In an interview with National Rifle Association president David Keene on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: "Do you have the support in Congress to block any federal ban on assault weapons in the coming year?...How close do you think Congress can get on that?" He then speculated: "People talk about the power of the NRA. They look at it almost, you know, in monumental terms. Do you think in the wake of these shootings that power has been eroded at all, Mr. Keene?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Keene rejected the framing of Lauer's question and explained: "Americans who believe strongly in the Second Amendment, and their right to own privately and use firearms for legitimate purposes, is a huge number of people who really care about these issues....it's not the power of the NRA, Matt. What it is, is the strength of belief among millions of Americans in their right under the Constitution to privately own firearms."
The New York Times has taken the offensive on all fronts in support of Chuck Hagel, the "maverick" former Republican senator and President Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense, recounting his Vietnam War heroics in a way that previous Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Bob Dole could only envy, while accusing his GOP opponents of "bullying" him with accusations of anti-Semitism.
International edition columnist Roger Cohen generously took it upon himself Tuesday to decide who a "true friend" of Israel was, and both Chuck Hagel and Barack Obama made the cut (unlike people who, you know, actually support Israel all the time).
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared on all three network morning shows on Wednesday and was greeted in each interview by the host seizing on his harsh words for congressional Republicans over a delayed vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: "You're not happy, it seems, with the course of the Republican Party right now. You blasted some Republicans in Congress last week after their inaction over Hurricane Sandy. You said they showed 'callous indifference, selfishness, duplicity,' they were, 'practicing toxic politics.' Strong letter to follow. Those aren't the words of a guy who's happy with his party."
ABC's Martha Raddatz on Monday continued touting Democratic talking points, sneering that conservatives who oppose Chuck Hagel's nomination to be Secretary of Defense will have to "look" the Vietnam veteran "in the eye" and tell him he's not "tough enough."
Raddatz appeared during live coverage of the President's official announcement. The reporter parroted, "And I think the thing you have to remember is that Chuck Hagel is a Vietnam veteran, so whoever is opposing him now would have to look him in the eye and say, you're not tough enough to be the Secretary of Defense even though you served in Vietnam." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Timothy Egan, former liberally biased New York Times reporter who now pens left-wing column rants for the Times in print and online, posted his "wish list of better tomorrows" for 2013 on Thursday. They sounded a lot like the same old left-wing ranting Egan has been doing since he stopped reporting for the paper around 2006.
The view from one Washington, with its self-inflicted and phony political crises, offers no hope. Let’s start 2013 by stating the obvious and repeat until fixed: the Republican House of Representatives is beyond broken, stuffed with politicians who lack the ability to divide up juice boxes in a kindergarten. Three-fourths of Americans think they are harming the rest of us. “Dereliction of duty” was Gov. Chris Christie’s apt phrase, referring to the failure to vote on promised aid for hurricane relief.
At the top of Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer gushed over Vice President Biden doing a series of photo-ops while swearing in newly elected senators on Thursday: "Joe Biden welcomes lawmakers and their families to Washington like only he can." In a later report, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell glossed over several awkward moments caused by Biden: "There was certainly a lot of charm being poured on by the Vice President." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A few minutes later, fill-in news reader Willie Geist played a brief montage of some of the especially odd comments by Biden, including the Vice President telling the husband of one senator, "Spread your legs; you're going to be frisked," and declaring after looking a woman up and down, "holy mackerel."
Needing 214 votes (of the 427 lawmakers who voted) to win reelection to the speakership on January 3, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) handily beat his closest opponent, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the office, 220-192. Boehner did see a smattering of dissenting votes in his conference, but no serious challenger within his conference came close to depriving the Speaker of a majority on the first ballot.
Despite these facts, however, today's Washington Post blared on page A4 that "Boehner narrowly wins 2nd term as House speaker." "12 of most conservative Republicans staged rebellion against him," the subheadline for Paul Kane's story insisted melodramatically. The Ohio Republican "was narrowly reelected speaker... giving him a another [sic] chance to lead the chamber -- a task that has been difficult for him over the past two years," staffer Paul Kane began his 14-paragraph story.
95% of the House Republican caucus reelected John Boehner as Speaker of the House on Thursday, but the 12 dissenting Republicans attracted intense coverage in the New York Times, including a front-page story saying the vote foretold "turmoil and division" in the new Congress.
By contrast, there was only scattered coverage when 19 members of the Democratic caucus refused to support Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker in January 2011, after the Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections. (The cases aren't quite parallel, as Pelosi was certain to lose her role as Speaker of the House in the newly elected Republican-majority House of 2011, while Boehner was expected to retain his position as head of the Republican-majority House in 2013.)
Despite John Boehner receiving overwhelming support from the Republican caucus to be reelected as Speaker of the House, NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell hyped dissension in the ranks on Friday's NBC Today: "After a turbulent few weeks of setbacks that had cast doubt on his power and influence, a dozen rebellious conservatives turned against him, but Boehner had enough votes."
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, O'Donnell proclaimed: "John Boehner's path to a second term as Speaker of the House has been rocky. But there was no challenge, only a handful of conservatives voted against him." That morning, Today co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed a "civil war" among Republicans over a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
Vice President Joe Biden can do little wrong in CNN's eyes. Friday's Starting Point whitewashed his telling the husband of an incoming U.S. Senator to "Spread your legs; you're going to be frisked" at Thursday's swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill.
Instead, the morning show touted Biden comforting the fretting young daughter of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). "He was a one-man comedy act yesterday, the Vice President was. Love it," gushed co-host John Berman. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Fast forward to January 3, 2013, when five percent of House Republicans failed to vote for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) to be speaker of the House in the 113th Congress. Covering the story this afternoon, Bresnahan and colleague Jake Sherman sought to simultaneously argue that Boehner faced an uphill struggle to hold on to power and that he never really had a credible challenge to the speakership in the first place (emphasis mine):
In a pair of back-to-back stories leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, House Republicans were painted as villains for briefly delaying a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief. First, Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O'Donnell declared: "Stunned Democrats and Republicans could not believe that their hometown suffering could be ignored."
In the next report, correspondent Anne Thompson decried the move: "Where the reminders of Sandy are still all too vivid, today frustration turned to fury....the House of Representatives' failure to vote is just one more body blow."
In a late Wednesday column at the Politico, the online website's Steven Sloan wrote that Democrats might be done hiking tax rates, specifically "that they’ve exhausted their ability to raise taxes on the richest Americans by jacking up their rates." But it's clear in later segments of his write-up that Democrats still want to go after "loopholes" and deductions, meaning that they still want to see effective marginal rates -- the ones which motivate high income earners' decisionmaking -- to get "jacked up." Such moves would also mean that the tax owed on a given amount of gross income would go up; i.e., they would be tax increases.
In suport of his misdirecting premise, Sloan quoted many Democrats, but somehow forgot to include Democratic President Barack Obama's stated position after the fiscal cliff mess concluded. In a video for supporters, as relayed by Joel Gehrke at the Washington Examiner, Obama didn't budge from using the same language he has used all along to justify tax increases. Gehrke's accurate headline captures the essence (video is at link; bolds are mine throughout this post):
At the top of Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer teased an upcoming interview with New York Congressman Peter King by seizing on House GOP disagreement over when to schedule a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill: "...fresh off the fiscal cliff fight, the Republican Party appears in the throes of a civil war. This morning, we'll talk to an outspoken GOP congressman who urged voters in his district not contribute to Republican campaigns." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the exchange that followed, Lauer eagerly quoted King: "You said that Speaker Boehner had a, quote, 'Dismissive and cavalier attitude toward New York and New Jersey.' And you went further, you said, 'Republicans have no trouble finding New York when it comes to raising money. And I would just say to anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans after this should have their head examined.'"
Everything that everyone loathes about Washington was present in the "fiscal cliff" bill just passed by Congress. It is 153 pages long; most members probably hadn't read all of it before voting on it; it was delivered in the middle of the night; it was loaded with pork -- the mother's milk (to mix a metaphor) of politicians -- and while the country is already swamped with massive debt, it contains massive giveaways to satisfy interest groups and campaign contributors. Did I mention the bill raises taxes on top of the coming Obamacare taxes, but does nothing -- nothing -- to address the debt problem?
As with previous congresses, this one (again) delayed the debt issue for two months and will have to face it again, along with what to do about the debt ceiling. Only expletives that can't be printed in a family newspaper accurately characterize this bunch, so I'll have to settle for pathetic, unprincipled and irresponsible.
After worrying on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News about possible House GOP "shenanigans" preventing a fiscal cliff deal, on Monday's Today, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd breathed a sign of relief: "...this 112th Congress does leave us today, and some people say finally leaves us today....it began with a threat of a government shutdown just two months into this congress. And then, of course, we had the debt ceiling showdown. Then it culminated with this fiscal cliff..." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Picking up on Todd's rant against Congress, co-host Matt Lauer eagerly quoted New York Times columnist David Brooks: "If Congress couldn't make a single tough decision under these circumstances, why should we think it'll make any further down the road? More likely, there will just be more squabbling and brinkmanship, more posturing and punting, which could not only poison future budget talks, but also prospects for immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and many other projects."
Neither Todd nor Lauer laid any blame on President Obama for the contentious atmosphere in Washington.
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted the passage of Senate Democrats' temporary fiscal cliff fix by the House as a "big bipartisan victory", immediately after pointing out that "the votes were about two-to-one Democratic in favor of the bill." Cordes also hyped how the bill is "a milestone, finally settling a decade-long debate over the Bush-era tax cuts," despite the fact the bill raises tax rates on top earners.
The correspondent also likened Congress to a teenaged student: "Well, if this was high school, you'd say they turned in the assignment a little bit late. It was kind of a rush job, but at least they got it done."
On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, hours before the House of Representatives approved a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd wrung his hands over Republican opposition to the lopsided legislation that increased taxes and offered no spending cuts: "I think we're in the last throes of sort of the typical theatrics that have become the norm for Washington over the last couple of years. And there is going to be a few more shenanigans before the night is over." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
That was in response to fill-in anchor Kate Snow observing: "There are some voices out there saying, 'Good for the House Republicans, they're standing on their principles.' But there are also a lot of voices saying, 'How much longer is this going to take?'" Todd lamented: "Well, it may be a new year but old habits are dying hard with this congress." He reiterated: "It could be a real mess. But I do think we're in the last throes of sort of the Washington shenanigans."
Well, at least we know one of the New Year's resolutions on a certain radical professor's list. That resolution, undermining the Constitution whenver and wherever possible to serve the "progressive" agenda, has been on the list of the paper for which this professor wrote for quite a while.
On Sunday, in a New York Times op-ed ("Let’s Give Up on the Constitution") which appeared in today's print edition, Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of constitutional law (seriously) at Georgetown University, and the author of the forthcoming book "On Constitutional Disobedience" (given the conduct of the Obama administration, it's hard to understand why such a book is even neceeary is a mystery), wrote that "our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions." Here's more of what we will likely see from other quarters in the new year:
Two blog posts today should shred the credibility of Meet the Press's David Gregory in making arguments for gun control and against appropriate armed staff or security personnel at schools -- or they would, if journalists had the least bit of interest in exposing lawbreaking and hyprocritical behavior by their professional colleagues.
During the show, as reported at the Patriot Perspective, relaying a point first brought out by a member of the AR15.com forum site, Gregory "decided to wave around a 30-round AR-15 magazine" in direct violation of the District of Columbia "DC High Capacity Ammunition Magazines" statute. Given the Supreme Court's Heller ruling affirming that the right to keep and bear arms (and ammo) is an individual right, that law may not be enforceable, but it would also be interesting to know if Gregory's possession of an AR-15 magazine or his showing it on the air violated any of NBC's corporate policies. Additionally, the Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper pointed to Gregory's hypocrisy in mocking the NRA's Wayne LaPierre over his organization's advocacy of having armed guards in schools (internal link is in original; bolds are mine):
CNBC host Maria Bartiromo went after Maryland Senator Ben Cardin on the air on Thursday (HT PJ Tatler; original here) after it became clear that Cardin and his fellow Democrats won't support any measure to prevent the fiscal cliff from arriving as currently scheduled on Janaury 1 which does not include increases in the highest marginal income-tax rates. At the end of her tirade, she got applause and cheers from those around her.
I'll give her one cheer for clearly exposing Democrats' "my way of the highway" approach. She missed the opportunity to get to three cheers because it seems that she's just now recognizing after all these months that Democrats, including President Obama, won't accept any kind of a solution that doesn't involve raising the top rates -- even though they've been saying that very thing all along. Far more important: Even if you believe that the tax hikes discussed will actually increase government collections by $1.2 trillion over ten years, that amount is a tiny percentage of the trillion-dollar deficits the government will continue to run as long as the economy putters along at its current mediocre to poor pace.
Norah O'Donnell helped Bob Schieffer hype his upcoming segment with actor/director Ben Affleck on Thursday's CBS This Morning. O'Donnell played a clip of the soon-to-be aired interview and remarked, "He sure does sound like a politician. He won't give you a straight answer!"
Schieffer ballyhooed Affleck's supposed credentials to be a possible replacement for Senator John Kerry, who could be named the next Secretary of State [audio available here; video below the jump]:
On Thursday's CBS This Morning, Major Garrett tried to shoehorn Steven Spielberg's screening of his recent film "Lincoln" for the Senate into his report on President Obama's Wednesday press conference on the fiscal cliff and gun control. Garrett hyped how the movie "celebrates presidential power and crafty legislative strategy," and that Obama "may need the wisdom of Lincoln for his latest legislative battle - gun control."
The correspondent even played a clip from the film about the sixteenth President to hint at a parallel between the passage the 13th Amendment, which happened after the carnage of the Civil War, and possible new firearms regulations in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre [audio available here; video below the jump]:
Bill Plante apparently couldn't be bothered to find more than one conservative/Republican for his report on Wednesday's CBS This Morning. Plante aired one soundbite from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but followed it with three straight clips from liberals/gun control supporters - White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, the Brady Campaign's Dan Gross, and Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, who attacked the NRA's leadership as "bullies".
The correspondent hyped supposed "public outrage over the massacre [that] has also emboldened members of Congress to challenge the power of the gun lobby." Plante also spotlighted the NRA's multi-million dollar lobbying campaign in 2012:
After a decent story by political reporter Jeff Zeleny Tuesday, the New York Times expressed in an op-ed a racially charged, far-left view on the appointment of African-American Republican Rep. Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate: as a "token," the GOP's human equivalent of the racist poll tax and literacy test.
Besides offensively decrying in his op-ed Wednesday the appointment of Scott, the first African-American senator from the South since 1881 and the only black senator in the current Senate, Adolph Reed Jr., University of Pennsylvania professor and contributor to the hard-left Nation, also tackled "the thinly veiled racism" of the Tea Party.
Yes, the newscasts were dominated by the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, yet the NBC Nightly News managed to squeeze in 24 seconds to note Scott’s historic appointment.
[UPDATE, 3:10 PM EDT Dec 18: On Tuesday morning, ABC’s Good Morning America spiked the news of Scott’s appointment, yet had time for far more frivolous matters, while CBS This Morning and NBC’s Today squeezed in very short items, though Today’s didn’t air until the third hour of the program.]
One of the most frustrating elements of the just-completed presidential race was the utter failure of Mitt Romney's campaign to make sure the American people learned that their government hasn't passed a budget since April 29, 2009. It seems that because those who follow the news closely already knew that, they figured the rest of the country did, which was -- and still is -- not the case.
Of course, the other reason besides the lack of Republican and conservative assertiveness is the establishment press's utter failure to report it. Another in a long line of such failures appeared in the Politico this afternoon via David Rogers. Rogers covered how fiscal cliff discussions are delaying the White House's annual farce known as the President's budget for the 2014 fiscal year while of course failing to note that U.S. government hasn't passed a real budget for nearly four years:
Finally, Grover Norquist was the featured guest on the PBS NewsHour’s segment on the fiscal cliff. After previous editions of the program featured softball interviews with Paul Krugman and Max Richtman -- two members of the far left who oppose entitlement reform -- as well as moderate conservative Republican Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the NewsHour saw it fit to give time to the anti-tax activist who heads Americans for Tax Reform.
Of course the December 12 interview proved to be an occasion for liberal anchor Judy Woodruff to push back hard against Norquist on taxes, firing every possible liberal talking point at him she could. Norquist was adamant that the problem in Washington is spending, not taxation -- giving the president all the tax hikes he wants would generate about only two weeks worth of revenue, after all. But it didn’t take long for Woodruff to argue that the Clinton era tax cuts were the basis for strong economic growth. Norquist stood his ground and noted the role a conservative Republican Congress played in policies that helped fuel economic growth in the 1990s:
Charlie Rose and Gayle King pressed outgoing Senator Jim DeMint on Thursday's CBS This Morning over congressional Republicans resistance to tax hikes. When DeMint stated that President Obama will "probably eventually get his tax increases one way or another", Rose replied, "So, if he will get them, why not get them now and compromise and avoid going off the fiscal cliff?"
Open Obama booster King added the bad polling numbers for Republicans into the mix as she tried to get the senator to surrender to the President's demand: "You released a statement...saying this is not rocket science...with that in mind, why can't we come to terms? The public is viewing the Republican Party very negatively. Are you concerned about that?" Rose later wondered why DeMint was leaving the Senate to head the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Following a report on Thursday's NBC Today in which political director Chuck Todd touted a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, co-host Matt Lauer tried to spin one finding: "...only 53% say they're optimistic about a second term for Obama and 47% say they are pessimistic. Is this really more pessimism about Washington in general?"
Todd accepted the characterization: "It is. You know, you see it in the poll....this is a much less naive public, maybe let's put it that way, after they've watched all of this in Washington. And a full 70% now think that the next year is going to be acrimonious." Todd then portrayed Republicans as embracing such acrimony: "...this is really dangerous in the talks, actually...I talked to one Republican who said, 'How low can we go? We don't have a lot to lose.' And I pointed out, 'But you would have a lot to gain, because the par's pretty low from the public's point of view.'"