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:
Referring to an RNC ad as the "Mehlman cesspool," Chris Matthews was being non-partisan. Really - he told us so!
On this afternoon's Hardball, Matthews interviewed Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Dem candidate for senator from Tennessee. The first topic up was an ad the RNC is currently running using actors to tweak Ford on his positions on a variety of issues, from taxes to gun control to North Korea. The ad also alludes to the fact that Ford attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville in 2005.
At the ad's end, an alluring woman saying she met Harold at a Playboy party whispers "Harold, call me!"
Democrats have been quick to cry that the use of a white woman is an insidious appeal to racism. Matthews wasted no time sounding the Dems' battle cry:
CNN’s latest political special, "Broken Government: The Do Nothing Congress," featured Dan Rostenkowski as a quasi-ethics expert, agitation for divided government, and general trashing of the Republicans in Congress. Rostenkowski, for those too young to remember is the former Democratic Congressman who ended up being expelled from the House after being accused of, among other things, charging thousands of dollars worth of gifts to a congressional account. (CNN couldn’t find time to mention his transgressions until 34 minutes into the program.) But, mail fraud and prison apparently aren’t an impediment to being an expert on all things wrong with the GOP. Host Ed Henry used Rostenkowski as a springboard to call for divided government:
Rostenkowski: "The secret of my success, I think, is that, the 14 years that I was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, 12 of them were under Republicans."
Henry: "It seems logical that divided government, Democrats in charge of one branch, Republicans running the other, might cause gridlock. But, when you think about it, it actually seems to produce better results."
Norman Ornstein (American Enterprise Institute) : "I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly -- and I don't have a partisan dog in the fight -- that divided government now may be a better way to go, simply because the incentive, if you're leading an institution that you -- in which you share the responsibility for governing, is to try and make your institution work, because the onus is going to be on you to do so."
What interesting timing? It’s unlikely that CNN had such an appreciation for divided government in October of 1994.
As many around the country now know, baseball fans in Missouri got more than they bargained for on Sunday night when an advertisement for senate candidate Claire McCaskill ran during the World Series featuring Hollywood actor and Parkinson’s sufferer Michael J. Fox (video here). In the ad, a trembling Fox said, "As you might know I care deeply about stem cell research." He continued, "In Missouri you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures."
Well, the rhetoric is heating up in this important state (hat tip to Drudge). Past and present Missouri professional athletes including Kurt Warner (formerly of the St. Louis Rams), current Cardinals' pitcher Jeff Suppan, Royals' first-baseman Mike Sweeney, as well as actress Patricia Heaton have created an advertisement to run during Wednesday’s World Series game (video here). In this one, the aforementioned speak out against Missouri’s Amendment 2, otherwise known as the Stem Cell Initiative.
As part of its continuing effort to spin the midterm elections in favor of the Democrats, CNN recently aired a special that attacked the Republicans on the issues and portrayed the Democrats as too smart and too principled to fight the nasty GOP. Anchor Jack Cafferty hosted the "Broken Government" program that slammed the Republicans for Iraq, incompetence, lack of Social Security reform and many other issues. The ads for the show, which aired October 19, stated that the CNN host would be "taking on the left, right, and center." Well, maybe just that one in the middle. Prior to handing off the segment to CNN reporter Candy Crowley, Cafferty introduced the theme of the piece:
Cafferty: "Republicans bogged down by scandal, bloody war leading up to these midterm elections. We'll have more on that as we move through the hour. First, the Democrats. History suggests they're perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Republicans are doing everything they can to hand the Democrats the election. The question is, will they take it? Candy Crowley is in Asheville, North Carolina for us tonight. Candy, you could get rich selling tickets to people to watch the Democrats try to get their stuff organized."
Get it? When Cafferty focused on the Republicans, he mentioned all the terrible things they’ve done. But for the Democrats, the issue is why aren’t they winning and what can be done about it? And thus, you have CNN’s version of balance.
With rare exception, TV stories just don't happen - they're planned. So we can be quite sure that sometime in the last 24 hours or so, a producer at 'Today' sent out the word: "find me a Republican voter in a key state who has decided to vote Democrat this year."
NBC folks on the ground in Ohio obliged, dutifully disinterring Mr. John Gaylord to be trotted out on this morning's show. NBC's David Gregory offered this silk-purse-into-sow's-ear intro:
"For embattled Republicans, despite falling gas prices around the country, the economy might prove a tough sell. An important bellwether for this election is right here in Ohio, where a combination of an unpopular war in Iraq, a slow state economy, and scandal have set off alarm bells for Republicans. John Gaylord, a lifelong Republican, runs a bookstore in suburban Columbus. He may switch his vote this year."
CNN reporter Dan Lothian resorted, not for the first time, to a classic example of liberal bias on Monday’s "American Morning." Beginning a piece on Republican Governor Mitt Romney’s potential White House run, he described the politician’s positioning this way:
Miles O’Brien: "Now, on the Republican side of the race for the White House, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney thinking hard about that. ‘American Morning’s’ Dan Lothian looking at that potential run. Dan, good morning."
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, polls seem to favor Senator John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the nomination in 2008. But Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seems to be carving out his base by appealing, political experts say, to the far right. It might feel like he's running for president in 2008, but Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney insists he's just doing his homework."
On the October 22 edition of "60 Minutes" on CBS, the media's pre-election celebration of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi continued. Pelosi was interviewed by Lesley Stahl, and while Stahl attempted to sound tough by noting that Pelosi’s rhetoric is part of the problem in terms of the tone in Washington, Pelosi was not challenged on issues important to voters. Stahl noted that Pelosi represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation, but did not seem to cope with the fact that perhaps Pelosi fits her district as a liberal, failing to mention Pelosi’s 99% Americans for Democratic Action rating over the past five years. Stahl called the Democratic agenda "centrist," while not demanding details of the agenda from Pelosi, and noted that Pelosi acknowledges she is obscure to the American people, insulating her from Republican attacks:
Reading their respective pay-per-view columns this morning, it's a gauge of just how far out Paul Krugman is on the port side of politics that his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert sounds positively moderate by comparison.
In The Obama Bandwagon Herbert expresses salutary - and surprising - caution when it comes to the current outbreak of Obama-mania:
"It’s a measure of how starved the country is for a sensible, appealing, intelligent, trustworthy leader that a man who until just a couple of years ago was an obscure state senator in Illinois is now suddenly, in the view of an awful lot of voters, the person we should install in the White House."
CBS reporter Gloria Borger has offered an interesting theory to explain the recent outbreak of Obama Fever, also known as Barack Mania: Democrats don't think Hillary can win.,
Appearing on this morning's Early Show, Borger said of Hillary:
"She's the automatic front runner. She has more money, more staff, more supporters lined up. She has Bill Clinton out there who is going to be her campaigner-in-chief."
Borger then dropped this bomb:
"And what you see happening right now is a lot of Democrats looking at the field saying 'oh, Hillary is the natural nominee?' And they don't believe she can win. That's why they are looking elsewhere. That's why you see Barack Obama's name come up now. The public will not see him as an inisder, they will see him as different kind of politician, which might appeal."
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. The same kind of folks who professed to find a non-existent right to abortion on demand in the Constitution have "discovered" another imaginary constitutional provision. According to its editorial this morning:
"The First Amendment, with its injunction that Congress shall make no law restricting religion, carries an implied corollary that churches should not meddle in politics."
The context was the Globe's complaint that Mitt Romney is reaching out for support to his fellow BYU alums who - oh, the horror! - also happen to be his Mormon co-religionists. The Globe sternly warns Romney to "make sure that the church stays out of his nascent presidential campaign."
The Washington Post placed a Republican Senate challenger on the front page of Monday's Style section, but David Segal's profile of New Jersey's Tom Kean, Jr. compared the candidate to a murderous Los Angeles street gangster: Kean, "who looks like a Mountie and fights like a Crip, isn't selling honesty and integrity so much as a brand name that represents honesty and integrity." Like other liberal reporters, Segal asserted it was too "complicated" to state that Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is under federal investigation, and began the article by joking that if you took a drink every time Kean mentions federal investigation, "you would be drooling drunk 10 minutes after meeting the guy."
Segal, who is usually the rock-and-pop music critic for the Post -- but like many liberal media types, worked at the liberal magazine The Washington Monthly before hitting the major leagues -- started with an entertainment writer's breezy attack style:
(AP) London, March 2, 1867: Karl Marx, a rising star among centrist economists, announced today the publication of the first volume of his treatise, 'Das Kapital'.
OK, perhaps I exaggerate a tad. But is there any man of the left that the MSM is unwilling to cast as a "centrist" or moderate, particularly when he is seen as a potential Democratic presidential nominee?
The Associated Press offers a perfect case in point this evening. This article reports Barack Obama's acknowledgement on today's Meet The Press that, earlier protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, he is indeed contemplating a run for the presidency. Writes the AP:
"In recent weeks, his political stock has been rising as a potentially viable centrist candidate for president." [emphasis added]
Will someone please explain to me the MSM's standards for airing graphic footage?
At the time of 9-11 itself, the MSM apparently made a collective decision that it wouldn't show any of the graphic evidence of the horror that had been visited on thousands of our fellow citizens. No pictures of victims. No close-ups of the poor souls who chose to jump rather than being consumed by the flames. Even years later, there was somber MSM discussion, as here and here, as to whether movies like 'World Trade Center' or 'Flight 93' had come too soon.
On last night's Fox News Watch, Cal Thomas offered assessments of the way in which the independence of two of his fellow conservative commentators is viewed. While acknowledging that the two top-rated talkers have recently chided the administration, he suggested there is a perception that, by and large, the pair lack political autonomy.
In the context of a discussion of President Bush's efforts to shore up support among conservative radio talk show personalities, Thomas stated:
"Even Rush Limbaugh,whois seen as being in the pocket of the administration, has been critical of Republicans not being more like Republicans."
Be it her politics - or perhaps her personality - one thing is clear: some big-time MSM women columnists don't dig Hillary. Yesterday I described here how the LA Times Rosa Brooks described Hillary - in the context of her support for legislation authorizing torture in ticking-bomb type cases - as having "hit bottom" and "fallen as low as it's possible to go."
Today Maureen Dowd weighs in - with a vengeance. The central thesis of the subscription-required Obama’s Project Runway is that the Illinois senator needs to decide whether he is content to be the glamor guy basking in Dem adulation, or wants to get serious and run for president. [On a related note, earlier today I posed the question here as to whether Obama is ready for prime time in light of his suggestion on last night's Olbermann that we should encourage Iran and Syria to "take ownership" for the stability of Iraq.]
I DVD'ed Olbermann overnight to check just how fawning a performance he would put in with his guest Barack Obama - whom FCC regulations require me to describe as "the rising star of the Democratic party." When it came to Olbermann's sycophancy, I wasn't disappointed. After accusing Republicans of "terrorizing" Americans, the MSNBC host continued:
"proposing an alternative course for American politics, one that replaces fear with - of all things - hope, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and his new book, The Audacity of Hope."