I was just beginning my read of Ellen Goodman's Boston Globe column today, which argues that Nancy Pelosi is being "demonized" and "used to frighten voters everywhere." Goodman gripes that, among other things, Pelosi is being depicted as a Michael Moore clone. By superb serendipity, at that very moment, Rush Limbaugh began a systematic catologuing of Pelosi's votes over the years proving that the possible Speaker-to-be is, well, a Michael Moore clone.
The new (November 13) edition of People magazine is out with a sympathetic profile of the embryo-destruction lobbyist Michael J. Fox, nice slanted reading for the weekend before the election. Reporters Susan Schindehette and Mike Lipton concluded with how Fox "at one point even raises the specter of what his ultraconservative Family Ties alter ego, Alex Keaton, might think about his support for Democrats. 'I think he's probably tell me to put my tie back on no matter how hot it is,' says Fox with a grin. 'But I think he would tell me I'm doing the right thing.'" (Conservatives who remember that show could say of Alex, "Ultra-conservative? A guy with a Richard Nixon lunchbox??")
As you might suspect, People's account largely drained the partisanship out of the Fox crusade. The word "liberal" is never applied to him, and the word "Democrat" is sparse. In photo captions, we learn Fox appeared at an event for "pro-embryonic stem-cell candidate Tammy Duckworth." In another, he's "at an Ohio rally for Rep. Sherrod Brown."
This is too good, folks: “Hardball” anchor Chris Matthews is getting lambasted for doing an abysmal job moderating a recent debate between gubernatorial candidates in Florida (hat tip to TVNewser). The St. Petersburg Times published an editorial on Tuesday that was highly critical of the MSNBC host (emphasis mine throughout):
The last debate between Florida's candidates for governor Monday night was supposed to give voters one final opportunity to size up Charlie Crist and Jim Davis on the key issues facing this state. Instead it was hijacked by a cable television windbag and a third-party candidate who had no business being on the same stage.
In an effort to resolve the recent brouhaha surrounding statements John Kerry made at a campaign stop in Pasadena, California, Monday, the junior senator from Massachusetts released a statement on Wednesday declaring, “I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted.” This is not the first time in Kerry’s career that he has used this excuse. Will the media report it?
As reported by the Boston Globe on June 19, 2003, during Kerry’s first run for the Senate in 1984, he revised answers to a questionnaire that he had filled out for a nuclear disarmament group called Freeze Voter ’84. Kerry had been outscored in this questionnaire by his opponent, Rep. James M. Shannon, seriously threatening his primary run. As a result, Kerry’s campaign manager at the time sent him a memo asking him to “explain how [his] position was misinterpreted.” As the Globe reported, this alteration and explanation likely saved his campaign (emphasis mine throughout):
On the heels of reporter Suzanne Malveaux saying "we hope" John Kerry’s gaffe goes away, another CNN employee is letting the personal political opinions fly. New CNN afternoon anchorman Don Lemon interviewed Rev. Jesse Jackson Wednesday on the occasion of his 65th birthday, and after noting Jackson’s adultery and asking pointed questions about whether he’s still relevant, Lemon lauded him as a major historical figure: "But for the most part he is an appreciated person in society, in America, and someone who most African-Americans, at least speaking for myself, think that he has made huge contributions, especially when it comes to civil rights." A few hours later, while informally gathering interviewing Jackson’s daughter Santita and Sen. Barack Obama’s wife Michelle for a chat, Lemon cooed: "Let me get you guys right here. Daughter of the great one who's turning 65. Wife of the great one now."
Apparently, the Times' headline wants readers to believe that these "fireworks" just happened on their own. Even the sub-headlines make no mention of Kerry's actual words from Monday. In fact, the Times baselessly drags the GOP into the mix. "New flap in Virginia race; Bush and Kerry battle like it's 2004." "Missouri could be the key." (bold added)
CNN has already made it crystal clear that the cable network is taking sides in the midterm election. Political reporter Bill Schneider reinforced that view with a report on Wednesday’s "American Morning" that sounded like something straight out of Democratic talking points. During the segment, he offered occasional asides that "spoke" for the voters. Here’s one example:
Bill Schneider: "When Americans concluded the Vietnam war was unwinnable, they turned against it. When they began to see Iraq as a civil war between rival Islamic sects, their frustration mounted. Why should that be our war? Six months ago 44 percent of Americans felt the United States would never accomplish its mission in Iraq. Now, a majority feel that way. The administration's response? Turn the question on the Democrats. What's their alternative?"
ABC World News anchor Charles Gibson visited the ladies of The View Wednesday morning to discuss a range of topics, from next week’s midterm election and John Kerry’s controversial remark to liberal media bias. Gibson argued that the controversy surrounding Senator Kerry’s recent statement that those who fail to make use of their education will end up "stuck in Iraq," was in reference to President Bush and that Republicans "grabbed" onto the statement to energize the GOP base. When asked by Elisabeth Hasselbeck about a perceived liberal bias in the media, fellow co-host Rosie O’Donnell laughed off the notion, while Gibson stated that balance is something he strives for:
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "What do you think about the, the fact that a lot of people are talking about a media bias? You know, that they can see seventy-some odd percent of the news stories that come out have a liberal slant versus maybe twelve that, that have a more conservative slant? How do you respond to that?"
Rosie O’Donnell: "I would say that’s a Fox poll and I don’t think it’s accurate..."
Charles Gibson: "...There is no such thing as objectivity, there is just lesser degrees of subjectivity...And you have to, all the time, say to yourself, are we being fair? Are we being down the middle, as we can? And I simply can tell you that is something which, which I try to implant on everybody at World News."
The real fireworks on today’s chat fest, however, occurred prior to the segment with Gibson, between Hasselbeck, the View's token conservative, and liberal Joy Behar:
Wednesday’s "Early Show" on CBS highlighted Senator John Kerry’s disparaging remarks about the American military in three separate segments, but instead of expressing outrage at Kerry’s comments, CBS seemed more concerned that the Republicans may use them for political gain in the midterm elections. While CBS omitted mentions that some Democrats have refused to campaign with Kerry and others have asked that he apologize, the network pondered if the outrage expressed by Republicans was an effort to "fire up the base" or simply a "desperate" attempt to change the subject.
Co-host Hannah Storm inquired of White House Press Secretary Tony Snow if President Bush’s demand that Kerry apologize to the troops was genuine or:
Since Kerry's "the troops are stupid" remarks were reported on Newsbusters yesterday, the story has truly grown some legs. This has caused the MSM to bend themselves into pretzels to explain away Kerry's typically anti-military remarks and leading the pack, as always, is the "Paper of broken record", the New York Times.
In a piece titled ”Bush Attacks Kerry for Remarks on Iraq Troops”, the Times spends nearly the entire story making this out to be a Bush/Republican issue and barely even takes the time to mention what it is that Kerry said to initiate the incident in the first place, casting the entire story into the rote Republicans-are-at-fault mode.
The story, by Adam Nagourney and several other contributors (amusing that it took a whole committee to make this spin up), nearly ignores Kerry’s actual remarks not even bothering to mention the phrase that caused this whole dust up until the 15th paragraph.
The 14 paragraphs before that has some anti-Bush doozies, too.
There are occasions in the news coverage of campaigns where fevered imagination kicks in and calm, comparative reason takes a holiday. Here we go again, and this time it’s Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic contender for the Senate in Tennessee who is getting the red carpet media treatment. Ford is an attractive black “rising Democratic star,” whose only obstacle is Tennessee’s inability to get beyond its sordid racist past.
The East Coast media recently parachuted into Tennessee to explore if the state was still so backward as to elect yet another Republican. On its front page, The Washington Post began a story with John Layne, aging white Republican, who came to a Ford rally because he has emphysema and worries about health care. "Oh, sure, there's some prejudice," Layne said. "I wouldn't want my daughter marrying one." But apparently, he’ll vote for one if the government benefit checks are good.
While some tabloids capture the drama of John Kerry's uneducated-people-stuck-in-Iraq joke ("KERRY KALAMITY," says the New York Daily News), the nation's biggest newspapers have headlines draining the drama out of the story, and certainly leaving the contents of the "joke" out of the headline:
Here at NewsBusters, the last thing we'd want to do is sow discord among the liberal house columnists of the New York Times. But present purposes oblige me to let Bob Herbert know that his colleague Maureen Dowd doesn't read his column.
That's the only way to explain Dowd's claim in her column this morning that the people "tut-tutting" about Barack Obama's presidential ambitions are Republicans. According to Dowd, those mean GOP types are putting Obama down because of his lack of foreign policy experience.
You, mean, Maureen, as in this statement?:
"In an appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, [Obama] made it clear that he was considering . . . a run. With all due respect to Senator Obama, this is disturbing. . . [he] has a very slender résumé, very little experience in national politics, hardly any in foreign policy."
-- One liberal message in the week before elections has been questioning the reliability of election devices, softening up the public for widespread litigation if Democrats are losing in any close races. On Thursday night, HBO will air a documentary entitled "Hacking Democracy." It's being widely advertised on liberal blogs with a poor-President-Gore spin: "In the 2000 Presidential election, a vote-counting computer recorded negative votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, FL. If our votes aren't safe, then our democracy isn't safe, either."
-- MediaBistro's GalleyCat blog on the book biz suggests Sen. Barack Obama isn't such an idealistic Goody Two Shoes, at least when it comes to striking Hillary-like book deals with the big advance up front to avoid Senate ethics rules:
This evening's edition of ABC's World News highlighted the role NewsBusters played in getting out the story of John Kerry's controversial comments on education and "getting stuck in Iraq."
NewsBuster Warner Todd Huston was among the first in the blogosphere to break the story. As ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper described how "the Republican PR machine mov[ed] into high gear . . . and conservative blogs and talk radio had a field day," two images of NewsBusters appeared on-screen, including one showing Huston's story.
The MSM troops have begun to rally around their man.
Interviewing Ted Kennedy on MSNBC, Chris Matthews referred to the controversy over Kerry's comments as a 'brouhaha' and a 'rhubarb'. Kennedy was of course only too happy to agree, calling the controversy a "diversion" and even casting Kerry as the victim, claiming he is the "target of Republicans" reacting to his criticism of the war.
A bit later in the hour, Matthews flatly claimed that Kerry only meant to say that Bush hadn't studied enough before he became president and thus got us into a mess in Iraq, and later still:
"American Morning" reporter Ali Velshi insinuated on Tuesday’s show that corporations favor the GOP partly because "Republicans have kept hourly wages" low:
Ali Velshi: "All right, no big secret that Big Business favors Republicans, or has traditionally favored Republicans. But with polls showing that their friends in high places might be in some trouble leading into this election, Big Business has decided to cozy up with the Democrats. Corporate America likes Republicans. For the most part, Republicans have kept hourly wages and taxes low, and they keep their hands out of business as much as possible. Republicans like corporate America, and its hefty donations."
So, apparently, in addition to attempting to "criminalize science," Republicans also are the party of low wages? Perhaps that should be on a bumper sticker somewhere. Also, do Democrats not like their "hefty donations" from trial lawyers?
Why was ABC’s George Stephanopoulos smiling during his segment on Tuesday's Good Morning America? About ten minutes into the 7am half hour, following a report on Karl Rove’s optimistic outlook for the Republicans in the upcoming midterm election, and an interview with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rahm Emanuel, Stephanopoulos grinned during this exchange with Diane Sawyer:
Diane Sawyer: "We just heard Rahm Emanuel say that the American public is going to turn over the tabletop for the Democrats. We also heard that Karl Rove is smiling. I think it's time to bring in ABC's chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos for a reality check this morning. Which way is it trending--"
George Stephanopoulos: "I'm smiling too, Diane."
It seems safe to assume Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton White House aide, was not smiling in agreement with Rove’s positive assessment of the GOP’s chances for maintaining their majorities in Congress. Perhaps Stephanopoulos' cheery disposition came from the good news he had to report for his Democratic friends and former colleagues:
When John Kerry, child of the 60s, slurred the military with his comment, reported here by NewsBuster Warner Todd Huston, that people who who don't study wind up 'stuck in Iraq,' he was channeling the anti-war Bob Dylan and his 1965 song Subterranean Homesick Blues, which includes this line
"Get jailed, jump bail "Join the army, if you fail."
It's the same song that contains the famous line "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," from which the domestic terrorist group The Weathermen took its name.
On Monday’s CBS "Evening News," correspondent Sandra Hughes highlighted "trend-setting California" for "tackling ground-breaking issues the federal government won’t touch." She listed liberal policies enacted by California, such as funding embryonic stem cell research, raising the minimum wage, providing discounts for prescription drugs, and for enacting "the nation’s most restrictive law on greenhouse gas emissions." Hughes further noted that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s "saving grace" has been his decision to work with Democrats instead of against them.
"Evening News" anchor Katie Couric introduced the segment calling the Congress do-nothing, and portrayed California as a trail blazing state:
The Pasadena Star News yesterday reported on a rally for failing California Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Phil Angelides, at which John Kerry warned students in the audience that if they didn't get an education they would have no other alternative than to be forced into the US Armed Forces.
"Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - 'If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq,' he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps."
Rahm Emanuel missed his calling in life. Rather than heading the Dem congressional campaign committee, he should have become a professional in the sport of freediving - holding your breath and diving without any breathing apparatus. Judging by his performance on today's Good Morning America, there's no doubt Rahm would have been a world champion.
In the closely-controlled world of the first half-hour [really 22 minutes] of the morning news shows, hosts keep a tight rein on their guests. Even notorious gabbers like Joe Biden are lucky to get in 15 seconds in before being cut short. Katie Couric, for all her liberal leanings, was a master of the technique.
Viewers of the Maryland Senate debate between Michael Steele and Ben Cardin on Sunday's "Meet the Press" might not have been surprised that the soundbite that "Today" plucked out the next day was the one showing the Republican being pressed about being a Bush-lover. But wait: did Tim Russert balance out that line of questioning with asking Cardin about his fervent support for Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy or even Barbara Mikulski? Why, no. Two weeks ago in a Minnesota Senate debate, Russert caused Republican Mark Kennedy to distance himself from Bush, then pressed Democrat Amy Klobuchar to distance herself from Hillary Clinton. That balance didn't occur yesterday. Here's the snippet of Russert that Meredith Vieira offered Monday:
Lynne Cheney was right. The Vice President’s wife recently attacked a CNN pre-election special as straight out of Democratic talking points. The program in question, "Broken Government: Power Play," aired on October 26 and discussed presidential power. Reporter John King introduced his special that night on location at Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Close your eyes and it sounds like an ad straight out of the DNC:
John King: "Justice, on Mr. Bush's terms, would mean challenge after challenge, test after test of the balance of powers laid out in the Constitution, adopted here in Philadelphia's Independence Hall 219 years ago, written by men, who, for all their brilliance, could not have imagined jet aircraft, let alone jet aircraft used as weapons. Nor could men determined to find the lasting antidote to tyranny have imagined the Internet, spy satellites, other technological advances now so central in the war on terror. But they did warn, in this hall, time and time again of too much presidential power, creating a careful system of checks by the Congress and the courts, lines the Bush administration, in the name of protecting Americans from another attack, has repeatedly stretched, rewritten, and sometimes just ignored."
Monday’s 'Good Morning America' highlighted anti-GOP sentiments from the American heartland during a report in the 7am half hour. Reporting from a diner in Columbus, Ohio, ABC’s Jake Tapper had assembled a group of five "real-life actual voters" to discuss the upcoming midterm elections. Amongst the group of voters in Tapper’s panel: a Republican voter voting Democratic this year; a Democratic Navy veteran who had been against the war; a conservative Christian eager to express "I'm not pro-war"; a new U.S. citizen who believes that illegal immigrants are being treated unfairly; and a cynic who believes that the whole political system is corrupt. Not one of the voters expressed support for the President or Republicans. Furthermore, none of the panel members, except for the cynic, expressed any reservations about a potential Democratic takeover of Congress.
Some highlights from the panel discussion:
Tapper: "You're a Republican voter, but the war in Iraq, among other issues, has you thinking that you might vote Democratic this year. Why?"
Larry [no last name given; Republican voter]: "...I think we're in the wrong place, and I just think it's time for a change, someone who can help us and get out of the quagmire we have."
Tapper: "Now, Kenny, you disapproved of the war from the beginning and you're, you're a Navy veteran...But, you have an issue with the fact that you think that those who have questioned the war, their patriotism has been challenged, right...You're an independent voter. But what struck me was that you said that you don't think, even though you think that there's a lot of corruption amongst the Republicans controlling Congress, you don't think that it's necessarily going to be any different if the Democrats take control. Why is that?"
"I'll see your disgruntled Republican and raise you an anti-war veteran, a pro-illegal-immigrant naturalized American and a Christian conservative who knows others planning to stay home."
That's how you might describe the bidding in the ABC/NBC game of Texas Talk 'Em Down. You might recall that last week I reported here on how NBC's David Gregory unearthed an Ohio bookstore owner, described as a "life-long Republican," who was thinking of voting Democrat.
That all you got, Today? Bookstore-owner high? Good Morning America beat that handily this morning with a full house!
Jake Tapper conducted the folks-in-the-Middle-American-diner segment, an obligatory bit of MSM pre-election shtick. ABC's chief DC political correspondent found himself out at Tommy's Diner in Columbus, Ohio, the same town in which Gregory disinterred his disillusioned Republican. Place must be a hotbed of disgruntled GOPers!
In his syndicated column, political demographer Michael Barone looks at some of the pratfalls of polling. He also makes some important points about how most media polls are overcounting Democrats:
In 2004, the electorate that went to the polls or voted absentee was,
according to the adjusted NEP exit poll, 37 percent Democratic and 37
percent Republican. In party identification, it was the most Republican
electorate since George Gallup conducted his first random sample poll
in October 1935.
But most recent national polls show Democrats with an advantage in
party identification in the vicinity of 5 percent to 12 percent. Party
identification usually changes slowly. Historically, voters have
switched from candidates of one party to candidates of the other more
readily than they have changed their party identification.