even depression-like.
With that in mind, CNN's Lou Dobbs was discussing the economy, and, in particular, the recent holiday sales figures with WOR radio's Steve Malzberg Monday. The conservative host asked Dobbs, "If these numbers were the numbers nearing the end of a Clinton administration or a Democrat's administration, wouldn't they be touting it as a wonderful, strong economy?
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer apparently has a significant problem with 2008 GOP contender Mike Huckabee's new ad that identifies the candidate as a "Christian leader." On Tuesday's program, Sawyer fretted over whether "we crossed a line here" and asked guest Newt Gingrich if the campaign spot is "just too heavy-handed about specific denominations?" The GMA host also speculated that Huckabee might be playing the "religion card."
Sawyer simply couldn't let go of the "Christian leader" phrase, which appeared in an onscreen graphic of a new ad for the Arkansas Governor. After playing a clip of the spot, Sawyer sputtered, "He put up there on the screen, Christian, Christian leader. Not spiritual leader, Christian leader." She then asked the former House Speaker, officially appearing to promote a pro-religion documentary he worked on, if Huckabee's usage of the term would "backfire" on him. After pointing out the political benefit that the 2008 candidate might receive, Gingrich dryly noted, "You know, he's not running in New York State." Not to be deterred, Sawyer pressed for specifics. "But do you approve of that 'Christian leader' on his ad," she wondered.
Wash, spin, rinse, spin. Phone, spin, report, spin, poll, spin. The similarities between the work of the mainstream media and a laundry machine are striking. Yet there is nothing about the cycle -- the spin-report-poll-spin cycle -- that does for political events what detergent does for your boxers or briefs.
The media, as One, spend days or weeks bashing someone or something they do not like. They then conduct a poll to prove to you that they were right all along. In a campaign season, their one-sided coverage is calculated, then executed to produce a result. It’s not about reporting the events, it’s about changing the prevailing view.
And the polls -- such as the ones by the media, which are not independent surveys like those undertaken by the likes of Rasmussen or Gallup -- aren’t intended as much to gauge the public view of a candidate or events as they are to reinforce that which they have “reported”, or provide the media guidance on how effective their spinning of the news has been.
Update | 10:25 AM -- Zogby says Penn should know better . . . Clinton campaign #1 user of Zogby results. See entire Zogby response at foot.
Presaging the kind of press control a President Hillary Clinton might try to impose, a member of her inner circle scolded Joe Scarborough today for having the audacity to mention a poll with results unfavorable to Clinton.
Yesterday, Zogby International released a new poll indicating that in a general election head-to-head match-up, Hillary Clinton would lose to all of the leading Republican contenders by a 3-5% margin. Even worse from the perspective of Clinton heading into the Dem primaries, the same poll shows Barack Obama beating each of the Republicans by 5-7%.
Chief Clinton strategist Mark Penn was a guest on "Morning Joe" during today's 7:30 ET half-hour. Nothing could be more natural than for Scarborough to raise these newsworthy results. But Penn wasn't pleased.
Financial Times US Managing Editor Chrystia Freeland has become a "Hardball" regular of late.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: The other thing that people worry about is if someone forecloses on their home, and that's the issue we haven't really seen raised too much in the Rudy-Romney debate. I think as we move into 2008 and the economy looks a lot grimmer, that's going to be another important battleground.
According to MSNBC host Chris Matthews, 2008 Republican candidate Mike Huckabee has been given "the biggest free ride from the liberal media that I have ever seen in my life." Appearing on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe," the "Hardball" anchor speculated that left-wingers would enjoy seeing the GOP "chaos" that a Huckabee victory in Iowa would produce and, as a result, are ignoring the Republican's "crazy" views on gun control. Matthews derided as "black helicopter stuff," the former Arkansas governor's assertion that owning a gun gives Americans the ability to fight tyranny. "It sounds crazy," he told "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough.
It's interesting to note that it wasn't Huckabee's position on taxes or immigration, which have been attacked as liberal by other conservatives, that Matthews objected to. The "Hardball" host lamented that a "sophisticated" media is allowing the '08 contender's position on guns to fly "under the radar." When Scarborough protested that conservatives view gun rights as meaning more just hunting, Matthews dismissively replied, "You really believe the only thing protecting you from the federal government coming into your neighborhood with helicopters and seizing you is your guns?" He then condescendingly claimed that the Founding Fathers designed the Second Amendment only for fighting the British and added, "I hate to tell you that the United States government is our government now."
Consider yourselves warned. Should conservative and Republicans hold fast to strong stands on illegal immigration in the coming election year, and if they ultimately do well at the polls because of it, look for the Boston Globe to lament the tactic as a cynical "wedge issue," rather than a reaction to valid concerns from the electorate.
The Boston Globe editorial board may be sharpening their knives for the coming election season with a November 25 editorial, "A wedge issue for our times." The Globe laments that immigration is proving a "radioactive" issue and in one passage made an odd characterization of how Democratic New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's backpedaling on illegal immigrant drivers licenses "rescued" Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) from twisting in the wind over her contorted answer on the topic of licenses for illegals.
Was that Mike Huckabee on "Morning Joe" today -- or John Edwards? The former Arkansas governor found an odd way to refute charges he's not a true conservative, indulging in some class-warfare rhetoric that would have been the envy of the former North Carolina senator.
Mika Brzezinski hit Huckabee with an excerpt from Bob Novak's column of today. Here are the opening paragraphs from Novak's False Conservative:
Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle.
One clear theme running through the history of Hillary Clinton is her reaction to her husband’s affairs. Her primary reaction is political, not emotional, as she said to George Stephanopoulos: "We have to destroy her story." So it’s funny to read through old Clinton books, where Bill is quoted saying that Hillary’s just an old-fashioned girl who "doesn’t see any sense to extramarital sex."
The book is The Hillary Factor by Rex Nelson (with Philip Martin), and the scene is set in February 1979, as the new First Lady of Arkansas is trying to sell herself with her maiden name as not a hardcore feminist, just an "old-fashioned girl" with "old-fashioned ideas about the work ethic." Nelson and Martin report:
In a television interview later that month, she said the couple’s dual careers "often do not provide enough time for us to lead private lives, to be with one another, to have a family life, to have time to think."
Would you have ever imagined the New York Times, less than a year before the presidential elections, not only admitting that things are getting better in Iraq, but also suggesting Democrats – including those campaigning for president – were wrong about the surge?
On the front page of its popular Sunday edition, no less?
Team Edwards, both eminently coiffed candidate John and his designated political hitter bride Elizabeth, on Wednesday, Novemeber 21st cancelled their scheduled appearance on The View, doing so, according to the UnDynamic Duo, to “honor the members of the Writers Guild of America”, who are currently on strike.
Not to be outpandered, Michelle Obama, wife of the incredibly audacious Barack, later that same day pulled out of her December 5th guest co-hosting duties.
Obviously, sucking up is more important than being sucked up to in Democratic presidential politics.
This is related to nearly every Donkey candidate promising to not participate in a scheduled December 10th CBS debate (moderated by the ratings Juggernaut Katie Couric) should their news writers decide to join their union brethren and sistren (one must be, in this age of PC, all-inclusive) and abandon that foundering network vessel to the waves unscribed.
Wednesday's edition of ABC's World News hyped the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finding a dramatic rise in Iowa for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, rising to a near-tie with Mitt Romney, 28 to 24 percent. After noticing that Huckabee attacked Romney as a pseudo-conservative, Tapper challenged Huckabee from the right on taxes and on illegal aliens. When he asked about tuition breaks for illegals, Huckabee sounded like Hillary on the issue: "If you're government at the federal level is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it."
Tapper said "Huckabee appeals to socially conservative evangelicals because he is one. And he cultivates an affable image." But the remarks Tapper quoted weren't affable. They were like that "heel to the face" imagery. Here's the meatiest part of the transcript:
In the Philadelphia Bulletin, long-time Philly TV consumer reporter Herb Denenberg reviewed our book Whitewash, and easily found how its thesis of paving Hillary's path to the presdiency applied to the here and now. Hillary Clinton is being favored by the liberals at CNN during the current campaign:
I happened to be reading the book when the CNN debate with the Democrat presidential candidates was aired on Nov. 15 and realized that this is another chapter, one of an endless series, proving Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Bozell's thesis. After Hillary's celebrated meltdown over the question of whether or not she favored driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, that question had to be the number one issue in this debate. But what did Wolf Blitzer, the CNN moderator, do with the question?
He asked Hillary if she favored licenses for illegals and then accepted her one-word answer of "no" without a follow-up question. It is inconceivable that, on a nationally televised debate with over 4 million people watching, Mr. Blitzer would not follow up that answer with further questions on her multiple, ever-changing flip-flopping positions on licensing illegals.
As irrefutable evidence mounts that Nobel Laureate Al Gore's climate alarmism is about nothing other than lining his supposedly green pockets with green currency, manmade global warming skeptics around the world wonder when the former vice president's house of cards will collapse.
Without question, if Gore were to lose the support of almost universally adoring Hollywoodans, the scam would implode quicker than a Democrat demanding a recount after losing a close election.
As such, the following comments by actor and environmentalist Robert Redford, reported by the New Statesman last week, should bring hope to folks not buying the snake oil Gore is selling (emphasis added, h/t NB reader Lee):
Yesterday I noted that the Washington Post's John Wagner virtually cheered Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and the Democratic Maryland General Assembly for its recently-concluded, tax-hiking special legislative session. Well today the hosannas migrated from the front page to the editorial one. The closing paragraphs are rather telling (emphasis mine):
Politically, Mr. O'Malley will have more than higher taxes to show for his gamble. The new revenue will not only close the deficit, it will also help to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, extend health-care coverage to 100,000 lower-income Marylanders, build public schools, and add facilities for state colleges and universities. In addition, and critically, the governor secured about $420 million in fresh annual revenue for transportation, the biggest infusion of new money in 15 years...
On Saturday, State Representative Carla Blanchard Dartez (D-La.) lost her re-election bid to Republican challenger Joe Harrison in a heated and controversial run-off. Yet the largest newspaper in Louisiana, The Times-Picayune (TP), chose to bury it as an afterthought in its coverage of the statewide election results. The Times-Picayune online edition, NOLA.com, placed this paragraph at the end of its story.
The only two incumbent lawmakers to lose in either chamber were Democrats. Chris Hazel dispatched Rep. Rick Farrar of Pineville in the 27th District primary. Challenger Joe Harrison topped Rep. Carla Blanchard Dartez of Morgan City to claim the 51st District seat in the runoff.
The TP made no mention of the 'Buckwheat' racial slur or the other controversies which surrounded this incumbent Democrat. Why is that?
Update | 10:48 AM ET -- Mystery Solved: Morning Joe Executive Producer Chris Licht has emailed me to say: "Mika was reading research emailed from a segment producer to her Blackberry: specifically, the Bloomberg News article re: Townsend says election is potential terrorism target."
Have a look at the screencap. It's Mika Brzezinski scrolling what looks to be her Blackberry as she poses a hostile question to Fran Townsend, President Bush's top White House adviser on terrorism and homeland security.
Townsend, who has announced that she's stepping down after four years in the Bush administration, appeared on today's "Morning Joe." After some conversation with Willie Geist, Mika Brzezinski took over, peppering Townsend with a series of challenging questions on everything from the failure to capture Bin Laden to waterboarding.
Mika appeared to have Blackberry in hand throughout. When it came to her last, and nastiest, question, she was busily scrolling it as she read off its screen.