On Sunday’s CBS "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley interviewed former Alabama Republican attorney, Jill Simpson, about a supposed effort to smear the former Democratic governor of Alabama, Don Siegelman: "Now this woman tells us there was a covert campaign to ruin the governor, a campaign that she says involved Karl Rove, at the time the president's top political advisor." In a story that violated more journalistic ethics than last week’s New York Times hit piece on John McCain, Pelley went on to ask Simpson: "Karl Rove asked you to take pictures of Siegelman...In a compromising sexual position with one of his aides." Simpson responded: "Yes. If I could."
Siegelman, a Democrat who was governor of Alabama from 1998-2002, is currently in federal prison after being convicted of bribery in 2006. Simpson claimed that this conviction was part of a grand conspiracy led by Rove. Pelley introduced the story this way:
On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, former CBS News correspondent and current FNC analyst Bernard Goldberg pointed out the New York Times has historically had a double standard of reporting allegations of sex scandals by Republicans while downplaying or delaying reports of sex scandals by Bill Clinton. Before Bill O'Reilly clarified that while the Times did cover Gennifer Flowers, but "years and years and years after the fact," Goldberg complained: "The New York Times showed virtually no interest in Bill Clinton and Gennifer Flowers. It showed absolutely no front page interest in allegations by a reputable businesswoman named Juanita Broaddrick, who said that, when Bill Clinton was attorney general of Arkansas, he raped her. ...
The fallout continues from yesterday's New York Times hit piece on John McCain. The paper itself doesn't seem eager to put up a fight as network news broadcasts, liberal bloggers, journalism professors, and the general public are questioning the Times's journalistic standards.
Yesterday's inflammatory story, which used anonymous sources to forward nine-year-old allegations from his first presidential run suggesting an improper relationship by John McCain with a female telecommunications lobbyist, received prominent front-page placement; today's follow-up on McCain's press conference was relegated to page 20 -- Elisabeth Bumiller's "McCain Disputes That Aides Warned Him About Ties to Lobbyist."
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith teased upcoming coverage of accusations of John McCain having an affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman: "And Republican front-runner John McCain blasted on the front pages of The New York Times...not exactly the coverage you may be looking for if you're running for president." Later, Smith introduced the segment by exclaiming: "This bombshell report that Republican front-runner John McCain may have had a romantic relationship with a lobbyist who was a visitor to his office and traveled with him on a client's corporate jet."
In a following report by correspondent Nancy Cordes, the New York Times article was quoted:
According to The Times, the aides warned him "he was risking his campaign and career" because Iseman's firm had telecom clients with business before his Senate committee. They say quote, "McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Iseman."
MSNBC has cited and discussed the press release issued today by Brent Bozell, President of NB's parent Media Research Center, excoriating the New York Times for its article on John McCain. The discussion came during the network's post-press conference analysis of McCain's appearance this morning.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let me interrupt. This is interesting. Mika just handed me a Blackberry quote here. Chris Matthews, earlier this morning Tim Russert asked the question how would conservatives respond to this? Would they rally behind John McCain, against the New York Times, or would they go ahead and finish off John McCain? I've got this press release. Brent Bozell on the New York Times, quote, politically motivated hit job:
It is beyond appalling that the New York Times continues its steady slide into the journalistic toilet with such a spurious, and so patently motivated, hit job.
There has been significant speculation in the MSM that an upshot of the NYT's McCain piece could be to rally support for McCain from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who heretofore have been, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about the Arizona senator.
Typical was this exchange from today's Good Morning America, which followed an appearance by McCain campaign advisor Charlie Black.
New York Times media reporter Jacques Steinberg interviewed conservative talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh on his strong opposition to GOP presidential front-runner John McCain for Friday's "Warring on McCain, Limbaugh Sees No Reconciliation." The interview was OK, but the response from the Times's liberal readership was vitriolic.
"Rush Limbaugh took his show on the road this week, forsaking his main broadcast studio in Palm Beach, Fla., for one in Midtown Manhattan. But the change of scenery did nothing to dampen the Republican-on-Republican smackdown he has been waging from afar against Senator John McCain, the party's likely presidential nominee, whom Mr. Limbaugh considers too moderate.
As he opened his radio program Wednesday, Mr. Limbaugh lobbed yet another grenade.
Sure, it's garden variety AP labeling/double-standard bias, but it bears busting anyway.
At KnoxNews.com (h/t NB reader coffee260), one can read the tale of Nashville, Tennessee, state representative Rob Briley, who "has pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and property damage prior to leading authorities on a high-speed chase last September." Briley is a Democrat, but his party affiliation was not mentioned in the 6-paragraph story.
Yet another AP dispatch on another state politician, this one from Maryland, had a quite different treatment of that legislator's political affiliation.
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant against President Bush, this time attacking him for threatening to veto an extension of the Protect America Act unless it includes provisions to give immunity from lawsuits to telecom companies who have cooperated with government surveillance in the past.
Calling the President a "liar" who was "slinging crap" and using "a form of terrorism against his own people" to gain support, Olbermann accused President Bush of fascism: "If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend. You're a fascist! Get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it! What else is this but fascism?" (Transcript follows)
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," while covering Roger Clemens’ testimony before Congress, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to sports radio talk show host, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo, who said of the hearing: "I thought the panel for the most part did a pretty good job on the Democratic side. And I'm not really a party politic guy, but the Republicans did a terrible job." Russo went on to bash Republicans and praise Democrats "...they let Clemens off the hook. Waxman was great, Elijah Cummings was great from Maryland."
Without challenging that assessment, Rodriguez asked: "Why do you think, real quick, that they did a terrible job? There's some talk that maybe they were star struck?"
Russo then made this accusation:
I don't think they were star struck. I don't know why all of a sudden, maybe Clemens is friends with the Bush family, he's a Republican, whatever it might be, this came across on party lines. The Republican guys here did an atrocious job because they directed all their questions at Mcnamee and talked about his terrible job with credibility and laid -- let Clemens get off the hook. Terrible job.
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.