On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith discussed the ‘Potomac Primaries’ with Democratic Strategist Dee Dee Myers and Republican CBS Political Analyst Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush Administration Communications Director, who said of John McCain’s conservative critics: "The more that we see kind of the crazies like Ann Coulter out attacking John McCain, the better Republicans feel about their chances in the general election."
This attack upon conservatives critical of McCain, who include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and others, was prompted by Harry Smith asking about Mike Huckabee’s continued support in the race:
SMITH: Nicolle, let's talk about the Republicans, because McCain, he said himself a week ago, now I'm the frontrunner. This lingering Huckabee thing. Huckabee got a lot of votes in Virginia. These conservatives they're -- they're still -- they're not happy. They're not happy about this guy.
NICOLLE WALLACE: And, you know what, Republicans are beginning to say that's okay.
New York Times reporter Steven Lee Myers's "news analysis" on Tuesday's front page, "Trial's Focus To Suit Bush" (on seeking the death penalty for six Guantanamo detainees for the 9-11 attacks) could have more accurately been labeled "one reporter's anti-war opinion."
Note the strangely precise excorations that Myers elicited from unnamed "critics."
Mr. Bush never sounds surer of himself than when the subject is Sept. 11, even when his critics argue that he has squandered the country's moral authority, violated American and international law, and led the United States into the foolhardy distraction of Iraq.
Democratic state legislators in Washington State are taking aim at changing the state ballot initiative process, all because of numerous successes of perennial anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported today.
While P-I reporter Brian Slodysko did an overall good job reporting the controversy, including how critics think the legislature could be overreaching in their "reform" efforts, this portion proved a bit vexing (emphasis mine):
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, has the backing of a coalition of organized labor, business interests and environmental groups, who say special interest groups have co-opted the state's initiative and referendum process from its populist origins.
"Up until the late '80s, almost into the start of the '90s, (the initiative process) was a populist grass-roots effort. At this point in time, it became professionalized. We felt obligated to defend the Legislature," Jim Bricker, a spokesman for the coalition, said.
I wouldn't want to create problems for Contessa Brewer [file photo]. But again today the spirited MSNBC anchor said something that made me wonder whether she might be a closeted conservative in the belly of the liberal beast.
Janet Huckabee, responding to Brewer's question on the possibility that her husband would withdraw from the presidential race, drew a contrast between the Romney and Huckabee campaigns.
Friday’s edition of Today on NBC had several conservative-denigrating moments over the ideological direction of presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. Matt Lauer interviewed columnist Ann Coulter. He threw a spitball about conservatives being babies: "Critics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They haven't been able to choose their nominee and it's the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, ‘if you can't play the game the way I want to play, I'm taking my football and I'm going home.’ How do you respond to that?"
Tim Russert acknowledged in his pundit’s corner that conservatives must be assuaged, but that if McCain gives an inch to his right, "the Straight Talk Express will be derailed." For liberal media types, since 2000, Straight Talk was a way to equate talking liberal with talking "straight," that liberalism has all the straight answers. Here’s a fuller bite of Russert:
Joy Behar’s fact-free analysis continued on the February 8 edition of "The View" as she claimed the Bush administration raised taxes on the American people. Perhaps she was too overwhelmed with rage when Elisabeth Hasselbeck dared to take a shot at Hillary Clinton’s fiscal policy.
Hasselbeck joked about taxes on earned income, "just wait until Hillary is in office, you’re going to give it all back." Behar fought back: "That is so not true. Your president has raised taxes! Please! Ridiculous!"
The spat began when the View co-hosts were discussing a recent survey where the majority of women said they would prefer $1 million over a slimmer waistline. Co-host Whoopi Goldberg reminded the audience that in reality that a million dollars would be a lot less because much of that money is taxed.
GOLDBERG: Okay, let me ask you something because you think it’s a million dollars. 50 percent of that goes to the government-
Conservative bloggers embody the political and patriotic spirit of Ronald Reagan argued Ace, winner of the 2nd Annual CPAC Blogger of the Year Award (read his blog Ace of Spades HQ here), as he accepted the honor earlier this afternoon at the conservative gathering.
Heritage Foundation blogger Robert Bluey introduced Ace, who lamented that while it may take another generation for another Reagan to rise to the presidency, everyday Americans can and should work to hold the political classes to account no matter the political climate.
Ace offered the recent debate over immigration/amnesty as one issue where bloggers were crucial in derailing a legislative compromise worked out behind closed doors on Capitol Hill and being foisted on the American public without the details being fully disclosed to the American people.
I had the honor of attending the Presidential Banquet last evening at the 2008 Conservative Political Action Conference. Speakers included Bob Novak and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, as well as former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson (who good naturedly needled Novak in a speech introducing and praising his career in journalism).
Blackburn spoke eloquently about having the "best district" in America and how faith, family, and a can-do volunteer spirit characterize her constituency. "Not once," Blackburn emphasized, did anyone she spoke to on Wednesday in the aftermath of devastating tornados, "ask where's FEMA?"
Blackburn, NewsBusters fans may recall was the target last September of an inaccurate and unfair ambush at the hands of MSNBC's David Shuster. For an archive of NewsBusters posts on that, check here.
See also Mark Finkelstein's Sept. 26 post complete with MSNBC's David Shuster apology for ambushing Blackburn:
Chris Matthews went off on one of his patented tirades on today's Morning Joe, imagining how conservatives would relish going after a President Hillary Clinton with a vengeance. Might Matthews, understandably, be short on sleep? He also bit Mika Brzezinski's head off for a harmless statement.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well you know a lot of Republican talk show people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, I think authors, successful authors, I must say, like Ann Coulter, they wouldn't be so unhappy to have Hillary Clinton to beat up for four or eight years, especially four years. And Mr. DeLay would probably love to have Hillary to beat up for two years and then win back the house in '10. I mean I could see the strategy -- sometimes in bad weather you let the other team have the ball. You elect to kick rather than receive. Let them have the ball in the Ice Bowl. Let them try to move it past the second or third yard while you come down hard on them. The people like Bill Kristol out there, the neo-conservatives. Imagine Hillary Clinton as president for a couple of months with about a one-point advantage coming into office? They will crash around her, hitting her with everything they've got.
Is ABC "View" co-host Joy Behar so far out of the political mainstream that she has a skewed sense of what entails a "liberal" and a "conservative?" The same woman who called Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "very moderate" on the February 7 show, John McCain has "been very conservative in all his policies." Apparently anyone who does not march lockstep with NARAL is an arch-conservative, as Behar explained that McCain is "so conservative because he’s against choice."
Very conservative in all of his policies? John McCain’s 2006 rating with the American Conservative Union was 65. While he certainly votes for the conservative position more often than not, he has far from a solid conservative record. The Club for Growth assailed McCain’s vote against the 2001 tax cuts and his class warfare reasoning for opposing it.
With Joe Scarborough away, the mice did play during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe . . .
WILLIE GEIST [facetiously]: David, I know how you like to speak for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of that group.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: He's going to the [CPAC] convention.
GEIST: You're the voice of that community, but can you make sense out of this? Are they willing, the conservatives, the Limbaughs, the Hannitys of the world, to concede the election, to not have John McCain be president, to take Hillary Clinton over them, just to take a principled stand?
The fate of a so-called economic stimulus bill is currently bogged down in the Senate as Republicans and Democrats disagree on how much to spend.
Both sides are playing to the crowd trying to take credit for helping prop up the economy and accuse the other side of trying to block economic aide. It's classic political theater in that way but also in another--left-leaning reporters just can't help but frame things in the way that the congressional Democrats would like them to.
The Associated Press was one of the worst offenders, running a story headlined "Republicans join to block stimulus bill" which waited until the end of the third graf to state the Republican viewpoint that the package was not fiscally responsible. To hear that view, however, you have to wade through more than a few bleeding heart sentences:
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported on the importance of the youth vote in the 2008 election, but seemed unable to find any young people who supported Republican candidates: "Young voters are having a huge impact on this election. Exit polls show 14% of registered Democrats who voted on Super Tuesday were under 30. The majority went for Obama."
Rodriguez, who was on assignment in California, made a trip to UCLA and talked solely to young supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: "22-year-old Natalie Gonzalez is a Clinton supporter. Why are you so excited about this?...Curtis Whatley is supporting Obama."
Rodriguez also discussed the importance of the internet in attracting young voters, once again something only Democrats seem to do:
Letting out a journalistic "Ha-ha!" a la Nelson Muntz, the Washington Post ran an article sure to remind disspirited conservative voters in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia of what might have been if former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) had been able to run a 2008 presidential campaign and unite the Republican Party:
RICHMOND -- As Virginia voters prepare to go to the polls Tuesday to help choose the Republican nominee for president, state and national party leaders are left wondering: What if former senator George Allen had never uttered the word "macaca"?
After years of preparing for a 2008 presidential run, including trips to Iowa and New Hampshire and formation of a national network of donors, Allen's use of the word on Aug. 11, 2006, changed the landscape of the GOP nominating contest.
At the top of Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," CBS Correspondent Chip Reid began the day’s Super Tuesday election coverage with a report that described the Democratic race this way: "With more than 20 states on the line, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are locked in a neck-and-neck sprint, campaigning almost around the clock. Focused, like voters, on the economy." Reid then went on to describe the Republican race:
REID: Mitt Romney, now well behind McCain in the national polls and trying to hang on, spent Monday in a frantic race from Tennessee to Georgia to Oklahoma to the big prize, California. Then through the night to West Virginia. All the while continuing his bitter feud with Mike Huckabee. Fighting for the same pool of southern conservatives, Huckabee accused Romney of trying to manipulate the election. Romney hit back hard.
MITT ROMNEY: First, a couple of rules in politics. One, no whining. And number two, you get them to vote for you.
REID: No whining in politics, those are fighting words. And one reason it's so bitter between Romney and Huckabee is that today one or both of them could be knocked out of this race.
You'd think a man who might be on the verge of taking a giant step toward winning the Republican nomination would go out of his way to be gracious. But John McCain couldn't suppress his spiteful streak on this morning's Today.
In the course of his interview by Matt Lauer, the Today co-anchor cited criticism of McCain by former and current Senate colleagues Rick Santorum and Thad Cochran. McCain retaliated with a personal swipe at their reputations, and later declined to describe Mitt Romney as a fine man.
"View" co-host Joy Behar offered her political expertise to explain the conservative opposition to John McCain: Conservatives support "torture" (a liberal propaganda term for CIA interrogation methods of actual terrorists). On the February 4 edition of "The View," Behar, who considers the term "fringe liberal" "name calling," explains why "very extreme right wing conservatives" oppose McCain.
BEHAR: Ann Coulter, she says, Coulter, who makes a living by being provocative, picked a predictably offensive reason to oppose McCain. Quote, from Ann, "he has led the fight against torture at Guantanamo." That’s why she doesn’t like him because he is against torture. I think that’s fascinating.
GOLDBERG: I think if she meets him, he would torture her.
The voters had a temper tantrum last week . . . Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old. -- Peter Jennings, November 14, 1994, on the Republican landslide.
[C]onservatives . . . can choose to stand aside from history while having a temper tantrum. But they should consider that the American people might then choose not to invite them back into a position of responsibility for quite a while to come. -- William Kristol, February 4, 2008, on conservative aversion to McCain.
It's one thing to have been bawled out by the late Peter Jennings. But do conservatives have to have their knuckles rapped by one of their own, Bill Kristol? Apparently yes, as per the Weekly Standard editor's New York Times column of today,Dyspepsia on the Right.
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith analyzed Thursday’s Democratic debate with Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and the left wing editor of "The Nation," Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who called the debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "a historic first,"while referring to Republicans as the "Grim Old Party" and "a restricted white men's club." Vanden Heuvel went to say that, "You also had a sheer -- the difference in policy knowledge and competence between Obama and Clinton and the Republican field to me was staggering."
This analysis of the Democratic debate followed Thursday’s analysis of Wednesday’s Republican debate, which featured Smith and CBS Political Correspondent and former Robert Kennedy speech writer, Jeff Greenfield, with no Republican guests.
Later in the Friday segment, Vanden Heuvel used a prior "Early Show" news brief about a suicide bomb attack in Iraq to claim "Yeah, I mean, you have a surge that isn't working. Look at the piece you just did." Smith made a feeble attempt at balance by replying, "Well that's arguable." Vanden Heuvel went on to shill for Obama "You have McCain of endless war -- of endless war without accountability and you have two candidates, Obama arguably wants to end this war and end the mind set that brought us into this war."
To recap the previous night’s Democratic debate, "Today" featured two liberal commentators to analyze it. It might be fair had "Today" interviewed two conservatives the previous day to analyze the Republican debate. They did not. Instead, they went to former Carter speechwriter and Obama supporter Chris Matthews.
The February 1 edition of the NBC morning show turned to known liberals Paul Begala and Rachel Maddow. Host Matt Lauer did identify Begala as a Democratic strategist and called Maddow’s radio network, Air America, "liberal." However, "Today’s" bias is obvious giving air time to two liberals and none to conservatives.Perhaps, in the elite media world, former Democratic staffer Matthews is "conservative" because of recent left wing blog attacks for his anti-Hillary comments.
On Thursday's Countdown show shortly before 9:00 p.m., just an hour before hosting a special Countdown to discuss CNN's Democratic debate from that night, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment," this time attacking President Bush for threatening to veto a new FISA law if Congress refuses to include liability protection for telecom companies that have assisted in surveillance in the war on terrorism, arguing that Bush would be endangering Americans by delaying the bill's passage. The MSNBC host, who once scolded public figures who use Nazi references, made his own latest invocation of Nazi Germany, as he compared the telecoms to the Krupp family who were convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.
Don't tell Joe Scarborough that John McCain's the stronger Republican candidate because he can attract voters in the middle. The Morning Joe host has depicted McCain as unelectable because of the opposition to him of two key conservative leaders, Rush Limbaugh and James Dobson.
Scarborough's comments during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe were prompted by an article in today's New York Times that included this line [emphasis added]:
Since his victory in the Florida primary, the growing possibility that Mr. McCain may carry the Republican banner in November is causing anguish to the right. Some, including James C. Dobson and Rush Limbaugh, say it is far too late for forgiveness.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: There are a lot of conservatives that I've heard grousing that have said "I would rather a Democrat win then John McCain."
Heaping praise on moderate Republican Rep. Tom Davis (Va.), the Washington Post devoted not one but two articles in the January 31 paper to the congressman. The Post lauded Davis for his centrism, but particularly for angering the Virginia GOP's conservative base. Yet left unmentioned was any analysis suggesting moderation was what felled his wife's 2007 state senate reelection campaign.
Staff writer Bill Turque penned a Metro section front pager ("In Va., Congress, Davis Has Ruled From the Center") that began by noting Davis's Republican Party family pedigree before adding that Davis "crushed" his first political opponent in a 1979 election "by placing himself firmly in the center."
The presidential campaigns of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) were both derailed yesterday in Florida. But in covering the story, the AP was considerably more morose about Edwards's train wreck than Giuliani's (h/t NB reader Joe Loiacono).
Let's look at the AP coverage. First the Edwards write-up by Nedra Pickler (emphasis mine):
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported from "Little Havana" in Miami, Florida at the top of the 7am hour, mentioning the tight Republican race only briefly before moving on to Hillary Clinton’s recent photo ops and fundraising efforts in the state:
This is the biggest state to vote to date with the most delegates up for grabs for the Republican winner, 57. This morning it is a dead heat between Mitt Romney and John McCain, with a fizzling Rudy Giuliani now saying that he'll make a decision tomorrow about whether to stay in the race. It is the Republicans who have been going after voters here most aggressively. But in recent days, a Democrat has been trying to steal the spotlight. Four Republicans and one Democrat in Florida ahead of the primary election. The Republican winner here will get 57 delegates. The Democratic winner will get none. Why is she here in Florida?
After these first few sentences, mention of the Republicans vanishes and the analysis focuses entirely on Clinton:
CNN’s John Roberts, in the course of two interviews of presidential candidates in the month of January, directed substantive questions to both candidates, but was tougher on the Republican candidate. On Tuesday’s "American Morning," Roberts questioned Rudy Giuliani on the decision during his tenure as mayor of New York City to locate the Big Apple’s primary emergency command center in the 7 World Trade Center, which was destroyed on 9/11, an issue that has turned up regularly in the course of Giuliani’s campaign. This contrasted with Roberts’ January 8 interview of Hillary Clinton, in which he didn’t press the former first lady on any controversial decisions from her past.
Roberts quoted from the New York Times as he asked Giuliani about the 7 World Trade Center issue.
CNN correspondent Carol Costello’s report on Thursday’s "The Situation Room" would have you believe that Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio have "lost influence," and the supposed proof is John McCain’s success up to this point in the Republican race for the presidential nomination.
During the report, which aired at the bottom of the 5 pm Eastern hour, Costello proclaimed that Republican primary voters have "betrayed" conservative talk show hosts, and the evidence that this is the case is John McCain’s primary victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina. She used a sound bite from former Republican Congressman Bob Barr to reenforce her point. Barr opined that McCain’s success is "a sign that no one or two talk show hosts really wield the influence that they did two or three [election] cycles ago."
On Sunday’s "Face the Nation," host Bob Schieffer talked to Roger Simon from The Politico about the Republican race and Simon exclaimed that "The old Ronald Reagan coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign policy conservatives, and social conservatives has shattered." Simon also observed that, "McCain is on his way to proving that he is the least unacceptable Republican...And that even though certain factions of the party may have difficulty with McCain-Feingold or his stand on immigration, he is the most electable Republican in November."
On the topic of McCain’s immigration stance, Schieffer pointed out, "You know, something a lot of people forget that McCain's immigration policy actually plays well in Florida." Simon agreed:
I think that's very important for McCain in Florida. Florida has a large number of Cuban-Americans who vote in Republican primaries. And even though Cubans are not affected by comprehensive immigration reform they have a separate law covering them, they are sympathetic to other Latinos facing the problem of earning their way to citizenship and coming to this country. And they don't view what John McCain did in trying to pass comprehensive immigration reform as selling out the Republican Party. They see it as courageous and John McCain is going to get some benefit from that, I believe.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," while co-host Harry Smith and political analyst Jeff Greenfield discussed both Hillary Clinton’s win in the Democratic Nevada caucus and John McCain’s win in the Republican South Carolina primary on Saturday, they failed to mention that Mitt Romney had won the Republican Nevada Caucus in a blowout. This just days after Smith interviewed Romney, when the former Massachusetts Governor discussed his expectation of a win in Nevada.
During the January 16 interview, Smith asked Romney about the future of the campaign:
SMITH: Here's one of the questions of the hour, three biggest contests, three different winners on the Republican side. Some people are suggesting that means the Republican party as a whole isn't sure what they want.
ROMNEY: That's very possible. I'm pleased that I have done well here in Michigan. I'm also happy I got Wyoming and got the gold there and, of course, we've got a couple coming up real shortly now. Nevada, which has the most Republican delegates, and I'm going to fight hard there. Also, South Carolina. I think John McCain is way in the lead there, but we'll give him a run for his money, and then comes Florida. I think one of the big surprises is that someone like Mayor Giuliani, who was leading in all these states, either number one or number two, really hasn't been able to hold on to that lead in any way.