NBC's "Saturday Night Live" featured some fake Republican ads that were either intended as a) a dead-serious mockery of the GOP exploiting the terror threat and socially liberal causes or b) something so over the top it was just funny to everyone -- or maybe a little gross. About 18 minutes into the show came Robert Smigel's "TV Funhouse" cartoon feature, with President Bush discussing GOP ads. First, Smigel had his Bush introduce the authentic RNC Osama-"real stakes" commercial. Then, he had Bush say that if anyone was offended, the new ads were more festive and fun.
The first one had a Ted Kennedy photo mocked up as a vampire, saying with a Transylvania accent "I vant to cut and run!" Then bin Laden came into the picture and Kennedy was tongue-kissing him. Then "Count Obama" rose up (like Kennedy, an Obama pic mocked up with pointy ears and fangs) and said like the Count on Sesame Street, "One gay marriage... two gay marriages...three gay marriages..." Then it had real audio of Ken Mehlman saying this message paid for by the RNC, with his little picture on the bottom, just like the real ad shown first. Video (1:15): Real (2.04 MB) or Windows Media (2.33 MB ), plus MP3 audio (356 KB)
When I first tuned to ABC this morning, I thought there might have been some schedule snafu owing to the switch to Standard Time. But no; I eventually realized I was indeed watching Good Morning America and not a late-night DNC infomercial.
You could forgive me for being confused, because the first half-hour amounted to little more than a love-letter to the party of Pelosi.
First up, GMA staged an "Election Pre-Game" panel, complete with that catchy NFL theme music. Nifty game plan, perhaps, but then ABC fielded an unbalanced team. Liberal lion Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts - voice of the center-left DC media establishment - and political reporter Jake Tapper. No George Will or other conservative to dilute Donaldson. To strain the pigskin metaphor, GMA host Kate Snow, whose anti-tax cut antics I noted here back in May, served as coach/referee.
When it comes to using Mafia references for political purposes, Chris Matthews has a one-way sense of outrage. OK for slurring Republicans. Bad, bad, bad when used against Dems.
Matthews is the king of MSM conniption fits over Republican ads. He pounded for days on the RNC ad about Harold Ford, Jr., accusing RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman of "cesspool" tactics and claiming the ad played to white fears of "losing white women to black guys."
Matthews had a similar over-the-top reaction to an ad [see it here] running in NJ that uses a mobbed-up character to mock ethically-challenged Bob Menendez. Here's how Stephen Spruiell at National Review's Media Blog noted Matthews reaction:
"Well maybe because I've spent so much of my life in New Jersey... but you know, I have to tell you Charlie, it's an ethnic ad. Whatever else it is, it's an ethnic ad. It's about Italians in New Jersey, it's about the mob. Tying Menendez into Torricelli. They're closing the loop, they're making their point, and that has been politics in that state for years, between the WASPy people like Christie Todd Whitman and the Keans, father and son, running against the ethnic people, they tied it all together: If you're ethnic, you're a crook, right?"
A month or so ago I would have said that Neal Gabler and I inhabit different planets, but his apparent home has recently been demoted from planetary status. While I'm off searching for another metaphor, let me pass along the latest comment from the decidedly liberal denizen of Fox News Watch that made me reflect on just how distinct a world view we have. In the course of discussing on this evening's show the controversy that erupted this past week over Rush Limbaugh's comments about Michael Fox, Gabler had this to say:
"The media has tread lightly on Rush and his criticism of [Michael J.] Fox. To my mind, Rush is a cancer to America and hatemongers are marginalized, and why the media does not marginalize Rush, I don't know."
The other governor’s race in America with a Mark Foley echo is in Massachusetts, where Democratic hopeful Deval Patrick, a former Clinton Justice Department official, whom the Washington Post profiled on Wednesday in a feature by staff writer Wil Haygood that was so positive, a liberal blogger characterized it as a "sweet send off for him...I hope he can feel the tail wind."
One reason was that Haygood and the Post completely excluded in this long, 77-paragraph piece how Patrick was embarrassed by an October 13 Boston Herald report by Dave Wedge that Patrick’s brother-in-law was an unregistered sex offender: "a convicted rapist who has been notified by officials that he is in violation of laws that require sex offenders to register with the state...Bernard Sigh was convicted in 1993 in San Diego of raping his wife, Rhonda, who is Patrick’s sister. He pleaded guilty, served a short jail sentence and was put on five years probation, officials said. The Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board sent Sigh a letter this week alerting him that he is required to register."
One of the maddening things about the Mark Foley scandal is how the media can take one congressman’s creepy Internet messages about masturbating, declare it an issue in 468 congressional races, demand the head of the Speaker of the House, and then decry other people for ruining democracy with desperate negative ads that besmirch honest public servants. It’s exactly how Michael Grunwald’s Washington Post story on Friday began, with the Republican opponent to Rep. Ron Kind (who represents my dear old home town of Viroqua, Wisconsin) mocking his backing of federal sex studies. Grunwald and the Post predictably summarize, with typical spit and polish, the DNC talking points of the day, that it's the GOP that wins the prize for negativity:
Amusingly, some of the names they use to define a "Republican Moderate" are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. They also mention Mike DeWine of Ohio, but the three they focus on are Snowe, Collins and Chafee... these are the people they call "moderate".
Let's take a look at how the ACU rates the conservative voting record of these three in 2005 (0 being least conservative and 100 the most conservative).
Susan Collins - 32 Olympia Snowe - 32 Lincoln Chafee - 12
These three are FAR from being "moderate". They are more like Democrats -- and far left ones at that -- than Republicans and rarely vote with their national Party on any issue. But, to the NYT "moderate" means voting with Democrats, apparently.
Friday's morning shows offered more of the same election coverage. On ABC, Kate Snow highlighted how everyone Republican is running from Bush (with Rick Santorum touting his work with Hillary, God forbid) and gave Michael J. Fox another huge soundbite. On NBC, David Gregory explored how Democrats would rule. The first rule: hike the minimum wage.
ABC's Megan McCormack took down the Snow report, which is true enough, but has to play to a regular news viewer like the same old news in heavy rotation:
Chris Cuomo: "It's less than two weeks now until the congressional elections and we're seeing a new trend among GOP candidates: putting some distance between themselves and the White House. Here's ABC's Kate Snow."
All that was missing was the theme music from Deliverance. Not content to condemn George Allen for raising the issue of Jim Webb's racy writing, Chris Matthews decided on this evening's Hardball to slur the entire Commonwealth of Virginia south of the DC suburbs.
Interviewing senior Webb campaign advisor Steve Jarding [Chris did indicate that he had unsuccessfully tried to get an Allen representative on the show], Matthews had this to say:
"Not to take sides but they've had this material since the day Jim Webb announced, and they've chosen to use it now with the risk that it implies, because everybody in Northern Virginia, in this area of the country, reads books, they think."
With less then two weeks to go before the midterm elections, two separate programs, on two different networks, speculated that the Republicans are colluding with big oil to lower gas prices. The "Today" show wondered if this indicated "a vast right-wing conspiracy."
Fox’s Geraldo Rivera speculated that America was seeing a case of "gas pump pimping."
Meanwhile, ABC’s "Nightline" weighed in on political commercials and lamented GOP "mudslinging." They also characterized Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Michael J. Fox as a "vicious attack." (They apparently didn’t find any mudslinging or vicious attacks done by the Democrats)
CNN had their own take on Limbaugh’s comments. They wondered: "Could it be a new low?"
Speaking of the cable network, CNN also previewed a new Bush special by noting that "many say" the President has "stretched" and "trampled" the Constitution.
For these people with short memories who think the Jim Webb novel passages with lusty or just strange sexual episodes have no place in political news, clearly they do not remember the Newt Gingrich Bodice-Ripper as it broke to liberal media jokes in December of 1994. Webb’s strange passages drew no attention on the network morning shows Friday, unlike the liberal Gingrich fun in 1994:
-- CNN ended its afternoon show Inside Politics on December 1, 1994 with this exchange between anchors Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff on the enterprising New York Times:
Shaw: "Well, Gingrich is taking a sense of history into a new surprising realm. He's co-authoring a novel about World War II at its aftermath. Gingrich describes it as 'historical science fiction,' but others might categorize it as a sexy potboiler, at least based on an excerpt obtained by the New York Times. Now one passage reads - and let me emphasize I'm quoting now - 'Suddenly the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress. She rolled onto to him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. 'Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things,' she hissed.' What are political watchers to make of this offering from the speaker-in-waiting and a proponent of family values? Well, incoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was asked for his comments today."
CBS’s "The Early Show" followed last night’s Michael J. Fox bonanza on the "Evening News" with more of the same on Friday morning. "The Early Show" aired more than 13 minutes of coverage to stories mentioning Fox, more than 10 minutes of that focused on Fox alone, while just a mere 40 seconds dealt with a response ad starring Patricia Heaton and Jim Caviezel.
Hannah Storm called Fox "courageous" and asserted "you just couldn’t take your eyes off the television last night." Harry Smith thought Fox’s interview was "powerful" and urged all those opposed to embryonic stem cell research to "at least listen to these arguments." Additionally, CBS tried to make Fox out to be nonpartisan, despite the fact that he is running commercials for Democratic candidates. Yet in their awe of Michael J. Fox, there was no exploration of the claims made in his political commercials and whether they are indeed factually accurate. Nor did CBS take the opportunity to differentiate between different types of stem cells. In fact, in a live interview, Katie Couric called Rush Limbaugh, someone who raised questions about Fox’s ads, "heartless."
Newsweek's cover story this week about Rep. Harold Ford. Jr is illustrated in the Table of Contents by a dramatic black and white picture of Ford glancing heavenward in a church under the headline "Racing to the Center." The Ford cover story by Jonathan Darman, framed by an enormous photo of Ford's head taking up two glorious pages, began with 300 people coming out of the darkness to hear "Ford praise the Lord and lecture man" at a historic hotel, as people sang "Amazing Grace" and shouted Hallelujah. "'I love Jesus, I can't help it,' the congressman tells the crowd." On page 33, there's a half-page photo of Ford bowing his head and joining hands with staff in a prayer before a debate. Nowhere, in this 3,944-word story is any mention of this fervent Christian attending that 2005 Playboy-bunny party in Jacksonville on Super Bowl weekend.
Don't think it's because Newsweek was flat-footed and unaware. In the March 27, 2006 Newsweek, Darman related those nasty Republicans were going negative early:
Haven't the MSM been suggesting it's only Republicans who engage in mean-spirited tactics in the closing weeks of a campaign? Yet in her column this morning, the LA Times Rosa Brooks dug deep into the dreck, depicting W as a drunk. She writes:
"When it comes to Iraq, being a citizen in George W. Bush's America is like being a passenger in a car driven by a drunk driver."
Shades of the 2000 campaign, when just days before the election a decades-old Bush DUI surfaced, under circumstances giving reason to believe a Gore aide was behind the leak.
Looking out your window this morning, don't be surprised to find not one but two pigs flying in tidy formation. As we noted here, on yesterday's 'Today' show, Matt Lauer eschewed the Rush-bashing bandwagon that developed in response to El Rushbo's remarks about the Michael J. Fox ad. As Matt put it: "if Michael Fox goes out there politically and puts himself into the fray, he has to expect to be, you know, taken to account."
If that was enough for Hell's equivalent of Al Roker to issue a frost warning, an editorial in this morning's NY Times is enough to send Hades into the deep freeze. For the Gray Lady has . . . endorsed a Republican, Chris Callaghan, for the statewide office of New York Comptroller.
ABC’s Terry Moran featured three Republican campaign ads as examples of "mudslinging" in the run-up to November’s mid-term elections. On Thursday’s edition of "Nightline", Moran slammed Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of "beloved" actor Michael J. Fox and his Democratic pro-stem cell research campaign spots as a "vicious attack." On a GOP ad attacking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. for attending a party hosted by Playboy magazine, Moran stated the ad used a white actress to "smear him." Moran’s point of view on these ads was easily discernable from this introduction:
Moran: "Tonight, on Nightline, mudslinging. Michael J. Fox's dramatic campaign commercials, Rush Limbaugh's vicious attack. With less than two weeks to go before the election, how low can they go? Hardball politics, where the stakes are high."
With a title like "Broken Government: Power Play," one could probably assume that the upcoming CNN special won’t be very fair to President Bush. But just in case there were any doubt, reporter John King appeared on Thursday’s "American Morning" to drive home the point:
Miles O’Brien: "Twelve days to the election. We're looking at the power of the presidency. A new CNN poll out this morning, we asked some people if they think the President does in fact have too much power. And like so many issues in this country, shows a lot of division among the electorate. CNN's John King is here with a preview of what's going on tonight in our 'Broken Government' series. Good morning, John."
John King: "Good morning to you, Miles. It's a fascinating subject. Many say, post-9/11, this President has crossed, stretched, some say trampled the Constitution in his pursuit of the war on terrorism. The president says whatever it takes. Some say he has busted the balance of powers, if you will, the constitutional lines. The President, of course, says no. It's one of the issues we're exploring as we look at the 'Broken Government.' He began on a very different course, a governor with a famous name who conveyed more West Texas than Washington. Compassionate conservative was his label of choice. Kinder, gentler, his promised world view. A crisp September morning suddenly changed from gorgeous to gruesome. A few whispered words in a Florida school room, transformed a presidency and a president."
How nice of CNN to offer the caveat that President Bush does, in fact, deny stretching and trampling the Constitution.
CNN might well prove a one-network full employment plan for myself and my colleagues at the MRC's Business & Media Institute, with its ongoing attacks against the strong economy.
You might even say CNN has gone to war against it.
That's the conclusion my colleagues Amy Menefee and Julia Seymour arrived at with their October 25 article.
CNN is no “CSI,” but its reporters and anchors keep declaring things dead. They’ve called the American dream “impossible” and “a lost cause” and said the middle class is “in crisis” or going “out of business” – all in the month of October.
“We hear every day on CNN that the middle class is getting beaten up and that it’s eroding,” said author Barbara Ehrenreich on the October 21 “In the Money.”
CBS’s ad expert claimed on Thursday’s "Early Show" that the Republicans in Tennessee are playing on "racist," "Reconstruction era" fears in the Senate campaign against Democrat Harold Ford Jr. While the RNC spot in question in its entirety hits Ford’s record and what his election would mean to Tennessee, CBS played only a brief segment, including where a "playboy bunny" tells Ford to "call me." Whereas this was denounced by the media as racist, there was no discussion on CBS of Mr. Ford making his moral values an issue by filming a political commercial inside of a church.
Democrats are "bombing" the Google News site in order to ensure that any news about 50 Republican candidates will go to articles by left-wingers. But fortunately, the liberal activists decided to be fair and balanced, pulling some of the articles for being, according to the article, "too partisan."
If things go as planned for liberal bloggers in the next few weeks, searching Google for “Jon Kyl,” the Republican senator from Arizona now running for re-election, will produce high among the returns a link to an April 13 article from The Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly.
Mr. Kyl “has spent his time in Washington kowtowing to the Bush administration and the radical right,” the article suggests, “very often to the detriment of Arizonans.”
Though there's a harbinger of winter in the air here in upstate New York, it didn't prepare me for the hell-freezing-over moment on this morning's 'Today' show. Matt Lauer went to bat for Rush Limbaugh.
Lauer interviewed conservative commentator Laura Ingraham and USC law prof - and Dukakis presidential campaign manager - Susan Estrich about current campaign tactics. Matt set the tone with this question, which implied that - hand-wringing notwithstanding - there's nothing unusual about the level of nastiness in this campaign season:
"A lot of people are running around all flustered right now about these negative ads, these negative comments in the final stages of the campaign. Have you seen anything lately that you haven't seen in campaigns past?"
Agreeing with Lauer's premise, Laura pointed out that there is a time-honored tradition of negative campaigning in America going right back to the Adams-Jefferson campaign of 1796.
When Matt moved to the Fox/Rush matter, I assumed he was going to jump on the Dem/MSM Rush-bashing bandwagon. Instead, in a display of admirable equanimity Lauer observed:
On last night's Hardball, Chris Matthews hinted at what he had in mind regarding the ad the RNC ran in Tennessee about Dem senatorial candidate Harold Ford, Jr. Claimed Chris:
"It has ethnic overtones, sexual overtones."
Tonight, Matthews took an ugly, explicit leap down into the atavistic mud. Interviewing Sen. Dick Durbin [D-IL] - who was relatively reserved in his comments - Matthews began by asserting that the RNC's goal in running the ad was to "get their point across to perhaps angry white voters, or people who had a problem with a black senator already."
Later, Matthews embraced the absolutely worst stereotype of a racist South, claiming the RNC was:
"playing on white sensitivities about losing white women to black guys. It was so obvious what they were doing there."
CNN’s "American Morning" has deemed Rush Limbaugh’s criticisms of Michael J. Fox "a new low." Co-Anchor Miles O’Brien introduced a segment and alleged that now the midterm campaign is really getting dirty:
Miles O’Brien: "With so much at stake in the upcoming election, it's no surprise the political debate has turned nasty. But the exchange between the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, and Rush Limbaugh seems to stand out. Could it be a new low? CNN's Tom Foreman with more."
The piece played a portion of Fox’s ad for Democrat Claire McCaskill, who the actor is supporting in the Missouri Senate race, but didn’t bother to challenge any of the dubious claims made in it.
In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Wednesday’s 'Good Morning America,' Sean Hannity defended fellow talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has taken a lot of heat in the press for his criticism of Michael J. Fox’s campaign ads in favor of embryonic stem cell research and Democratic Senate candidates. Hannity fought the notion that Fox, who has injected himself through these ads into the political arena, is "immune" from critics, a view Sawyer seemed to express:
Sawyer: "Rush Limbaugh. What, what is going on here? Attacking Michael J. Fox?...Rush Limbaugh, even in his apology, said that Mike Fox was allowing his illness to be exploited, shilling for a Democratic candidate. If you have Parkinson’s disease, and you believe embryonic stem cell research is the, is the answer, a possible answer, a possible cure, don't you have a right to speak up?"
The Washington Post took a good swing at Rush Limbaugh's comments yesterday about the exploitative Michael J. Fox TV ads for Democrats, saying Republicans are stopping "life-saving" cures for debilitating diseases. On the front page, top left, of Wednesday's Style section, David Montgomery began his article "Rush Limbaugh On the Offensive Against Ad With Michael J. Fox" very much like an editorial instead of a news article:
Possibly worse than making fun of someone's disability is saying that it's imaginary. That is not to mock someone's body, but to challenge a person's guts, integrity, sanity.
Time out. What is Michael J. Fox doing in these ads if not challenging Republican integrity? By suggesting the GOP are pro-disease? Montgomery makes no mention in his little, huffing post of an article as to whether Fox's claims are accurate, factually, scientifically. He can't go "back to the future" here and tell us if smashing embryos really works.
To: On-Air Personalities From: NBC News Management Subject: Watch your language!
With less than two weeks left before the election, naturally we're all excited at the prospect, after 12 long years in the wilderness, that we will finally be winning back the majority in one or perhaps even both houses of Congress.
With victory this close at hand, it's important that none of us provide any fodder for Republicans - or those annoying right-wing media critics - to claim that we are, well, doing what we're doing - rooting for a Democratic win.
Plan B is getting under way as the mainstream media starts writing to the election fraud template in preparation for the November post election analysis.
First out of the gate is Reuters.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Long lines and long counts threaten to mar next month's U.S. congressional elections as millions of Americans put new voting machines and rules to the test, election officials and experts say.
The result could be delays in knowing whether Democrats capture one or both houses of the U.S. Congress, or whether President George W. Bush's Republicans keep control.
"In close elections, it may be days and weeks before a winner is known in a particular race," said Paul DeGregorio, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, created to oversee a 2002 election law overhaul.
At least they're honest about it. So avid is the New York Times for a Dem House majority that in an editorial of this morning, it's decided to throw Chris Shays [R-CT] to the wolves, under the bus, or wherever it is that liberal Republican congressmen go when the Times won't endorse them anymore.
Although they came to bury him, the Times does throw in some praise of Shays [rhymes!]:
Referring to him as "a good representative."
Noting that it has "admired his independence and respected his leadership."
Describing him as "a rare voice for moderation within [the] Republican caucus."
Calling him "a beacon of integrity."
Not good enough for the Gray Lady. Endorsing his Democrat opponent, the Times make no bones about sacrificing Shays' electoral bones on the altar of a Pelosi speakership: