In all my years of Today-watching, I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like the display Matt Lauer put on this morning. In beseeching Al Gore to run for president, Lauer literally portrayed him as the planet's potential savior.
"If you were to run for president, you could take this issue to the next level, even if just during a campaign. And if you were fortunate enough to win the presidency, you would sit in the most powerful office in the free world with a real chance to make . . . " Matt stopped himself at the immensity of the prospect before exclaiming "you could be in a position to save the planet!"
In its zeal to undercut the presidential ambitions of its home-state governor, the Boston Globe engages in some blatant intellectual dishonesty this morning. Last week, the Globe breathlessly broke the story that a lawn care company that provides services to Mitt Romney has employees who are illegal immigrants. As the Globe archly put it: "as Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on . . . illegal Guatemalan immigrants." The Globe headlined its story: "Illegal immigrants toiled for governor." Toiled. Nice touch. Tote that rake, lift that lawnmower.
Here comes the 2008 presidential cycle, and on cue, Associated Press reporters are finding "centrists" in the race whose voting records are NOT a 50-50 mishmash of conservative and liberal. This cycle's "centrist" contenders are Hillary Clinton (actually strongly, staunchly liberal) and Evan Bayh (liberal most of the time.)
AP reporter Beth Fouhy stressed that Hillary Clinton won "even the most conservative areas of her adopted home state of New York," but there are drawbacks: "Despite her centrist six-year Senate voting record, Clinton's reputation remains deeply rooted in her polarizing eight years as first lady. Skeptics say she may still be too liberal for many voters, who recall her husband's scandal-plagued presidency and her own audacious effort to reform the nation's health care system."
ABC's Kate Snow is apparently no fan of Larry David's HBO original series. On this morning's GMA Snow was unable to curb her enthusiasm at the prospect of a presidential run by Hillary Rodham. In to discuss an indication that Hillary might soon be announcing her candidacy, Snow, literally wriggling with excitement, gushed to Robin Roberts:
"It’s the latest sign that maybe, just maybe, we might have a woman trying to run for president of this country.”
Snow claimed that by the end of the week Hillary would be calling on all top New York Dems "not to tell them that she's running, but to get their advice and support, if she goes for it." Right. Shy, retiring Hillary, not telling her Dem minions anything. Just asking advice. Say, why not call it a "listening tour"? Video clip: Real (2MB) or Windows (1.3MB) Plus MP3 (204KB)
The gist: those mean Republicans are trying to tar the rising star of the Democratic party [legally-mandated descriptor] by making malign associations with his moniker. The GOP's latest mischief - letting people know that the middle name of the junior senator from Illinois is "Hussein."
Bunk. Any possible shock value in the Barack Hussein Obama handle has already largely faded. And this being a nation that likes to see itself as open and accepting, I'd say that, should he stay in the race, by election time his name will be an absolute advantage. Predicted opening line at the 2008 DNC Convention - if it comes to that - "I am an American. And my name is Barack Hussein Obama." Cue the wild cheering on the floor as Katie Couric gets all misty up in the booth.
I'm confused. Doesn't the MSM abhor the mixing of religion and politics? Isn't it quick to invoke the specter of theocracy and decry the crumbling of the [non-existent] "constitutional separation of church and state"? Well, yes, in general. But there is an exception to the MSM rule. Turns out it's OK to mix religion and politics, when it's Dems in general - and Barack Obama in particular - who are making the merger.
On this afternoon's Hardball, guest host David Shuster played a clip of Obama, in church, explictly calling for his Christian religious faith to "guide us to a new and better politics."
Asked Shuster of CNBC chief political correspondent John Harwood: "Your reaction - mixing religion and politics in that way?"
Harwood: "It's smart. Democrats need to do more of that."
George Will turned heads yesterday with a brutal column on Senator-Elect Jim Webb, scouring him for being rude to President Bush at a reception, and then -- in a critique sure to outrage Webb, the literary lion in his own mind -- assaults Webb's hyperbolic use of English, as in saying the rich are "infinitely" richer than the poor. Will proclaimed Webb is a "subtraction" from civility. But perhaps Will should have used a disclaimer: before the election, Will aided this "subtraction" by scouring Sen. George Allen (he "makes no secret of finding life as a senator tedious") in a Post column seven days before the election. As with the Weekly Standard and their George Allen-bashing cover this fall, when you help make the “Macaca majority,” then you should look in the mirror before despairing over the man you helped usher in.
Thanks to former President Clinton and victories in the recent midterm elections, Democrats are now launching a full out attack on Fox News, the only television news outlet that holds them accountable. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) appeared on Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor to explain his recent attack on Fox News and once again lashed out on Bill O’Reilly when he issued him challenging questions. O’Reilly asked Congressman Frank what his position is on income redistribution.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): "Bill, will you please stop interrupting if you want a serious discussion?"
Bill O’Reilly: "No. I'm not going to interrupt. When you say something dopey, I'm going point it out. What do you think you are, the czar of the interview?"
It's a competitive bout of conservative-bashing out of the Michael Richards N-word rant at the Laugh Factory. Newsweek had two columns from black staffers, both mentioning George Allen and "Macaca." Time just had one, by the white TV critic James Poniewozik, but in referring to Richards, Mel Gibson, and the canceled O.J. Simpson special, he works in Allen, the RNC Harold-Ford-mocking ad, and Rush Limbaugh's alleged hate for Michael J. Fox:
All this followed an election whose lowlights were the macaca incident, an ad playing off miscegenation fears and a radio host mocking a disabled man. It's as if the U.S. were experiencing collective Tourette's, regurgitating decades of dutifully sublimated hate--Borat, with real people. As disturbing as the bigotry was the role of the people expressing it. Politicians and entertainers, after all, succeed by knowing our hearts and minds. We are, in a real way, implicated in their achievement and their disgrace. So you'd think this explosion of public ugliness might spur some kind of national soul searching. Did we somehow encourage their bigotry, by ignoring softer forms of it in our pop culture? Did they think on some level, conscious or not, that they spoke for us? Were they right?
The winner of the 2008 presidential election will be the candidate who uses the internet the best according to Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
After listing several examples of politicians who were victims of highly effective internet campaigns, Schmidt elaborated on why the web is important:
"This is going to happen over and over again as people use these new media to communicate," Schmidt said at a speech to the Republican Governors Association in Miami. "The ones that take advantage of this most effectively will be the ones that will be the winners of the next election.
Appearing on the Monday edition of Comedy Central’s "Colbert Report," PBS host Jim Lehrer dismissed any hint of a liberal agenda, declaring himself "bias-free." The "NewsHour" anchor also indicated that the real problem is the distorted viewers, not slanted reporting:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, um, do you believe that you have a liberal bias?"
Jim Lehrer: "I know I do not have a liberal bias."
Colbert: "You know you have a liberal bias?"
Lehrer: "No. I do not have a liberal bias. I do not have--"
Colbert: "You don't have a liberal bias."
Lehrer:"I don't have a conservative bias either. I don't have any bias. I am bias-free."
Colbert, in his faux conservative tone, continued to press the PBS anchor, leading to Lehrer’s claim that the audience is at fault for perceiving bias:
Colbert: "Oh come on, come on now."
Lehrer: "No, no, no. Bias is what people who hear or read the news bring to the story not what the journalist brings to the reporting."
The Michael Richards N-word outburst at the Laugh Factory drew not one, but two columns in Newsweek from black staffers. Both praised praising society for coming to the point of outrage over such remarks. Both mildly mocked the obligatory "Kramer" trip to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson (while not mocking Sharpton and Jackson). Both revisited a long history of racism. Ellis Cose recalled a South African woman who was beaten, raped, subjected to electric shocks, and strangled within an inch of her life. Raina Kelley went big-picture: "The politics of black and white really began 400 years ago, when, in 1619, Virginia settlers took ownership of slaves from a Dutch man-of-war." And both worked in George Allen’s Macaca remark (only one worked in the RNC ad against Playboy-party man Harold Ford.)
Barbra Streisand not yet having weighed in with her advice to the Republican party as to how it might regain power, we'll have to settle for the counsel that WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. generously offers in his column of today, Can the GOP Find Its Center?
His advice boils down to a two-part program: forget about conservatism already, and Be Like Bill.
Dionne begins by proclaiming that "this fall's election defeat . . . revealed that the Barry Goldwater-Ronald Reagan political settlement has expired," by which he apparently means that conservatism as a winning political philosophy has gone the way of the parrot in A Fish Called Wanda. E.J. thus goes on to deride Republican leaders such as John Boehner and Mike Pence who in the wake of the GOP's defeat call for a return to traditional conservatives principles, chief among them that of limited government.
Sunday's Washington Post Magazine carried a story on how Democrats can close the "God gap" in national politics, or more precisely, it publicized the man trying to close that gap for liberals. It's titled "The Gospel According to Jim Wallis." The subtitle is meant to be amusing: "For Democrats to win back the White House, they may well have to rely on the power of the Almighty. And it's not Bill Clinton." On the opposite page is an illustration of a Christ-like figure pulling open his vestments to reveal a red-white-and-blue Democratic donkey.
The most outrageous part of David Paul Kuhn's article comes right at the beginning, as Wallis presents himself as the defender of the Bible against all those conservative Christians who want to scissor its integrity to bits:
The Des Moines Register headline focuses on Barack Obama's enlistment of Iowa-savvy aides. But along the way, the article by Tom Beaumont, Obama talks with top advisers in Iowa, offers up some delightful Midwestern understatement.
First, in reviewing the potential Dem field, Beaumont writes of "Kerry, a Massachusetts senator." You can imagine him fuming: "Don't you know who I am? And why didn't you mention that I'm . . . a Vietnam veteran?"
With caution even more delicious, Beaumont notes "New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is believed to be weighing a campaign for the Democratic nomination." Indeed. And in tonight's Nature documentary, a ravenous crocodile
Fox News Watch led this week's show with Brent Bozell's condemnation of the press' coverage of the just-concluded congressional campaign. Host Eric Burns noted that Bozell is "head of an influential conservative media watchdog group called the Media Research Center" - which also happens to be the parent organization of NewsBusters.
FNW played a video clip of Bozell stating:
"In 25 years of looking at the national media I have never in my life seen a more one-sided, distorted, vicious presentation of news and non-news by the national press. The national press ought to be collectively ashamed of itself. They might as well take up membership in the Democratic national party. They were the simple microphones for the party. They need to be ashamed of themselves for what they did."
If a Democratic uttered something even close to this the media would be all over it like white on rice:
“White rednecks” who “didn’t show up to vote for us” partly cost GOPers their cong. majorities, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) told fellow Republicans today. And Putnam, seeking the post of GOP conference chair, chided ex-Chair J.C. Watts (R-OK) for ruining the conference’s ability to serve its members.
Three Republicans in the room independently confirmed to the Hotline the substance and context of Putnam’s remarks.
As Washington prepares for a new balance of power, there has been so much talk of “lame ducks” that you would be forgiven if you thought Vice President Cheney had gone hunting again. But the political phrase of the moment is actually derived not from the hunt for waterfowl, but for riches.
Wednesday's opinion section of The Washington Post carries a piece by Post columnist Eugene Robinson, a former Post reporter and editor of the Style section. Like clockwork, like reporter Paul Farhi yesterday, Robinson merges Michael "Kramer" Richards screaming the N-word at a black heckler with defeated Sen. George Allen's "Macaca" reference, alongside Mel Gibson's drunken anti-Semitic rant:
Look at the two celebrity blow-ups together, and maybe throw in Sen. George Allen's "macaca" moment, too. One thing they teach us is that there are no unguarded moments anymore. Richards's outburst was filmed by someone with a tiny digital camera, Allen's by a young man with a video camera. Footage of their indiscretions and facsimiles of Gibson's drunken-driving police report were disseminated to the world within hours via the Internet. You can't even run anymore, much less hide.
For the second time in less than two weeks, CNN has advised the Republican Party on how to succeed. During the Friday edition of "The Situation Room," reporter Bill Schneider informed the GOP that the way for them to recover from midterm losses is to imitate Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and embrace liberal policies:
What’s the definition of bipartisanship? According to CNN’s Jack Cafferty, it’s completely supporting the Democratic agenda. On the Friday edition of "The Situation Room," the CNN host complained that President Bush, whose "arrogance" he decries, had the temerity to re-nominate John Bolton as UN Ambassador and still supports the terrorist surveillance program:
Jack Cafferty: "After the Republicans got the stuffing knocked out of them in the midterms last week, President Bush wanted to make nice. So he had these little sit-downs with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the new powers in Congress, and talked about how they were all just going to get along. That tired old phrase bipartisanship was heard over and over again, as it always is after somebody get’s dusted up at the ballot box....And as proof that [Bush's] arrogance was not lost in the election, he wants Congress to pass legislation legalizing the NSA spy program, the one that’s already been ruled illegal by a federal judge. That’s not going to happen either. Great idea though, right? You do something illegal, you just get your toadies in Congress to pass a law saying that it’s legal. Same thing they did with the violations of the Geneva Conventions."
Friday’s "Early Show" analyzed the Democrat Party’s leadership election with CBS News Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson recognizing the failure of Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi in her endeavor to replace her rival, Representative Steny Hoyer, with her friend, Congressman John Murtha, in the House Democrat Party leadership. Pelosi was compared to a head football coach who’s team revolted when the star quarterback was chosen. Attkisson also referenced Murtha’s questionable ethics, the only reporter of the network morning shows, CBS, NBC, or ABC, to do so on Friday.
In introducing the piece, co-host Hannah Storm noted that the leadership elections were mixed results for Speaker-to-be, Nancy Pelosi, and Ms. Attkisson began her report citing Pelosi’s failure to elevate her ally to the majority leader post:
"It's as if the new coach picked her star quarterback, but the team wouldn't have it. And the coach, Nancy Pelosi, was shocked."
This past week saw The Washington Post ask a classically liberal question: Is America more racist or sexist?
Following the lead of this major paper, ABC’s Diane Sawyer asked the same question, adding a surreptitious angle. She wondered, "Is the nation, secretly, I guess, more racist or more sexist?"
The "Good Morning America" host wasn’t through, however. On Tuesday, she offered the query again. This time, Sawyer added a new spin, "secret genderism." The recipient of the question, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, readily agreed. America is guilty, she asserted, it just isn’t "very secret."
Speaking of The Washington Post, ever wonder how many times the paper mentioned "macaca?" According to MRC President Brent Bozell, the paper featured the phrase no less then 112 times!
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann absurdly linked domestic terrorism to "right-wing blogs."
While Olbermann slimed conservatives, CNN labeled the current low gas prices "a recovery." Why, just a few weeks ago, the falling costs represented a link between "Big Oil" and the GOP. What a difference an election makes!
National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez updated yesterday's story on Patrick Leahy pushing for a Justice Department probe of Laura Ingraham with MP-3 audio. (She joked, "Good luck with that, man. Oh, maybe this Democrat Congress thing could be a wee bit fun to watch.") Here's the transcript of Senator Leahy's inquiry to Wan J. Kim, the assistant attorney general for civil rights. Leahy's asking about a show he clearly hasn't listened to, since he couldn't accurately pronounce the host's name:
According to press accounts, right-wing radio host Laura Ingray-ham, or In-gramm, or Ingra-ham, had urged her listeners to jam a phone line set up by Democrats to investigate alleged voter irregularities. She said, uh, she told her listeners everybody call that voting line at the same time and basically, mark it inoperative. Is that something, that, um, that your division investigates?
Now that the Democrats have picked their Majority Leader in the House the outcome gives us (and her) the first hint that Speaker Pelosi is not the powerhouse she thought she was. Her man, Murtha, lost in a landslide: 149 to 86... a thumpin' to say the least.
In my last report on how the MSM covered this little inter Dem fight I pointed out that they were ignoring how distant were the two positions on pulling out of Iraq that is held by the erstwhile candidates for Majority Leader.
I noted how they refused to portray Murtha's position as "extreme", even as he supports pulling out of Iraq immediately to Hoyer's, who does not. I noted that the MSM did not waste much breath contrasting Murtha's position with the far less volatile position held by Hoyer.
It seems strangely inconsistent that the MSM ignored the Iraq war issue in their stories since they made the entire recent election all about Iraq and how it is a mess and that our soldiers should come home. Yet, a guy who does not want an immediate pull out defeated Murtha and this fact went uncommented upon.
The Democrats may have selected Steny Hoyer to be Majority Leader, but CNN’s sympathy clearly went to Representative John Murtha. "American Morning" aired two reports on a 1980 bribery investigation that involved the Congressman and, despite a damning video in which Murtha indicates possible future interest in a bribe, both accounts gave him more than the benefit of the doubt. Andrea Koppel began her segment, which included a dismissive onscreen graphic that read "Old Allegations," by playing the grainy video footage of Murtha. She then shifted into defense mode:
Andrea Koppel: "January 7th, 1980, an undercover FBI agent shows off the bribe he's about to offer a couple of congressmen. One of them is Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha. Murtha turns down the offer, but suggests he might be interested in the future."
FBI Agent: "You are telling me that's not what you -- you know -- that's not --
Murtha: "I'm not interested."
Murtha: "At this point. You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't."
Koppel: "Murtha was never charged. And to this day, professes his innocence."
In an editorial entitled "The Republicans Really Won," which is posted on the CBS website, contributor Lloyd Garver claims, among other things, that the midterm election results are a ploy by the Republicans to solidify long term power, and that the reemergence of veterans of the Bush 41 administration, James Baker and Robert Gates, are part of a plan to elect Bush 41 to a second term in 2008. Garver leads his piece:
Democrats stop celebrating, and Republicans, don't despair. I know the Democrats won the recent election on paper, but in the long run the Republicans just might be the big winners of Election 2006.
In fact, I think the Republicans set the whole thing up so the Democrats could fail over the next two years, which will bring about a big Republican presidential win in 2008.
What other explanation is there? I mean, do you think that Karl Rove and the rest of the Republican brain trust suddenly got stupid? I don't think so.
So House Democrats have resoundingly rejected anti-war Congressman John Murtha as their next Majority Leader, not the best news for his patron Nancy Pelosi. (For details, everybody but Larry King can click here.) But as an MRC Media Reality Check pointed out earlier this week, a secret ballot by network reporters might have led to a very different result.
Murtha has been a liberal media darling since he demanded retreat without victory in Iraq almost exactly one year ago, on November 17, 2005. ABC, CBS and NBC that night all led by touting Murtha’s credentials. “John Murtha is not a household name, but on military matters, no Democrat in Congress is more influential,” CBS’s Bob Schieffer gushed.
The next night, CNN’s Bill Schneider awarded Murtha his “Political Play of the Week,” likening his call for withdrawal to Walter Cronkite’s 1968 anti-Vietnam War commentary. The media’s bias became even more obvious when another top Democrat, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, wrote a November 29 Wall Street Journal op-ed saying the troops should stay: "What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory." The same networks that led with Murtha’s defeatist rhetoric two weeks earlier said nothing about Lieberman.
What did Murtha have that Lieberman did not? The rhetoric that liberals liked to hear.
It has been interesting, to say the least, to watch the MSM twist itself into knots trying to report this story of Pelosi backing the extremist Murtha for Party leadership over the objections of the so-called "blue dog" Democrats who were recently elected to Congress.
Pelosi has decided to ardently back the extreme anti-war activist, John Murtha (Dem, PA), for the Democrat's Majority leader position in a move that has 'baffled" many Democrats, especially those incoming Democrats who ran as conservative alternatives to Republicans -- as well as other incumbent moderate Democrats -- who are instead backing Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer.
Hoyer is well known on the floor not to be quite as extreme as Murtha is on a pull out from Iraq (Hoyer voted to give Bush the OK to go into Iraq in 2002, but he IS for gradual withdraw to be sure), but few Americans will have even heard of Steny Hoyer, he not being much of a "national" figure. On the other hand, anyone who had paid politics much attention knows that Murtha is against the war and is a vocal critic of President Bush. Murtha is well known for his many extreme positions and statements.
Prior to the midterms, CNN ran a number of stories on falling gas prices and a possible conspiracy between the Republican Party and "Big Oil" to lower costs before the elections. Each piece hinted at a dark plot as the reason for declining prices. Well, the elections are over; Democrats are in power, and now America is in ‘a recovery.’ Introducing a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien cheerily discussed the upcoming holiday travel season:
Miles O’Brien: "A week away from your road trip over the interstate and through the malls to grandmother's house. A check of what it will cost you to fill up your sleigh now. Triple A reports the national average of unleaded gas now at $2.22 a gallon. Shoot, grandmother could live further away, or farther away, I guess. And with prices falling more people are heading back to the bigger rides.‘American Morning’s Dan Lothian joining us from Washington with more on that. Hello, Dan."
Reporter Dan Lothian’s story focused on how these low prices are allowing Americans to buy SUVs again:
Dan Lothian: "Good morning, Miles. Well, you know, over the last couple of days we've seen gas prices in some markets across the country trickling up just a little bit. But as you mention, overall the trend is going down. For some people, that means a return to old habits. After months of severe pain at the pump, call it the recovery."