In a post to his Change of Subject blog, Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn practically pressed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to go further than just stopping short of calling former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) liars:
Why stop short? The Clintons are lying about Obama's remarks on Reagan
(Barack) Obama stopped just short of calling (Hillary) Clinton and her husband liars... from the Swamp's live blog of last night's Democratic debate.
Hmm. I see no reason to stop short. Bill and Hillary Clinton have lied brazenly about Obama's recent statement about Ronald Reagan.
Zorn then turned to comments from both Clintons and an extended transcript of Obama's remarks to give readers a full and fair context for those remarks. Zorn got to the heart of the matter by concluding that the Clintons are hoping to tap residual left-wing hatred of Reagan even though they should and likely do know that the Gipper's political prowess offers lessons for Democrats, even if they lay asunder his policy goals (emphasis mine):
Liberal Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is in trouble with the voters who elected nearly 15 months ago. In a state that is deep blue in presidential elections and has a 2:1 Democratic registration advantage, the former local Irish rocker is getting a chorus of boos from voters with poll numbers in the mid to high 30s. One major factor: the tax-hiking special legislative session he called in fall 2007.
Not to worry, Governor, the Washington Post has got your back. Here's the headline for the top Metro section story in my January 23 Maryland Home Edition of the Post:
It becomes apparent, however, that rebuilding O'Malley's positive press is high on the Post's agenda. Reporter John Wagner wrote of O'Malley's plan to take "modest steps" towards fulfilling what O'Malley insists is "protecting our priorities." Wagner takes care to focus on how a slowing economy could prove an obstacle to O'Malley's policy goals, but fails to address concerns that O'Malley's tax hikes could be part of compounding the problem by disincentivizing business from expanding or moving to the state:
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.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to two liberal politicians, the black Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, and black mayor of Washington D.C., Adrian Fenty, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and asked Fenty:
You know, if we look at this statistically, it's not a particularly bright picture. I want to just put up a couple of statistics very quickly here. The frequency blacks feel discrimination in America. So high. Applying for jobs, renting or buying a house, dining out or shopping. This is a pretty bleak picture. Mayor Fenty, is this -- is this the America we live in?
This is not the first time Smith has seen America as a racist country, as he did in the wake of the Jena 6 controversy. One wonders where prominent conservative black leaders were for this segment, like former Maryland Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steele. Also, not even Smith’s liberal guests were willing to go as far as Smith. Fenty replied to Smith in a way beyond any particular race:
Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw dismissed Rush Limbaugh as wrong-headed on Sunday’s Meet the Press. Not only did Brokaw pound the narrative that Reaganism is dead or dying within the Republican party, with a "nomadic herd" of voters "rejecting dogma," but he said Limbaugh trying to debate which candidate is truly conservative "is not going to help the Republican party." As if Tom Brokaw was really interested in that goal. He said the country is "hungry for solutions," as if "solutions" and "conservatism" were antonyms.
Brokaw tried to claim the "nomadic" search for the non-dogmatic is "going on in the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party." Where on Earth would he get evidence for that? As Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all lurch left to secure the MoveOn/Daily Kos vote, they’re rejecting "dogma"? Here’s the exchange from a pundit’s-roundtable segment of the NBC Sunday chatfest:
One of the American mainstream media's favorite John McCain memes is that South Carolina voters rejected the Arizona Republican in 2000 because of a baseless smear campaign about McCain's personal life. That bias is so infectious it's now a global pandemic, just witness this item from the January 18 edition of the London-based Financial Times:
McCain hopes to avoid repeat of 2000
For John McCain, victory in tomorrow's Republican primary in South Carolina would exorcise the ghosts of the bitterest moment in his political career.
It was in South Carolina in 2000 that his first presidential campaign crumbled after a vicious smear campaign by supporters of his opponent, George W. Bush.
A barrage of misinformation was spread through phone calls and leaflets, including claims the Arizona senator had fathered an illegitimate black child and that his wife was a drug addict.
The smears reinforced doubts about Mr McCain among social conservatives and helped deliver Mr Bush a victory that set him on course for the Republican nomination.
The problem, of course is that the smear tactics were not only never proven to be linked to the Bush campaign, they are taken on face value as THE driving factor rather than conservative distaste for the more liberal stances of John McCain when set in contrast to then-Gov. Bush.
For example, McCain ran, to be charitable, gun-shy on income tax cuts compared to then-Gov. Bush's tax cut plans. What's more, McCain actually pushed some tax hikes and demagogic rhetoric about a major industry in South Carolina centered on the state's most profitable cash crop, tobacco.
Take this Nexis transcript excerpt from Linda Douglass's report on the Feb. 3, 2000 edition of ABC's "World News Tonight" (emphasis mine):
While Wednesday morning shows on Fox, CNN, and even NBC covered the outcome of the Democratic primary in Michigan, in which Hillary Clinton got 55% of the vote with 40% going to ‘uncommitted’ and lost the black vote 32% to 68%, ABC’s "Good Morning America" and CBS’s "Early Show" made no mention of the Democratic primary.
On the "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith and "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer made mention of the Democrats once, early in the 7am hour, and then it was only about Tuesday’s Nevada debate:
SMITH: Let's talk about the Democrats for a second because there was this truce called. I watched the debates on cable last night. And it was so peaceful and so calm and, you know, if you were looking to get a little rest, that might have helped you a little bit.
Another liberal Democratic governor has backed off an illegal immigrant-friendly challenge to the new federal Real ID law. Yet in their coverage of Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D-Md.) reversal, the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post failed to note how drastic the Democratic governor's reversal was, nor to consider if low polls numbers and public disapproval were driving factors for the change of plans.
Bowing to federal pressure to crack down on undocumented immigrants, the O'Malley administration announced yesterday that in two years it would begin requiring all driver's license applicants to present a birth certificate, passport or some other documentation to prove they are legal residents of the United States.
NBC’s "30 Rock" has always been a left-leaning show and manages to insert a joke or negative generalizations at the expense of Republicans into many episodes. Thursday night's episode was no different.
When conservative GE executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and his liberal Congresswoman girlfriend, Celeste Cunningham (Edie Falco) blow off a day of work; Cunningham misses an important vote on a bill to "legalize recreational whale torture."
This might seem like a harmless little joke attributable to either party; however, it is a clear reference to Republicans in the next scene as it cuts to C-SPAN live on the floor of the House with the caption "Lott-Specter passes by one vote."
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed Barack Obama and asked: "President Clinton was on the stump for his wife playing hardball. He said, and I quote, your campaign for president is 'the biggest fairy tale' he's ever seen." Smith interviewed Hillary Clinton not minutes before Obama, yet did not make any mention of her husband’s harsh rhetoric.
While Smith praised Clinton’s "stunning victory" over Obama in the New Hampshire primary and asked her "Have you taken a second to savor this win last night?," he bizarrely asked Obama about a possible third party run:
I listened to every word of your speech last night, and I started to think am I starting to hear the beginning of a third party candidacy? Because you were not just speaking to the base. You were not just talking to Democrats. You were trying to reach beyond that. And in the primaries to come, a lot of independents can't vote. Were you planting some seeds last night?
Following an interview with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer, who said of Barack Obama: "It makes people feel good to see someone who has managed to get where he has, a black American who won out in Iowa..."
The segment began with analysis of Clinton’s "display of emotion," which Schieffer thought was "rather touching." Schieffer even referenced former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, Bill Bradley, who cried on camera, and declared "So at least, I guess we've come to accept that people can cry on camera and that's not a sign of weakness." Smith concluded: "It certainly got her back on the front page."
Following this discussion of Clinton, Smith went on to ask about Barack Obama:
Following a rather tough interview with Hillary Clinton yesterday, on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith took a more sympathetic tone: "It is no wonder that all anyone is talking about, it seems, especially up here, is Hillary Clinton in that rare display of emotion."
In a taped interview with Clinton, Smith began by asking, "Do you think sometimes the fact that you are Hillary Clinton gets in the way of what you're trying to say?"In response, Clinton shared this observation: "You know, it could...one of the most common things people say to me on rope lines and in crowds is, oh, my gosh, you're so much nicer than I thought or you're so much prettier, you're so much this or that."
Smith then went on to ask about Clinton’s teary moment and worried about the campaign’s toll on the Senator:
There was a moment earlier today when you were in a diner, and a woman, a supporter of yours, turns to you and says, 'how do you hold it together?’...And you didn't quite hold it together...Because people will see this and interpret it in a million different ways, not the least of which is, well, the campaign's getting to her.
Monday’s CBS "Early Show" was unusually tough on Hillary Clinton as co-host Harry Smith teased an upcoming interview with the New York Senator: "And with Clinton, why she's fighting for her political life." Co-host Maggie Rodriguez similarly teased the interview later: "Up next here on "The Early Show," Senator Hillary Clinton on why she's fighting for her political life." Finally, Harry Smith began the interview with Clinton using the phrase one last time for good measure: "Hillary Clinton is fighting for her political life, following her third place showing in the Iowa caucuses."
Smith’s first question to Clinton kept the pressure on:
Spent a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire over the last couple weeks following these campaigns, I've talked to a lot of voters. Plenty of people like you. They respect you. But there's a whole other group out there who are saying, it's time to turn the page. Is there any way you can get them back on to your side?
After Clinton emphasized her commitment to keep campaigning and getting her message out, Smith did not let up:
Prior to asking if America is "color-blind" in reference to Barack Obama’s recent success in Iowa, on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith began the show by offering a sympathetic profile of the Illinois Senator:
There is no question that Barack Obama with his big win in Iowa is the candidate of the moment, boldly predicting that if he wins New Hampshire, he will be the next president. So who is this man? And how did he get here?...As I traveled with him, Barack Obama talked to me about the man who played almost no role in his life, yet turns out to be a great influence...Barack Obama Sr. left his wife, Ann Dunham, a white woman from Kansas whom he met at the University of Hawaii, when their son was just 2 years old. A brilliant civil servant from Kenya, Obama Sr. would study at Harvard, but he didn't come back until his son was 10. In his first book, Obama writes of a man whose mere presence controlled a room. 'It fascinated me,' Obama wrote. 'This strange power of his, and for the first time I began to think of my father as something real and immediate, perhaps even permanent.'
At the top of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," newly appointed co-host, Maggie Rodriguez, teased an upcoming segment on race in politics in the aftermath of Barack Obama’s Iowa victory: "But besides the knock-down, drag-out political fighting in New Hampshire, we're asking the question this morning on everyone's mind, is America finally color-blind?" This just days after the "Early Show" declared that Obama’s success in Iowa meant that "history has been made."
Later in the 8am hour of the show, co-host Harry Smith led the segment with guests Joe Watson, a diversity expert, and Jon Meacham of "Newsweek." Smith began by asking a similar question as Rodriguez:
When Senator Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses, he became the first presidential candidate of color to achieve a significant victory in the race for the White House. Is America turning color-blind? Ready to elect its first African-American president?
Smith asked for Watson’s reaction to Obama’s success and Watson declared, "I think it's a magnificent moment for America." Smith then turned to Meacham and gave this thoughtful insight on race and politics:
Jon Meacham, I was on the bus with Barack Obama a week or two ago in Iowa. We're driving along in the bus and the snow outside is as white as that state is, as white as New Hampshire is, what is -- what is going on here? Are people seeing past color? Is that possible?
At the top of Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith declared: "The votes have been cast and history has been made. Democratic voters in Iowa give African-American Senator Barack Obama a giant victory."
Shortly following this "historic" proclamation, Smith also commented: "Barack Obama, the big winner on the Democratic side," and spoke of both the Obama and Huckabee wins in these terms: "What a stunning night last night, a big surprise, big votes for change."
Smith continued the "stunning" theme of Obama’s victory throughout the opening segment of the show:
For the Democrats, Obama came in first with 38% of the vote. Stunning. 38%...Now, while the polls may have predicted it, it was still no less a breathtaking win for Barack Obama because he became the clear winner in the Iowa caucuses last night...With a record turnout and support from the under-30 crowd, independent voters, and first-time caucus goers, Barack Obama stunned the political establishment, and much of the country, with his clear and decisive victory Thursday night in Iowa.
Smith also discussed the surprise win of Mike Huckabee, but did not place the Republican Governor’s victory in the same historic terms.
Last year's most bizarre and famously icky sex scandal was, of course, Senator Larry Craig's airport bathroom incident, in which the Idaho Republican was alleged to have been soliciting homosexual sex from an undercover cop. Suffice it to say no one who came across the story could walk away without knowing Craig's party affiliation, and in some cases his record as a conservative with some libertarian-friendly stances.
So how did the Associated Press's Bill Poovey treat a former Democratic Tennessee judge with an arguably nastier, kinkier, more disturbing sexual predilection? Not one mention of John B. Hagler's Democratic Party affiliation in Poovey's 23-paragraph January 2 story, even though the judge's sex fantasy recording sure spooked at least one veteran police officer (emphasis mine, h/t NB reader Chris Mario):
In a quick round of team coverage of top Democratic and Republican candidates in Iowa on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show, " Political Correspondent Dean Reynolds led the segment with this glowing assessment of Barack Obama’s campaign:
Well, it's all about momentum now, and thanks to a promising poll from an influential newspaper, Barack Obama seems to have it and the others don't. Obama flew across Iowa lifted on the wings of a private jet and the news that he's ahead of his two main rivals. He was clearly encouraged by the priceless publicity.
Reynolds went on to promote the idea of Obama’s inevitability, something once reserved for Hillary Clinton: "A selling point now is Obama's electability, that the polls show him beating any Republican."
That observation was followed by this cheap shot sound-bite from Obama speaking about Republican rivals: "I intend to whup’em so good that it won't even be close and they can't steal the election." So much for Barack Obama reaching out to "every potential voter," as co-host Harry Smith suggested in his December 18 interview with the Illinois Senator: "Up in the northwest part of the state, the politics are conservative, but for a candidate locked in a tight race, every potential voter needs to be reached."
On a lazy December 30th Sunday afternoon, I flipped on the television, on which the previous evening I had left the History Channel (they were then doing a military analysis of the Bible, which was at once interesting and uninfuriating).
This time the tubes warmed to display a replay of Clear and Present Danger, the film based upon the Tom Clancy novel. Co-hosting the rerun were the Channel's in-house liberal historian, Steve Gillon, and guest liberal political commentator Neal Gabler (though of course neither was identified in any sort of ideological way).
On Friday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith and Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield put together a Christmas wish list for the various Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Of Mitt Romney, Greenfield said the Massachusetts Governor could use voters having "buyers remorse" about Mike Huckabee and:
I have a second gift for Mitt Romney, which is somebody to muss his hair. It's too perfect. A lot of people have noticed a startling resemblance between Mitt Romney and that of the Muppet game show host, Guy Smiley. He's got to have a mussed-up hairdo soon.
Perhaps an even more interesting word of campaign advice from Greenfield was to Hillary Clinton:
Selective memory. She needs the Democrats to remember the good things they liked about Clinton in the '90s, to forget the bad thing apart from the obvious one, the investigations and the turmoil. And if they think of her as that kind of '90s, it's going to be bad for her.
While reporting on Rudy Giuliani’s hospitalization on the campaign trail in Missouri on Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith also used the opportunity to discuss Giuliani’s struggling campaign: "We are closely following the news that Rudy Giuliani has been hospitalized overnight in St. Louis where he's undergoing tests. This at a time when his Republican lead has been challenged and he is slipping quickly in the polls." So Smith is not sure if Giuliani’s health is okay, but he knows the New York Mayor’s campaign is going under. Not much of a get well message.
After a report on Giuliani’s hospital visit by a local CBS News station in St. Louis, Smith moved on to the campaign:
This health scare only adds to Rudy Giuliani's troubles on the campaign trail. He has struggled with persistent questions about his personal life and one national poll shows that he has dropped 13 points. Mike Allen from politico.com joins us from Washington.
Smith then decided to make a joke of Giuliani’s health problem and asked Allen’s diagnosis:
SMITH: You might not be feeling too well, either, had you been looking at Huckabee's rise and Giuliani's drop. Can that be part of -- part of what's going on here?
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith played a clip of a recent Hillary Clinton campaign ad featuring her mother and asked Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield: "Is Hillary's mom the real secret weapon in the campaign?" Greenfield responded by describing the ad’s brilliance:
I very rarely look at ads these days and one line just jumps out at me. Hillary's mom lives with her, not mother, mom. Why? Women outlive men. Wives outlive their husbands. Primal fear: 'I will spend the rest of my life alone or in a home.' And the idea thatthis prototypical career woman, who her enemies see as driven and cold, has taken her mom in to live with her, I think that packs a powerful emotional wallop. And in Iowa, women vote in caucuses more than men and older people do more than younger.
Smith agreed with Greenfield’s assessment, "Right. And older women especially. Yeah this is -- boy -- talk about right to the heart."
The Democrats were finally able to get something passed in Congress, a new energy bill that mandates car gas mileage and bans the incandescent light bulb, and on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen described it as, "Congress's historic move to get rid of gas guzzlers." Co-host Harry Smith began the "historic" theme at the top of the show:
Later this morning, the president will sign a new energy bill, that will radically change the way we drive, the fuel we burn, and the way we light our homes...This morning for the first time in 32 years we will have a new energy bill. The Energy Independence and Security Act.
No one objected to the idea that everyday light bulbs would be banned with this new legislation. Instead Smith joked holding up a light bulb: "So guess what, will we see the end of the incandescent light bulb? Remember, was it Uncle Fester who put it in and it lit up?"
In an especially glowing interview with Barack Obama on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith lobbed softball after softball at the Illinois Senator, including this question about the successful troop surge in Iraq: "Obama is positioning himself as a candidate for change, particularly on the war. Were you a fan of the surge?" Obama’s response was not surprising, but did defy all logic:
No. And it's fascinating to me how the surge is now being defined as a success. That central question remains -- how do we get a change in behavior amongst Sunni, Shia, and Kurds? The only way I believe to trigger that change is to send a clear signal that we are withdrawing, we're not going to have permanent bases there, we will be a partner with them to help stabilize the country, but they've got to make some decisions.
Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show" led with co-host Julie Chen exclaiming: "Sexism hits the campaign trail as Rush Limbaugh asks if voters want to stare at an aging woman as president." This harsh accusation was in reference to comments made by Limbaugh during his radio show on Monday, in which he said: "Will Americans want to watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis? And that woman, by the way, is not going to want to look like she's getting older because it'll impact poll numbers, it'll impact perceptions."
The "Early Show" did not do a full segment on the story, but did feature a news brief at the top of the 8:00am hour by CBS Anchor Meg Oliver:
MEG OLIVER: And now a story that's expected to reverberate throughout the day. The question of sexism in politics. It's of particular interest in Campaign 2008, where a woman has a good chance of becoming a major party nominee. Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh yesterday had some thoughts after seeing this picture of Hillary Clinton posted on the internet. Limbaugh believes Americans are addicted to physical perfection and wonders if this country is ready to watch a woman age in the Oval Office.
Teasing an upcoming interview with Hillary Clinton on Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen exclaimed: "The coveted Iowa newspaper endorsement goes to Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton, who is locked in a tight race and is braving the ice storm to go county to county. She joins us this morning." This discussion of Hillary’s bravery joined the rest of the television morning shows as part of the Clinton campaign’s latest media blitz after gaining the endorsement of the "Des Moines Register."
Co-host Harry Smith further previewed his interview with Clinton as he declared that, "The woman of the hour here in Iowa is Hillary Clinton." In a report preceding the interview, CBS Correspondent Jim Axelrod summarized the endorsement: "Her campaign, coming off its roughest month yet, got a boost over the weekend, winning the coveted endorsement of the "Des Moines Register," the state's most influential paper, praised her experience, citing her 'strength, resolve, and resilience.’" However, Axelrod did mention that, "John Edwards got the paper's nod four years ago, points out he finished second in the caucuses."
During the actual interview, Smith did provide some challenge to Clinton:
I'm caffeinated and ready to blog. I'll focus mostly on the questions from the moderator, Carolyn Washburn. I'm watching the feed from Fox News Channel.
Here goes nothin':
15:25 | Debate's over. Thought it'd never end. Washburn seemed much more at ease with the Democrats, as well as looser with the time constraints. I don't believe she ever cut anyone off, for example. The questions generally tacked to the left. The series of questions pressing the candidates on character issues was promising on paper but seemed uneven. Her question to Clinton on secrecy was soft. The question to Biden about his ill-advised jokes about Indians owning Dunkin Donut shops was good, but Hillary Clinton made similar comments about Indians and gas stations, which went unmentioned.
15:22 | Washburn: "What are the lessons from Iowa?"
15:20 | Richardson resolves to lose weight. Well, he could ask Huckabee about that policy plank.
15:17 | Washburn: "Tell us your New Year's resolution for 2008."
15:15 | Washburn asks about the use of signing statements when signing legislation.