Democratic presidential candidate (for now, anyway) Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware got headlines for all the wrong reasons yesterday when he referred to Sen. Barack Obama, who's also running for president, as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" in an interview with the New York Observer.
"Biden Unwraps His Bid for '08 With an Oops!" read the headline over Adam Nagourney's Thursday story in the New York Times. Credit the Times for putting it on the front page, and to Nagourney for bringing up Biden's equally strange comment last summer that aired on C-Span: “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
Appearing on Thursday’s "Colbert Report," former "60 Minutes" anchor Mike Wallace mostly discussed innocuous subjects such as the joys of smoking. However, after being prompted by host Stephen Colbert to share his "doubts about our system of government," Wallace segued into an odd digression about how a parliamentary system would give Americans an easier way to get rid of its leaders. In other words, don't wait for Bush to go back to Crawford, kick him out now:
Stephen Colbert: "Now, you say you, you have some doubts about our system of government. I agree with you. Should we get rid of the Congress or the judiciary first? What, what do you mean by that?"
Mike Wallace: " I'm not kidding."
Colbert: "Okay. I know you’re not."
Wallace: "Forget– Forget impeachment. What you– Forget impeachment? Good luck. The– The– A representative government in which you can vote no confidence in a president or the leader and get rid of him."
As the 2008 campaign heats up, members of the mainstream media are having trouble deciding between their old favorite (Hillary) and the new flame (Obama). Both CNN and ABC leapt to the defense of Senator Barack Obama after he was accused of attending an Islamic madrassah as a child. (Of course, ABC once devoted an entire episode of "Nightline" to murky allegations that George W. Bush did coke as a younger man.)
But perhaps Obama should be a little worried. The "Early Show" demonstrated exactly why Hillary is still the media’s favorite. Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews told Hillary Clinton that "ideologues on the right" were responsible for the death of her famous health care plan.
ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked another 2008 candidate, Bill Richardson, if, as president, he would please just raise taxes.
While Vice President Dick Cheney stared daggers into CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer over his pushing questions about his lesbian daughter’s December announcement of her pregnancy, Blitzer insisted it was a “responsible and fair question.” Cheney disagreed. There's an argument that Blitzer's question citing Focus on the Family, when considered alone, is a fair (if not kind) question. There's no doubt that Blitzer's question was a trouble-making question, which could easily serve to sow division among Republicans and press Cheney into making a big gaffe or controversy.
Here’s where it’s clearly unfair. When has a Democratic national candidate’s sons or daughters ever been the subject of a national controversy? Try this as Exhibit A. In 2000, while the networks tried to make great hay in the election’s last weekend over an antique George W. Bush drunk-driving ticket, CNN and the other liberal networks hyper-sensitively avoided the story of Al Gore's teenage son Albert Gore III, caught driving 97 miles per hour on an interstate highway, an offense on the public record, just two days before the 2000 Democratic convention. As I wrote for National Review Online in 2000:
Why is it so hard for the New York Times to obtain the basic facts of Sen. John Kerry's "botched joke"?
Political reporter Adam Nagourney, like Kate Zernike before him, spins Kerry's November gaffe about U.S. troops "stuck in Iraq" at a political rally in California to make them seem less harmful, in Thursday's "Kerry Will Not Enter Presidential Race."
"But Mr. Kerry’s hopes were probably most damaged by what he said was a botched joke he told while campaigning on behalf of Congressional candidates in the final week of the 2006 election campaigns.
On Thursday’s "Good Morning America," ABC’s Jake Tapper continued the media’s campaign to defend Senator Barack Obama against charges that, as a young child living in Indonesia, he attended a madrassah, an Islamic school that teaches virulent anti-Americanism. Co-host Robin Roberts and Mr. Tapper alternatively referred to the charges as "smears," "dirty tricks" and "lies." According to a 1999 MRC Reality Check, ABC gave no such courtesy to then-Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. On August 24 of that year, "Nightline" host Ted Koppel devoted an entire half hour episode to the unsubstantiated rumors that Bush used cocaine as a younger person. Obama, who has admitted trying cocaine as a teenager, was not asked about it in a January 24 GMA appearance. Here is Koppel’s explanation for the media’s interest in Bush’s youth:
Ted Koppel: "So here we are in this curious twilight in which [Bush] plainly acknowledges excessive use of alcohol until he turned 40, makes no claim of privacy in the area of marital infidelity, unlike some people we know he did not cheat on his wife, but leaves the question of youthful cocaine use ambiguously addressed with this assertion: I did make mistakes years ago."
-Nightline August 24, 1999
And here is the combined defense of Robert's introduction and Tapper's report on the January 25 "Good Morning America."
Robin Roberts: "Now, to the field of contenders, the presidential hopefuls who want President Bush's job. And the dirty tricks seem to have already begun. The target? Senator Barack Obama."
On Tuesday, jury selection began in the trial of Lewis Libby. And "Good Morning America" reporter Claire Shipman couldn’t resist spinning this occasion into an attack against President Bush. Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. He does not, however, face prosecution for publically outing Wilson's wife, CIA agent Valerie Plame. However, through sloppy phrasing and omission, Shipman encouraged the assumption that this is yet another example of the Bush administration’s misconduct. The most brazen example is the GMA reporter’s description of the "original crime":
Claire Shipman: "Prosecutors are trying to show that Libby lied to investigators about conversations he had with reporters regarding CIA officer Valerie Plame, the undercover agent who was outed. Libby blames a faulty memory. And in classic Washington style, Libby isn't in trouble for the original crime, outing Plame, but, rather, the, quote, ‘the cover up,’ according to the prosecutor."
No government official has been charged with revealing the identity of Valerie Plame. So, how can there be an "original crime?"
Washington Post political reporter Shailagh Murray professed shock at the lack of attention Congressman Bill Jefferson has drawn, even as she protested the Post has done that story. From today's Political Chat at washingtonpost.com:
Alexandria, Va.: I understand Congressman Bill Jefferson was given a standing ovation from his colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, despite the $90,000 the FBI found in Tupperware in his freezer. Why do these details of Democratic ethics problems seem left out every time media personnel recount how Speaker Pelosi will bring "ethics reform" to the House?
Shailagh Murray: I once met the friendliest bank robber. Just because you're a crook doesn't mean you're not thoughtful or interesting or fun to hang out with. Not that I'm referring to anyone in particular. Regarding Rep. Jefferson, I take issue with your observation. I've written or co-written numerous stories, including for the front page, on this case, and we have included it in numerous other stories, including a page one piece last week (not by moi) on how Pelosi handled this case.
You just knew it. "Today" was going to find a way to use the death of President Ford to take a shot at George Bush. You had to wait till the very end of the first half-hour, but sure enough, it came. The preceding twenty minutes had been a respectful review of the life of the 38th president. And after all, if there is one Republican president it's not too hard for the MSM to like, it was Ford, who replaced the hated Richard Nixon. Tom Brokaw even admitted that, in retrospect, Ford had made the right decision in pardoning Nixon.
But then came Ann Curry. Her mild demeanor can obscure one of the more baldly partisan hearts. Speaking with NBC consultant and presidential historian Michael Beschloss about Ford's handling of the Watergate aftermath Curry observed:
"I can't help but think we are now in troubled times as a nation. Very different, but still troubled times. Are there any lessons to be taken away, on this day when we mourn former President Gerald Ford, as we look to the future that still looks very murky."
For months before Election Day, Americans were brainwashed by the media concerning a Republican “culture of corruption,” and the need for the Democrats to clean it all up. Unfortunately, in the middle of this web of lies, the press chose to ignore the misdeeds of any politician with a “D” next to his or her name.
Sadly for America, some of the content in this front-page article by Jonathan Weisman has been available for almost a year and a half. But, investigative reporting like this that might out a Democrat was specifically verboten by members of the drive-by media before November 7 (emphasis mine throughout):
Kudos to "Fox and Friends" as they were the only morning news program on Thursday to extensively cover the Sandy Berger story. Mr. Berger, former National Security Adviser to President Clinton, pled guilty in federal court for stealing classified documents from the National Archives, but a Wednesday AP story revealed that the details of Mr. Berger's offense were far more damning then we had previously known including that he hid the documents in a construction site before destroying them. CNN’s "American Morning" and ABC’s "Good Morning America" both offered brief news reads on the subject. CNN’s coverage totaled 24 seconds while ABC’s totaled 23 seconds. CBS’s "Early Show" and NBC’s "Today" both ignored the story completely.
Jack Cafferty, a vociferously anti-Bush CNN contributor, on Monday spoke approvingly of an impeachment bill introduced by outgoing Congresswoman, and fellow Bush hater, Cynthia McKinney. He found it "strange" that, unlike McKinney, so many Democrats are unwilling to consider impeachment. What’s strange is that Cafferty would cite McKinney as a rational source of information. This is, after all, a woman who previously wondered if President Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened, attacked a Capitol Hill police officer and whose supporters blamed Jews for the Congresswoman’s 2006 primary defeat:
Jack Cafferty:"...Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney introduced a bill to impeach President Bush. It’s strictly symbolic and has no chance of going anywhere. She lost her congressional seat and is on her way back to civilian life. But McKinney isn’t the only person who thinks President Bush may have done things that rise to the levels of high crimes and misdemeanors. And yet, the incoming House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has said that impeachment of the President is, quote, ‘off the table.’ It’s all kind of strange."
Appearing on Tuesday’s "Larry King Live," comedienne Kathy Griffin claimed to be so liberal that she refers to herself as a Sandinista and not a Democrat. On the same program, Griffin took delight in the downfall of Christian evangelical leader Ted Haggard, telling CNN’s Larry King that she "love[s] it." It’s unclear why King asked the D-list star about the scandal, perhaps he hoped to bate her into another hateful rant. Later in the program, Griffin offered a clue as to why she would be so effusive over a reverend’s fall from grace. Regarding religion, she claimed to not "believe in any of that crap." King led Griffin into the discussion with his ususal odd segue :
Larry King: "Before we talk about your folks and freebies, what do you make of Ted Haggard, the minister and the choir boy?"
Kathy Griffin: "I love it. I think it's hysterical because it's always, like, the ultra-right-wing conservatives that are banging the kids and the prostitutes and doing the crystal meth. Foley, delicious. Did you read those e-mails? ‘Do I make you horny?’ ‘No, grandpa, back off. And I'm changing the lock to the dorm.’ I mean, you know, if you're doing that stuff, don't be on the ethics committees, don't be a preacher. I saw that documentary, ‘Jesus Camp’ because you guys showed a clip of it on the show. He's kind of busted on that. He's all freaky."
Did NBC reporter Richard Engel blame conservative Laura Ingraham for a reporter’s abduction in Iraq? Appearing on CNN’s "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, Engel asserted that harsh criticism of media coverage in Iraq resulted in a correspondent’s kidnapping. He elaborated, saying that reporters stung by claims that they offer only bad news are more likely to get themselves in dangerous situations. Although Engel did not state specifically who he meant, it’s likely that he was referencing talk show host Laura Ingraham. In March, she appeared on the "Today" show and attacked NBC’s negative coverage and the practice of "reporting from hotel balconies." Responding to a question from "Reliable Sources" host Howard Kurtz, Engel said this about criticism:
Howard Kurtz: "Richard Engel, top administration officials, as you well know, have repeatedly criticized correspondents like you for painting an unnecessarily negative picture of what's going on in Iraq, staying in the Green Zone, and all of that. Now that this -- even the private doubts and reservations of the White House and the Pentagon are coming out, do you feel vindicated?"
Richard Engel: "No. It's been very frustrating all along to be at the receiving end of that criticism with acquisitions like we just spend all of our time in the Green Zone....It's also, in some degree, dangerous. I mean, I know reporters, colleagues of mine who have received so much criticism over the last three and a half, four years, that they felt they've had something to prove. And so they put themselves in extraordinarily dangerous situations. And I know one reporter who was kidnapped as a result of it. So it's not a sense of vindication, but it is good that people are finally starting to see that the situation in Iraq is tremendously difficult, and it is not just reporters who are looking for bad -- bad news stories."
It was surprising to learn from Byron York how little The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Nancy Pelosi’s struggle over whether to appoint 14-year Representative (and impeached federal judge) Alcee Hastings to lead the House Intelligence Committee. It might be a little less surprising to report that a look at morning and evening shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC found the networks have so far skipped that House fight as well, with the exception of ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
In fact, the Big Three networks have barely mentioned or quoted Nancy Pelosi at all since Jack Murtha was defeated in the majority leader’s race on November 16. It’s odd for the networks to skip the Hastings fight, since Pelosi made "draining the swamp" of Republican corruption such a big campaign issue (and the exit polls suggested this as well.)
For about a year, John Murtha was portrayed by the liberal media as a bold Marine hero of the anti-war movement. So why did they almost never mention Murtha's sleazy role as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam probe? And why is it important now? If the question was Murtha's fitness to be House Majority Leader, surely it was known that Murtha was running for that post before the midterm elections. The media withholding this story line until it fit with the timing of the Democratic Party's mainstream defines a liberal media bias. It was certainly considered bad form when our CNSNews.com wrote about it in January:
Since Murtha's Nov. 17, 2005, call for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, one CNN anchor has called him "one of the most highly respected members of Congress," the Associated Press has referred to Murtha as "one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats," and ABC News has noted that he is "a decorated marine who served in Vietnam."
Commuting can be dangerous for a conservative if the car radio is tuned into National Public Radio. On Wednesday night’s "All Things Considered," NPR anchor Michele Norris interviewed ultraliberal Henry Waxman, now returning to his perch as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. He claimed that his return meant an end to investigative politics: "And oversight ought to be done based on our responsibility, not our political point of view."
This is simply bizarre, and NPR should know it, and not let it go unchallenged. But Norris did.
I recall an example from 1997, when the Government Reform committee was investigating how the Clinton-Gore campaign and the Democratic National Committee accepted contributions from mysterious Asian donors. In the Weekly Standard, Matt Rees really captured how partisan Waxman was:
Now that the Democrats have picked their Majority Leader in the House the outcome gives us (and her) the first hint that Speaker Pelosi is not the powerhouse she thought she was. Her man, Murtha, lost in a landslide: 149 to 86... a thumpin' to say the least.
In my last report on how the MSM covered this little inter Dem fight I pointed out that they were ignoring how distant were the two positions on pulling out of Iraq that is held by the erstwhile candidates for Majority Leader.
I noted how they refused to portray Murtha's position as "extreme", even as he supports pulling out of Iraq immediately to Hoyer's, who does not. I noted that the MSM did not waste much breath contrasting Murtha's position with the far less volatile position held by Hoyer.
It seems strangely inconsistent that the MSM ignored the Iraq war issue in their stories since they made the entire recent election all about Iraq and how it is a mess and that our soldiers should come home. Yet, a guy who does not want an immediate pull out defeated Murtha and this fact went uncommented upon.
The Democrats may have selected Steny Hoyer to be Majority Leader, but CNN’s sympathy clearly went to Representative John Murtha. "American Morning" aired two reports on a 1980 bribery investigation that involved the Congressman and, despite a damning video in which Murtha indicates possible future interest in a bribe, both accounts gave him more than the benefit of the doubt. Andrea Koppel began her segment, which included a dismissive onscreen graphic that read "Old Allegations," by playing the grainy video footage of Murtha. She then shifted into defense mode:
Andrea Koppel: "January 7th, 1980, an undercover FBI agent shows off the bribe he's about to offer a couple of congressmen. One of them is Pennsylvania Democrat John Murtha. Murtha turns down the offer, but suggests he might be interested in the future."
FBI Agent: "You are telling me that's not what you -- you know -- that's not --
Murtha: "I'm not interested."
Murtha: "At this point. You know, we do business for a while, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't."
Koppel: "Murtha was never charged. And to this day, professes his innocence."
It has been interesting, to say the least, to watch the MSM twist itself into knots trying to report this story of Pelosi backing the extremist Murtha for Party leadership over the objections of the so-called "blue dog" Democrats who were recently elected to Congress.
Pelosi has decided to ardently back the extreme anti-war activist, John Murtha (Dem, PA), for the Democrat's Majority leader position in a move that has 'baffled" many Democrats, especially those incoming Democrats who ran as conservative alternatives to Republicans -- as well as other incumbent moderate Democrats -- who are instead backing Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer.
Hoyer is well known on the floor not to be quite as extreme as Murtha is on a pull out from Iraq (Hoyer voted to give Bush the OK to go into Iraq in 2002, but he IS for gradual withdraw to be sure), but few Americans will have even heard of Steny Hoyer, he not being much of a "national" figure. On the other hand, anyone who had paid politics much attention knows that Murtha is against the war and is a vocal critic of President Bush. Murtha is well known for his many extreme positions and statements.
As John Murtha appeared as a guest on Wednesday's Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews questioned the Democratic Congressman about the infamous FBI tape from the ABSCAM scandal in which undercover FBI agents talked with Murtha about the possibility of bribery, with Murtha having suggested to them the possibility that he would be "interested" at a later date. After pressing Murtha on what his words meant with Murtha contending that he was just trying to acquire investment for his Congressional district, Matthews ended up asking him if it was "just a way of finessing your way out of the conversation," to which Murtha agreed before Matthews dropped the line of questioning. (Transcript follows)
The Washington Post, this morning, is demonstrating that they aren't biased in favor of liberals, nosirree. What, just attack Republicans? Us? No way! This fascinating column by Ruth Marcus, prominently positioned on page A21, demonstrates that they aren't going to just roll over on corruption just because it's a Democrat being talked about! Nope, Marcus is actively going after Jack Murtha, going so far as to say that "On its own, Murtha's ... conduct is disqualifying."
"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.
"Washington Post" reporter Sally Quinn appeared on Monday’s "American Morning," ready to psychoanalyze President Bush in the wake of last week’s midterm defeat. Quinn discussed the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the hiring of Robert Gates as a replacement, and how President Bush is secretly "relieved" over the drubbing the GOP received. Now, either Ms. Quinn has become a psychological expert on why Bush is hiring former advisors to his father, or she’s just another member of the media who wants to be a part of important inner-circle decisions:
Quinn: "But I just have a feeling that it was clear to the father that the son -- clearly, he made Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense -- that the son did not want his father's advice on a lot of these things....I felt the other day watching Bush that he was almost relieved in a way about losing the House and the Senate. I know that sounds weird, but it was as though, ‘Okay, now I really have permission. I can take my father's advice.’ And, also, that it's not all on him anymore. It's not all on the Republicans. The Democrats are going to have to take a lot of the responsibility now."
O’Brien: "It's nice to, nice to share a little blame, isn't it, in some cases? And in this case, perhaps share some blame with his father. I wonder why it took him so long to reach out this way. wonder why it took him so long to reach out this way. Did -- was -- did he have to have that election in order to prompt this?"
Aren’t liberals supposed to be the tolerant ones? On Wednesday’s "American Morning," co-anchor Miles O’Brien derided a plan by disgraced former minister Ted Haggard to seek spiritual counseling as a "reality show." Haggard resigned his positions as pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado and head of the National Association of Evangelicals after being accused of drug use and a gay affair. He has announced that he will undergo an intense form of religious counseling known as restoration. Reporter Ali Velshi and Mr. O’Brien seemed to find the whole concept laughable. Velshi, describing the individuals who would and wouldn’t be involved, began by talking about "fixing" Ted Haggard:
Ali Velshi: "But one of the godly men, theoretically, asked to be involved was James Dobson of the -- he was the founder of Focus on the Family, also a Colorado-based Christian ministry. He's already backed out. Apparently, this is so tough, James Dobson says that he backed out because 'emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help, but the reality is, I don't have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility.' I think this is more than just a PR thing. They really -- these guys believe it's going to fix Ted Haggard."
Miles O’Brien: "Well, I think it could be a tremendous reality show."
CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien talked with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Wednesday and displayed a snide attitude over the Republicans’ midterm losses. She even tried to goad DeLay into bashing Karl Rove:
O’Brien: "Think Karl Rove is still a genius?"
Delay: "Oh, yes. Just because you lose one ball game doesn't remove your genius."
O’Brien: "Really, you think that -- this is kind of a big ball game to lose. Some people might say, yes, but if you lose the big one, it actually could chip away at your title."
Apparently victories in 2000, 2002 and 2004 don’t mean anything.
Lynne Cheney was right. The Vice President’s wife recently attacked a CNN pre-election special as straight out of Democratic talking points. The program in question, "Broken Government: Power Play," aired on October 26 and discussed presidential power. Reporter John King introduced his special that night on location at Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Close your eyes and it sounds like an ad straight out of the DNC:
John King: "Justice, on Mr. Bush's terms, would mean challenge after challenge, test after test of the balance of powers laid out in the Constitution, adopted here in Philadelphia's Independence Hall 219 years ago, written by men, who, for all their brilliance, could not have imagined jet aircraft, let alone jet aircraft used as weapons. Nor could men determined to find the lasting antidote to tyranny have imagined the Internet, spy satellites, other technological advances now so central in the war on terror. But they did warn, in this hall, time and time again of too much presidential power, creating a careful system of checks by the Congress and the courts, lines the Bush administration, in the name of protecting Americans from another attack, has repeatedly stretched, rewritten, and sometimes just ignored."
Monday’s 'Good Morning America' highlighted anti-GOP sentiments from the American heartland during a report in the 7am half hour. Reporting from a diner in Columbus, Ohio, ABC’s Jake Tapper had assembled a group of five "real-life actual voters" to discuss the upcoming midterm elections. Amongst the group of voters in Tapper’s panel: a Republican voter voting Democratic this year; a Democratic Navy veteran who had been against the war; a conservative Christian eager to express "I'm not pro-war"; a new U.S. citizen who believes that illegal immigrants are being treated unfairly; and a cynic who believes that the whole political system is corrupt. Not one of the voters expressed support for the President or Republicans. Furthermore, none of the panel members, except for the cynic, expressed any reservations about a potential Democratic takeover of Congress.
Some highlights from the panel discussion:
Tapper: "You're a Republican voter, but the war in Iraq, among other issues, has you thinking that you might vote Democratic this year. Why?"
Larry [no last name given; Republican voter]: "...I think we're in the wrong place, and I just think it's time for a change, someone who can help us and get out of the quagmire we have."
Tapper: "Now, Kenny, you disapproved of the war from the beginning and you're, you're a Navy veteran...But, you have an issue with the fact that you think that those who have questioned the war, their patriotism has been challenged, right...You're an independent voter. But what struck me was that you said that you don't think, even though you think that there's a lot of corruption amongst the Republicans controlling Congress, you don't think that it's necessarily going to be any different if the Democrats take control. Why is that?"
On Sunday October 15, 2006, the Los Angeles Times published a 1488-word, front-page article entitled, "Displease a Lobbyist, Get Fired," by Times staffer Peter Wallsten. The gist of the piece (if you can't glean it from the title): Lobbyist Jack Abramoff "manipulated the system" and used his influence at the White House to get Allen Stayman, a State Department official who was working against the interests of Abramoff's clients, fired. Wallsten's lengthy piece portrays Stayman as an unwitting government official who was innocently bulldozed for standing in the way of Abramoff and his interests.
However, Wallsten's article left out a big chunk of the story. Wallsten failed to inform his readers that Mr. Stayman, back in the 1990's, resigned from President Clinton's Department of Interior. He stepped down after serious criminal investigations was conducted against him and his department for illegal political activity. Documents show that his office contacted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to "target" Republican lawmakers who were up for reelection in 1998. The bulk of this campaign activity resulted out of an issue on which Abramoff and Stayman clashed.
One of the maddening things about the Mark Foley scandal is how the media can take one congressman’s creepy Internet messages about masturbating, declare it an issue in 468 congressional races, demand the head of the Speaker of the House, and then decry other people for ruining democracy with desperate negative ads that besmirch honest public servants. It’s exactly how Michael Grunwald’s Washington Post story on Friday began, with the Republican opponent to Rep. Ron Kind (who represents my dear old home town of Viroqua, Wisconsin) mocking his backing of federal sex studies. Grunwald and the Post predictably summarize, with typical spit and polish, the DNC talking points of the day, that it's the GOP that wins the prize for negativity: